After another solid win against Minnesota United, the New York Red Bulls return home to host the Montreal Impact. New York has been on a scoring rampage recently in the MLS, scoring 11 goals in their last three matches. Montreal has been very inconsistent defensively, so an early goal could spell trouble for the Canadian club.
Montreal has not had the best season up to this point. They sit on 24 points and are ninth in the Eastern Conference. They do, however, have a few bright spots going into the match at Red Bull Arena.
New signing Blerim Dzemaili has been a revelation for the club since arriving in May. He has four goals and four assists in just nine matches with Montreal, leading the team to some key victories in the past few weeks. The leadership he displays on the field is evident and radiates throughout the team. Dzemaili can really dictate the tempo at which the Impact play at and will be a key man to stop if they Red Bulls want to come out victorious.
Another plus is that the Impact won the first meeting earlier this season between the two teams. A 1-0 scoreline courtesy of a second half goal by Dzemaili sealed the win for Montreal at home. They will again rely on their defense to stay strong and hold back the Red Bulls, as well as look for forward Ignacio Piatti to have a bigger influence on the match.
For New York, it seems that sticking to the same tactics of the last few weeks is doing the trick. The team has won five straight matches, three MLS matches and two Open Cup matches, bringing them up to fifth in the Eastern Conference. The recent turn in form is being mostly credited to the new 3-6-1 formation Jesse Marsch is utilizing.
The formation has been in play, more or less, ever since the club was embarrassed by NYCFC back on June 24th. Both the players and Marsch knew something had to be changed, and the style of play and formation were the first to be fixed. The team now plays much more freely in the midfield and is able to find space to pass around and pick out forwards, resulting in a big spike in goal production.
Daniel Royer has seen the biggest improvement in the last few weeks. With four goals and one assist in the last three league matches, the Austrian is flourishing under the new system Marsch has deployed. Midfielders like Felipe and Sacha Kljestan are able to find more space and time on the ball, giving them a multitude of chances to pick out Royer, who loves to make forward runs.
Speaking of midfielders, both Alex Muyl and Sean Davis are enjoying the freedom they are allowed in the middle of the park. The two young midfielders like to get forward a fair amount and contribute to the attack as often as possible. Having the go ahead from Marsch to be able to free roam in the center of the pitch lets the two open up the game more, creating chances not just for them, but for their teammates as well.
The Red Bulls did finally make not one, but two signings in the transfer window. Defender Fidel Escobar and forward Muhamed Keita have both joined New York but should not be expected to make an appearance against the Impact. They will, however, have quite a large bit of expectation surrounding them, as the fans are eager to see some new faces on the field in hopes of a strong playoff push.
The game against Montreal is a big one heading into the end of July. A win would not only mean six straight victories for New York, but an undefeated July as well as a big boost heading into August. Starting next month against bitter rivals NYCFC away from home is not ideal, so getting a win at Red Bull Arena against a stumbling Impact side is just what Marsch should be expecting.