With just hours before kickoff, we take a look at some of the interesting head-to-head matchups set for the Impact’s inaugural game in MLS against Canadian rivals, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Strengths: Whitecaps attack, Impact controls midfield play
With the worst offence in the league last season, the Whitecaps loaded up on offensive talent. Adding to the dangerous DP Eric Hassli from last season, Vancouver traded for prolific goal scorer Sebastien Le Toux from Philadelphia, acquired the NASL’s leading scorer Etienne Barbara from Montreal for defender Gienir Garcia and drafted the speedy forward Darren Mattocks.
Questions surround the Impact’s offence as the club is filled with young strikers whom have yet to really break out and make a name for them, all less than 25 years of age. Justin Braun has scored 17oals over the last two years and Mike Fucito looks ready to take a regular spot with the club.
But where the expansion side does have experience is in the midfield. MLS veterans Justin Mapp, and the recently named first ever captain of the team Davy Arnaud have two decades of experience in the league. Add another dime for Patrice Bernier, who spent the last 10 yes in Europe, and you have a lot of experience in the midfield. Creative Brazilian midfielder Felipe brings another four years of pro experience playing in Europe, at just 21 years old.
Camilo vs. Brovsky
With Impact defender Zarek Valentin away with the U.S. U23 National Team, the former Whitecaps right back got chance to play a lot of minutes on preseason, and has earned the confidence of the coach. His intimate knowledge of the team he played with in 2011 can only help him, and the Impact, as visitors B.C. Place.
“He’s done very well for us. He knows Camilo well, against whom he could be matched up against, and that could be an advantage,” said Impact head coach Jesse Marsch.
“They will have some great fans, so we will have to match that intensity as they will have some great support at the stadium,” said Brovsky. “They had a good camp and are flying high right now. It will be fun to play against those guys.”
Camilo Sanvezzo is an elusive and skillful striker with two very good feet. He scored 12 goals in 32 appearances last season after joining the Whitecaps on trial. In the first game of the Disney Pro Classic, Camilo beat Brovsky with some of the quick moves he’s famous for on one occasion, but ended up on the ground on another as a result of a hard tackle.
“I love those guys over there, we’re all friends,” said Brovsky.
Goalkeepers: Montreal with the edge
The Impact’s goalkeeper, Donovan Ricketts, has only three years’ experience in MLS, but the 34-year-old was named runner up for the league’s best keeper in 2009, won the award in 2010 and took home the MLS Cup in 2011 with the Galaxy. Ricketts has the lowest goals against average in the history of MLS.
Vancouver’s 37-year-old goaltender is no slouch either. With over a decade's worth of experience in Major League Soccer, Joe Cannon was named a two-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. The former San Jose Earthquakes won an MLS Cup title with San Jose in 2001, and had two caps for the U.S. National Team in 2005.
The Montreal Impact will play its first in MLS, Saturday at 6pm (ET), against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place. The game will be broadcasted live on RDS and TSN as well as on the radio on CJAD 800.