MONTREAL, QUE – From a Cascadia rival to a Canadian one.
After a hard-fought battle with Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps FC are headed east to face Montreal Impact on Saturday afternoon at Stade Saputo.
KICKOFF: 12 p.m. PT | TV: CTV & TSN2 | RADIO: TSN 1410.
Here’s everything you need to know about the match.
Road show: The ‘Caps are 0W-3L-0D on the road so far this season. They went up 2-0 against San Jose before going down to 10 men and conceding three straight goals, fell 3-0 to Real Salt Lake in a snow storm, and most recently went toe-to-toe with the league-leading Portland Timbers only to fall just short in a 2-1 defeat. One common theme from those matches, aside from the results, was that Vancouver did not sit back. They played to win. And that’s exactly what they intend to do on Saturday: “I think if we continue that, we’ll pick up more points than if you have the mentality of sitting back and being more defensive,” said Whitecaps FC defender Jordan Harvey. “We’re a team that’s better on the front foot and that’s how we’ll approach games.”
Fredy on fire: Whitecaps FC striker Fredy Montero enters Saturday’s match as one of the hottest players in MLS, having recorded four goals and one assist in his last four matches. Can the Colombian make it five in five? Interestingly, Montero is averaging 0.8 goals per 90 minutes so far this season, which nearly doubles his previous goalscoring rate in MLS.
Canadian content: Supporters of Canadian soccer could get a glimpse into the future on Saturday at Stade Saputo. Both Vancouver and Montreal have received significant contributions from their Canadian players so far in 2017, including promising teenagers Alphonso Davies and Ballou Tabla. Striker Anthony Jackson-Hamel is also in fine form for the Impact, having found the back of the net as a sub in each of Montreal’s last two outings.
Sheanon Williams (RB) vs. Ignacio Piatti (LW): As the ‘Caps know all too well, Ignacio Piatti is the one to watch for Montreal. The Argentine winger has three goals and one assist in two career regular season appearances vs. Vancouver. He scored the game-winner in both matches. He’s also scored in back-to-back games this season. What makes Piatti so dangerous is his ability to beat opponents off the dribble. He’s averaging 3.6 successful dribbles per game this season, which is the most in MLS. And that brings us to Whitecaps FC right back Sheanon Williams, who has been rock solid for the ‘Caps after joining the club in the offseason. Piatti might just be his biggest test yet.
DID YOU KNOW?
Saturday’s match will be the first of three meetings between Vancouver and Montreal over the next month. The two teams will meet again in the two-leg Canadian Championship semifinal, starting May 23 at BC Place (7 p.m. PT – tickets still available) and concluding May 30 at Stade Saputo.