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Montreal Impact vs. D.C. United | 2017 MLS Match Preview

Montreal Impact vs. D.C. United
2017 MLS Regular Season
Stade Saputo – Montreal, Quebec
Saturday, July 1 – 7 pm ET
WATCH: TVAS, TSN5 (CAN) | MLS LIVE (USA)

"Now" would be a good time for either of these teams to begin a run of results that would propel them above the red line for the first time all season. No time like the present, right?

Montreal Impact and D.C. United have been injury-plagued and unlucky throughout the first half of the 2017 season, and now the two clubs will get to revisit the matchup that saw the Impact knock D.C. out of the 2016 playoffs. The 2017 playoffs, however, seem miles away as D.C. sit 10th in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only Montreal in last.

Both teams lost their most recent league outings with United going down 1-0 at Philadelphia and Montreal getting throttled 4-1 at Columbus, the latter punctuated by a second-half collapse that's become a worrying staple of this year's Impact.

The MLS season is often forgiving of teams that have slow starts, but eventually "slow start" turns into "season-ending struggle." Neither club is there yet, but both are inching toward the event horizon of a playoff-less November.

Montreal Impact

If Montreal want to avoid falling further behind the pack in the East they need to start pitching a few shutouts. They've managed just two all season, though – happily for them – one was in these teams' previous 2017 meeting, a 1-0 Impact win on May 6.

Homegrown attacker Ballou Tabla scored the only goal in that one. He'll likely get a chance to make an impact again. with the Impact likely to be without star attacker Ignacio Piatti. The Argentine was subbed off late in the second half of Tuesday's Canadian Championship second leg against Toronto FC, which TFC won 2-1, with an apparent groin injury.

The defense once again did not look good, either. They've now conceded 10 goals in their last four games across all competitions, which includes three consecutive second-half breakdowns.

Montreal have played the fewest home games in the league – this will be just their seventh – so they have a little more wiggle room than most teams at this point. But a loss here would leave them anchored to the bottom of the table through the Gold Cup break, with the red line getting further and further away.

  • Suspended: None
  • Int’l Duty: GK Maxime Crepeau (Canada), Patrice Bernier (Canada), Anthony Jackson-Hamel (Canada)
  • Injury Report: OUT – D Ambroise Oyongo (right knee surgery); D Daniel Lovitz (undisclosed injury) M Louis; QUESTIONABLE: M Ignacio Piatti (groin)

Projected Starting XI (5-3-2, right to left): Evan Bush – Chris Duvall, Victor Cabrera, Laurent Ciman, Kyle Fisher, Hassoun Camara – Marco Donadel, Hernan Bernardello, Blerim Dzemaili – Dominic Oduro, Ballou Tabla

Notes: Montreal are unbeaten in their last five meetings against D.C. United (3W-2D), including a 4-2 playoff win in Washington last season... Montreal have conceded six goals from outside the box this year, tied with Seattle for the most in MLS.

D.C. United

D.C.'s surprise late-season surge to the playoffs in 2016 was built upon a prolific offense that has disappeared almost entirely in 2017, with the Black-and-Red scoring a league-worst 12 goals this campaign.

So what's changed? Patrick Nyarko has missed much of the season with injuries, Lucho Acosta hasn't had the same cutting edge as last year, and Patrick Mullins was 100 percent healthy only for the first two games of the season. At no point have all three of those guys been healthy and available, and the back-ups haven't been able to fill the void.

The backline has been ravaged by injuries and inconsistency also, and the rotation at defensive midfield has provided insufficient cover. That's necessitated a shift away from the 4-1-4-1 to a 4-2-3-1, which has provided a bit more defensive solidity in recent weeks.

The front office has begun making moves already. First through the door was Jamaican center forward DeShorn Brown, a proven MLS commodity who could be in line for his first start with Mullins still injured and Jose Guillermo Ortiz coming off of a draining 90-minute midweek performance in the US Open Cup.

  • Suspended: None
  • Int’l Duty: GK Bill Hamid (United States)
  • Injury Report: OUT: M - Rob Vincent (left knee meniscus), F - Patrick Mullins (knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE: M/D - Nick DeLeon (lower abdominal strain), D - Bobby Boswell (groin injury)

Projected Starting XI (4-4-2, right to left): Travis Worra – Chris Korb, Kofi Opare, Steven Birnbaum, Taylor Kemp – Ian Harkes, Jared Jeffrey – Lloyd Sam, Lucho Acosta, Patrick Nyarko – Jose Guillermo Ortiz

Notes: D.C. have lost three consecutive road MLS matches, and has failed to score in all three games. The last time they lost four or more away matches in a row in regular season MLS play was from July 20, 2013 to March 22, 2014 – a nine-game road losing streak... D.C. are averaging 0.71 goals per game this year, the lowest in the league. D.C. have averaged fewer goals per game in just two seasons – 2010 (0.70) and 2013 (0.65).

All-Time Series

It's been close to dead even, with D.C. claiming one more win (5 to 4) along with five ties. Of course, it's last year's playoff encounter that looms largest, isn't it?

  • Overall: D.C. 5 wins, 18 goals; Montreal 4 wins, 16 goals; 5 draws
  • At Montreal: Montreal 3 wins (11 goals) … D.C. 2 wins (8 goal) … Ties 2

Referees

  • Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
  • Senior Assistant Referee, near side: Eric Weisbrod
  • Junior Assistant Referee, far side: Gianni Facchini
  • 4th Official: Geoff Gamble
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