KEY PLAYERS: ATTACKING
If the Whitecaps are to start Janicki and Akloul start at CB that means than Alain Rochat will move back to his normal LB position and that will help the Caps in the final third. The Whitecaps are undefeated when Rochat starts on the left side with a win and a draw.
The Canadian international striker Ali Gerba returned to Montreal last season from TFC and made a difference down the stretch. He will be a load to handle in front of the net but is off to slow start as he is
goalless in his first three games.
KEY PLAYERS: DEFENSE
If Mouloud Akloul does get the start it will be a year after he broke his ankle in his Whitecap debut a year ago. Akloul is a very vocal leader on the pitch and will help keep the back four organized. While he isn’t the fastest he always seems to be in the right place at the right time when it comes to winning the ball.
Bill Gaudette came over from last year’s Division 2 champion Puerto Rico Islanders to be the goalkeeper of the Impact. With Montreal having a tough time finding the back of the net, one goal in three games, Gaudette will have to keep the Whitecaps off the scoresheet.
WHO’S ON FORM
The MLS leader in assists with five Davide Chiumiento is always dangerous when the Whitecaps are on the attack. Because of the fixture congestion, he will have about an hour to make a difference as the Caps would need to be available for the weekend matchup.
After the the folding of AC St.Louis, the Impact signed NASL veteran Luke Kreamalmeyer to a one year contract. The one-time Real Salt Lake player is a playmaker off the wing, who tied for the league lead in assist last year with 8, has been the only consistent threat so far this season for the Impact.
Last Game: 2-1 Loss vs FC Dallas
Last Game: 0-0 Draw vs FC Tampa Bay
The only person that will definitely play against the Impact will be Eric Hassli as he is unavailable on the weekend due to suspension. Beside him may be Camilo but expect Omar Salgado to see more than the ten minutes that he has normally played. Dunfield and Harmse may be the starters in the central midfield with Gershon Koffie available from international duty. The wingers could be a combo of Chiumiento, Teibert, Khalfan or Knight. The back four sounds like it will consist of Akloul and Janicki in the center, with Boxall getting the day off, and Rochat and Leathers as the fullbacks. Don’t be surprised to see Knight at RB to give Leathers a rest before the weekend. The goalkeeper position is a coin flip as it could be either Jay Nolly or Joe Cannon.
The forward spots will be Gerba with either Ech-Chergui or Aggouram starting next to him. Opposite of Kreammalmeyer will be Argentine left wing Di Lorenzo with Camara and Testo starting in the middle. If he is healthy Canadian international Antonio Riberio may see some time as a starter or a sub. The fullbacks have been Philippe Billy and former Whitecap Zourab Tsiskareidze on the left side with Hatchie and Canadian international Nevio Pizzolitto in the middle. A couple of defenders who are suspended in the NASL will be available and may start are Richard Pelletier and Hicham Aaboubou. The one time Columbus Crew goalkeeper Bill Gaudette will start as the last line of defense for the Impact.
QUESTIONABLE: MF John Thorrington(quad), FW Atiba Harris (knee)
PROBABLE: MF Shea Salinas (knee), Russell Teibert (hip), DF Greg Janicki (hip),
QUESTIONABLE: Hassoun Camara (thigh)
The Voyageurs Cup is very important to the Vancouver Whitecaps as it a first step to the CCL and a solid result in first game in Montreal will be vital to them winning this semi and advance to the final. The Whitecaps have a long history with the Impact including the famous lay down in 2009 that cost Vancouver the Canadian Championship. There is an obvious hate between the two clubs and it should be present despite large turnover of most of the regulars from last year.
Despite being an MLS team the Whitecaps can expect a close game at least to start with as Montreal is desperate to give a good showing considering their slow start. The Impact are in a similar position as the Whitecaps last year as they are bringing in (8 players) and seeing the departure (12 players) of a lot of players as they prepare for the MLS in 2012. Of the eight players they have brought in six have already started so lack of chemistry has been and will be an issue for the Impact and is something the Whitecaps can take advantage of.
For the Whitecaps the most ideal scenario would be getting a couple of early goals which should allow them to cruise to a victory and allow them to conserve energy. The conditions will be a factor in the game as thunder showers with lightning are expected for gameday so the field may be difficult to navigate. While the conditions may provide a scoreless draw the Caps will need to press early in the game to get the first score. An advantage of a 2-3 goal victory is the Caps will be able to give some players a rest in the return match next Wednesday. Of course when it comes to the Whitecaps and Impact, the matches seldom are played in a conventional format.