The Portland Timbers head to Montreal today to begin preparations for this weekend's match against MLS basement dweller and CONCACAF Champions League finalists, the Montreal Impact. To get a better idea of what to expect from the team that gave us two years of Donovan Ricketts, we turned to our SB Nation sister-site, Mount Royal Soccer.
Which is the real Impact: the CONCACAF Champions League Finalist Impact or the MLS basement dwelling Impact? Or is the team's talent level somewhere in between?
In CCl the record is 1-2-3. In MLS it is 0-2-2. There is not much of a difference when you look at it. The away goal rule helped the Impact a lot during the run in CONCACAF but they have not been incredible in both championships so far this year. Yes, the final was great - something we might not see in the next 25 years in Montreal - but overall the team has struggled. I truly think the 2015 Impact is much better than 2014, but it is not a championship winning team yet. If they can battle for a playoff spot until the end of the season we will be able to say mission accomplished. But right now they need to find a way to get that first win in MLS and get started!
Montreal are coming off a last place finish in 2014; how has the team changed since 2014? Who are the new additions and who has stuck around?
The team changed a lot! The only starting players from last year are Andre Romero, Dilly Duka, Ignacio Piatti and Evan Bush. Jack McInerney is there but Frank Klopas is playing him off the bench right now. Same for Patrice Bernier, Hassoun Camara and Eric Miller (Ed. Note: Former Timber U-23s player). Newcomers like Laurent Ciman and Bakary Soumare really solidified the defense but there are still some things to adjust to be at top level. Ciman is a great player and fans love him. The defensive midfielders are Nigel Reo-Coker and Marco Donadel and so far I'm not convinced they are the perfect fit for the Impact. For my part I prefer the duo of Patrice Bernier and Callum Mallace but Klopas seems to play the newcomers to justify their acquisition and I don't think this is the good thing to do. If he wants to win and keep his job he must change his mind.
Through four games, the Impact have only scored two goals in MLS play; where are the goals going to come from for the Impact and who should the Timbers be watching out for on Saturday?
The goals will come from Jack McInerney....if he plays! In CCL it was almost always Dominic Oduro who was the striker up front. He did an awesome job in the role they gave him but did not score. Jack has started 3 games in MLS this season and scored 50% of the Impact goals... ok, it is only one goal but he can score and WILL score if they put him on the field. The other dangerous player is of course Ignacio Piatti. I don't know if you watched the first half of the second game against Club America but he was a true force out there. The only thing I critic a bit more is that he keep the ball to much at certain occasions. I can recall a couple of times where he could have passed the ball to Oduro or Jack and he lost it. Besides that when he is on his A-game he is right at the top among top players in MLS. I'll go for a predictions of 2-1 for... the Impact. It will be a good game but Montreal need a win and they will get one this Saturday.