As is our tradition at SB Nation, we like to rely on the friendships that we already have. In that vein, I talked to Jeff Corbet of Mount Royal Soccer to preview this afternoon's game against the Montreal Impact.
Questions for Mount Royal Soccer
B&RU: After the season that Montreal had last year, are you surprised that Frank Klopas is back this year?
MRS:Not really ! The club had already fired 2 coach in 2 seasons before Klopas and the stability in the eye of the fans and the players was in jeopardy. Me as a fan I was not happy with those changes because it always seem like a new beginning. Another important things is that the management did not do any important changes from 2013 to 2014. Yes they made the playoff in 2013 but the end of the season was awful. They gambled and hoped that the team will improve but it only got worst. Klopas is there for the beginning but the team signed Enzo Concina as an assistant coach. If the team is going down once again in the first 10-15 games don't be surprised to see Enzo becoming the 4th coach in 4 year.
B&RU: Who is going to be in the on-field leader for Montreal?
MRS: The best player of the Impact is with no doubt Ignacio Piatti. We have seen him last year and he is a very high calibre player. He is able to make a goal all by himself or feed the striker up front. There is no player talented as him on the team. Regarding leadership there is a couple of player who fill that hole. Nigel Reo-Coker is one of them and the team captain Patrice Bernier is the other one. Although the biggest improvment in that department might be Laurent Ciman the belgium defender. In the two games in CCL he showed what kind of player he really is. He brings passion and experience on the field which was really missing last year.
B&RU: What is a reasonable expectation for Montreal's end result this season?
MRS: Going from dead last and make the playoff is possible as you showed it last year but it is not going to happen every year. I don't think the Impact will make the playoff because there is so many team that can pretend to make it. There is also some questions that need to be answered around the team. Will Bush be a MLS calibre goalkeeper for a year ? Who is going to score goal upfront ? How the aging defensive midfielder are going to do in the hard and long mls season ? I think it is fair to say that if hey can battle for a playoff spot and be in the mix in september we will be able to say mission accomplished. Do not forget that a win in CCL Semi's can change the picture in that whole season.
B&RU: Projected lineup and predicted score?
Questions for Black and Red United
MRS: What are the expectations for DC united this year after a wonderful season in 2014 ?
B&RU: I think that some regression from last year's team is likely, but it seems like the media at large is predicting a giant drop from D.C. United. I don't think it will be nearly that bad, and I think that United will be battling in the top three of the East throughout the season. If are closer to battling for the playoffs than battling for the top of the East, that would be a disappointment, but with Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo moved to the West, I think this team has more than enough to do that.
MRS: What player do you expect to shine this year at DC ?
B&RU: Bill Hamid will obviously shine, having won Goalkeeper of the Year last year, and Perry Kitchen is a fringe US national team player who is still not yet done developing. But, at least in the beginning of the season, I think that Jairo Arrieta will shine. Acquired for a pittance from Orlando City SC, Arrieta has looked lively in the two Concacaf Champions League games in which he has played, scoring two goals in two games and forcing his way into the starting lineup. After becoming an afterthought in Columbus, he will be an automatic starter during Fabian Espindola's suspension, and he may just be good enough to keep himself on the field for most of the season.
MRS: What Aspect on the field the team has to improve over the next couple of month?
B&RU: The midfield needs to get back to where it was last year, with Davy Arnaud and Perry Kitchen looking somewhat disjointed so far (especially in Costa Rica). New signing Markus Halsti has a minor knock, so when he comes back that should do much to improve the midfield. Chris Pontius and Chris Rolfe are both pushing for time on the left wing, and Michael Farfan is pushing for time across the midfield. I think this competition will get the midfield in line sooner rather than later, so it will be interesting to see who wins out.
MRS: Finally what's your prediction for the game ?
B&RU:With United on a bye week after this game, I think most of the starters from Wednesday will probably start. So that means Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, Taylor Kemp; Nick DeLeon, Davy Arnaud, Perry Kitchen, Chris Rolfe; Chris Pontius, Jairo Arrieta
D.C. United was very good at home last year, and so I think that will continue this season. I predict a 2-1 victory for the Black-and-Red.