Competition: Major League Soccer – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Montreal Impact
Venue: BC Place Stadium – Sunday, March 6 – 17:30 ET (22:30 GMT)
Match Odds: Vancouver 3/4 – Draw 11/4 – Montreal 7/2
The Whitecaps started last season at home to Canadian opposition but fell 3-1 to Toronto and will be desperate to get off to a better start this time around.
Despite dropping their opening game last year, Vancouver went on to finish second in the Western Conference and had the best defensive record in MLS in 2015. The home fans will be full of optimism as they start what they hope will be another successful campaign.
Vancouver’s preseason form certainly suggests the squad is ready for the new season. They won five of their six games in preparation for the new term and look to be in good shape.
Montreal had a far less encouraging preseason run, winning just one of their six games, but will be looking forward to starting the real thing here.
The Impact became one of the league’s most dangerous teams towards the end of 2015, mainly thanks to Didier Drogba’s sensational arrival, though they will start 2016 without their star attacker as he will not play on turf.
Mauro Biello has strengthened the squad over the offseason and will be looking forward to seeing how his new-look attack cope with a well drilled Vancouver defence on opening weekend.Embed from Getty Images
Both sides had a player sent off in their final preseason games, proving the intensity of each squad, and so this has the potential to be a fiery Canadian clash at BC Place.
The Impact won last year’s only regular season meeting 2-1 on home soil but have yet to win an MLS game in Vancouver.
Vancouver have no injury concerns heading into the new season and Carl Robinson will have the luxury of picking his best team for an important home opener. New signings Fraser Aird, Christian Bolanos and Blas Perez will expect to start.
Montreal will need to cope without Didier Drogba for four of their first five games of the new season as he is opting not to play on turf. The Impact will need to cope without their star man, while the only injury concern appears to be Andres Romero. The midfielder tore his ACL in October and is still on the road to recovery. New signings Harry Shipp and Lucas Ontivero will be hoping for starts but it’s unlikely both will feature from the off. Dominic Oduro should start in place of Droba on Sunday.
Vancouver Whitecaps’ preseason form: W/W/W/L/W/W
Montreal Impact’s preseason form: L/D/L/W/D/D
Key Stat: Vancouver are unbeaten in five home games against Montreal in all competitions (W2 D3).
Key Player: Pedro Morales – The Vancouver Whitecaps playmaker saw out his preseason preparations in style as he scored a first-half brace in the 3-1 win over Minnesota United last weekend. He will hope to hit the ground running in 2016 and should cause the Montreal defence problems throughout.
Vancouver Whitecaps 1-1 Montreal Impact – This is a really tricky one to call. Both sides will be full of excitement heading into the new season and have to try and ensure they remain disciplined. Vancouver weren’t as good at home as they could have been last year and Montreal will more than fancy their chances of taking at least a point from this one. Both sides will expect to find the net but don’t be surprised if this ends up all square.