It's off to the Great White North for the New England Revolution on Saturday night as they take on the Montreal Impact in Canada. Montreal was an early-season Eastern power in 2013, but it would appear that their precipitous decline has followed them into the 2014 season, where now they sit in the conference basement with just one win.
We caught up with Sofiane Benzaza of Mount Royal Soccer, SB Nation's Montreal Impact blog, to get an idea of what to expect from the struggling Impact.
TBM: Montreal's 2013 season started so well, and despite faltering in the end, still resulted in a playoff berth. This season has been nothing short of horrendous, and that's being kind. I think the best question to ask is: what the hell happened?
SB: Basically, the club decided to only remember the positives of the 2013 and assumed that the negatives that trigged the free fall were all Marco Schallibaum's fault. The Impact's management did not deem necessary to being new blood as quickly as possible and made marginal or late moves at best.
Re-signing Nelson Rivas was a mistake that everyone predicted quite easily, getting Heath Pearce only during pre-season and getting McInerney early in the season are signs of a club that seems to improvise more than anything else.
But it's not totally improvising as per the quality of players but more the timing of it and how blind it voluntarily became to not see that it needed new blood right away.
The club should have injected 4-5 new experienced players during the off-season that can actually play in MLS.
TBM: Marco di Vaio was last season's breakout star with Montreal, but this season we're looking at a player with just one goal and one assist in six matches. What's been his issue, and do you think he can turn it around?
SB: Di Vaio only played the Impact's 4th game after purging a 3-game suspension. He got himself fit and ready to go and scored a beautiful goal against the Philadelphia Union on his first game back. But age might have caught up to him and it would be unfair to point at that.
He picked a hamstring injury that kept him out for a month and he only came back last weekend. But the offensive schema of the Impact is too dependent on Di Vaio which is fine up to a point. That dependency gave the Impact 20 goals but the team was more united and cohesive on the pitch in 2013.
Felipe is a make-shift #10 and he is lost on the pitch, not for a lack of effort. The Impact needs an offensive midfielder. Can the Revolution spare one?
TBM: The Jack McInerney trade came out of nowhere for most of us, but he seems to be having some success. Two goals in six games is better, at least, than di Vaio. How is he fitting in, and how has he changed or augmented the Impact squad?
SB: JackMac should have represented depth on the pitch and on the bench for the Impact and not be some sort of savior. His profile is similar to Di Vaio but both can play together and maybe the club sees him as the heir to Di Vaio's throne. But if you ask me, he is perfect as a #2 striker behind a veteran striker or a pivot type of player.
He will fit fine with the Impact as long as the club finds a way to get more offensive initiatives out of its midfield outside Justin Mapp being an unstoppable wizard.
TBM: Give us an under-the-radar player Revs fans should watch out for in this match.
SB: Karl W Ouimette and Wandrille Lefevre. Both young central defenders have gotten decent minutes and have shown that they can be relied on to fill in a starting role or come off the bench.
I couldn't really say that Mapp was an under-the-radar player unless I am talking to Jurgen Klinsmann ;-)
TBM: Finally, let's have your projected starting XI and a scoreline prediction.
SB: Perkins - Camara, Pearce,Lefevre, Brovsky - Mapp,Bernier,Bernardello,Felipe,Issey - Di Vaio
3-3 brother which means (4-0 for the first team that scores)