The MLS is Back tournament rolls on Thursday as the Montreal Impact take on the New England Revolution. The match opens up Group C, which is one of the softer divisions in the competition.
Arsenal legend Thierry Henry was appointed as manager at the beginning season, while the franchise’s best player Ignacio Piatti ended his five-and-a-half year stay in Montreal.
The loss of Piatti will have an impact (no pun intended), as Montreal ranked 19th in MLS last season with 1.26 expected goals for per match. The Impact do have three young attackers who could fill Piatti’s shoes, but they are inexperienced, so its hard to imagine Montreal’s offense taking a step forward.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is an advanced statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as luck or outstanding goalkeeping.
Montreal’s defense ranked in the top half of the MLS in expected goals against in 2019, with only 1.39 expected goals allowed per match. The Impact returns most of their defense in 2020, so New England could have a tough time creating some offense tonight.
New England Revolution
Bruce Arena’s first season in charge of the Revolution could be a difficult one. The Revolution finished seventh in the Eastern Conference last season, and their underlying metrics were not pretty. New England allowed 1.87 xG per game, which ranked 20th in MLS.
The Revolution added some fire power up front with the addition of Adam Buska, who should pair well with the feared attacking duo of Charles Gil and Gustavo Bou, but a leaky defense that didn’t get any upgrades is bound to cause some problems for the Revolution in this match.
The two sides met to open the 2020 season in Montreal, with the Impact winning the game, 2-1. The game was a lot closer than the final scoreline suggests, as the expected goals report showed the game should have been a draw.
I do not understand why the Revolution are favored in this match. Based on my projections, I think the game should be closer to a pick’em.
Pick: Montreal Impact +0.5 (-130)
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