Orlando City will look to overcome a tough week when the Montreal Impact visit the purple palace tonight at 7:30 p.m. The Lions have been dumped from the U.S. Open Cup in kind of a humiliating fashion, and then lost star striker Cyle Larin indefinitely when he eschewed Uber or even a cab late Wednesday night and now must go through the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.
But the MLS schedule is relentless and now the Lions have to put all the distractions of this week behind them and welcome in a talented Montreal Impact side that started slowly but has come on of late with a three-match unbeaten streak entering this weekend.
Here to help us learn more about tonight’s opponents from the French part of Canada is Peter Alper of SB Nation’s Montreal Impact blog, Mount Royal Soccer.
After a sluggish start, Montreal is unbeaten in its last three MLS matches. Why the slow start and what has changed to allow the Impact to get some momentum?
Peter Alper: The slow start was something I wasn't expecting from the Montreal Impact this season. Last season was a very long one for the Impact with it ending in November. The Impact had a short off-season and because of that maybe they were tired at the start of this season. Also, the Impact were without Didier Drogba which set them back in the goal-scoring department the start of the season. Also, the defense was really weak at the start due to key players being injured.
Since the arrival of Blerim Dzemaili from the Serie A, he's brought a flair to the Montreal Impact which was much needed with the direction the team was heading before his arrival. Laurent Ciman and the back line in the past couple of weeks have been really solid and when he and his guys are on their game the Impact have a good chance at winning every game.
How will the injury to Ambroise Oyongo on international duty affect the club for the foreseeable future and who will be expected to fill that role and which player will likely step into the 18 as a result?
PA: The absence of Ambroise Oyongo will hurt the Montreal Impact big time this season. They have no one who could replace his skill set on the left side. He brought speed and offense with his runs down the wing and can't be replaced by anyone that will do the same that he did. The Impact does have Daniel Lovitz, who will most likely take Oyongo’s spot. Lovitz is fast and can create offense with his great passes but isn't anything compared to Oyongo.
I could maybe see a guy like Wandrille Lefevre step back in the 18. He got suspended from the team a while back due to a social media post but recently has been practicing with the team. He's a decent defender and pairs up nicely with Ciman at times.
The Impact have taken points from five of seven road matches. In a league where it’s so difficult to get results away from home, how has Montreal been able to bag seven road points so far this season?
PA: This was a pattern we saw from the Impact last season, who played great on the road and stole many points. This season it's been the same. The Impact play a counter attack style but on the road play more defensively and try at a goal and keep defending. Also, when on the road the Impact seem to have a gameplay that favors a draw over a win which puts the team in a defensive mindset.
Injuries/suspensions/projected lineup/final score prediction?
PA: Ballou (leg), day to day; Ambroise Oyongo (knee), out; Chris Duvall (Red card), out.
Projected lineup; Evan Bush; Laurent Ciman, Kyle Fisher, Daniel Lovitz, Hassoun Camara; Marco Donadel, Blerim Dzemaili, Patrice Bernier; Ignacio Piatti, Matteo Mancosu, Anthony Jackson-Hamel.
Prediction: 1-1 draw.
Big thanks to Peter from Mount Royal Soccer for stopping by to help us scout the Montreal Impact.