Atlanta United (5-1-1) are looking to extend their unbeaten streak to seven as they host the Montreal Impact on Saturday. Last season the two clubs split results, with both earning victories at home. The last time the Impact paid a visit to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta triumphed with a 2-0 win including a memorable Tito Villalba golazo from 30 yards out, so Montreal will be looking for revenge with extra reinforcements. This is what Five Stripes fans can expect from the visitors:
Signed in the offseason, Chilean midfielder Jeisson Vargas brings a new dynamic to the Impact attacking core. While Ignacio Piatti and Matteo Mancosu have been the forward force for the last few seasons, both have reached the age of 33, meaning Montreal will soon need someone to take the torch. This is where 20-year-old Vargas has stepped in. Full of energy, poise and a passion to find the game, the youngster has three goals in six starts, and with Mancosu injured for much of the season thus far, it’s allowed Vargas to find his place on the field and start developing a partnership with Piatti up front. The Chilean attacker will be a key asset for Montreal, with the goal of fighting fire with fire, as they hope to counter the youth and speed Atlanta United’s squad.
Since joining the Canadian club in 2014, Ignacio Piatti has been essential for the Impact. Named the team MVP in 2015, 2016, and 2017 while scoring 43 goals and tallying 20 assists over that stretch, the Argentine has become a household name in Montreal. What makes him so important is not only his knack for the spectacular or his tendency to step up in key moments, but add in his smoothness on the ball, his spatial awareness and lights out finishing ability, and he is an ideal playmaker up front. So far this season, the man they call “Nacho” has scored four out of his team’s nine total goals and assisted on three others. There’s no doubt Piatti will once again be their go-to man on Saturday in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
This offseason saw the departure of long-time Montreal center back Laurent Ciman to expansion side LAFC, leaving the Impact with a massive void to fill before the start of the 2018 season. In January, they found their intended replacement in Zakaria Diallo, who has spent the majority of his career in France’s Ligue 2. The veteran defender has been sidelined with injury since the start of the season, however and has yet to see minutes for the Impact. But reports out of Montreal say he is inching toward a comeback to to the pitch and could make his MLS debut against Atlanta United this weekend. With plenty of top flight experience under his belt, the 31-year-old should bring stability to a Montreal back line that has severely struggled this season, allowing 17 goals in just seven games – the most in MLS.
This weekend’s match kicks off at 1:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, April 28th, and will be broadcast on FOX Sports South. Click here for everything you need to know about how to follow along from home.