Encouraging play like last Saturday in a loss to Columbus is nice, but for DC United a win would be even better. The Black and Red’s quest to end a five-game winless streak continues on Saturday in Montreal against an Impact side trying to catch up in the MLS schedule and in the league standings (5 p.m. on CSN).
Because Montreal made the finals of the 2014/2015 CONCACAF Champions League, its schedule was lighter at the start of the MLS season. After a 2-1 win over Chicago on Wednesday, the Impact has now played 28 matches and is just ahead of Orlando City for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Impact is one the hottest teams in MLS and is unbeaten in its last five matches. It is probably not a coincidence that Impact summer signing forward Didier Drogba has appeared in four of the five matches during the club’s run of success and has scored five goals. In the five matches with Drogba the Impact has outscored opponents 10-5.
By contrast United has not won a match since its last trip to Montreal on August 8. For that match Drogba had just been signed and was a spectator at Stade Saputo as United found a way to win 1-0 on a goal from Chris Rolfe. It was United’s only shot of the game. In fact the Impact had a 26-1 advantage in shots and United Bill Hamid goalkeeper turned in an amazing performance with eight saves.
- Make the loss to Columbus mean something. United was frustrated by last Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Crew, because the Black and Red believed it was crafting a performance that would lead to three points. “In a lot of ways it’s the best performance we’ve had in over two months, head coach Ben Olsen said. “We came up against a team that I think is playing very well right now. We had a bunch of good looks in and around the eighteen, we got enough service in, and on another night we get one or two goals more than we did. I’m encouraged but disappointed.” Conventional wisdom suggests teams play more conservative on the road, but with only four matches left United needs to find the rhythm that had on top of the Eastern Conference for most of the season. At the risk of being redundant the combination of Fabian Espindola and Alvaro Saborio has to ignite. They arguably had their best game together against the Crew and Saborio finished with three shots on goal. United will have to control the midfield more this time in Montreal. In August, the Impact had almost 68 percent of the possession.
- The Drogba effect and more. It will take a team effort for United to minimize Impact forward Didier Drogba. Five goals in five MLS matches for Drogba is not a surprise given that with Chelsea in the English Premier League he netted 104 goals in 254 matches. Along with Drogba, United will have to focus on Dominc Oduro and Dilly Duka and their ability to get free on the flanks.