Preview: New York Red Bulls vs. Montreal Impact

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

By MARK FISHKIN

Limping back home from Los Angeles, short two injured players and without two points denied by poor referee decisions, the Red Bulls face off against a competitive Montreal side.

The Impact boasts a dangerous attacking corps including the incomparable Didier Drogba and Nacho Piatti, who will look to exploit New York’s right side. The Red Bulls haven’t lost at home since April, and are a perfect five for five against Montreal at Red Bull Arena.

With the stretch run upon us, can New York take all three points as the teams start to jockey for playoff positioning?


Match Information:

Saturday, August 13th at Red Bull Arena. 7pm ET kickoff

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

Red Bulls Radio: TuneIn App and www.newyorkredbulls.com/matchday/radio

Referee: Chris Penso

Record: GF/GA, Division & League Position, Current League Form

New York: 33 points from 24 gms, 40GF/32GA, t-3rd in the East, t-8th in MLS, WDWDD

Montreal: 33 points from 22 gms, 37GF/31GA, t-3rd in the East, t-8th in MLS, DLWDW


Projected Lineups

New York

NYvMTL

Montreal

MTLvNY


The New York attack versus the Montreal back line

Gonzalo Veron vs. Ambroise Oyongo, Laurent Ciman, Victor Cabrera, Hassoun Camara, and Evan Bush

With Bradley Wright-Phillips ailing with a bone bruise, Jesse Marsch will hold the Red Bulls leading scorer on the bench as long as possible. On Friday, Marsch said that BWP “will play,” but that doesn’t mean he’ll start. After scoring as a forward last week in Los Angeles, Veron will get a chance to be the difference maker up top. The Impact has conceded 8 of their 37 goals in the last fifteen minutes of games, and have posted clean sheets only four times this season. Montreal has only conceded twice over their last three league matches. Former Red Bull Ambroise Oyongo (5A) is a speedy wingback that loves to get into the attack. All-Star Laurent Ciman makes the most of his 6’0″ frame as the anchor of the Impact back line. The Belgian was named to last year’s Best XI.  Argentine Cabrera is on loan from his country’s storied club River Plate. Hassoun Camara (1G/2A), is his fifth year with the club, is an original member of the MLS Impact. Keeper Bush made three spectacular saves in Montreal’s three-nil win against New York at Olympic Stadium in week two of the season.

Advantage: Even


The Impact forwards versus the Red Bulls defense

Didier Drogba and Matteo Mancuso vs. Kemar Lawrence, Aurelien Collin, Ronald Zubar, Sal Zizzo and Luis Robles

Ivory Coast international Drogba has scored an incredible 19 goals in 24 appearances since joining the Impact last season. The 38 year-old sat out his club’s win last week with a red card suspension. Drogba didn’t play in Montreal’s win over New York on March 12th. The newly-arrived Mancosu (2G/1A) is yet another Italian league player that’s come to Montreal through the rolodex of owner Joey Saputo.  On loan from Bologna, Mancosu has scored twice in the Impact’s last two matches.  New York’s defense is a walking M*A*S*H unit (look it up, kids). With valuable utility man Connor Lade done for the season, and Damien Perrinelle sidelined until mid-September, New York’s lone remaining natural center backs Collin and Zubar will start. Only converted CB Chris Duvall remains to back them up. Lawrence will once again man the left back spot. The right back role will fall to Sal Zizzo, though rookie Justin Bilyeu may see time as well. All-everything Luis Robles closes this part of the preview each week. The Red Bulls keeper appeared on Good Morning America on Friday.

Advantage: Montreal


The Midfields

Mike Grella, Sean Davis, Sacha Kljestan, Felipe, and Alex Muyl vs. Nacho Piatti, Hernan Bernadello, Marco Donadel, and Harry Shipp

In Los Angeles on Sunday, Mike Grella registered his first MLS point, an assist, since June 19th. Sean Davis filled in very well for convalescing captain Dax McCarty against the Galaxy, and picked up his first MLS goal on a terrific shot late in the second half. Kljestan’s league-leading 13th assist of the season, to a streaking Veron, once again showed that the former US International is the true number 10 of the squad. Felipe is one of three Red Bulls on yellow card warning (along with Zubar and Grella). Rookie Muyl continues to get quality minutes on the right wing.  For the Impact, Argentine Piatti (12G/5A) is having his best season in MLS since joining the league in 2014. Fellow countryman Bernadello (1G) has had an odyssey over the last few seasons, moving from Montreal in 2013 and 2014 to Cruz Azul in Liga MX, then to his old club Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, to Alaves in Spain and then back to the Impact two weeks ago. Italian Marcel Donadel (1A) is a deep-sitting central defensive midfielder that rarely gets involved in the attack. Harry Shipp (2G/3A) has adjusted to Montreal after the Chicago Fire homegrown was traded during training camp this year.

Slight Advantage: New York


Coaches

Jesse Marsch’s club, while blowing leads on the road over the last month and a half, is on a six-match unbeaten streak, and in the thick of the Eastern Conference race.  Making due with more short-term and season-ending injuries are a concern, but Marsch is convince his depth can carry the team.  Montreal’s Mauro Biello took his side to the finals of last season’s Concacaf Champions League, and has his club in prime position to make the MLS playoffs for the second consecutive year. Biello has blended his club’s international roster to positive effect, and survived his star Drogba’s absence at the beginning of the season.

Advantage: Even


Intangibles

New York has won all five MLS meetings between the two clubs at Red Bull Arena. Montreal did earn a draw in Harrison during a meaningless CCL match in 2014. The Impact are a decent road team this season, going 2-3-6 away from Quebec. They’ve drawn their last three matches, all one-one decisions, at DC, Portland, and Salt Lake. New York have gone 7-0-1 at home since losing to SKC on April 9th. BWP leads active players with two goals against Montreal, all-time. Thierry Henry loved to play against the francophones, leading the franchise list with nine goals against the Impact.  Tickets for the match have sold well, but brutal weather conditions may keep fans away. The heat index should top 100 degrees at kickoff, weighing on the aging legs of both teams.

Advantage: New York


Prediction

New York has a right to be frustrated with last week’s result. However, the Red Bulls still boast the best home record in MLS since 2012 (52-12-15). The key matchup of the night will be Piatti vs. Zizzo. Piatti will produce, but so will New York. Goals from Grella, Kljestan, and Felipe will offset scores from Drogba and Piatti in a 3-2 win that will keep the Red Bulls ahead of the Impact for another week.