Two teams on a roll face each other
The Bleu-blanc-noir is facing another challenge on the road this Saturday, at 11pm EDT, at Providence Park (TVA Sports). The Portland Timbers, still in the elite of the Western Conference, saw their invincible run end at 14 games across all competitions, as they were defeated by LAFC in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. You have to go back to April 8 for their last loss, coming surprisingly against Orlando City SC.
For the second straight time, Montreal faces a team that is unbeaten at home. After NYCFC at Yankee Stadium, the Timbers have a record of five wins and two draws at Providence Park. If the Impact is also unbeaten in the loud Oregon stadium, it can’t take Giovanni Savarese’s team lightly, with talented players like Diego Valeri, Sebastián Blanco, Samuel Armenteros and Larrys Mabiala. Here are three keys to this very late game on Saturday night.
- Cut the link from Valeri to Armenteros
Portland found a talented and unique striker. Samuel Armenteros is not the tallest or most technical player, but he has six goals with a team that doesn’t produce a lot offensively and he knows when to hurt you. This true fox in the box positions himself to continuously be a solution for his teammates and transform half-chances into goals. His accomplice, Diego Valeri, is one of the best players in MLS and proved himself hard to stop, but that will be the key, especially in transition, for Montreal’s defence.
- Awareness on free kicks
A Portland centre-back has four goals this season. Larrys Mabiala is very dangerous on free kicks, especially on corners. The 6’2” defender stands tall. While he wins his duels in the air, the Timbers also have the players to find him. The concentration and man-to-man marking will have to be at their best for the Impact.
- Pass through the wings
This is the most important key to the match on Saturday. This might be the Timbers’ biggest and only weakness, so the Bleu-blanc-noir will have to be successful on the wings. We don’t want to insult Zarek Valentin, a former Impact player – and huge Oreo cookies fan – but it’s on his side and Vytas Andriuškevičius that Rémi Garde’s men will be able to penetrate the opposing defence, the MLS’ second best.