After a 2-0 win to start the season, FC Dallas stays home for week 2 to host Thierry Henry and his Montreal Impact.
Date: March 7th, 2020
Time: 2:00 PM CST
Location: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX
How to Watch: TXA 21 (DFW), ESPN+ (outside DFW)
Both Dallas and Montreal enter week 2 in 3rd place in their respective conferences, with both sides having taken 3 points at home in their opening week. Dallas came away with a 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union with goals from Zdenek Ondrasek and Paxton Pomykal, while Montreal defeated the New England Revolution at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal 2-1 through a Romell Quioto header and a stunning chip from former FC Dallas striker Maxi Urruti. Montreal will actually play their 4th competitive match of the season against Dallas, with Thierry Henry’s side having defeated Deportivo Saprissa over two legs in their round of 16 matchup in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Montreal generated some of the biggest headlines of the offseason when they hired Arsenal legend and former New York Red Bulls player Thierry Henry as their head coach. Henry is now, by some distance, the most prominent and famous head coach in the league and his arrival has marked some other big changes in Montreal, with club legend Ignacio Piatti returning his native Argentina in the offseason. Henry will now be tasked with leading the Impact into their post-Piatti era.
Dallas has never lost to Montreal at home in their 4 previous match-ups in Frisco and has only ever lost to the Impact once, losing 2-1 in Montreal in the 2015 season. Last season’s contest in Montreal was a memorable one as Montreal jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 56 minutes before Zdenek Ondrasek scored his first goal for FC Dallas and helped lead a comeback that saw Los Toros draw 3-3 with the Canadian club. Dallas will hope that they can continue the historical trend against Montreal in Frisco and come away with a 5th consecutive home win against the Impact at Toyota Stadium.
An unchanged lineup for Luchi Gonzalez and FC Dallas from the team that beat Philadelphia 2-0 on opening day. Bryan Acosta and Brandon Servania are still continuing their recoveries from their injuries, meaning Tanner Tessmann, a standout on his MLS debut, keeps his place as the “8” in midfield. Paxton Pomykal remains on the bench as he continues to work back to full fitness, but I would expect to see him subbed in closer to the 60th minute instead of the 75th minute as was the case in week 1.
I have Ryan Hollingshead maintaining his place in the starting lineup, though reports from Jonathan Roz from the Dallas Soccer Show are that Hollingshead was a miss in training on Wednesday, which typically would put his inclusion in jeopardy. If he does miss the game, Johnny Nelson would be the obvious replacement at left-back.
This lineup is unchanged from the eleven that beat New England 2-1 in Montreal’s opening game. Montreal made big headlines this week when they announced the signing of former Tottenham Hotspurs midfielder Victor Wanyama, though Wanyama will not make the trip to Frisco. That means, for now, Canadian international Samuel Piette maintains his spot as the anchor in midfield alongside Algerian international Sapher Taider. Thierry Henry is missing the services of center back Rudy Camacho along with attacker Oriji Okwonkwo, making room for Joel Waterman in the backline and former FC Dallas striker Maxi Urruti in the forward line. Henry may elect to rotate this lineup with their first leg match-up with Honduran club Olimpia looming on Tuesday.
3 Keys to the Match
1) Break Down the Back 5
Montreal has utilized a 5 man defensive line in all three of their competitive matches to this point. This defense has not been rock solid to this point, conceding 3 goals in 3 games, but they have been tough to break down, most notably at home against Saprissa where they held the Costa Rican giants to a 0-0 to advance to the CCL quarterfinals while conceding 68% possession. This reversed course slightly against New England, though Bruce Arena’s Revs are not particularly interested in having a lot of possession, and Montreal actually ended with 57% possession.
This will almost certainly not be the case for the Impact against Luchi Gonzalez’s FC Dallas side, expect Montreal to sit in and soak up pressure. Dallas will need to be at their best in the final third to break down the Montreal backline and find a way through an 18-yard box that is likely to be crowded.
2) Be Prepared for the Counter
In conjunction with a back 5 and sitting deep, Montreal are highly likely to look to get out on the counter-attack at every opportunity. With new signing Romell Quioto, former FC Dallas striker Maxi Urruti and young wing-back Zachary Brault-Guillard, the Impact are not lacking for pacey players that will look to stretch their legs when Montreal win possession.
Although long term Thierry Henry is much more likely to instill something much closer to “Luchi-ball”, in the short term, Henry seems to be making highly pragmatic moves, so Dallas will need to be wary of the dangers of the counter-attack against the Impact.
3) Don’t Give Bojan Time
Although the Impact aren’t hurting for talented attackers, former Barcelona and Stoke City stand out Bojan stands above the rest of the pack. With Ignacio Piatti back in Argentina, Bojan is the one player Thierry Henry has at his disposal who can pull off the absolute spectacular if given the ability to do so. Dallas absolutely must key in on Bojan, giving him time and space to get his head up and pick out passes, through balls and take shots will almost certainly lead to the ball being picked out of Jesse Gonzalez’s net.
Will FC Dallas continue their winning start to the season and make it 5 straight at home against Montreal?
Are you excited to see a legend like Thierry Henry return to Toyota Stadium?
Featured Image: Montreal Impact