1. By all accounts, the Impact have been doing well - they've got the third-highest points-per-game rate right now. What's been the key to the early success?
Our success can be directly linked to our defense. Goalkeeper Troy Perkins is having one of the best seasons of his great MLS career. On the Le Footy Weekly podcast, we've given him 'superhero' status and have named him the 'Boy Wonder'. Perkins has yet to have a poor game and has even been able to steal a few points for us (during our recent game against San Jose, we would have lost about 7-2 instead of earning a 2-2 draw, all thanks to him).
In front of Perkins, you have our stellar defensive line. When healthy, Alessandro Nesta is as good as it gets. He is the team's general and everything flows through him. He has been hurt of late and we've seen a dip in defensive chemistry but the Impact have maintained a 'bend but don't break' mentality that has allowed them to remain a dominant force.
Matteo Ferrari is as smooth and solid as they come. Another rock in at centre back. When he and Nesta are on the field, there is no better duo in the MLS. Hassoun Camara's versatility at both full back and centre back has helped us cover injuries without getting weak in the middle. Jeb Brovsky has been lights out at full back. Capable of playing on both sides of the field, Brovsky isn't flashy but he is all heart and never gets caught out of position.
Injuries and fatigue have begun to creep up and with Nesta being unavailable, the inconsistent Dennis Iapichino has been called into duty. With a bit more playing time, the hope is that his confidence and level of play will only get better.
2. With four players in your squad in on loan, what's the squad cohesion like?
Squad cohesion has been fantastic. Everyone has bought into Coach Marco's system. Whether you are on loan or a player belonging to the club, everyone is considered a member of the team and everyone knows their role. The rotation of players in the starting XI has been great so far and those who merit the playing time have been on the field. There is a battle for minutes but management has great communication with each of the players and everyone knows that the season is long and opportunities to earn minutes will be plenty.
3. You had five players listed as out for the midweek match - how many of those have a chance to play on Saturday? How is your side responding to injuries?
The squad has responded relatively well to the number of injuries that have come up recently. Many of the players on the bench have been waiting for their chance to play and prove themselves. Every player knows that there are minutes to be earned so when they are called into the game, they better give it their all.
Daniele Paponi is out long term. We won't see him back for at least another month. Alessandro Nesta and Davy Arnaud are doubtful. We haven't heard much about Andrea Pisanu or what his status will be this weekend.
Nelson Rivas has been injured since pre-season. No timetable for his return.
Scouting report: Who should RSL be paying special attention to that might normally fly under the radar?
I'll go with Andres Romero. The Argentinian midfielder is still playing some inconsistent Soccer but he is getting stronger. His performances are getting better as he is getting used to the MLS game. Extremely dangerous at times, quiet and unseen at others, he has the ability to create plays from nothing and can fire the ball from anywhere. He's been a great addition so far for the Impact.
Formation and potential starting XI
With injuries and fatigue to be considered, this is the best guess that I can make:
Jeb Brovsky - Hassoun Camara - Matteo Ferrari - Dennis Iapichino
Andres Romero - Patrice Bernier - Felipe - Justin Mapp
Marco Di Vaio - Andrew Wenger
Predicted final score: 3-1 Impact. Stade Saputo is one of the toughest stadiums to play in and RSL will learn that this weekend.