Argentina’s Hernan Bernardello is just what Montreal needs for CCL success when they host San Jose tonight.
Tonight marks the start of an extremely busy two weeks for the US Open Cup, MLS and the Champions League. I’ll be looking to attack it and take full advantage before I leave for holiday on the 20th!
US Open Cup – Chicago Fire vs. DC United – (1.30am)
DC returns to the scene of their recent 4-1 dismantling. All 4 Chicago goals came in the first half, and DC’s response marked what looks like being the first of many for new man Luis Silva. The Open Cup has been a small release for DC, but at the same time, you can argue they’ve struggled past non-MLS teams with considerable luck, and also seen off a New England side that were rather thin on the ground at the time. Mike Magee and a trip to Chicago in a semi-final aren’t as simple. Chicago can produce on their day, we know that, but realistically you’re looking at the one and only chance of lifting a trophy for either side this season. Arguably the other semi-final presents a side capable of winning the USOC, MLS shield and Cup, but not this one. Chicago has so far never lost a US Open Cup game on this ground. They also haven’t lost in their previous 6 meetings with DC United here, and they’ll be looking to keep it that way. Whilst DC is improving, they’ve still only produced 13 goals in 22 games this year. They’re going to have to really produce to beat a Chicago side that has managed 13 in just their last 4 home games. At home alone Chicago have doubled DC’s dire goal tally, netting 26 times in 13 matches.
Champions League – Montreal Impact vs. San Jose – (1.00am)
Throw the league form away; I don’t think it’ll matter. Montreal are shipping goals, San Jose are not great travellers. Neither side will want to give anything away in their first CCL outing as MLS clubs. Montreal did reach the quarter-finals as a non-MLS side a few years back, but this is San Jose’s first appearance. The fact that Montreal has players such as Di Vaio, Nesta and Ferrari who have competed in the UEFA Champions League will stand them in good stead. Those players will understand what sort of night this will be, and I think it’ll be a welcome break from the league where Montreal’s experience really shows up. Both MLS sides may be largely unaware of who their third opponent are, so the most important thing for both sides will be taking points off of each other. The basis of any successful way out of a 3 team CCL group starts with winning your home games. That’ll be something Montreal knows already, and something the club did before. I think this contest will stray from what you’d expect to see in an MLS game, and I think you’ll see a tighter game where Montreal make a much better job of controlling possession and releasing Di Vaio when need be. For me, San Jose are too likely to rest the likes of Wondo, who’s had a busy schedule lately. I also think there’s a realistic possibility Hernan Bernadello, Montral’s new DP, could make the start. His calming presence in midfield is much needed.
Champions League – Real Esteli vs. Sporting KC – (1.00am)
No doubt this has the potential to be a tough test for Sporting KC; but potentially not. I said to myself beforehand I would want to risk it. The price is 1.8-1.9 at most places, but Sportingbet offer 2.20. I’m not doing it just to back the MLS sides tonight, because you know from last year’s competition I’ll take a big handicap on Santos, Monterrey, or any Mexican side facing an MLS side. Esteli are competing in their third edition and have yet to win a game. In that time, they’ve suffered hammerings from the likes of Tigres, and double defeats to the hapless Toronto. It’ll be a tight atmosphere in a small and unorthodox stadium, but that’s not Sporting aren’t used to in MLS, mainly their own ground. Despite the indifferent home form in MLS, Sporting have once again been the league’s best travellers (statistically). No team has picked up more points on the road and against your typical erratic CONCACAF side; I think Sporting will do a fine job of keeping the ball when need be.
Chicago Fire -0.75AH @ 1.89 with Pinnacle
Montreal Impact win @ 2.10 with Bet365
Sporting KC win @ 2.20 with Sportingbet