Preview: New York Red Bulls v Montreal Impact



The Red Bulls, currently tops in MLS, can take another massive step towards a second Supporters’ Shield in three years with a win on Wednesday against a Montreal side playing their best soccer of the season.

New York earned plenty of respect last time out, shutting down MLS Golden Boot leader Kei Kamara and Columbus. With legendary Didier Drogba suiting up for the Impact, however, Jesse Marsch’s patchwork back line has another tough test. A win will all but clinch the Eastern Conference. Can New York get the job done?

Match Information:

Wednesday, October 6th at Red Bull Arena, 7:00p ET kickoff

TV/Streaming: MSG/MSG GO (Optimum subscribers)


Referee: Ted Unkel

Record, GF/GA, Division and League Position, Recent Form:

New York: 51 points from 30 matches, 53 GF/38 GA, 1st in the East, 1st in MLS, WLWLW

Montreal: 42 points from 30 matches, 43 GF/41 GA, 6th in the East, 13th in MLS, DWWWL

New York’s front line vs. the Impact defense

Bradley Wright-Phillips vs. Donny Toia, Laurent Ciman, Victor Cabrera and Ambroise Oyongo (and Evan Bush)

Wright-Phillips scored the game-winner off of stellar service from Connor Lade on Saturday. BWP’s 15th goal of the season lifts him to sixth on the league scoring chart. The Impact has tightened up significantly on defense down the stretch, posting four clean sheets over their last seven matches. Toia (1G) was RSL’s first ever homegrown player in 2011, shifting to Montreal in the Chivas USA dispersal draft. Belgian Laurent Ciman (2G/2A) has UEFA Champions League experience with Standard Liege, and is a threat on corner kicks. Cabrera is a 22 year-old Argentine who’s on loan from River Plate. Red Bulls fans are very familiar with Ambroise Oyongo, who was dealt north of the border for Felipe. Oyongo (1G) was not happy to be moved, but the Cameroonian has started 19 matches for the Impact, nearly doubling his total with New York in 2014. Evan Bush (1.33 GAA, 7 SO) is a big reason why Montreal reached the finals of the CONCACAF Champions League this spring.

Slight Advantage: New York

Montreal’s attack vs. the Red Bulls’ defense:
Didier Drogba vs. Lawrence, Ronald Zubar, Damien Perrinelle, and Connor Lade (and Luis Robles)

Chelsea legend Drogba (7G in 7 appearances) plays at the top of Montreal’s 4-1-4-1, and is lethal with the ball at his feet. All he has done since joining the league at the end of the transfer window is drop a hat trick on Chicago, a brace on DC, and a spare goal on the Revs and the Fire (again).  Let’s hear it for New York’s backline after shutting down the Crew for 81 minutes on Saturday. Connor Lade was named to the MLS Team of the Week for his fearless play, including an assist on the winning goal. Ronald Zubar had the match of his short Red Bulls career, holding Kamara to a single shot on goal.  Perrinelle had what could have been called an own goal for the second straight week, and Sal Zizzo turned in a workmanlike performance at right back. Luis Robles, other than the gaffe with Perrinelle, was perfect. With Kemar Lawrence returning to the lineup, Zizzo will sit and Lade will shift back to the right.

Slight Advantage: Montreal


The Midfields:
Mike Grella, Dax McCarty, Sasha Kljestan, Felipe and Lloyd Sam vs. Marco Donadel, Dom Oduro, Patrice Bernier, Nigel Reo-Coker, and Dilly Duka

Mike Grella was relentless on the high press against Columbus, directly leading to both of New York’s goals. Kljestan’s brilliant square pass to Lloyd Sam set up the Englishman for the Red Bulls’ opening tally against the Crew. Both McCarty and Felipe effectively clogged the center of the midfield, negating the Columbus attack. For the Impact, Marco Donadel (1G/4A) is a 32 year old Italian in his first season in Montreal. Donadel has played for Fiorentina, Napoli, and Hellas Verona before joining MLS. Dom Oduro’s eight goals for Montreal is his high water mark since veteran netted 13 in 2013 for Columbus. The Ghanaian has played for seven clubs in his 11-year MLS career. Quebec native Bernier (1G) just hit the century mark in appearances for Montreal. Nigel Reo-Coker (2A) has bounced across the country after two seasons in Vancouver and one at Chivas.  Montville, NJ native Dilly Duka (2G/2A) has been in and out of the starting lineup for much of the back half of the season. Costa Rican international Johan Venegas (1G) may get the nod from Biello. The new signee (August 3rd) is blistering down the wing.

Advantage: New York


The Coaches:

Even from a skybox, Jesse Marsch and his game plans continue to pay dividends for New York. His club won for the first time this season without Matt Miazga, giving his backline a boost of confidence heading into Wednesday. Interim Montreal coach Mauro Biello, after just seven matches at the helm, has the highest winning percentage of any coach in Impact MLS history. Of course, former coach Frank Klopas didn’t have Didier Drogba wearing an Impact shirt.

Advantage: New York


The Red Bulls have won all four regular season matches against Montreal at Red Bull Arena. The teams drew in Harrison last October in CCL play after Montreal had clinched the group. Lloyd Sam and Dom Oduro were the goal scorers when the teams drew at 1 in Montreal on August 5th. New York won its tenth home match of the season on Saturday, making it four straight ten-win seasons at Red Bull Arena. Montreal is the worst road team in MLS this season, managing only two wins and four draws away from Stade Saputo. The Impact have only scored 13 goals in 14 road matches this season, conceding 25 times. New York is plus 13 at home. Montreal has scored 11 of their 43 goals after the 75th minute. They’ve also conceded 11 times during the same interval. With a victory, Luis Robles will pull even with Tony Meola in all-time MLS goalkeeper wins. The weather will be sublime for kickoff, with Partly Cloudy skies and 65 degrees. Given the weekday fixture, Red Bull Arena will probably be no more than half full.

Advantage: New York

Ronald Zubar and Connor Lade were both superlative on Saturday night against Columbus. The duo’s play will need to be perfect to contain Drogba.  While I think the Ivorian legend will net one, BWP and Sam will punish the Impact in a 2-1 New York win that will have the club on the brink of locking up the East.

  • William