The New York Red Bulls have a very short turnaround this week, as just two days after returning from Los Angeles they take on the Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium for a friendly clash on Wednesday night.
One of the first six teams formed in the North American Soccer League, the Montreal Impact have been the most successful team in the NASL, with 24 league titles, their last coming in 1992-93. The team's golden age was in the 1970s, when they won six championships with the great Ken Dryden in goal.
Wait, what? You mean this team doesn't also play hockey? These aren't actually the Montreal Canadiens on a football pitch?
Actually, no. The Montreal Impact are in the NASL, but were only founded in 1992. They won the USL First Division twice in 2004 and 2009, finished third of the six teams in USL Division Two last year, and lost in the playoff semifinal to the Carolina RailHawks.
This year they're languishing in seventh in the eight-team league, but won their last league game against FC Edmonton 5-0 (their only win in a competitive game this season). Since then they've been eliminated from the Canadian Championship in the second leg of their semifinal against the Vancouver Whitecaps after an extra-time goal. The main player to watch for Montreal is Ali Gerba (#10), a Canadian international striker who has scored three of the team's seven goals this season
For the Red Bulls, we know that Rafael Márquez and Thierry Henry are each required to play a half, and that Chris Albright and Corey Hertzog are likely to get some playing time. Teemu Tainio should be fit by this weekend, but will almost certainly not play against Montreal. This game will be a homecoming of sorts for Greg Sutton, who spent six seasons with the Impact and could get a start in goal for the first time since opening day.
Kickoff is at 7:30 PM, and you can watch the game on the Red Bulls website. As always, we'll have a match thread going here on Once A Metro, but as I have a final exam during the game, you fine folks will have to manage without my comic and analytical genius. Yeah, right. Let's go Red Bulls!