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Preview: New York Red Bulls vs. Montreal Impact

A shorthanded Red Bulls side plays host to Montreal, as they try to cement their hold on the Eastern Conference.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After getting a big win against the Columbus Crew, the New York Red Bulls are set to take on the Montreal Impact for the second time this season.

This will be Didier Drogba's first match against the Red Bulls. The Ivorian has set MLS on fire, having managed to net 7 goals and 1 assist in 7 games. Things could look even better for the Ivorian, as he'll be going up against a makeshift Red Bulls' defense

With Matt Miazga away on international duty, the Red Bulls will have to turn to Ronald Zubar to partner alongside Damien Perrinelle. Zubar has yet to play consistent minutes with Perrinelle, but any question of rust was answered by a solid performance from the duo against Columbus.

Jesse Marsch might also have to stick to the same set of full backs, as Kemar Lawrence was scratched from last week's tilt for personal reasons. While these reasons have yet to be officially confirmed, Lawrence's status is questionable for Wednesday. Should Lawrence be unable to play, this would most likely mean another game in left back for Connor Lade, while Sal Zizzo would get the start on the right.

While the defense is going to be short-handed, Marsch will most likely stick with his favorite midfield. The short week could mean that Mike Grella and Lloyd Sam get rested, allowing for Sean Wright-Phillips and Designated Player Gonzalo Veron to start.

Another home win would be the ideal scenario for the Red Bulls here. With FC Dallas trailing them by 1 point in the Supporters' Shield standings, they can ill afford to drop points if they want to retain the top spot. A win would also help the Red Bulls put a stranglehold on the East, as DC United are down by 3 points and have played 2 more games.

Players to Watch

The visitors will most likely looking for Didier Drogba every chance they get. While that goes without saying, Drogba is more than just a goal-scoring machine. His presence on the field opens up space for other players like Johan Venegas and Andres Romero. He didn't start last week, so Drogba will be coming into this match with fresh legs as well. The Red Bulls are going to keep relying on the brilliance of Sacha Kljestan. The former Anderlecht midfielder has more than lived up to his ceiling, notching 6 goals and 12 assists so far on the season. He delivered last week with a pinpoint pass across the box to Lloyd Sam for a goal and he'll have to deliver again this week for the Red Bulls to get all three points.

Prediction

Montreal knows how to counterattack well, and if anyone remembers the Red Bulls' horrific four-game losing streak, it was quick counterattacking that unraveled Marsch's high pressure system. This could cause a lot of problems for New York, as it did against Orlando. That being said, RBNY's midfield has been consistent for the majority of the season, and barring a performance like the one against Orlando, the Red Bulls should win the midfield battle. Score: IMFC 2 - 2 RBNY