Vancouver Whitecaps vs Montreal Impact – Sunday, March 4, 3:00PT/6:00ET – BC Place, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
The Vancouver Whitecaps open the 2018 Major League Soccer season in what will be an all-Canadian affair against the Montreal Impact. Although not the most significant rivalry – for Vancouver the most prominent rivals are Portland and Seattle and for Montreal that would be Toronto – this is still an all-Canadian derby with two teams that have faced each other regularly in MLS and the Canadian Championship.
For Vancouver, this has been a busy few days as the Caps have made significant roster changes in the last few days. Trading for José Aja, shipping out Tony Tchani, signing Jordon Mutch and trading Tim Parker for Felipe the Whitecaps are still shuffling their squad with just days to go until the 2018 season kicks off.
After missing the 2017 MLS Cup playoffs, Montreal have brought in former Olympique Lyon head coach Rémi Garde. The French head coach has a reputation for developing talent and making the squad younger was a big part of the preseason preparations in Montreal.
Bringing in 26-year-old Saphir Taider from Bologna and 20-year-old Chilean Jeisson Vargas from Universidad Catolica – one of 25 South Americans signed by MLS clubs this offseason – the Impact have lowered their average age to 26.0. The Impact, however, were dealt a significant blow when key signing Zakaria Diallo suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, which could take him out for the entire 2018 season.
With both sides making significant offseason moves it is difficult to predict this one. Vancouver have perhaps retained more of the core group that finished third in the West last season and on top of that have brought in several players that could improve last season’s squad, which will make Vancouver the favourites to take all three points on Sunday.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Montreal Impact – Player to look out for:
Kei Kamara #11 – Vancouver Whitecaps
Brought in to aid Anthony Blondell’s transition from Venezuela to Canada Kei Kamara is one of the most seasoned veterans in MLS. The 33-year-old from Kenema Sierra Leone was brought in from the New England Revolution this winter, and with the experience of 286 MLS games (98 goals and 31 assists), Kamara will likely start ahead of Blondell on Sunday. But while Kamara might own the present Blondell will undoubtedly be the player of the future for the Whitecaps.
Ignacio Piatti #11 – Montreal Impact
Signed from San Lorenzo in 2014 Ignacio Piatti arrived in Montreal as a freshly crowned Copa Libertadores champion. At the time Piatti choosing a move to Montreal over a transfer to Europe was a bit of a surprise. This was after all a time before MLS teams focused on South America as a crucial market for transfers. With 56 goals and 25 assists in 114 games Piatti was very much at the forefront of MLS’ South American revolution.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Montreal Impact – Match Stats
- Overall: Whitecaps FC 3 wins, ten goals … Impact 2 wins, six goals, draws 1
- At Vancouver: Whitecaps FC 1 win, four goals … Impact 1 win, three goals, draws 1
- Last meeting at BC Place: Montreal vs Vancouver 3-2 (March 6, 2016).
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Montreal Impact – 2-0
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Montreal Impact – Possible Lineups
Marinovic – de Jong, Waston, Aja, Nerwinski – Juarez, Teibert – Techera, Reyna, Davies – Kamara
Coach: Carl Robinson
Bush – Duvall, Cabrera, Raitala, Lovitz – Piette, Taider – Edwards, Vargas, Piatti – Mancosu
Coach: Remi Garde
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth. Or contact him via email: [email protected]