Know Your Enemy: Montreal Impact
The 2014 season is finally here. FC Dallas begins a new era as Oscar Pareja leads his team into the new season.
FC Dallas has gone through a bit of a transformation this offseason, bringing in new players like Designated Player David Texeira, Andres Escobar, former University of Virginia standout Brian 'Cobi' Span as well as veterans like Adam Moffat and Hendry Thomas.
This weekend the boys in red will host the Montreal Impact. The Canadian side is lead by new manager Frank Klopas who took over for the departed Marco Schallibaum. So far this offseason the Impact have only added a few players to their roster with one of those players being former FC Dallas defender Health Pearce. The big questions will be if the Impact did enough to improve on their playoff berth from a year ago.
Injury & Suspension Watch
Out of the gate the Impact will be down three key members of their roster as defender Nelson Rivas and attackers Marco Di Vaio and Andres Romero are all suspended due to their altercations following their playoff loss to Houston last fall.
The Impact could also be without their captain Patrice Bernier, who has been working on getting his fitness levels up for the start of the season.
Heath Pearce vs Fabian Castillo – Pearce is the new addition to the Impact, having shown well enough in preseason to earn a contract from Klopas. How Pearce handles Castillo's speed on the flanks will go a long way in how well FCD is able to attack from the outside. Pearce is a clever defender and one with plenty of MLS experience, which could come in handy against a younger guy like Castillo.
Key Player for Montreal
Felipe Martins - With the losses of Di Vaio and potentially Bernier, Martins now the guy that will have to run the show for the Impact in the middle of the field. He is a crafty player in the attack, as he scored five goals last year for Montreal.
Klopas uses a very simple and traditional 4-4-2 formation.
Goalkeeper: Troy Perkins; RB: Hassoun Camera; CB: Wandrille Lefevre, Matteo Ferrari; LB: Health Pearce; RM: Hernan Bernardello; CM: Collen Warner, Felipe Martins; LM: Justin Mapp; FW: Sanna Nyassi, Andrew Wenger
Keys to three points
Montreal will be an interesting team to watch from out of the gates in this game. Losing Di Vaio for this match is a massive loss as he was the key to their offense a season ago scoring 20 of their 50 goals. The Impact will have to get more creative in the final third of the field with Martins and Wenger having to carry the bulk of the attack.
One way to beat this squad has always been to spread them out and spray balls in from the wings. FCD has the talent on the wings to do just that and with Blas Perez up front, there should be plenty of opportunities to create goal scoring chances against this defense. Montreal had one of the worst defenses in 2013 in MLS. They did bring in a couple new faces in the defense this offseason but those were mostly depth pieces.
FCD will want to control the middle of the field, limit the possession that Montreal is able to get, and also take chances on goal to test Troy Perkins as much as possible.
Getting the Pareja era off on the right foot begins with a strong showing this weekend. The talent is there for FCD to make some noise this year in the Western Conference and getting three points at Toyota Stadium is a big deal.