There’s going to be a clear underdog on the pitch when 5 chilli HOT Philadelphia Union take on sputtering Montreal, but there’s no way I’m throwing the Impact a bone.
Last week Jack Hackworth's resurgent (and
rejuvenated) Philadelphia stunned L.A. Galaxy, 2-1, away and kept their pedal to
the metal with a 3-0 home win over Paul Mariner's rock bottom Toronto on
Sunday. I don't expect Montreal, even with their raft of “new” arrivals, to
throw a monkey wrench into the Union’s parade when they meet this weekend at
the PPL Park.
Italian Stallions & Future Shocks
Montreal look to be a club building for the
future, but they have immediate problems that need to be addressed ASAFP. They
are under the financial cloud of inadequate attendance records since they moved
back to the newly-renovated Saputo Stadium on June 16, and to stop the rot, the
Impact board have slashed ticket prices for the rest of the season
to keep the turnstiles
spinning. Montreal will need a decent
gate on every home game as they have speculated to accumulate and have added “veteran”
(a.k.a. thirtysomething) Italian star Alessandro Nesta, formerly of Serie A side
AC Milan, on an 18-month deal. The 36-year-old central defender, who grossed 78
caps for his national side, joins his fellow former international teammate
Marco Di Vaio on the Canadian team.
Even if Nesta hasn't graced the pitch, he seems
to be having a talismanic effect on the Impact as they ended a three-game losing
streak with a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Crew on Sunday, thanks to a Patrice Bernier penalty kick in the 89th
minute. It had looked to be YET another
rough ride for the Canadians as Milan Mirosevic broke the deadlock 64 minutes in for Columbus, but Zarek
Valentin got Montreal (6-11-3) even with a tying goal in the 78th minute before
Bernier (utterly unlike the English national side) won a game with a penalty.
The best odds on Montreal stringing together back to back wins will be on SBR forum when they are released, but I don’t see it happening.
Absence doesn’t make the goals any harder!
Any win is a good result, and any win when on
a losing skid is a great result, but kudos (and momentum) come Montreal’s way as
the Impact played most of the Columbus game one man short, after Jeb Brovsky
was shown a (justified) red card just 19 minutes in for elbowing Milovan
Mirosevic in the back of the head.
Also AWOL for the Impact were captain Davy
Arnaud and midfielder Felipe Martins, who were both sat on the naughty step
(for one-game) after each received a fifth yellow card of the season during
last Wednesday night's 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City. Maybe suspensions are
the way to lift the Impact; they’ll certainly hope so as Sanna Nyassi will be
suspended for Montreal's game in Philadelphia, following HIS fifth yellow card
of the season for a hard tackle late in the first half against Columbus.
Whatever his absence does to the Impact and however you want to bet, the most
up to date soccer odds will be on SBR forum. You might even want to have a mini
punt on a red card being brandished in the game against Philadelphia.
Despite Montreal’s streak busting win, Phily
are the inform side
Sunday saw Freddy Adu, Gabriel Gomez and
Antoine Hoppenot all score as the Philadelphia Union beat Toronto FC 3-0 and
winning consecutive MLS games for the first time since mid-April.
Credit where credit’s due, since John
Hackworth became interim coach of the Union (on 13th June) Philadelphia have
scored 10 of their team's 18 goals this season (in just five MLS games). Prior
to the first coming of a messiah called Jack, the Union had one of the saddest
offenses in the league, scoring a mere eight goals in 11 games.
Give em five!
Those wins for each team mean that
Philadelphia are WWLWL while Monty are WLLLW, in their last five. Hardly
definitive stats but you should be aware that Philly have scored in their last
four games, a run stretching back to a 1-0 loss to DC United on 17th June. What’s more that goal friendly run included a
3-0 and a 4-0 victory (3-0 against Toronto and 4-0 against Sporting Kansas).
By comparison Montreal have been shut out
twice in their last five, and by the same score; 3-0 against DC United and
Toronto, in back to back defats. Some of my weekend beer money is going on this
game going over 2.5 provided the odds are out there to tempt me. If you think
I’m wrong you probably hadn’t noticed that in each of Montreal’s last three
defeats they conceded three goals.
Maybe there’s something stronger in my coffee
cup, but I feel full of confidence for the Union and I’m backing more of the
same from Philadelphia as Montreal return (all too quickly) to losing ways. My recently acquired tasseography degree also tells me that Philadelphia will soon be
above Montreal in the table.
Prediction: Philadelphia win (but Montreal get
a consolation goal) 3-1.