Montreal Impact Face Schedule Crunch in September
The Montreal Impact continue a critical month of September this weekend in California. With a wild summer that saw the arrival of designated players, Didier Drogba and Johan Venegas; as well as the firing of Frank Klopas, the Impact continue their push to the post-season. Montreal is currently sitting in the sixth and final playoff position with anywhere from two to four games in hand on the teams around them in the Eastern Conference. With the schedule crunch facing Montreal, picking up the maximum amount of points is essential for a team looking to return to MLS playoffs after missing out in 2014.
This Saturday the Impact will kickoff against the L.A. Galaxy for the first time this season. After the trip to Los Angeles, the Impact will travel north on Wednesday to face the San Jose Earthquakes. After the short but challenging trip to the West Coast, the Impact return home to host three teams: the New England Revolution, Chicago Fire, and D.C. United.
The trip to The Golden State could see the Impact come crashing back down to earth after their emotional victory last weekend against the Chicago Fire. The back-and-forth seesaw battle saw newcomer Didier Drogba score a hat trick in a 4-3 win for the hosts.
The Impact have only won two MLS road matches over the last two seasons (both coming in 2015) and lost their only ever game at the StubHub Centre back in 2013. The team from Québec made two trips to San Jose in 2013, once for MLS play and once in the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL). Of note for Impact supporters, Justin Mapp scored twice for the Impact in at the old Buck Shaw Stadium on May 4, 2013 in a 2-2 draw. The Bleu-Blanc-Noir suffered a 3-0 defeat on their second visit to San Jose as part of the CCL. New Head Coach Mauro Biello will no doubt be hoping Mapp can rediscover his scoring touch on the West Coast.
To make matters difficult, standout Belgian defender Laurent Ciman will be suspended for both matches in California. Ciman will miss out on both the Galaxy and Earthquakes matches due to yellow card accumulation as well as receiving a red card against Toronto FC on August 29.
Home Sweet Home:
Although the Impact return to Stade Saputo after a quick west coast swing, they return to play three difficult matches. The first match comes on September 19 against the New England Revolution. New England currently sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and winning four matches in a row going into the second weekend of September. Ciman will return to the lineup just in time to try and shut down New England leading goal scorer, Charlie Davis. The only meeting between the two teams ended in 0-0 draw back in March.
Just four days after the ‘Revs match, the Chicago Fire return to Montreal and hungry for redemption. Even if the season series has been split to this point, it should be noted that the Fire have scored six goals in two matches against the Impact. Even if the Fire are outside the playoff picture at the moment, the match on September 23rd will not be a walk in the park for Montreal.
Last but not least, the leaders of the Eastern Conference, D.C. United visit La Belle Province. The Impact have lost both matches this season to United by a score of 1-0, finding it difficult to find the back of the net against Bill Hamid. To highlight this fact, D.C. United became the first MLS team to only have one shot in a match and come away with a victory, this coming in Montreal on August 8th. Chris Rolfe has also been a thorn in the side of the Impact this season, and shutting him down will be important if the home team wants to get anything from this game.
Make or Break Time:
New Interim Head Coach Mauro Biello has been put in a difficult situation in only his second match in charge of the Impact. However with Didier Drogba starting to settle, it should give Montreal a fighting chance every time the Impact take to the pitch. Biello will have to sensibly rotate his roster over the next month with the number of games against high quality opponents. With Hassoun Camara finally ready to return to play, Victor Cabrera returning from suspension, and the end of the international matches, Biello will have a far deeper squad than any other former Impact Head Coach to choose from. At the end of the day, the Montreal Impact should have a pretty good idea about where their playoff hopes sit after the month of September.