Hidey ho, Galaxy fans! It's Thursday, just two days away from the Galaxy's first ever match in Montreal. To get us prepped for this unknown world of French Canada, we're chatting with Sofiane Benzaza of Mount Royal Soccer. As always, my answers will be over there. Read on for an impactful preview, and you can watch yours truly try and dust off her high school French at the end:
LAG Conf: Montreal is a bit of an unknown in MLS being the new kid, what's been the key to your offense this year?
The play of the team as a unit has been key. With no offensive star per say, the Montreal Impact had to rely on every player to give his input on the field in a team context at all times. With no playmakers or dominant offensive midfielders, the creation starts at the centre of the midfield with either Patrice Bernier or Collen Warner with one of them backing up the talented and technical holding midfielder, Felipe Martins. Most plays pass by him whether he decides to run with the ball or distribute it.
The experience of Davy Arnaud and Justin Mapp has helped a lot but they still need support and for now full backs/outside backs have been inconsistent in their offensive support. Up front, Sanna Nyassi still seems to struggle with his identity of either being a wide player or a second striker even though he found some chemistry with central pivot Bernardo Corradi whose hard work has been precious.
Many factors are to be taken into account but Jesse Marsch wants to create a team chemistry and team concept to generate offense.
LAG Conf: How has the defense looked this year?
Shaky at the beginning but has gotten better with more games and practices under its belt. Led by Serie A veteran, Matteo Ferrari, the defenders have gotten better in being in sync and the Italian CB has been matched with Shavar Thomas. But the initial star defender was first MLS signing, Nelson Rivas, who came back from injury and played an excellent 60 minutes against Sporting Kansas City. Add Hassoun Camara to the mix and the Montreal Impact has a more than decent lineup at the back. One defensive hic has been the outside/full backs for the team that is still struggling between making plays up front and defensive positioning.
The defensive play of the team as a whole has been constant pressing on its opponents and mixing the physical side when needed. That aggressive style also translated being MLS leader in Fouls Committed. But I can`t talk about defense without mentioning Donovan Ricketts, an excellent MLS goalkeeper that has mixed some bad and some very good but always made some great saves to keep his team in the game. How is that allocation money going for you?
LAG Conf: How have fans adjusted to MLS? How has the atmosphere at Saputo Stadium changed?
Montreal Impact fans like many other soccer fans have their favorite teams in Europe`s big leagues, that is no surprise. But since the club was created, a strong following for the team has been present and that will only grow bigger and bigger.
For now, games are being played at the Olympic Stadium for 2 reasons. Reason #1 is because Stade Saputo is in renovations and will be ready on June 16th for the game vs the Seattle Sounders. Reason #2 is that the Montreal Impact have a deal with the Olympic Park association to hold 6 MLS games at the Olympic Stadium, which is less than 200 meters away from Stade Saputo: bigger venue, not as fun for ambiance but great when filled out at 50K+ fans.
For now, the ambiance has been good especially when 50K+ fans come in as the opening game had a record attendance with 58,912 fans and that record seems that it will probably be broken for the game vs the LA Galaxy.
Good ambiance, good crowd and a big credit goes to the Ultras Montreal and Section 127 supporters groups for bringing the noise as much as they can.
Bonus question: Qu'attendez-vous de vos onze de départ est samedi?
On s`attend à un classique 4-4-2 avec les joueurs suivants et je mets un peu d`imagination: Ricketts -- Wahl , Ferrari , Rivas, Camara -- Bernier , Warner, Felipe, Mapp , Arnaud -- Corradi