Your first place Philadelphia Union will travel north of the border on Saturday as they visit the struggling Montreal Impact.
When we last saw the boys in blue, they were wiping the sweat off after beating the Chicago Fire 2-0 in a sweltering Talen Energy Stadium last Saturday. They were surely hoping that they’d get a chance to cool off at Stade Saputo in Montreal, but it is forecast to be warm night, with temperatures in the mid-80s at game time. Still, it won’t be as bad as last week, which head coach Jim Curtin said was perhaps the hottest game he had played or coached in.
And the Impact are coming into this match ice cold, having lost their last four MLS matches. They did get a win in a Canadian Championship match on Wednesday against Canadian Premier League team York9 FC, but they barely beat them with a 1-0 score.
One of the reasons for the Impact’s recent poor run of form was that they were missing their star midfielder Ignacio Piatti, who was sidelined for several weeks with a knee injury. The good news for the Impact is that he is finally back. Even if he is not yet fit to play a full 90 minutes, having Piatti on the pitch for at least part of the match will do wonders for the team’s confidence.
Along with the return of Piatti, this match could be the debut of the Impact’s new winger from Finland, Lassi Lappalainen, though it remains to be seen if he will see action this week.
Curtin says they aren’t taking the Impact lightly: “…they have a lot of firepower. They have a group that, at home, is always dangerous, so we’ll have to be on our ‘A game’ to get all three points.”
The Union, on the other hand, will not be at full strength, with Jamiro Monteiro still out with a left ankle sprain and Kai Wagner suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Sergio Santos is also out with an ankle sprain.
The Impact are desperate for a win, and with Piatti back, will be playing with more confidence. However, confidence alone doesn’t win games. If Monteiro and Wagner were playing, I’d be predicting a win for the U, but they are not, and their absence will be felt. This feels like it has road draw written all over it for me, but a road point is not a bad thing in MLS. With second place Atlanta United three points behind them, that would ensure they would still be on top of the table at the end of the weekend. Prediction: Union 1, Impact 1