Painting the picture against the New York Red Bulls

The top team in MLS visits Stade Saputo

Here’s another challenge for the Impact, Saturday night at Stade Saputo (TICKETS - TVA Sports, 98,5fm, TSN Radio 690). After a game against our rival in Toronto that didn’t go as planned for the Bleu-blanc-noir, it’s the Red Bulls in the way this time. Chris Armas’ troops are currently wrestling with Atlanta United for the Supporters’ Shield, the regular season title in MLS, while Rémi Garde’s team is fighting for a playoff spot.

In the last three games between both sides in Montreal, BWP and his gang have been completely shut out and are currently on a series of 308 minutes without scoring in Montreal that dates back to 2015. Still, New York’s annual visit is anything but simple, mostly due to the courageous, energetic, and attack-minded style of play they always offer. Here are the three keys to this important matchup for Montreal.

  1. Back to defensive rigour

To qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs, the Impact will need to rediscover the identity that allowed it to win six out of eight games, in June and July. The key was certainly the group’s defensive implication and intensity over the course of 90 minutes, which has been lacking in the past few games. Montreal will need to put up a complete and consistent performance without the ball to conquer the Red Bulls.

  1. Manage pressure

We already know that when New York loses possession of the ball, they do everything they can to try and get it back as quickly as possible in the opposing third, and if not, in the offensive half of the field. The window of opportunity for a team that presses is about three seconds; after that, the team in possession is usually able to avoid turnovers. The Impact will therefore need to be at its best immediately after gaining possession of the ball, first of all to keep possession, but also to take advantage of the spaces left open by the midfielders higher up the field to jumpstart a counter-attack.

  1. Attacking opportunism

The Bleu-blanc-noir’s regrets in Toronto extend past the first half-hour, in which the Reds scored three goals. Opportunities to score were bountiful before the break and at the end, the lack of finishing in front of the opposing goal prevented the Impact from staging a comeback. The Impact will have to be slightly more accurate in the timing of its runs and in the precision of its shots to put the Red Bulls in a tight spot.