After 13 days, Orlando City will return to MLS action on Saturday when the Lions host the Montreal Impact. After an inconsistent run during the month of May, Orlando has a good opportunity to get a win and move up in the Eastern Conference table.
An Eastern Conference finalist in 2016, the Montreal Impact are struggling this season as the team is currently the East’s ninth-place side with 17 points. Despite that, Montreal remains a dangerous side that relies on a solid defense and an effective counter-attacking game to get its points, especially on the road.
Come Saturday, there are three duels, in particular, that could have a big influence on the result of the match.
Ignacio Piatti vs. Scott Sutter
Ignacio Piatti is Montreal’s captain and arguably its best player. Despite the fact that he spends most of the time on the left side of the field, the Argentinean is the main attacking force for the Impact, as his six goals and two assists show, and carries the responsibility of orchestrating their counter attacks.
Piatti is very good at dribbling the ball (he leads the league with 3.1 dribbles per game, according to WhoScored.com) and has the vision and the skills needed to break defensive systems, especially when in transition. He will probably match up with Scott Sutter during most of the game, but as cutting inside is a big part of his game, the defensive midfielders and center backs should keep an eye on him as well.
Dominic Oduro vs. Donny Toia
Ghanaian forward Dominic Oduro is mostly known in MLS for two things: His love for Papa John’s pizza and his speed. While his feeding habits are probably not an issue to Orlando City, his pace has the potential to put the Lions in trouble. Even though he has only one goal and is yet to record an assist in 12 games in 2017, Oduro is a key player in Montreal’s counter-attacking system.
Oduro is an athletic freak and is considered by many the fastest player in the league. It helps that the right winger will be marked by Donny Toia, who played with him last season in Montreal and might know what to expect from his former teammate. Toia is a solid defender, but he needs to remain a step ahead of Oduro or the Ghanaian’s pace could be too much for him.
Blerim Dzemaili vs. Servando Carrasco
One of the strengths of Montreal’s game is its solid midfield line, which both shields the back line and initiates offensive plays. The Canadians got an upgrade this season with the addition of Swiss international Blerim Dzemaili, who is more of a box-to-box midfielder and has relieved Piatti from a portion of his creation duties.
Dzemaili usually plays in the central area of the field and has a good attacking game, as he’s already scored a goal and recorded an assist over his first three games in Montreal. Servando Carrasco, who is expected to replace the suspended Antonio Nocerino in this match, would cross paths with Dzemaili for most of the game, and he needs to be focused on all of his moves around and inside the box.