Painting the picture against the Philadelphia Union

Impact unbeaten in last four games at Talen Energy Stadium

We’re repeating ourselves, but Saturday’s contest will be another crucial game in the context of the race to an MLS Cup playoff spot. The Philadelphia Union, a direct rival and four points in front of Montreal in the standings with a game in hand, has a busy schedule ahead, and right in the middle of it all, a U.S. Open Cup final.

For Rémi Garde’s troops, confidence is at a high following a decisive victory against the Red Bulls, who lead the MLS, sure, but especially due to a memorable performance in the global picture of the 2018 season, and on both ends of the field at that: New York’s powerful offense was muzzled and Montreal’s attacking players had a field day. Here are the three keys to Saturday’s game in Chester, at 7:30pm (TVA Sports, 98,5fm, TSN Radio 690).

  1. Shoot on the ground

Andre Blake, the Philadelphia goalkeeper, is among the best in MLS. The Jamaican, coming in at around 6 feet 4 inches, is also one of the tallest ’keepers in the league. These two factors, multiplied by the fact that the Impact missed countless opportunities against the Red Bulls because of the ball going over the bar, should encourage our forwards to shoot low, to complicate Blake’s task, but also to ensure the target is hit.

  1. Control Medunjanin

The Union’s metronome dictates absolutely everything in midfield: the tempo of passing, the point of attack, when to accelerate, break the lines, and when to take their time and recover. His passing quality allows Bedoya and Dockal to make themselves available a little bit higher up the field, which helps the team’s offense progress, or even isolate Picault, Sapong, and Burke against their defender on the counter. Stopping Medunjanin means limiting Philadelphia’s attacking possibilities.

  1. Be wary of the right side

Permutations on the right side between Rosenberry, Dockal and Sapong are particularly difficult to stifle and usually finish with a dangerous low cross into the box, one of the Union’s preferred ways of attacking. The Impact’s left side will need to be alert and communicate well to handle any overflow on that side of the field.