Montreal started the season with four straight wins and drew some attention from national media as a front runner in the East but a bye week preceded by a loss in Kansas City and a tie at home has pushed them out of the spotlight somewhat. Two road wins (at Seattle and Portland) to begin the year followed by home wins against Toronto FC and New York fueled early band wagon jumping with some outlets perching them atop their always arguable "power rankings". Montreal may not be able to match that lofty status again but they may not be as bad as many predicted before the season, myself included.
As long as they can keep getting production out of Marco Di Vaio and Alessandro Nesta stays healthy enough to anchor their back line they have a chance to remain competitive. Patrice Bernier has established himself as one of the top center midfielders in MLS but the rest of the squad isn't necessarily spectacular. There are a lot of journeyman-like pieces filling out the remainder of the eleven so they're not imposing by any means.
Frank Klopas seems to have figured out a formula that works with the Pause/Larentowicz pairing behind 4 attackers so that shouldn't change in this match although you'd expect Chicago to be more cautious than they were last week at home. Who starts at right back will be a question without Wells Thompson however. Mike Videira is available and he played well enough in that spot against Sporting a few weeks ago to get another look. Logan Pause could always slot into the right back moving Daniel Paladini back into the center but I don't see much sense in changing the dynamic that's currently working. Videira should be okay against either Justin Mapp or Andres Romero on Montreal's left side.
Project Line Ups
Troy Perkins; Hassoun Camara, Karl Ouimette, Alessandro Nesta, Jeb Brovsky; Patrice Bernier, Andrea Pisanu, Davy Arnaud, Justin Mapp; Felipe; Marco Di Vaio
Sean Johnson; Gonzalo Segares, Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba, Mike Videira; Jeff Larentowicz, Logan Pause, Patrick Nyarko, Joel Lindpere; Chris Rolfe; Sherjill MacDonald
If Austin Berry and Jalil Anibaba can remain composed and keep Di Vaio from beating them on the delayed runs he's constantly making the Fire should be able to deny them their only real scoring threat. Kansas City and Columbus did it and you get the feeling the Impact were fortunate to earn wins after watching the first two games at Seattle and Portland. Di Vaio is an offside machine when he's not scoring so being aware of his exact location at all times is vital. Crafty veteran striker versus young defenders is a scary combination for the Fire.
OUT: Steven Kinney (R quad strain); QUESTIONABLE: Arne Friedrich (L hamstring), Quincy Amarikwa (R knee sprain)
OUT: Nelson Rivas (L knee surgery), Matteo Ferrari (L calf strain)
SUSPENDED: Wells Thompson
Fire 1 Impact 1
The rest of the league
Toronto FC 2 New York 1
Vancouver 1 FC Dallas 1
Columbus 1 DC 0
New England 1 Philadelphia 2
Sporting KC 2 Portland 0
Real Salt Lake 2 Los Angeles 1
Chivas USA 2 San Jose 3
Houston 2 Colorado 0
Season Record 33/68