If the Impact want a "sea of blue" from the fans, don't be surprised if @MtRoyalSoccer's Gio Sardo proves to be "blue-blooded". The Impact's SuperFan is back with his Home Opener Blog:
THE GOOD: DEFENSE
The Montreal Impact are back home after spending the first two weeks of the MLS season on the road. In that short time, they went to two of the league’s most intimidating stadiums---Seattle & Portland---and came back with the maximum 6 points.
Their reward? First place in the Eastern conference. The air is sweet up here! But respect from the doubters will require victory in a home opening battle against 401 rivals TFC!
The Impact have the BEST defense in the MLS. Period. They don’t get the credit they deserve but that doesn’t matter to them.
Troy Perkins is a top 3 goalkeeper in the MLS. He is a great communicator and rarely out of position. Getting him from Portland in exchange for Donovan Ricketts was pure robbery.
Alessandro Nesta and Matteo Ferrari are the best central defensive unit in the league and it isn’t even close. Many teams in Europe can only dream of having these two in their lineup.
Coach Marco Schallibaum’s decision to put Hassoun Camara in the starting lineup (right full back) has proven to be pure genius. Camara was even able to repay his coach for his confidence with a beautiful bicycle kick goal against Portland last week.
Fan favorite Jeb Brovsky is just as solid as they come. Nothing flashy, he just does his job. Getting him was another steal by the front office (this time during the expansion draft).
THE BAD: FEEDING MARCO DI VAIO
Last season, it seemed like Di Vaio was offside once every two minutes. While that has gone down considerably in the early stages of this new season, the Italian hasn’t really had a true opportunity on goal yet.
The supporting cast needs to learn to get him the ball when and how he wants so he can be as lethal as possible. If this doesn’t happen soon, we may begin to see flashes of frustration again on the field.
Di Vaio plays the offside line better than most. It is what made him such a success in Italy. However, in order to get his opportunities, his teammates need to launch the ball at a precise moment. This is still a work in progress.
THE UGLY: LEFT MIDFIELD
This is the Impact’s greatest weakness. They seem to be set at every position but here. Justin Mapp is either hurt or inconsistent. He is a great guy in the locker room and does sometimes show flashes of a great player but the reality is that there is something missing in his game, not to mention the constant miscommunications with Marco Di Vaio.
Against Portland, Sanna Nyassi had his chance and while he played a strong game, there are doubts whether he can provide a full 90-minute effort every single game. He may be best suited for the role he occupied best last season: the super sub.
The big question here is whether or not they have an internal solution (Romero? Smith?) or if they will have to look outside the organization for help. We should know the answer after a few more games.
WHAT TO LISTEN FOR IN THE HOMEOPENER (3:30PM Pregame Show on CJAD Saturday March 16)
Last season, Montreal’s home opener ended in a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire. Many will remember ex-Impact Josh Gardner’s missile in the dying moments that hammered the woodwork, coming so close to giving his team a victory.
Facing their hated rivals TFC, the Impact players would love nothing more than to offer their fans a third consecutive win to open the season.
Impact fans can expect Coach Marco’s men to play a very disciplined, attacking style of Soccer. There will be lots of movement away from the ball, lots of short passes with the focus being to give each ball carrier a maximum of options at they push the ball up the field. I would also expect to see the midfielders try to launch Di Vaio more often with some long balls.
Defensively, the biggest assignment will go to both Nesta and Ferrari who will be in charge of making MLS Player of the Week Robert Earnshaw invisible. Coming off a 2 goal performance against SKC, Earnshaw will want to do his best to add to his goal total.
Montreal wins 3-1.
Marco Di Vaio will get his first of the season.
Enjoy the game folks! FORZA IMPACT!
You can follow Gio Sardo on Twitter @GioSardo