The New England Revolution open up their home slate on Saturday afternoon against the Montreal Impact. The Quebecois side features several new faces after a disappointing 2014 campaign, and is coming off some success in the CONCACAF Champions' League this month.
We spoke with Jeff Corbet from Mount Royal Soccer to learn more about the Impact. You can also check up on the reverse edition of this Q&A if you'd like.
TBM: The Impact didn't open the MLS season on a high note, but come on, it's one game. It definitely looks as though the club has pinned its hopes on the CONCACAF Champions' League, though. Would you say that in the early stages of the MLS season the focus is heavier on the CCL? Would you get a different answer if you asked fans or the organization?
JFC: The CCL QF was very important in the eyes of the fans and the management. If the first game in Mexico ended in favor of Pachuca I think that the mood will be a lot different. We are trying to forget 2014 so it is a very good way to do it by being in SF of the CCL. But let's also not forget that the season is long in MLS and if they can't Win a fair amount of game during the first two months the season might be long at Saputo Stadium. So that's why they need to perform on both level. As for the organization i think they want people in the stadium and to do so you need to win games. They sold about 20k tickets after the 2-2 tie in Pachuca and they were 33k yesterday for the first leg of the semis. They are very happy right now how the things are going but if the team on the fields is struggling like last year there will be a lot of seats to fill at Saputo stadium.
TBM: Losing a guy like Marco di Vaio can be crippling. You don't just out and out replace that kind of talent and presence. What has Montreal done to try and mitigate the loss, and do you see it working out?
JFC: They tried hard but there is no Marco in the current lineup. According to some rumours Gilardino the Italian star striker was very close to sign a deal with the Impact but it did not happened. During the off-season i've wrote a couple of article on Jack McInerney and how he could do the job as the primary striker. So far it's not so good...Klopas is not playing him and he does not seems very happy with that and I understand. I still think he got what is needed to be an effective striker in MLS but I don't think it will be with Montreal. They play with only 1 striker up front and Jack is not effective with that kind of lineup since last year. Yesterday the've started the young Cameron Porter and Jack stayed on the bench during the entire game. I think right now that we are going to suffer the lost of Di Vaio because Oduro and Porter are not Elite strikers like the Italian native was. Piatti is a sure bet but he need some help upfront. In july if they are still in the mix I would not be surprised to see a second DP coming in and you can put some money down that it will be a striker.
TBM: Talk to us about a newcomer on the Impact's roster that has immediately made his mark on the team. How has he made a difference, and will he be a difference-maker on Saturday?
JFC: Cameron Porter is the new coqueluche in town but It's not my choice. Laurent Ciman is the man ! last year the defense was so lost and mediocre that it is hard to do worse. Ciman solidified this defense and he brings so much passion to the fields. Every fans love that kind of player who put's his guts on the line for the benefits of the team. He and Soumare are doing an awesome job so far. I would not be surprised that Ciman will be the future captain of the club. He is a very high calibre player since he played with Belgium at the last World Cup in 2014 and it is easy to see why. Good anticipation. very physics on the ball and he is not affraid to bring the ball up when he's got the occasion. Since the team is in MLS they struggled with freekick and corners on both sides of the ball. Ciman will help since he is a good player with the head and he is even taking some freekick on the offensive side with no results so far. After Piatti he might be the most important piece of the club.
TBM: Playing on a short week is difficult for any team. Do you think the Impact have the depth to handle it?
JFC: With injury of Andres Romero and Justin Mapp it is difficult to be effective on a short week but i think some players can give more. Camara did not play yesterday. Bernier and Mallace did not start same for Jack McInerney. It will be tough but right now I think they can. But if another player or two gets hurts..Montreal might have a problem!
TBM: Finally, let's have your projected starting XI and a scoreline prediction.
JFC: Projeted line up will be Toia Ciman Soumare and Camara on defense. Midfielders will be Bernier, Mallace, Alexander, Piatti, Tissot. Jack McInerney will be the striker. Duka seems to be hurt since he only played in 45 minutes yesterday so I think he will sit that one out. I would not be surprised to see Piatti getting some timeoff also since he is coming back from a knee surgery. My prediction will be...... Impact wins 2-1. The revs are slow starter and Montreal is on a roll with the beautifull win againt Alajuelense and they will show their news face to the people in New England. We don't like team from New England here in Montreal (to much history with Boston Bruins) So...;)