MLS in March and April is basically a big ol’ mulligan for all teams. Even a tough record in May can be overcome. But we’re halfway through May, and there’s only so much time left where we can decide not to worry about the standings.
Seattle showed that you can be awful right up through July and come back to roast everyone. But we’re not Seattle. Our historical touchpoint is more like our own 2013 season— where we had a strong second half of the season and still barely missed out on the postseason. Bad starts can be overcome, but it’s a terrible weight to have to carry around.
Sometime very soon we’re going to hit the point of the season where you are what the table says you are. The Fire can’t keep writing off bad results. They need to start putting points on the board.
Enter, stage right: Montreal.
CF97 all-time MLS record vs Montreal Impact: 5-5-6, 23 GF / 22 GA, 20 pts of 48
CF97 home MLS record vs Montreal Impact: 3-3-1, 13 GF / 8 GA, 12 pts of 27
That last game against LAFC is definitely worth a look. Tonight’s game could very well be another wild shootout. Yes, it’s a Wednesday night game on short rest, but both teams will be gunning hard for a result. Things could get weird.
This isn’t exactly what I think the lineup will be. I’m trying to not anticipate what Pauno will do, because I’ve been wrong often enough to not want to attempt it.
Instead, this is what I’d do if I had to put the teamsheet together. The return to the 5-3-2 is more of a Fuck You to Montreal’s attacking line than a genuine fear of what they’re capable of. Give Campos a start over Collier, let Katai off the leash a bit, position Adams to do more of what he did last week. Should be fine.
Keys To The Match
Brace For Impact: All of Montreal’s games since the start of April have been high-scoring. This includes the 5-3 to LAFC a couple weeks ago (as seen above). It’s going to be really hard for the Fire to defend against this team. I think they’d do well to just accept that they’re going to ship a lot of goals and just pour all their efforts into going forward. Certainly the Men In Red don’t want to make too many stupid mistakes, and there are ways to blunt Montreal’s attack— see the next key below— but for the most part the Fire will have to focus on scoring. Accept now that this is going to be a shootout and make sure you’re the ones still standing when it’s over.
Mo, Mo, Mo: Apart from those four minutes in the second half against Atlanta last week, Mo Adams had a tremendous game. His work shielding the backline helped contain one of the strongest attacks in the league, keeping ATL to two goals when it could’ve conceivably been more like four or five. A lot of that was down to Adams keeping Miguel Almiron in his back pocket for much of the game. Adams needs to try and replicate that performance while marking Ignacio Piatti. If Adams can screw with Piatti’s mojo, the Fire might just have a fighting chance.
DO Taunt Happy Fun Ball: In two of their last five games, the Impact had to play with a reduced squad after one of their own was sent off. The conclusion is not a difficult one to draw: Montreal is a team that can be baited. If the Fire can find ways to frustrate the visitors early, they may find themselves playing with a man advantage pretty early in the game. That could prove to be a decisive advantage— if they can pull it off.
How To Watch
Television: TVA Sports (Canada)
Can the Fire get the job done and start turning things around? Or are Montreal too much for them? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!