Competition: MLS Playoffs (Eastern Conference Semifinal – First Leg) Montreal Impact vs. New York Red Bulls
Venue: Stade Saputo – Sunday, October 30th – 15:00 ET (19:00 GMT)
Match Odds: Montreal Impact 6/4 – Draw 11/5 – Red Bulls 17/10
This is a huge tie for Montreal, who desperately need to put an end to the Red Bulls’ incredible run of form to give them any chance of reaching the Eastern Conference final.
Mauro Biello will be feeling ecstatic at how his Montreal side demolished DC 4-2 in the Knockout Round on Thursday evening, but he will be slightly frustrated at the way they conceded two very late goals.
The only meeting between these two in Montreal during the regular season ended with a 3-0 win for the Impact. They would definitely take a repeat of that scoreline, but this is going to be a very cagey contest, with both sides looking to ensure there’s still all to play for in the return leg in a week’s time.
Eastern Conference winners, New York Red Bulls eased past Philadelphia on the final day of the regular season to earn a bye through the Knockout Round. They have had extra time to prepare for this game and should be firing on all cylinders.
Jesse Marsch will have his side pumped and ready to take on Montreal and will be urging them to remember form means nothing when it comes to games as important as this.
The Red Bulls have beaten Impact in their last two meetings, although both of those games were at Red Bull Arena, so they will be expecting a hostile atmosphere here.
If New York keep a clean sheet in this tie you have to fancy them to progress in the second-leg. Montreal know they have to take a lead to Red Bull Arena, so the visitors may well have a slightly more cautious approach this weekend, although an away goal would certainly be a boost.
Montreal were eliminated from the playoffs last season at this very stage, despite winning their home tie in the first-leg, so they can take nothing for granted against a very strong opponent on Sunday evening.
Andres Romero remains Montreal Impact’s only injury concern. It remains to be seen whether Didier Drogba will return to the side following his soap opera saga in the last few weeks. He sat out of Thursday’s win over DC, with Matteo Mancosu shining up front in the Ivorian’s absence.
New York Red Bulls are expecting to be without four for this tie as Gideon Baah, Connor Lade, Justin Bilyeu and Daniel Royer are all out. Golden Boot winner Bradley Wright-Phillips will be looking to continue his fine form here.
Montreal Impact’s form: W/W/D/L/W
New York Red Bulls’ form: D/W/W/W/W
Key Stat: The Red Bulls are unbeaten in their last 16 MLS outings.
Key Player: Ignacio Piatti – The obvious choice. Montreal Impact need their midfield maestro to be on top form to take a lead into the second leg. He can change a game in a flash and will need to be at his creative best once again here.
Montreal Impact 1-1 New York Red Bulls – This has the makings of a tight game, as most first legs do. Montreal are going to find the confident Red Bulls difficult to deal with and a draw would be an unsurprising result, but would certainly suit the visitors better.