Scouting report: What to expect from Montreal in Saturday's meeting at Stade Saputo

A closer look at Montreal, next up for the Union Saturday (4 p.m.)

 

Montreal has had it rough.

It appears that a new coach meshing with a similar nucleus of players has not worked to any advantage over the club’s last seven regular season matches.

While it has managed to pull off points against Eastern Conference opponents, earning draws against Philadelphia, New York and Chicago, this club still seeks its first win of the 2014 MLS regular season.

On Saturday (4 p.m., The Comcast Network), the Union will look to keep that streak alive at Montreal’s Stade Saputo – a place Philly has yet to win in – against an Impact team it nearly defeated in March.

That until a world class goal from world class striker Marco DiVaio put the kibosh on that in the 80th minute.

If the Union is going to return to the Chester waterfront with three points in hand, here’s a look at the major players they are going to have to bypass.

Montreal offense

The beauty of this offense starts with its formation. Montreal enacts the 4-5-1, boasting a target striker. Normally, that man is DiVaio, but it’s very possible that Impact coach Frank Klopas could give DiVaio’s 37-year-old legs a rest to give 21-year-old Jack McInerney a run against his former club. Whoever Klopas decides to place in that top spot, the supporting cast in behind of Felipe Martins and Justin Mapp poses a threat. Mapp leads the team with three assists on the season and has great vision. The left-footed midfielder once told philadelphiaunion.com during his season long stint in Philadelphia that his right leg is only used for keeping him balanced, but his left leg has found Mapp enjoy a 13-year MLS career, still considered one of the best outside midfielders in the game. 

Graphic: A look at Montreal's potential Starting XI and formation against the Union Saturday (4 p.m., TCN)

As for Martins, he’s excellent at creating his own space to get shots on target. Patrice Bernier returned to the lineup last Saturday in the loss to Sporting Kansas City and his ability to run at defenders is without question his most dangerous threat. Rounding out that group Saturday is Collen Warner and Calum Mallace. Know that Montreal is quick on the counter and actually leads the League in the shots on goal statistic with 38.

Montreal defense

If there is one portion of the field to exploit it’s this third. Montreal has allowed 14 goals in seven matches and many of them have come from breakdowns in the defensive part of the field. Against Kansas City, Klopas went with the foursome of Max Tissot, Matteo Ferrari, Karl Ouimette and Eric Miller to start.

The group gave up four goals including an own goal in the 31st minute.

With that said, expect there will be changes, but that probably won’t be in the form of Ferrari and Miller who have started every match for the Impact this season. Also, the club does have an ace in the hole with Heath Pearce, who featured in the Union’s last meeting with Montreal at PPL Park.

Lastly, goalkeeper Troy Perkins another mainstay, will look to snap out of a funk that finds him with a 2.00 goals against average in the league.

Overall

The Union must stay mindful of the counter attack. It will be Montreal’s greatest strength, one this Canadian club does quite well. However, the Impact is not a team that has been able to keep clubs off the score sheet. So this weekend if the Union can take advantage on a few of the numerous chances in front of goal its been able to create for much of this season, then three points for the first time at Stade Saputo is not out of the question.

What do you think of this Montreal group? Leave a comment below.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com