(HARRISON, NJ) Montreal Impact comes into Red Bull Arena with confidence in abundance. In two consecutive games, they have defeated two of the hottest in MLS in consecutive playoff games. New York Red Bulls have been in this position numerous times in their history. Their fans are painfully aware of that fact. The road forward for the team relies on a few areas they have been deficient in this year. Having studied Montreal closely, there is a clear way to defeat Montreal in Harrison.
How To Beat Montreal Impact
Montreal gives up an extraordinary amount of goals from three areas: Crosses into the box, shots from outside the box, and rebounds. For good examples of all of these goals, revisit the games against D.C. United, Toronto FC, and NY Red Bulls. As good as Laurent Ciman has been for the Impact, he has been less than stellar in the air. Combined aerials won per game, Ciman and partner Victor Cabrera muster just 2.4. Compare that to the rest of the playoff teams and that is very low. Montreal is nearly 2 points behind the average of the rest of the eastern conference teams (4.54). It comes as no surprise that of the last 9 goals surrendered by the Impact, 44% have come through the air. That includes direct headers and volleys, and goals like this.
The Impact also struggle mightily with goals from distance and rebounds. Evan Bush struggles with shots from deep, even when he is able to make the save. In the same span of games mentioned above (Dating back to September 24th), the remaining five goals of the nine surrendered by Montreal have come from deep shots and their rebounds. Goalkeepers must make quick decisions, and the decision to parry can often times feel safe. Parry can backfire though, if you fail to clear the ball. In these instances, the Impact can be accused of ball watching, but Bush must accept accountability for keeping the ball in dangerous positions.
The Red Bulls will also have to release the ball more quickly in midfield when transitioning into attack. The only way they will achieve that however, is better movement off the ball. A large percentage of Red Bull goals have come off of forcing the defense into bad spots by overwhelming the backline during transition with movement. Here’s a play from the second half where Felipe wins the ball, and the Red Bulls have seven players all in the Impact half.
Dax McCarty looks up and sees the numbers overload in front of him. He moves into the space Montreal gives him, but the rest of the NY players remain stationary.
He attempts to force the ball in, and Montreal intercepts and the play is dead. NY need to learn from this situation. They were on an attack with numbers, and their lack of movement cost them. They cannot afford such luxuries on the road in MLS, let alone the playoffs. That type of movement was missing in the beginning of the year while the Red Bulls struggled. It would be unfortunate to end the season the same way it began.