Following a stunning victory over the Seattle Sounders, the Philadelphia Union play host to the Montreal Impact later today in what should be a much more tense affair. With both teams having played fantastic soccer recently and the catalyst of Former Union striker Jack Mclnerney looking to score against the team who traded him.
The Impact have won five of their last eight fixtures and sit very nicely in the standings, bearing in mind they have numerous games in hand due to their Champions League ventures. But with both teams having played during the week,there’s a significant homefield advantage due to not having to travel which means the Union can exploit weaknesses much more effectively..but what are they?
It would be unfair to credit the recent success of the Impact to anyone who isn’t named Ignacio Piatti. The Argentine plays an advanced playmaker role, allowing him to float freely between midfield and attack. From getting into the box for a deep cross to being the man making the chance, he truly is an exceptional player. The obvious thing to say here is to man mark Piatti out of the game. Put Pfeffer and Nogueira on strict orders to keep him under wraps for 90 minutes and let the others do the rest.
But in doing that, it allows former West Ham player Nigel Reo-Coker and Marco Donadel to run a little deeper and cause threats. Now, Reo-Coker is hardly the most intimidating player, nor did he have the most glistening career. Donadel isn’t exactly lightning fast either. But when teams focus so much on marking Piatti, they allow the two run free and make problems for defences. However, when this happens, it allows for huge holes in the midfield which the Union could more than easily capitalise on.
The Impact shut out Orlando recently and weren’t so lucky against Toronto. But their defensive errors were highlighted greatly by Giovinco in that game. Orlando’s lack of experience was the difference as they failed to convert easy opportunities, this is a team that has great attacking prowess but once that defence has been carved open, somewhat scramble recklessly to regain possession.
Michael Bradley caused havoc recently for Montreal’s defence by making shock late runs deep down the field and creating space perhaps a little out of his expected range. That’s what Jim Curtin will be hoping to see from Zach Pfeffer tonight. Pfeffer has adjusted well to the pace of the MLS and has spoken to us confidently about his ability to change the teams fortunes. This may be a game that could see the Pfeffer fanatics really rise up. If he can burst through the trenches or even run deep to support Sapong, he is really going to cause some issues for Montral.
Which brings us onto our next point, C.J Sapong. For the previous fixtures we have said he is going to score and he has, we’re like an unknown good luck charm..kind of. Either way, the young american has been brilliant in front of net as of late, poaching four goals in his last five games, taking a total of seventeen shots between them. He has been a pivotal point in the rebirth of the Union’s good form and will simply have to be contained by Montreal’s back four tonight. The only worry is that with every other striker suffering some form of injury issue and Le Toux still doubtful, he may be targeted by defenders a lot more as they know there aren’t many intimidating substitutes lying around who can add that same level of intimidation. Sapong has to be slightly more conservative tonight during the early stages when the games at it’s most ferocious and then attack and dig deep when the defenders are worn down after a long flight to Philly.
Prediction:- The Union definitely have the upper hand here. Perhaps not in the depth chart, perhaps not in terms of star players, but in terms of confidence and fatigue. The Impact aren’t sustainable over such a busy period and are almost a ticking time bomb of poor Soccer. If the Union can play as they did against Seattle but with a slightly more rigid midfield, there should be no problems. The Union should come away with a win, leaving them in high spirits for their next fixture but a Piatti or Mclnerny goal isn’t off the cards..
Score- Philadelphia Union 3-1 Montreal Impact