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Prep Talk: Sporting KC vs Montreal

29 March 3:12 pm

Prep Talk: Sporting KC vs Montreal

By Jonathon Feyerherm

For this week's match against the Montreal Impact, I spoke to Montreal MLSSoccer.com beat writer Olivier Tremblay and CJAD Sports Director and Voice of the Impact Rick Moffat. You can follow Tremblay on twitter @OliTremblay and Moffat @RickMoffat.

Rick Moffat

What's been the key to Montreal's early success?

It really has been a stunning surprise to me because here's a team learning a new system under a new coach (new to MLS, Marco Schallibaum), and some significant personnel changes. The Impact, at 4-0-0, have approached what will be their A game. They've been timely, opportunistic about when they've taken leads at halftime. They've come out in the second half and had some terrible giveaways. It's almost like they've been terribly nervous playing with the lead. So the 4-0-0 start in a sense has been really fragile. What they've been able to take away is that they're pleased that they're winning games that last season (their debut in MLS) they let slip away in the second half. Both on the road and at home. They really are finding ways to win and hang on to leads rather than finding ways to lose. 

What are the Montreal players and coaches thoughts on Saturday's match?

Talking to Montreal coach Schallibaum and some of the players, they expect a tough challenge on the road. They can draw on the results they had on the road in Portland and Seattle. They're going to be weary if they have played through a draw by the half or have the opportunity to be defending a lead by halftime. They won't take anything for granted because they've committed some bad mistakes in games. They've had a couple of games that could have just as easily let turn into draws or even defeats in spite of that 4-0-0 record. Of course with Davy Arnaud, he's so fired up to come home.

Olivier Tremblay

What's been the key to Montreal's early success?

First and foremost, I think Montreal has that extra year of experience. They are more settled into their identity and who they want to be. Apart from the game against NY, having the same back line and not changing it (I think Montreal fielded 16 or 17 back lines last season). Having that sense of continuity comforts them and helps them being more sure that they can remain solid defensively, sit back, and push forward a bit more at home, and make their counterattacks count.

The tactical changes that they've done, going to a 4-1-4-1, with Patrice Bernier in front of the defense. The defense really feels at ease with him there. They know how composed he is in possession. He strikes me as being extremely calm. Over time the ball comes around him. I'm completely shocked by just how calm he remains on the field. As I wrote on the website (ImpactMontreal.com/MLSSoccer.com), he's the fulcrum of this team ever since the beginning of the season. And obviously Di Vaio up top who keeps defenders guessing.

How has Davy Arnaud played for Montreal?

This year he's been extremely good. Head Coach Marco Schallibaum has been very satisfied with how Davy's been playing. Davy's the kind of guy that is going to step up to the plate for his teammates.

He's been that second player in the midfield who is not afraid to knock people around when the situation calls for it.

Davy's been extremely solid for Montreal this season and he brings that MLS experience in a team that is counting on more and more imports. You have to have MLS experience and that's what Davy Arnaud brings to the table. 

What are your thoughts on Sporting KC?

It seems to me that Kansas City, New York is one of these teams as well, that once they get into a rhythm the opposition is going to pay for the chances they've missed. Kansas City has a distinctive style that's theirs and they live and die by that. That's something that makes them admirable.

They're going to push you hard and want to play in the opposition's half. They've been doing that rather well so far but sometimes early on things just don't want to seem to want go your way.

Would a draw on Saturday be a good result for Monteal?

I think one point (draw) would be a very good result for Montreal. Subconsciously, they're going to want to get that fifth win in a row, especially against Kansas City who that winning streak at the beginning of the season last year. They're going to want to make that storyline become a reality. A point would be a very good result for Montreal especially given that they've already had two very good results away from home (wins at Seattle and Portland).

What changes do you expect from Montreal for Saturday's match?

I don't expect a lot of changes, especially since next week's match (vs Galaxy) was postponed so they'll have a bye week next week. It will probably be the exact same 11 with the young academy product Karl Ouimette (had first start last weekend) stepping in for Alessandro Nesta.