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What we know and what we don't: The Montreal Impact

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In which we examine the pending matchup against the worst team in Major League Soccer.

USA TODAY Sports

Hot off the heels of a sorely needed, two week  break in MLS action, the New York Red Bulls are heading into this Saturday night's match against the Montreal Impact with something to prove....again.    Yes, we all thought the short handed, come from behind win against New England a few weeks ago was the Red Bulls turning point, but this time we mean it.  Saturday is the day to put the league on notice.   New York is turning things around...by heading into a jam packed month that will see the team playing seven games in just over twenty days.   Woof.  Fortunately for New York, they're starting that log jam of games against the worst team in Major League Soccer.

Here's what we know:

  • Montreal has yet to win a game on the road in 2014.
The Impact has been abysmal this season and a big part of their problem has been their form away from home.   They've yet to earn three points away from Stade Saputo and may be looking to end that streak in Red Bull Arena this Saturday.   As we've seen, no one breaks other team's streaks like the New York Red Bulls.

  • The Impact may be worn out from travel.
Montreal is going into the weekend having just played a match in El Salvador on Wednesday night.  That's a whole lot of travel with basically zero rest.  The Impact also seem to be all in on the Champions League considering their shot at making the MLS play offs is essentially non existent.   Having played most of their starters on Wednesday, it looks like New York will either be going up against a second string side, or an exhausted first team.   Either way, the Red Bulls should have the advantage.

  • This is a must win game for New York.
Flatly put, three points are a necessity on Saturday night.  New York is playing the worst team in MLS, at home, after two weeks rest.  There is no excuse for anything other than a win.   Jamison Olave and Matt Miazga are back from suspension, Dax McCarty is playing like his 2013 self again, Petke finally has options off the bench with Peguy Luyindula and Saer Sene....what could go wrong?   Right now the race for an Eastern Conference playoff spot is incredibly tight.  New York NEEDS to start getting wins in order separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

Here's what we don't know:

  • Who gets the start next to Olave?
First it was Armando, then we realized that he couldn't go five minutes without either getting a yellow card or acting like he'd just been shot.  Then it was Ibrahim Sekagya, but then he ended up having to fill in for an injured Dax McCarty.   Next it was Miazga, and it was good...until he started making the kind of mistakes that any promising, 18 year old academy player would make in his position.  Now everyone is healthy, back from suspension and ready to play.  Not only that, but one of the Red Bulls' newest signings, Damien Perrinelle, has also been deemed match fit and ready to go.   So who's going to get the start at center back next to Jamison Olave?   Whoever it is is going to have their hands full with Italian striker, Red Bull Killer and off side machine, Marco Di Vaio.

  • How will New York handle Montreal's new #10?
One of the Red Bulls' biggest weakness in 2014 has been their midfield.  They just haven't been able to figure out how to stop any team from gutting them down the middle.  This could be a problem on Saturday night.  The Impact's latest DP, Ignacio Piatti, is the kind of midfielder that can eat New York's core for dinner.   The Argentine #10 hasn't had much experience in MLS yet, so there's no telling how effective he's going to be, but the Red Bulls are going to need keep an eye on him and how he links up with Di Vaio.   If they give him free reign, New York is going to have another Vancouveresque routing on their hands.

  • Will the Red Bulls rest some starters?
New York has a short turnaround of their own this week.   After Saturday's game they'll only have three days before their next match against CD Fas for their first match of the CONCACAF Champions League.   Head Coach Mike Petke has assured the press that they'll be taking the tournament very seriously (we'll believe it when we see it) so that may mean we'll see a mix of starters and reserve players on both of these matches.   If so, who gets rested and who gets a chance at some first team minutes?  What will the lineup look like against Montreal?   Most likely, we'll see all the usual starters for saturday with a more reserve heavy side on Tuesday, but who's to say in a season that has been anything but predictable?