The New York Red Bulls earned a very tough road point last week against the LA Galaxy. Now, with nine of their last ten games against Eastern Conference opponents, they turn attention to another struggling road team: the Montreal Impact.
I caught up with John Richan of Mount Royal Soccer to get his thoughts on the upcoming match-up:
Once a Metro: RBNY and Montreal are tied for third in the East, but Montreal has two games in hand. How have the fans felt the season has gone so far?
Mount Royal Soccer: Good question. I get the sense that supporters are a little bit frustrated with the current position in the standings. I think there is a feeling amongst fans that this team on paper should be higher in the East and probably challenging for the Supporters' Shield. Impact faithful should however keep in mind just how poor this team was under Frank Klopas just over a year ago. Since the arrival of Didier Drogba and emergence of Nacho Piatti this team has come a long way and each week is a growing process. If we look at the expectations from within the club I think the Impact front office is probably pretty close to where they want to be. As you mentioned Montreal does have two games in hand so the next month or two of the MLS season should be interesting up here.
OaM: In their only meeting of the season, Montreal demolished RBNY 3-0 at Stade Saputo. What has changed since Week 2? Do you expect this meeting to be lopsided for either side?
MRS: If memory serves me correctly, the Impact have never had much success at Red Bull Arena, so if the score at the end of 90 minutes is lopsided it probably won't be for the team from Quebec. Montreal got off to a hot start to the season and the Red Bulls did not, so I think in that respect the playing field has leveled significantly. From a Montreal point of view, the Impact were without Drogba for the first number of games due to the artificial turf conditions, his addition should bring an extra jolt of life to the game. I think we should see a much closer game and there is a potential for a couple goals in this one with all the skill on the field.
OaM: Drogba and Ciman are big names for the Red Bulls to keep an eye on. Who else has impressed this season?
MRS: Perhaps an even more impressive presence for Montreal this season (outside Drogba and Ciman) has been Nacho Piatti. Piatti is right up there in the hunt for top goal scorer in the league and has been on fire for the majority of the season. The Argentine is a masterful dribbler of the ball and can attack from either the left wing or right up the middle. At his best he can produce some awesome play when he teams up with Drogba. Another player to keep an eye on is an old face that the Impact brought back during the latest transfer window - Hernan Bernardello. Although he is not a huge threat in front of goal he is a pretty ferocious tackler in the midfield.
Injuries/Omissions: Patrice Bernier will miss this one with an injury; as well, midfielder Lucas Ontivero could be an injury doubt.
Predicted Starting XI: Bush, Camara, Ciman, Cabrera, Oyongo, Donadel, Bernardello, Piatti, Salazar, Drogba, Mancosu
Predicted Scoreline: 3-1 New York Red Bulls
You can catch Once a Metro's answers to Mount Royal Soccer here.