Preview: New York Red Bulls vs Montreal Impact

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

By MARK FISHKIN
Staff Writer

After a week off, New York faces the worst team in MLS Saturday in Red Bull Arena. 

The Red Bulls’ propensity to underperform against poor teams is well known, but with CONCACAF Champions League, key Eastern Conference matches against DC and Sporting, and a brutal September schedule looming, New York simply must win the match if they’re to make the playoffs.

Montreal has a bit of momentum behind them, with wins against Chicago and at CD FAS.  With nothing more to play for in the league, the Impact will take the field without pressure. The Red Bulls must take control early to show that the home team deserves to take part in the MLS postseason.

Match Information:
Saturday, August 23rd at Red Bull Arena. 7:00pm ET kickoff, TV: MSG

Referee: Sorin Stoica

Record, GF/GA, Division and League Position, Recent Form:
New York, 28 points from 23 matches, 35GF/34GA, 5th in the East, 12th in MLS, LDDWL
Montreal, 17 points from 23 matches, 23GF/41GA, 10th in the East, 19th in MLS, LLLLW

Montreal’s front line vs. the Red Bulls defense:

Marco DiVaio vs. Roy Miller, Jamison Olave, Ibrahim Sekagya, and Chris Duvall (and Luis Robles).
At 38 years old, DiVaio still can get the job done, as evidenced by his two goals (one via penalty) in the Impact’s win Wednesday in El Salvador.  However, the 2014 version of the Italian (5G/2A) is a far cry from last year’s twenty-goal output.  Given DiVaio’s 76-minute performance on Wednesday, leading Impact scorer Jack McInerney (6G) may get the start up top in Montreal’s 4-5-1. Jack Mac didn’t play in the Impact’s 1-0  win against Chicago last weekend, and he hasn’t scored since June 29th, a seven-match drought.  Omit Mike Magee’s PK on August 10th, and the Red Bulls may have shut out the Fire.  Still, it’s been eight league matches since Robles and his mates have kept an opponent off the board.  Red Bulls fans will delight in the return of Jamison Olave to the lineup.  Matt Miazga returns as well, and Damien Perrinelle is ready to go, but Petke will probably lean on Ibrahim Sekagya once again in the center.  Roy Miller has been called into Costa Rica’s squad for the upcoming Copa Centroamericana, so Petke will use him as much as possible before he leaves the squad once again.
Advantage: New York

New York’s attackers vs. the Impact’s defense:
Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips vs. Eric Miller, Wandrille Lefevre, Matteo Ferrari and Hassoun Camara (and Evan Bush).
Bradley Wright-Phillips is a single goal away from Juan Pablo Angel’s single-season scoring mark of 19.  With eleven league matches to go, exceeding JPA’s mark seems like a forgone conclusion. Henry, as he did during the All-Star Game, can elevate above the other players on the field at will.  The New York captain has seven goals against the Impact all-time.  Montreal has allowed the second-most goals in MLS this season.  Starting centerbacks Ferrari and Lefevre both went the full ninety in El Salvador on Wednesday night. Camara (1G/1A) has played more minutes than any other player for the Impact this season, though he didn’t dress for CD FAS, so Montreal coach Frank Klopas surely saved him for Saturday.  Miller was the fifth overall pick in this year’s Superdraft.  He’s played every minute of Montreal’s last three league matches. 
Advantage: New York

The Midfields:
Ambroise Oyongo, Dax McCarty, Tim Cahill, and Lloyd Sam vs Ignacio Piatti, Patrice Bernier, Dilly Duka, Felipe Martins, and Justin Mapp. 
On this week’s Seeing Red, Dax McCarty said after a week-long rest, he’s feeling the best he has all year.  Tim Cahill has been called into the Australian National Team for matches on September 4th and 8th, in Brussels and London respectively, right in the middle of New York’s toughest month.  Will Cahill be on audition for a move back to Europe at the season’s end?  Sam and Oyongo will continue to work the wings, though Petke may be tempted to throw new acquisition Saer Sene out if the Red Bulls need a late boost.  New DP signing Piatti, who played 54 minutes at CD FAS, has yet to score in MLS since his arrival on July 2nd. Justin Mapp (8A) leads the club in assists. Montville NJ’s Dilly Duka was acquired by the Impact in a trade from Columbus on July 29th.  Duka, who played the first half on Wednesday, has also yet to score this season, though he’s tallied only six goals in 85 MLS appearances. Felipe scored the tying goal in the clubs’ 2-2 draw at Olympic Stadium on April 5th.
Advantage: Even

The Coaches:
One thing is for certain: after a thirteen-day layoff, Mike Petke’s charges cannot be labeled tired or fatigued after tomorrow’s match.  No one can envy the New York coach’s task for the next month, especially if the Red Bulls have to perform without Cahill and/or Miller for any length of time.  Petke knows that tomorrow is a must win given what’s to come. Chicago legend Frank Klopas has had a nightmare of a first season at a club known for changing coaches with high frequency.  Klopas survived the dismissal of longtime Impact Sporting Director Nick deSantis, but with the playoffs ship departed, he needs to advance in the Champions League if he wants a second season in Quebec. 
Advantage: Even

Intangibles:

New York won all three matches against Montreal at Red Bull Arena all-time, outscoring the Impact 11-3 in those games.  New York is 4-2-4 at home in 2014. The Impact is 0-8-3 on the road in MLS this season, and is playing its third match in eight days. While Saturday is the last meeting between the teams in MLS play, the clubs will also play twice in CCL Group 3; at Montreal on September 17th and at Red Bull Arena on October 22nd.  The Impact won both its matches against the other Group 3 club, El Salvador’s CD FAS, 1-0 in Montreal and 3-2 in Central America.  There should be a large crowd at Red Bull Arena tomorrow, and the forecast is perfect, with a temperature of 75 degrees at kickoff and partly cloudy skies.  
Advantage: New York

Prediction:

For what may be the fifth or sixth time this season, all the indicators are pointing towards a New York victory. Montreal will be tired. New York will be rested.  The Red Bulls are usually strong at home, and the Impact are terrible on the road.  Montreal has yet to take a point at Red Bull Arena, ever.  Red Bulls fans have seen these scenarios before, and the club has failed to deliver under the same conditions more often than not.  New York will have to work and work and work and get the first goal.  If they do, the Red Bulls will win.  Montreal, playing at home last week, had only two shots on goal against the Fire. One went in, and the Impact won 1-0.  I think New York will take it to Montreal, score twice, then concede to Piatti or Mapp and make it tense before holding on for a 2-1 victory.