Tim Howard’s teammates bogged down but motivated
Just like the Impact a few weeks ago, the Colorado Rapids need a turning point to jumpstart their season. While the Montreal Impact is the hottest team in MLS at the moment, with four wins in five games – just like FC Dallas – putting it just two points out of a playoff spot, the Rapids, on their end, rebounded from a series of nine consecutive losses by going unbeaten for three games, although they lost the matchup against Seattle, Wednesday night at home.
If the last line of defense, Tim Howard, is still hard to beat, Colorado’s defense relies a lot, maybe even too much, on the American goalkeeper. Anthony Hudson’s men have allowed 278 shots towards the former Manchester United ‘keeper’s net, the second highest total in MLS. Does that mean that Montreal’s offense will spoil itself come Saturday? Here are the three keys to the game.
- Play with the ball
Expect the Impact to have the ball. One on end, the Bleu-blanc-noir has gained a lot of confidence in its sequence of four wins in five games; Saphir Taïder and Ken Krolicki, accompanied by Shamit Shome or Samuel Piette in midfield, are having a bigger influence on the team’s overall play. On the other end, the visitors have the worst possession stats in the league, keeping the ball for 41.1% of their games. Patience will be a virtue.
- Continue defending from the front
Without the ball, Montreal is becoming harder and harder to break down. The Impact defends as a group, from the forwards to the last defender. The collective effort is paying off, because in four of its last six games, not one shot hit Evan Bush’s net in the first half. There’s a statistic that shows to what extent the Bleu-blanc-noir’s defense has improved, one that will surely demoralize visitors at Stade Saputo. When forwards have nothing to get their teeth into, confidence dwindles, and decisions are made out of frustration.
- Rigour, rigour, rigour
There’s no doubting the team’s determination to keep piling up good results. However, against this type of opponent, there’s a tendency to, occasionally, fall asleep and think that the game is already won. The Impact will have to be quick on its cleats, especially to manage Dominique Badji, the Rapids’ quick forward who leads his team with six goals, but who will certainly struggle against Rudy Camacho and Rod Fanni, who signed a contract extension earlier this week.