Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Sounders FC continue their road trip, this time venturing to the Stade Olimpique, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, for a Saturday night showdown with les Impact. Seattle will be trying to find their sea legs, having not won a match since the beginning of pre-season (0-2-4), whilst Montréal, off to an uneven start (2-1-3 including pre-season), will be looking to establish some consistency and a bit of redemption for their defeat last weekend at Coleman Avenue.
The Good News
Dempsey’s goal last weekend was an encouraging sign, as well as the side’s half-time resurgence after having conceded two first half goals to Houston. Outside of Evans, the starting eleven are healthy. Oneil Fisher, who has been out with a concussion, may be fit enough to start at right-back. The return of the Jamaican international would give the Sounders some pace and skill overlapping from the right side. Montréal hasn’t been able to muster a win in their last three matches. It’s not uncommon for our Sounders to have a slow start or hit a lengthy rough patch of form. If the second half was any indication last week, the setback at Dowling Street could end up being a motivator for the out of form Sounders. In the midfield and up front, Montréal is an older group. This may be of some advantage to us after the hour mark of the match.
The Bad News
We’ve failed to win in our last six matches. We were outshot 14:2 in the first half last weekend by Houston. Houston, the second worst side in all of MLS last season, was able to defeat us 2:1. Evans seems unlikely to return to fitness from his sticky calf problem for another six weeks at the club’s earliest estimates. Evans’ experience and leadership are sorely missed. Provided Oneil Fisher returns to fitness, our best options off the bench for the back four will be Alfaro and the Cameroonian new boy Tolo. Should Fisher not return this Saturday, Svensson will be the likely candidate to again deputise for him on the right side of defence. Kovar is still recovering from groin surgery and will also be out, thinning out a midfield already short on depth, leaving new boys Shipp and Svensson as the best midfield options off the bench. The all-time statistics slightly favour Montréal overall (2-0-3), but we’ve only managed one victory in Quebec in three attempts (1-0-2). Expect a physical test from Montréal as they attempt to recover from their own wavering form. It’s likely to be windy (winds up to 9mph) and cold (night temperature expected to be 1ºF), and the surface is synthetic, so we may not see the best football from either side, and the likelihood of injury will be higher than normal.
Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Burch is the likely starter. He’s played over 150 times at the pro level, with no experience outside North America. The American is solid if unspectacular in goal. Options off the bench are an old pro that used to play for UC Berkeley in Kronberg and a young goalkeeper that recently earned his first cap for Canada in Crépeau.
Defence – Oyongo, Ciman, Cabrera, and Duvall are the likely starting back four. With former SC Bastia man Camara suspended, Ciman (31) becomes the old man in the group. Ciman has played nearly 350 matches of professional football, many of them for Belgian clubs that include Standard Liège and Club Brugge, and was capped 16 times for Belgium. Camara’s replacement, Duvall, is new to the side from New York RB. With less than 100 matches pro, he is the weakest link in this group. Cabrera, though young and relatively inexperienced, was a product of CA River Plate’s academy system. Oyongo has played nearly 200 times and has been capped 29 times by Cameroon. Options off the bench feature inexperienced players, though Lefèvre was a product of Montpelier’s academy in France.
Midfield – Bernardello, Bernier, and Donadel are expected to start. Bernier is an old pro at 37, with nearly 300 matches of experience in Germany, Denmark, and Norway. It’s his second stint with Montréal. Bernardello, at 30, is a veteran of Spanish and Argentinian football with nearly 300 matches of experience. Donadel, at 33, has played over 300 times as a pro, with 200 of those appearances for Fiorentina. Options off the bench feature untested youth.
Forward – Piatti, listed as a midfield player lining up as more of a winger, has played nearly 350 times as a pro, mostly in Argentina, though he played a season in Italy at Lecce. Piatti is a legitimate scoring threat in the side. Mancosu, at 32 years, is a veteran of Italian football. He is a top scoring threat. Oduro, at 31 years, is Ghanian by birth, but holds a United States Green Card. He is a domestic MLS product, having played nearly 330 times as an MLS pro. A proven goal scorer, Oduro has hit just short of 80 goals in his career.
Selections for Last Match
Montréal: Bush, Duvall, Camara, Ciman, Oyongo, Oduro, Bernier, Donadel, Bernardello, Piatti, Mancosu.
Bench: Crépeau (gk), Mallace, Kyle Fisher, DePuy, Lovitz, Beland-Goyette, Tabla.
Seattle: Frei, Svensson, Torres, Marshall, Jones, Alonso, Roldan, Fernández, Dempsey, Lodeiro, Morris.
Bench: Miller (gk), Wingo, Oneil Fisher, Alfaro, Bruin, Mathers, Shipp.
MATCHDAY DECISION: Romero (hamstring).
OUT: Evans (calf), Kovar (groin surgery).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Fisher (concussion).
Montréal: Camara (sent off).
Seattle: None suspended.
Montreal Impact’s November 2016 home MLS Cup match against Toronto FC was “…delayed about 40 minutes after officials found the lines of the 18-yard box at one end of Olympic Stadium — which accommodates a larger crowd than the club’s usual Stade Saputo — had been painted around two yards too close to the goal. They had to be cleared and re-marked, meaning the match — scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m. ET — did not get under way until just after 8:40 p.m. local time.” [Sourced from ESPN.com]