Three wins in a row in MLS and four straight counting the U.S. Open Cup, FC Dallas are flying high heading into this week’s clash against the Montreal Impact. Montreal is coming off its first win in five games, beating the Houston Dynamo 1-0 at home. Montreal now sit in 9th place in the Eastern Conference with 12 points – one ahead of Toronto FC!
Last week, Dallas picked up six points courtesy of the city of Los Angeles; beating the Galaxy 3-2 and then LAFC 2-1 to finish the week in first place in the West. Although Sporting KC have since moved back ahead following their Monday win, Dallas sits in second place in the conference with 26 points. Another win would see them move back ahead of SKC as these two teams become the clear front runners.
Formation – 4-3-3
What can be said about Montreal this season? Ownership admitted that the season was a rebuilding year. Their coach Remi Garde has, more than once, said the team was not talented enough. They have yet to draw a game this season, with only 4 wins to couple with 10 losses – more than even Colorado! I know goal differential isn’t everything, but at minus 14, they are 5 worse than the next closest team. Picking up a win against Houston is nice, but as one post from Mount Royal Soccer said:
“…not since my formative years following football, have I looked forward to a new season, as much as I am looking forward to 2019.”
We know most of the main players here for Montreal. They still have the always dangerous Ignacio Piatti. He has five goals and six assists on the season, bringing his career totals in MLS to 52 goals and 27 assists in his fifth season. A combination of Anthony Jackson-Hamel or Matteo Mancosu has lead the line with middling results. New for this season, Montreal brought in attacking midfielder Jeisson Vargas from Chile. His four goals rank second on the team but he is still rather inconsistent. Of course, just about everything positive Montreal gets in attack comes through Piatti. It will be interesting to see if he sticks to his one side of the formation or flips back and forth on the wings trying to find the best matchup.
Dallas again comes off a midweek game, a win in the U.S. Open Cup, having rotated heavily against San Antonio. With Cannon, Hedges and Figueroa all having played in the last three games, the Dallas defense may be running on fumes. Expect another start for Hollingshead somewhere on the back line and a return for Ziegler. Our midfield and forward lines will have almost everyone available and fresh. I think we will see our main combination from last year in Gruezo, Acosta, Diaz, Lamah and Urruti to start the game, with either Mosquera or Barrios as the other winger.
Key Matchup – Acosta/Gruezo vs Piatti
Keeping a player like Piatti contained means having multiple people alert and aware to his movements. Along with the outside backs, our midfield pairing will also need to help in keeping Piatti from getting into dangerous attacking positions. Assuming Acosta starts, his ability to run box to box and still be a defensive presence will help keep the defense balanced and prepared for the Montreal attack.
1. 2+ Goals – Dallas has been on quite the roll on offense in the past few MLS games, scoring more than 1 goal in 4 of their last 5 games. Playing a team that has only scored once in their last five games means a multi goal effort should be enough for 3 points.
2. Rest for the Weary – This is the last of our 4 games in two weeks slate and Coach Pareja has gotten all the player rotations right so far. By keeping most of our starters out of the Open Cup match, Coach P has given us a great shot at going into this game with a full-strength squad.
3. Defensive Awareness – With rotation expected at possibly two spots in the back line, it will be important for everyone to stay on the same page in the back. The return of Zeigler to pair with Hedges will help keep everyone in line, but it remains to be seen who will start at the outside back spots. Reggie is young, but even young legs can get tired with the amount of games he has been playing.
This is the last week of MLS games before the World Cup starts and Dallas could not have asked for much better of an opponent heading into the break. A Montreal team in a rebuilding year with “not enough talent” sounds like a great way to continue Dallas’ win streak. Even with the heavy slate of games Dallas has had, it should be a comfortable game for the home team. No beating around the bush here – it’s a 2-0 win this weekend.