Scouting report: What to expect from an Impact team still in the hunt for MLS' postseason

Breakdown of Montreal, next up for the Union (2 p.m., CSN)

MTL Scouting Report

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

Having taken just one point from the last six games, Marco Schallibaum's Montreal squad is now firmly entrenched in a dogfight for the final three playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

Montreal now sits on 46 points and a 13-12-7 record. 

The good news for the Impact is that they currently own the tiebreaking scenarios against chasers Chicago, New England, and Saturday opponent Philadelphia. If it came down to total wins and goals scored right now, the Quebec side would earn a playoff berth.

The Union are 0-1-1 against Montreal this season. The teams played last month to a scoreless draw at PPL Park. Back in May, the Impact thrashed the Union 5-3 in a rainy affair at Stade Saputo, the site of Saturday's critical showdown.

Impact Attack:

With that said, 37-year-old Italian veteran Marco Di Vaio is still tied for the league lead with 19 goals, but he hasn't scored since the September 28th game against Chicago. That's three straight games without a goal.

Still, we're talking about the guy who scored a hat trick against the Union on Memorial Day Weekend.

Montreal is a team that's changed formation a number of times this season to sort of reinvent the attack and find different ways to get the ball to Di Vaio.

They've tried 4-4-2 shapes, with striker Andrew Wenger pairing Di Vaio up top. They've dabbled with the 4-3-3 occasionally, using provider Justin Mapp in an advanced wide position.

They've probably been their best though in the 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1, where the midfield is stacked and Di Vaio runs up top by himself.

Either option probably includes the central midfield partnership of captain Patrice Bernier and Hernan Bernardello. The second wide player opposite Mapp is usually Andres Romero or Sanna Nyassi. You also have role players like striker Daniele Paponi and winger Andrea Pisanu who are capable of fitting into any scheme.

But the creativity of Felipe as a second striker or attacking midfielder might be the key to breaking Montreal out of its scoring slump. The Brazilian has come off the bench in recent weeks but seems to have a good connection with Di Vaio when he's actually on the field. Felipe is tied for second on the team with 7 assists in 2013.

Impact Defense:

Montreal lost to Los Angeles midweek without starting center backs Matteo Ferrari and Alessandro Nesta, so look for the Italian pair to line up in Schallibaum's starting XI on Saturday.

The fullback spots should be filled by Hassoun Camara on the right and Maxim Tissot on the left. Starting left back Jeb Brovsky is out with a broken toe, so the home grown Tissot looks set for a third straight start.

Backup goalkeeper Evan Bush played in Montreal but starter Troy Perkins should be back in net at Stade Saputo.

Defensive depth is provided by a pair of youngsters in Wandrille Lefevre and Karl Ouimette.

Possible Starting XI: Perkins (GK), Tissot, Ferrari, Nesta, Camara, Bernardello, Bernier, Mapp, Romero, Felipe, Di Vaio (4-4-1-1)

Thoughts on this Montreal squad? Leave them in the comments below.

Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at k.kinkead@hotmail.com