D.C. United, fresh off of two shutout wins, tonight faces a road game against CF Montreal in their temporary home in south Florida. The club formerly known as the Impact are playing in Ft. Lauderdale due to border issues during the ongoing pandemic, and while United had a game just four days ago, Montreal has been off for 26 days, making for something of an unusual dynamic for this game.
While the Black-and-Red have started to turn good performances into results, Montreal struggled to score throughout a busy May. In fact, the home team tonight scored more goals in their first two matches of 2021 than they have in six games since.
Key player: Russell Canouse
Montreal, whether they sit deep or set up a higher line of contention, are a transition team; if you prevent them from breaking out, you can cut down most of their attacking threat. That makes for a major challenge for central midfielders, who have to anticipate turnovers and be positioned to either counter-press successfully (or at least contain), while also maintaining possession in a way that balances the need to push play forward with the avoidance of those turnovers.
It’s not entirely clear who will start for United, given that they have three games in eight days, but one of the most likely starters is Canouse, who thrives in this kind of game. If United is to turn this into a three-game winning streak — something they haven’t done since late September 2019 — he’s going to have to be at his best to make sure United’s pressure doesn’t open up transition opportunities for a team that thrives on them.
Location: Drive Pink Stadium (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
Kickoff time: 8:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (343) - Bill Hamid; Donovan Pines, Brendan Hines-Ike, Tony Alfaro; Julian Gressel, Russell Canouse, Moses Nyeman, Kevin Paredes; Yordy Reyna, Ola Kamara, Paul Arriola
Bench: Jon Kempin, Frédéric Brillant, Joseph Mora, Andy Najar, Felipe Martins, Yamil Asad, Adrien Perez, Nigel Robertha
The only change to the injury report is Robertha moving from questionable to off the report entirely, and with Junior Moreno still away on international duty and Jacob Greene, Michael DeShields, and Jovanny Bolivar still on loan with Loudoun, we’ve got 22 players for 20 spots.
Given that this game is on short rest, we’re thinking there will be some rotation. That, plus Montreal’s attacking speed, influenced the Alfaro pick over Najar (who may not be ready to start again after going 90 on Saturday). Nyeman for Felipe brings fresh legs in central midfield, while this may be a good moment to get Reyna some action while also resting Perez.
That said, it could be that no rotation happens, or that the changes we see come elsewhere. Can Gressel and Paredes (the latter of whom took a lot of hard fouls on the weekend) go 60-75 minutes in the wingback spots again? Is this a good moment to hold Kamara to 30 minutes so he’s ready for Sunday’s home game? Lots of possibilities, so this one’s tough to call.
Impact Foot Montreal starting 11: (3412) - Clément Diop; Kiki Struna, Rudy Camacho, Joel Waterman; Zachary Brault-Guillard, Ahmed Hamdi, Victor Wanyama, Lassi Lappalainen; Djordje Mihailovic; Romell Quioto, Bjorn Johnsen
Coming off of a month of May where Montreal scored four goals in six games and then had nearly a full month to ponder how to improve that, taking a guess at what Wilfried Nancy is going to do here is pretty difficult. Montreal has played 3412 in each of their last four games, so we’re sticking with that, but there are several positions that seem to be up for grabs within that set-up.
One situation to monitor: Quioto, their most important attacker, was given an unclear injury report designation. He’s the one consistent option for them up front, which may throw their front line into more chaos. Johnsen is the most likely other forward, and Mason Toye (who has 3 goals on the year despite inconsistent minutes) is off the injury report, so they still have some weapons even if Quioto can’t go from the start.
Referee: Drew Fischer
Available TV: NBC Sports Washington, TeleXitos
Feel free to check our our DCU how to watch guide to figure out what your best option is.
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What do we have to say about it?: The latest Filibuster previews what we know about what used to be the Impact.
What are you drinking?: During the game, it’ll be lemon seltzer. Once we finish the post-game zoom, it’s looking like Union Craft Brewing’s Thirst Monster kolsch.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos more success in Florida!
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