The boys are going for 17 matches in a row at home without a loss on Saturday. They’ll have to do it while missing some key players, but the visitors have been hit hard as well. I got with Peter Alper from over at Mount Royal Soccer to exchange questions about the upcoming match.
Here are your Three Questions But Really Six:
We ask them...
The Blue Testament: After reaching the Eastern Conference Final last year in the playoffs, the Impact are off to a slow at near the bottom of the table. How do you assess the beginning of the season and what are your hopes for this season?
Peter Alper: After a great season, last year going all the way to the Eastern Conference Final the Montreal Impact have had somewhat of a horrible start to the 2017 MLS season. Although the Montreal Impact are in 2nd to last place in the East, for many reasons they shouldn't be in 10th place, let me explain. For one, at this point last season the Montreal Impact had the exact same amount of points but were also in a playoff spot, the Impact has three games in hand over 1st place Toronto FC and with a win this weekend they could move from 2nd to last all the way up to a playoff spot.
With the addition of Dzemaili, the Impact are heading in the right direction. Since his arrival, he has two goals and three assists in four games and also is the cause of two penalty shots both put away from Piatti. If the Impact keeps trending in this direction a playoff spot is something that I see the Impact finishing the regular season with.
TBT: Anthony Jackson-Hamel looks like he is set for a breakout year with four goals so far. Conversely Dominic Oduro has seen less of the pitch. What does Jackson-Hamel bring to the squad?
PA: A couple of weeks into the 2017 season there were reports that he might leave the Montreal Impact due to him not getting much playing time here, with Matteo Mancosu's injury it gave Anthony Jackson-Hamel the opportunity to showcase his talent with some quality MLS minutes. With this impressive run from Anthony Jackson-Hamel, it turned him to a person who gets left out of the 18 to being a starter and sometimes staring over Oduro. Jackson-Hamel is a very strong striker, he's dynamic at times and has an eye for the back of the net. Hamel is one of a group of Homegrown players who have made it up from the Academy to have an important role with the team, another notable player who has done the name is Ballou Tabla.
TBT: Montreal are dealing with insane absences for the match this weekend. Who is missing and how the hell will head coach Mauro Biello deal with it tactically?
PA: The Montreal Impact are missing many key players due to International duty. The likes of Dzemaili, Ciman, Oyongo, Jackson-Hamel, Bernier, Crepeau, and Lefevre are all missing this weekend and five of the seven players are starters for the Impact. This weekend the Montreal Impact will have a tough time against a strong SKC side. It's going to be a big test for Mauro Biello to see what he does. He still have the likes of Piatti and Mancosu but it's going to be a hard time. If I knew how to deal with this then I would be the head coach. I have no idea what he will do but if the Impact somehow get even a draw I'd be surprised.
Mount Royal Soccer Lineup Prediction:
Bush, Fisher, Cabrera, Camara, Lovitz, Arreggui, Donadel, Piatti, Bernardello, Oduro, Mancosu.
They as us...
Mount Royal Soccer: With SKC sitting at the top of the Western Conference right now do you see them maintaining this position till the end of the season or will they fall back a couple of spots?
Cody Bradley: It's so hard to say because of the way MLS always goes. I think they have the talent and discipline to end the season among the leaders of the Western Conference. The starting lineup is very good but the questions may start to arise when squad rotation is necessary. Peter Vermes says they will be active in the transfer window so I'm hopeful we will see some reinforcements.
I'm sure a stumble is coming at some point. Several team leaders will have plenty of international duty to attend to with Besler, Zusi and Dwyer all being named to the USMNT preliminary roster - and that's just the Americans. But I really like this team. They can compete with everyone in the league and I'm looking for a first-round bye in the playoffs this year.
MRS: The Montreal Impact have seven players on international leave this weekend (the most in the MLS) what will SKC do tactically to beat a weakened Montreal Impact.
CB: Peter Vermes has, for the most part, stuck with the same game plan all season. There are obvious tweaks and changes depending on the opponent, but you can be sure SKC will come out looking to control the match and dictate the pace of play. They like to have possession, they REALLY like it. Many fans will tell you they need to be a bit more direct as a lot of the passing is horizontal and backward. But they do create plenty of chances and take a lot of shots, but finding that last touch can sometimes be a worry. Sporting has not lost at home in the last 16 regular season matches. They pride themselves on putting on a show for the home fans and I think we will see more of the same this weekend.
MRS: What will it mean to the SKC fans if they somehow win the Supporter’s Shield this year?
CB: We love trophies around these parts. The club promises them to the fans, and the fans expect to see that silverware. I myself recognize the Supporter's Shield as the bigger feat and winning in it the Western Conference I think makes it even more impressive. KC has only won it one time, back in 2000 when Peter Vermes won it as a player (they took home MLS Cup that year as well). I would love so much to win it, but I'm still an American and I love a good ol' playoff final! Winning the cup gives you that memorable moment and it is probably more fun than the SS. But I would value more the accomplishment of proving to be the best over the course of the full season.