For the second consecutive week, Real Salt Lake will be headed east in search of three points. Against a Montreal side that has only recently lost the CONCACAF Champions League title to Club America, RSL will be looking use their recent run of good form to against a side that has been struggling. As RSL and the Montreal Impact face each other for the only time this season, Real has a chance of showing Joey Saputo who the "Top Cheese" is.
The Claret-and-Cobalt are 2-1-1 against Eastern Conference opponents this season, while Montreal, on the other hand, is 0-2-0 against Western foes. As RSL surge and Montreal continue their MLS struggles, the Utah side will expect to take all three points at Stade Saputo.
The last time these two sides met, RSL picked up a valuable three points during the rough summer months. RSL struck first in this match on a third minute goal from Luke Mulholland. In a match that refused to settle down, Real continued to create chances but Montreal was able to find space and get the equalizer in the 31st minute. The second half saw the Claret-and-Cobalt regain control of the match, eventually returning to their standard possession based game. This subsequently created opportunities for the RSL strikers with Olmes Garcia scoring a brace and giving RSL the full three points.
About the Clubs
Frank Klopas has completely revamped the Montreal Impact since last these two sides met. With almost a complete roster turnover, expect to only see a few familiar faces and a completely new formation from the Impact. With the team build around Marco Di Vaio last year, Montreal has since been reimagined around Ignacio Piatti and has yet to find any success boasting a winless record in five MLS matches.
Finding initial success in CONCACAF Champions League, the Montreal have yet to translate their success in the Continental Competition to the MLS. Having only recently lost the title to Club America of Mexico, the Impact appear to still have a lingering hangover. Even worse for the Impact are the absences of difference makers Cameron Porter and former RSL man Danny Toia. Still Klopas will look to get his side back on track, especially being at home. Under the strong leadership of Nigel Reo-Coker, Montreal will have the opportunity to get their get first win of the season.
Predicted Montreal Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Bush; Miller, Ciman, Soumare, Reo-Coker; Donadel, Bernier; Duka, Piatti, Romero; McInerney.
Real Salt Lake
The Claret-and-Cobalt will hope to dash the hopes of the home side having shown a great deal of improvement over the last week and a half. In two matches - which, let's be honest, felt like an extension of one another - RSL was able to break its scoreless streak of more than 300 minutes and prevent their opponents from scoring from open play for more than 200. RSL has been surging of late and will hopefully use their momentum to stun the home fans.
With RSL still missing nearly a third of their presumed starters to lingering injuries, Jeff Cassar is likely to continue to rely on recent tactics that have been getting results. Expect the coaching staff to field a similar lineup to the one we saw against both the LA Galaxy and the Chicago Fire. Continuing to use the 4-1-3-2, Cassar will rely on the veterans on the pitch to shore up the defense while allowing the youngsters to be the creative puppeteers. With recent matches going their way, RSL will continue riding this wave of success for the time being.
Players to Watch
Montreal Impact - Jack McInerney
The promising young attacker is still just 22 years of age and has 33 goals in 126 appearances. Since joining the Canadian side, McInerney has continued to grow and flaunt his amazing talent. Just check out this goal that won the week four edition of MLS Goal of the Week - narrowly beating out Jordan Allen's match winner against Toronto FC:
Still, the youngster is known for taking his frustration out on his teammates which could harm squad chemistry. His demonstrative attitude is also something he will have to keep under control as it has the tendency to flair and has already resulted in a yellow card this year. Playing in all five matches for the Impact this year, McInerney has been unable to find consistency but will look to get it started against RSL.
Real Salt Lake - Luis Gil
With Javier Morales still recovering from a concussion sustained against the San Jose Earthquakes, Gil will once again be given the keys to the RSL attack. Gil has found success in the central midfield of late and will have to continue to cut apart the defense in order for RSL to continue to score goals. The possibility of Jordan Allen's absence will also play into how Gil approaches the match, meaning he could have to fill even a larger creative role for the club. Still, with 80 percent pass completion and improved chance creation, Gil will need keep his resolve in order for RSL to come away with the entire three points.
Key to the Match
In any match it is sometimes the little plays that turn into big plays. For this match in particular, the Impact realize that it all boils down to making every play count. If the Impact can get their habits and mentality right, they could start this match off in a positive way and maintain it through an entire 90 minute performance - something the club has struggled to do in 2015. Come in with the right approach, have guys tuned in, but make sure each player does every little bit they can to help the guy next to them. Montreal has lacked a complete 90 minute performance and it is something they will hope to do throughout this match at Stade Saputo.
Real Salt Lake
The Claret-and-Cobalt got a couple of goals last week, and probably should have had a couple of more. The creative spark that both Gil and Allen have provided has been fantastic, making players around them better. RSL has obviously been playing around with tactics and have finally found some that work. But Real had a number of chances of getting one up on the board against LA and making it 3-0 in Chicago but was unable to do so. Not to be disappointed, per se, but RSL will need to take that next chance they are given to really push Montreal and puts their back up against the wall. At that point, RSL need to continue creating chances in addition to also taking the ones that are presented.
Catch the match Saturday May 16 on KMYU at 2:00 p.m. MDT.
We'd like to know what you think. Do you think that there is anything we missed? Are there aspects of this match that we overlooked? What do you think this match means to Real Salt Lake? Will RSL's attack continue to find the back of the net? Can RSL keep from dropping three points against an Eastern Conference opponent? Share your opinions in the comments section below.