Impact-Red Bulls Preview
While the New York Red Bulls are headed to the postseason, the Montreal Impact have some work left in order to clinch their own playoff spot.
With Ignacio Piatti potentially back on the pitch, the Impact look to record their first road win over the Red Bulls on Wednesday night.
In sixth place in the Eastern Conference and one point ahead of Orlando City with two matches in hand, Montreal (12-12-6) could clinch the second playoff berth in its four-year MLS existence as early as this week with a victory Wednesday and over Colorado on Saturday.
However, it’s the immediate challenge that could be a difficult one for the Impact.
Montreal is facing the East leader and has never won in five visits to Red Bull Arena, going 0-4-1 while giving up 16 goals – the only point came in CONCACAF Champions League play last year. The Red Bulls (15-9-6) are 3-0-2 in the past five MLS meetings overall but needed Lloyd Sam’s second-half goal to forge a 1-all tie at Montreal on Aug. 5.
The Impact are 2-8-4 on the road after Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Orlando, which snapped their three-match winning streak overall.
"We have to forget about (Saturday’s) loss quickly," captain Patrice Bernier told the MLS official website.
Potentially making matters worse, the Impact will be without key contributors Johan Venegas, Wandrille Lefevre and Maxim Tissot because of international duty.
However, Piatti could be available after missing the last three matches while in Argentina to be with his ill father. Piatti is tied with Dominic Oduro for the team lead with eight goals and tops the Impact with six assists in 23 games.
"He’s an important player, a guy you always want to be available," interim coach Mauro Biello said. "But we have to understand what he went through in the last few days and where he is on a physical level, when you don’t train for (several) days. We have to see him in training again, see how he feels, before we make a decision."
Piatti has never scored in three games against the Red Bulls, who hold a three-point advantage over D.C. United atop the East and are tied with Los Angeles in the race for the Supporters’ Shield.
After its six-match home winning streak ended with a 5-2 loss to Orlando on Sept. 25, New York rebounded with a 2-1 home win over Columbus on Saturday.
"Proud of the guys," said Sam, who scored for a second straight game to increase his career-high goal total to nine. "We bounced back well."
Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the eventual winner in the 21st minute and the Red Bulls clamped down defensively to hold on.
"We felt that we had an off night in Orlando in terms of our shifting and moving," interim coach Dennis Hamlet said. "I think you saw more of who we are in terms of pressing and doing it together. It was a great response after giving up the first goal and we created our two goals off our pressing."