Know Your Enemy: Montreal Impact
OTF’s Stephen Mangat is a multi-lingual hater…
Hoo boy. Two teams without wins but with playoff potential. A former manager who inspires mixed emotions due to his legendary (?) status as a player, but a crap coach. Desperate fan bases that teeter on the verge of optimism and anger. This should be a good one.
PLAY OUR NEW MUSIC FOR THIS SEASON!!!
Fire fans know what to expect from Impact coach Frank Klopas: a conservative midfield that’s underwhelming going forward (even if there’s attacking talent), coupled with an inconsistent defensive group that doesn’t inspire confidence. Throw in Montreal’s zero wins and Chicago fans may think they’ve gone back in time one season when watching this year’s Impact.
The oddest bit is the fact that this is a very split team. The front four (one forward, three midfielders) are all attack and no defense whilst the back six (two midfielders, four defenders) are all defense and no attack. A disjointed team equals zero wins this season, n’est-ce pas?
Troy Perkins is a solid vet and classic American goalie. He’s a Jon Busch, Luis Robles and Kevin Hartman. FIFA 2014 says he’s bad at distribution (53 in kicking) but good at everything else (60s or 70s in diving, handling, positioning and reflexes).
Heath Pearce is on the left, is far past his best, and should be a target for the Fire. He’s really a bit too slow to be a left back. Matteo Ferrari still has quality in the middle, and Hassoun Camara is physically impressive. Unfortunately, Ferrari isn’t as imposing as he was with Parma and Roma. It’s like the Arne Friedrich situation – Ferrari has the nous but needs a steady, physical partner to be successful. Alas, Camara isn’t a steady youngster like Austin Berry — he’s a reckless brute. This group is a bit shambles. On the left will be Eric Miller, and who knows who the hell he is.
This is a very strange group since it’s really two separate units: three attackers and two defenders. Justin Mapp doesn’t play defense and will be on the left bringing some sneaking dribbling and shooting (at best). Andres Romero does the same on the right. Felipe Martins is a nominal midfielder but is really an attacker (see below).
The defenders have been Collen Warner (who is a Dax McCarty wannabe) and Hernan Bernardello (who is an Oswaldo Alonso wannabe). Neither are special and it’s quite odd that ex-top man Patrice Bernier is on the bench, as he’s been a key man since L’Impact came to MLS. Bernier may start due to Bernardello’s injury.
Marco Di Vaio still has plenty of tricks (and goals) up his sleeve and is the one to watch. Feeding the attack will be Felipe Martins, who is sometimes great, sometimes anonymous. It’s been mostly the latter this season and Montreal’s attack is all about Di Vaio’s finishing.
How can Chicago win?
Stay tight to Di Vaio
Against the Union, Marco Di Vaio did very little for 80ish minutes and then he got the ball about 20 yards out, off to the left. When Union centerback Amobi Okugo gave him too much space, Di Vaio dribbled a few yards and curled a beauty into the far top corner. That was his lone contribution of note and it earned Montreal a point in Philly. Though his shooting is still deadly, Di Vaio can’t beat anyone for pace, so the Fire defenders should get tight to him every chance possible.
Larentowicz to deny Felipe
Felipe Martins is Montreal’s creator and it’s his job to find the ball and get it to Di Vaio in dangerous places. He’s certainly talented, if a bit inconsistent. If the Fire can deny Felipe the ball, Montreal’s attack will suffer and, since this is a Frank Klopas team, they don’t have many ideas when Plan A fails. This should be where Jeff Larentowicz shines, as Yallop should task him with keeping the ball from Felipe or taking it from him when he does. Then have him start the Chicago attack.
Apparently, Frank Klopas spent much of preseason working on defending. Fire fans won’t be surprised to learn that Klopas’ training ground work hasn’t done shit, as Montreal’s defense is garbage. Half of the problem is Montreal midfielders don’t defend. The other half is the Montreal back four is a bit slow. The Fire should transition quickly and look to get behind the defenders.
Best of luck, Fire fans. Not only is a victory needed, but also because this one is against the much-maligned ex-coach. It means so much more.
OTF’s Stephen Mangat is a Union season ticket holder and picks his feet in the First State. Follow him @smangat12.