The Montreal Impact (0-3-2, 10th in East) will take on Real Salt Lake (3-2-5, 7th in West) at Stade Saputo in Montreal on the afternoon of Saturday, May 16. The game can be seen on RDS (in French) and heard on TSN 690 (in English).
Seasons So Far
The Impact have been struggling in MLS since, well, the fall of 2013. Despite strong play in the CONCACAF Champions League and the Canadian Championship, they have only won two games in the calendar year, which is an obvious concern. Montreal have only played five matches in league play – Major League Soccer helped the team by moving certain games on their Champions League journey.
Scoring has been a problem this year for RSL. Only two teams in the league have scored fewer than their nine goals, one of which is named the Montreal Impact. With striker Joao Plata out as well as Javier Morales, the Claret and Cobalt have been forced to look elsewhere to find goals. Their defense hasn’t been great either – they have the worst goal differential in the West.
Players To Watch
“You never know. If he’s ready, I could put him in the lineup.” – Frank Klopas on Ambroise Oyongo
IMFC – Ambroise Oyongo: The defender couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Montreal is struggling with injuries on their back line and Oyongo could slide right into a starting role. He was originally acquired via a trade in January, but a misunderstanding led to him not reporting to training camp. Everything has been straightened out and the Cameroonian international is said to be in high spirits.
RSL – Alvaro Saborio: The striker has been counted on to score goals since Javier Morles and Joao Plata went down with injuries. He has only scored twice, but he did have a hand in his team’s 2-1 win over Chicago last week. He will be looking to test Evan Bush – Saborio has recorded at least one shot in every game he’s started this season.
IMFC – Eric Miller: Miller has been playing very well in recent games. He had two assists in the Impact’s midweek match with Toronto FC and was strong against Portland in the club’s last MLS match. Miller wasn’t used much early in the season, but now he is relishing his time in the starting eleven and I expect him to continue doing so.
May 6, 2015; Sandy, UT, USA; Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (18) makes a save in the second half against Los Angeles Galaxy defender Leonardo (22) at Rio Tinto Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
RSL – Nick Rimando: The veteran goalkeeper of more than 350 MLS matches has only lost once this season. The four-time all-star has let in two goals in his last six starts, keeping five clean sheets so far in 2015. He has given his team a chance to win in almost every start, the offense just hasn’t capitalized. If the shaky Impact defense doesn’t keep their team in the game, it will be a long day with Rimando in the opposite net.
IMFC – Dominic Oduro: The striker has scored in each of his last two games. He came off the bench against Portland and was catalyst, sparking a comeback attempt that fell short. Versus TFC, he was started on the wing – a position I think is best suited for him. He has been playing a lot lately, so it’s possible manager Frank Klopas will give him a day off. Keep an eye open for Oduro – where he plays and if he plays.
The two teams have met three times prior, with the home side winning each time. Their first meeting in the Impact’s inaugural season ended with a controversial 1-0 score line in Utah. Montreal won 3-2 at Stade Saputo in 2013, before losing 3-1 thanks to a red card last year.
The two sides have the distinctions of being the only two MLS clubs to make the CONCACAF Champions League Finals.
The Impact just announced that striker Kenny Cooper will be out for a couple of months with a knee injury that will require surgery. Wing-backs Victor Cabrera (ankle), Hassoun Camara (knee) and Donny Toia (ankle) haven’t played this month and are not expected to be available. Justin Mapp and Cameron Porter are each out for extended lengths of time.
Frank Klopas will not be on the sideline for the Impact. He is serving a one game ban for entering the field of play in the 90th minute of last week’s match with Portland.
The big story for RSL is the status of star midfielder Javier Morales. The Argentine hasn’t played since May 1 because of a concussion and didn’t train this week. The Royals are also without DP striker Joao Plata, who broke his foot in the team’s first training session of 2015. He will return soon, but not against Montreal. Defender Chris Schuler (torn meniscus) and forward Sebastian Jaime (fractured tibia) are both unavailable. Defender Boyd Okwuonu (shoulder) is questionable.
Interestingly enough, Schuler, Morales and Plata combined for four assists on the team’s three goals in last year’s match between the two.
Kickoff is scheduled for 4P.M at Stade Saputo. It has been warm in recent days in Montreal and rain is expected because of that. The high is 22 degrees and should cool off as the game wares on.