On Saturday evening, Orlando City and the Montreal Impact face off in the Round of 16 of the MLS is Back Tournament. Here are three things to watch for.
After an incredible series of group matches stretching the past week-plus, the knockout stages are upon us. To kick off the Round of 16, surprise packages Orlando City and the Montreal Impact square off on Saturday night.
Orlando City, to the surprise of many, topped their group taking seven out of a possible nine points. Montreal scraped by as one of the best third-place teams despite losing their opening two games, including a 4-3 thriller to Toronto FC.
It is an intriguing contest between two teams who many thought weren’t going to make it this far. Here are three things to watch for.
3. Thierry Henry still building
Making it out of a tough group is a big shot in the arm for a club that seemed sure of elimination. But now the Montreal Impact are here and could yet make a statement in the knockout stages.
New head coach Thierry Henry is experiencing growing pains as he figures out his best team. The 4-3-3 displayed against D.C. United showed a more resolute defensive performance despite not creating many chances at the other end. Thus far, Henry has largely used a back-three-based system so it will be interesting to see how he sets up his team here.
Despite the potential confusion in system, defender Rod Fanni believes that the Impact are making good progress under the Frenchman. Speaking to reporters this week, he said:
"“We feel better and better day after day because we work a lot. We talk a lot with the coach and video and also on the pitch. We work a lot to find the best way to find the balance, to keep the ball and also attacking and be good defensively <…> Day by day it’s better.”"
The Impact remain a work in progress under Henry, but there is reason to be positive about their prospects.