CCL Preview: New York Red Bulls at Montreal Impact

IMAGE, NEW YORK RED BULLS FACEBOOK

The New York Red Bulls will say they are taking the CONCACAF Champions League seriously, but their starting XI may not reflect that stated purpose. Montreal, however, will not have that dilemma.

As the MLS season comes to a close, both the Red Bulls and Impact are set on very different paths. New York are riding the spoils of a three game unbeaten streak as they jostle for position in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Impact, however, are all but cooked in their regular season ride.

The result? While New York may say they are in the CCL to win it, it will be Montreal showing their intent with a first class starting XI.

Here is your match preview:


 

Match Information: Wednesday, September 17th at 8 p.m. at Saputo Stadium (Fox Sports 2)

Standings: Impact (2-0, 6 pts), Red Bulls (1-0, 3 pts), FAS (0-3)


 

Montreal Forwards vs. Red Bulls Defense

Marco Di Vaio vs. Ryan Meara, Kosuke Kimura, Damien Perrinelle, Armando, Richard Eckersley

Roy Miller and Chris Duvall could use a break, and both Kosuke Kimura and Richard Eckersley are more than capable to provide relief.  Seldom used Damien Perrinelle will join fellow bench dweller Armando in the middle in an attempt to ward off the top of Montreal’s 4-5-1, Di Vaio.  The Italian striker has a history of hurting New York, and the Impact will surely be looking for his high press game to break down the Red Bulls deep lying line.

Advantage: Impact


 

Red Bull Forwards vs. Impact Defense

Saer Sene, Peguy Luyindula vs. Evan Bush, Hassoun Camara, Matteo Ferrari, Heath Pearce, Eric Miller

Peguy Luyindula has been on a roll as of late, playing the distributor in New York’s offense.  For this match, he will likely be pushed further up to support Saer Sene.  The New England newcomer has looked a step slow since his arrival to New York, and while he was brilliant against FAS, the Impact defense will not be so easy to bulldoze.  Heath Pearce and Mattero Ferrari offer an experienced, veteran tandem in the middle that can challenge any MLS offense, any day of the week.  Camara and Miller can also cause fits if a rare counter does spring forth.

Advantage: Impact


 

The Midfields

Connor Lade, Ibrahim Sekagya, Eric Alexander, Ruben Bover vs. Maxim Tissot, Calum Mallace, Andrés Romero, Dilly Duka, Ignacio Piatti

It is nearly impossible to replace Lloyd Sam and Thierry Henry on the wings of a 4-2-3-1.  However, New York will hope that some young legs and hunger go a long way.  Bover and the returning Lade are the only wing-sided threats New York have in this one.  Ugandan defender Sekagya has performed admirably in the middle before and will be asked to do the same again.  If the match opens up, expect Alexander to try and lead the attack up the guy.  On the other side, the Impact have several talented players on both sides of the ball to challenge New York.  With Felipe out, the Impact will rely on Romero, Duka and Piatti to stretch New York’s defenders and overwhelm an inexperienced midfield.

Advantage: Impact


 

The Coaches

Red Bull boss Mike Petke has been on a roll, riding a three game unbeaten streak and achieving success with a depleted squad against FAS last month. His shift in formation breathed new life into the team.  However, this match won’t be about tactics.  Petke is reduced to very few options against the Impact.  On the other side, Frank Klopas will be hungry for the victory.  This is the Impact’s only remaining source of competitive soccer this year, and advancing in CCL will at least bring a silver lining to a dark cloud season.  Both men have faced adversity this season, but only one has been able to adjust.

Advantage: Red Bulls

 


Intangibles

Can New York perform without Thierry Henry, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Tim Cahill and a host of other options against Montreal?  It will be a big ask, particularly on the road.  Petke has insinuated a draw would be like a victory for New York, which is true.  An Impact win, however, would put them at nine points, meaning New York would have to win big against FAS in El Salvador and Montreal at Red Bull Arena if they hope to advance.  Motivation abounds on both sides, for differing reasons, but one has to believe that the pressure of failure is far greater for Montreal.

Advantage: Impact


 

Prediction: Montreal Impact 2-0 New York Red Bulls

At this point of the year, it is difficult to imagine that a slapped-together starting XI by the Red Bulls can stand up to the regular starters of Montreal, regardless of their morbid season.  Henry and Wright-Phillips, along with Lloyd Sam, have been the engines of New York’s offense.  If the Red Bulls do not start Olave, Sekagya, Armando and Perrinelle will have the unenviable responsibility of stopping Piatti and Di Vaio.  Eckersley and Kimura will be rested and ready for the match, but one has to assume they will experience some rust.  Petke made a conscious decision to put his all into the regular season. That has been proven by his lineup selection against DC, Sporting and Philadelphia this past week.  Now, the CCL hangs in the balance as a consequence.  Can New York’s bench stop an underachieving Montreal?  Likely not.

 


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