The second-place Philadelphia Union will try to keep their good form as they travel to Montreal to face the first-place Impact on Saturday.
The match at 5 PM on the Comcast Network will be between the top two teams in the East. The Impact are on 15 points with ten matches played and are coming off of a thrilling 4-4 draw with Columbus last Saturday in which the Impact were down 4-1 but scored three unanswered goals to salvage a point from the match. The Union are on 14 points with nine matches played and are coming off of a 2-2 home draw with the LA Galaxy on Wednesday which saw Vincent Nogueira and Keegan Rosenberry open their accounts and the Union draw a very good Galaxy team.
The Union will hope to limit superstar striker Didier Drogba and steller midfielder Ignacio Piatti as well as speedster forward Dominic Oduro. Drogba has three goals and three assists in just six matches played, while Oduro has four goals and four assists in ten matches. Piatti has six goals and two assists in ten matches and has scored several stellar goals from strikes outside the box so far this year. Montreal as a team has more goals for (17) than any other Eastern Conference team, but also rank among the bottom in goals allowed (15) so we could be in for a high-scoring affair.
Last year, the two sides met twice. On June 27th, they met in Philly and settled for a wild 2-2 draw in monsoon-like conditions which saw Montreal captain Patrice Bernier and Union midfielder Eric Ayuk both sent off for studs-up tackles and former Union man Jack McInerney tally against his former club. Ayuk, Piatti, and Union captain Maurice Edu also scored in the spikey affair which saw seven yellows and two reds shown in total. Nearly two months later on August 22nd, they met in Montreal and the Union prevailed 1-0, with Sebastien Le Toux scoring the lone goal from a now-familiar setup: Ayuk crossed a ball in which was nodded down by CJ Sapong to Le Toux, who put it past Montreal keeper Evan Bush in the 78th minute. The match also saw Drogba make his MLS debut prior to the goal in the 59th minute, replacing Dilly Duka for the Impact.
Look for the Union to rotate some new faces in after playing a mid-week match. We could see some or all of Ray Gaddis, Roland Alberg, Ken Tribbett, and Warren Creavalle, as well as Ilsinho in a starting role if he’s fully fit.
Something to watch for: of Montreal’s 17 goals, 13 of them have been scored after halftime, with six of them happening between 46′ and 60′ and six of them being scored after 75′. The Union have allowed more goals after 75′ (3) than any other segment of the match. Philly has been adept at getting ahead early this year (they’ve scored first in six of their nine matches) so look for them to score first while working to avoid the sort of late goal allowed that sunk them against San Jose. Defensive substitutions could be key.
Possible first XI:
Prediction: Four goals and a point for each team. Philadelphia Union 2, Montreal Impact 2.