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CanChamp Semi-Final Preview: Montreal Impact vs. Cavalry (Leg 1)
Canadian Premier League

Canadian Championship — Round 4 (Leg 1)
Montreal Impact FC vs. Cavalry FC
August 7, 2019 — Stade Saputo (7:30 p.m. ET)
Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca

Just four teams remain in the hunt for the Voyageurs Cup, and one of them is a Canadian Premier League club. Cavalry FC continues their CanChamp campaign on Wednesday, heading to Québec for Leg 1 of the 2019 Canadian Championship Semi-Finals against MLS side Montreal Impact FC.

The Cavs sent ripples across the Canadian soccer world a few weeks ago by convincingly eliminating an MLS club, the Vancouver Whitecaps, to reach this fourth round. It’s been a long road to this point for Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s squad, who on Wednesday will become the first team to play seven games (and four opponents) in the Canadian Championship.

Before defeating Vancouver, Cavalry had to dispatch a plucky Pacific FC side and then survived a feisty second-round tie with Forge FC. The CPL’s Spring season champions advanced to the semi-finals on the back of a resilient 2-1 victory at BC Place to edge the Whitecaps.

Montreal has only played one tie in this year’s CanChamp, but it was no walk in the park. Their 3-2 aggregate win over York9 FC came from a second-half penalty for Ignacio Piatti in Leg 2, giving them the advantage after some serious fireworks at York Lions Stadium in Leg 1. They currently sit sixth in the MLS Eastern Conference, and they’ll enter this game trying to recover from a brutal 6-3 loss at the hands of the Colorado Rapids over the weekend.

Leg 2 of this tie goes down next Wednesday, August 14 at Spruce Meadows (9:30 p.m. ET, 7:30 p.m. MT, on OneSoccer), where Cavalry and the Impact will battle for a chance to play either Toronto FC or the Ottawa Fury in the final. The Cavs have a CPL game in between, though, as they’ll head to Halifax for a date with HFX Wanderers FC on Saturday (1:00 p.m. ET, 2:00 p.m. AT, on OneSoccer).

KEYS TO THE MATCH

  • Overpower the middle: It seems likely that there will be a gaping, Samuel Piette-sized hole in the centre of Montreal’s midfield. The Canadian international hasn’t played since sustaining an injury in mid-July, which is a major blow to the Impact, who not only will miss his presence but may also have to tinker with the rest of their lineup to meet the Canadian content requirement. Piette’s absence should give Nik Ledgerwood and Julian Büscher much more space to roam in midfield, perhaps also giving the Cavs plenty of opportunity to employ their favoured high-pressure style.
  • Out of the pan, into the fire: Cavalry enters Stade Saputo with something that York9 didn’t have when they did so: Experience playing (and winning) in an MLS stadium. While things may be a little more raucous in Montreal than they were at BC Place, especially now that it’s the semi-finals, the Cavs should be able to draw on that experience. They’ve got the advantage of playing on the road first this time, so the pressure’s off a little with the promise of a tie decider at Spruce Meadows.
  • Eyes on Piatti: The Argentine forward hasn’t played much this season with major injury troubles, but he seems finally to have worked his way back into the Impact lineup. His return came in Leg 2 against York9, where he scored the winning penalty and created most of Montreal’s chances. Piatti is one of the most dangerously creative players in MLS, and it feels likely that the Impact will deploy him at home in a tie they’re not going to underestimate. Cavalry needs to be aware of his position on the pitch at all times, because all he needs is a little space to wreak havoc on defences.

 PROJECTED LINEUPS

Montreal Impact FC: James Pantemis; Daniel Lovitz, Zakaria Diallo, Jukka Raitala, Bacary Sagna; Ken Krolicki, Shamit Shome, Saphir Taider; Mathieu Choinière, Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Ignacio Piatti

Cavalry FC: Marco Carducci; Nathan Mavila, Mason Trafford, Dominick Zator, Malyk Hamilton; Nik Ledgerwood, Jose Escalante, Julian Buscher, Nico Pasquotti; Sergio Camargo, Jordan Brown


HEAD TO HEAD

First meeting between these clubs

STATS LEADERS

Dominique Malonga, Dominick Zator (Cavalry FC) – 2 goals in CanChamp
Omar Browne, Saphir Taider, Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact FC) – 1 goal in CanChamp

INJURIES

Victor Cabrera (Montreal Impact FC) – Out
Daniel Kinumbe (Montreal Impact FC) – Out
Samuel Piette (Montreal Impact FC) – Out
Chris Serban (Cavalry FC) – Out (Knee)
Dean Northover (Cavalry FC) – Out (ACL)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY

None

SUSPENSIONS

None

ACCUMULATION

Jose Escalante (Cavalry FC) – 2