MONTREAL – Sporting Park: one of the toughest stadiums in MLS for the opposition, and a stern test for any visiting team.
But could it prove to be a test custom-made for the Montreal Impact?
Marco Schällibaum’s squad kicked off the season with two of the most difficult away outings MLS has to offer, yet they conquered Cascadia, snatching six points from the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers. They did so by sitting back, waiting for the opposition to open up and punishing them with masterful counterattacks.
Chances are that the tactics Montreal executed so well during Weeks 1 and 2 will be thrown Sporting Kansas City’s way this Saturday (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). The Impact concede that the style of Peter Vermes’ side might play in their favor, but cautiously so.
“They do throw their outside backs forward, and Marco [Di Vaio] likes to expose those spaces,” Impact defender Jeb Brovsky told reporters earlier this week.
“It does play to our strengths and to the way we’re been playing, but I think that if we’re not smart, if we’re not compact and one of us gets out of position, they can bury us. It’s a dangerous line to walk, but the guys are ready and hopefully we’ll heal up some boys and be ready.”
Last weekend’s game against the New York Red Bulls could come in handy. Hungry for their first win in 2013, the Red Bulls pressed and pressed some more against Montreal, who bent but never broke.
Kansas City will be anxious to break their scoring duck at home, and if their overwhelming possession advantage in their home opener (73 percent against the Chicago Fire) is any further indication, the pressure on the Impact will be even more suffocating than is usually the case at Sporting Park.
“The four games we’ve played, the opposition pressed us a lot,” assistant coach Mauro Biello said. “They all put high pressure on us and we’re expecting more of that. We have to work on moving the ball around quickly, playing one- or two-touch soccer, because they’re going to come our way swiftly.”