The performance so far of both D.C. United and the Montreal Impact has your dear writers feeling a little cocky, as most of us predict a multi-goal win for United. What is your take?
We're fresh off our first road win in over a year and we got a Montreal team coming in that has been playing extremely poor this season. Fresh off his snub, EJ decides to open up the floodgates. EJ nets his first 2 of the season, Rolfe assists Espindola on a 3rd, and Bill keeps another team outfitted in goose eggs. 3-0, United.
If D.C. United is what I think they are becoming this season, they will beat Montreal handily. Everything is in D.C. United's favor: they are in better form than the Impact; they are at home; they have a full week of rest; and they have a motivated star who needs to prove a point. They need to win this game. In fact, this is exactly the kind of game they must win this season. And, despite this being MLS where nothing is ever as it seems, D.C. United will win this game. Call it 3-1, with a goal from EJ, one from Rolfe, and one from Kitchen.
Montreal is having the season we had last year. Nothing is going right, unless it's a non-MLS game. Last week's match versus Sporting KC in Montreal reminded me of the mid-week game we had against Houston in 2013. Pity the Impact. Not for that reason, though. But because they are merely the canvas upon which EJ will paint a very definitive response to his World Cup snub. EJ doesn't just score a goal. He lays a hat trick. There will be a great gnashing of teeth and beating of breasts at Stanford. And one other DC player finds the net, too. Let's say Davy or Perry. Their name has to end in a "y." DC trounces, 4-0.
At a 30,000 foot level, let's take a look at the Impact: they are going to be playing their 4th game in 10 days, with their only win on a stoppage time PK to an NASL team that is currently 9th out of 10 teams. They have the fewest points and have scored the fewest goals in the League, and hearing that players in their room are prepared to tank some games to have their coach fired seems to imply they have not shown their worst yet. And on DC's side there is...a forward who has not scored yet and may feel slighted by his perceived slight to the National Team,on a team that's lost one in their last seven, and on a stoppage time goal at that. If this game does not produce multiple goals and/or a clean sheet victory for the home team then it's a disappointment. I'll be conservative and say 2-0 with an EJ goal, but not before we see the Impact turn their warmups inside out and throw them into the center circle.
The last time these two teams played at RFK Stadium, three guys who probably won't start on Saturday - Conor Doyle, Luis Silva, and Jared Jeffrey - sliced through the Impact defense to score DCU's three goals in a 3-1 win. Did I mention that it was one of United's three wins all of last year, and that Montreal was a playoff team last year? Since then, fortunes of the teams have essentially reversed. Montreal have taken D.C.'s cellar place, and D.C. find themselves in 3rd in the East. If United is going to continue to look like a playoff team, they should win this game. They will. 2-0.
DCU's home, the Impact are tired and Johnson is angry. I've (as it turns out correctly) refrained from predicting any EJ goals in these threads so far, but I'll give him at least one for Saturday after his training-camp snub. 2-0 United.
The wannabe coach in me sees the Union going to KC and winning 2-1 and thinks about how the Impact are a classic trap game. After all, Philly is slightly better than Montreal, and United is - to be very kind - slightly worse than the Sporks. The similarities end there. The Union, for all their flaws, are staying together as a unit and support their head coach. The Impact, on the other hand, have been in free fall since last August and are currently running away with the "worst team in MLS" lead (is it a lead? Anti-lead? You know what I mean).
As such, this is a game United must win to preserve the relatively positive vibes around the club at the moment. Fortunately, the Impact are also dealing with a clogged schedule, injuries, and a roster full of old players. Any hesitancy I feel about United's deep defending and lack of possession are cured by the fact that the Impact are starting to have that "United 2013" smell. 2-0, first half goals from Espindola and EJ (who thankfully chooses not to celebrate in a controversial manner).
United is starting to look like the team Ben Olsen wants: Gritty, hard-working, and passionate. Montreal has been awful this season, and could be vulnerable well... everywhere on the field. D.C United with the 3-0 victory, Kitchen and Arnaud with another quality performance in the midfield.
Last week was supposed to be the week where United proved the death knell in a coach's employment. Alas, the Union still haven't fired John Hackworth. The Impact, though, are even closer to firing still-new head coach Frank Klopas, with owner Joey Saputo recently promising "changes" for the struggling Quebec side. I think Saputo pulls the trigger this week after D.C. wins 3-0. Montreal never really threaten, and United ease to victory through Fabian Espindola, former Impact captain Davy Arnaud and - it's Montreal, so he has to score - Conor Doyle.
Montreal has been bad on both sides of the ball so far this season, but I am worried about a trap game. Give me a tighter than it should be 2-1 home victory for the good guys.