Lovitz HOU

Three points for the taking in Houston

Three keys to the game in Texas for the Montreal squad

The Impact was delightful, but also made our hearts beat faster, last Saturday in San Jose. After conceding the opening goal early in the game, the Bleu-blanc-noir came back in the first half through sheer attacking talent in the final third, and then survived a second half spent mostly without the ball thanks to a strong team spirit – and probably also because of the physical work done during training camp – to win three precious points on the road.

The picture will be somewhat different on Saturday, against the Houston Dynamo, at 5pm EST (TVA Sports, 98,5, TSN 690). The Texans are in the midst of their Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal tie, having lost the first leg at home 2-0 against Tigres UANL. We could say that they have other fish to fry, even though we don’t expect them to capitulate right from the get-go against the Impact; however, remember the Impact’s start to the 2015 MLS campaign, as the team was making history and playing emotional games in the continental competition. All in all, there is an opportunity for Rémi Garde’s men at BBVA Compass Stadium this weekend and here is how the Bleu-blanc-noir could get its hands on the W.

  1. Play through the middle

Houston’s attacking power is definitely on the flanks: Quioto and Elis are quick wingers who enjoy playing in transition or on the counter. That is why we see the Dynamo align mostly in a pretty flat 4-4-2, a formation that allows the opponent space in between the lines and in the heart of midfield. And that’s a good thing for Rémi Garde’s men, because with three central midfielders and a striker who very much likes to drop and offer himself as a pivot, Montreal’s passing combinations will allow the team to keep the ball a little more.

  1. Press on the wings

Most of the Dynamo’s penetration is done through its wingers, launched by either long balls in behind or by diagonal switches, both by the full-backs. Without the ball, the Impact will have to be vigilant when these situations present themselves and put some pressure on the ball holder to make his job harder, and maybe create quick counter-attacking opportunities.

  1. Dictate the rhythm

With Houston’s continental distractions, if the Bleu-blanc-noir can manage the game’s rhythm and force the orange players to run from one side of the pitch to the other, we’ll see even more space open up front for Montreal’s forwards. The Impact’s versatility in its playing styles will also help the team against an opponent who only found the target with a shot once in its past two games.