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Three Questions on Montreal Impact with Sofiane Benzaza of Mount Royal Soccer

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It's Hudson River Blue's first diplomatic mission! We crossed the border to learn more about this week's opponent, with the help of Sofiane Benzaza of SB Nation's Mount Royal Soccer.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Know your enemy! Let's do this:

HRB: The CONCACAF Champions League presented a unique challenge for l'Impact in the early portion of the season. How would you rate their handling of that situation overall in light of the MLS schedule?

MRS: I don't think the Impact could have done anything better. From the pre-season preparation to in-tournament adjustments, everything was flawless. From the President to the equipment manager and beyond, the whole club committed to this magical adventure that almost panned out into something beyond anyone's imagination. The league accommodated the Montreal to postpone MLS games to lighten the load and it helped a lot.

Could Alberto Gilardino helped during the CCL campaign? One caveat would have been to be able to get a top striker for both the CCL and MLS but destiny has spoken and we would never have heard of Cameron Porter and seen Jack McInerney play his best soccer of his career. C'est la vie.

HRB: I'd wager that many of our fans are unfamiliar with Ignacio Piatti. What makes the Argentine such an essential component of the team?

MRS: He is an all-around offensive threat.


He is mistaken too many times as a #10 but he is far from it. Yes, he can pass, but he was brought here to make a difference offensively, to score goals and boost the Impact's offense. His recent history is quite interesting as he was one of the leaders the 2014 Copa Libertadores champion, San Lorenzo, and having in MLS is a blessing. He is quite underrated exposure-wise when you see what he can do on a pitch. The team was built with the hypothesis that Piatti would be the center of it while being able to build smartly around him.

If the Impact want to be in the playoffs, Piatti needs to be in the running for 2015 MVP, performance-wise and media-wise.

HRB: Mount Royal Soccer's piece entitled "Montreal Impact interesting to only 19% of Quebecers"intrigued us-- what are the particular barriers to the Impact's popularity up north, and what has the club done to address them?

MRS: Digital Marketing via social media has been the club's main strategy but it has upped its physical marketing in billboards a bit more while sending their players talk on TV and radio sport shows to try of making it a habit to hear the word "Impact".

Culturally, Soccer is extremely young compared to the Montreal Canadiens and the Montreal Alouettes and I still think that the club is hoping that people who like EPL, Ligue 1 or pay a player soccer license with the Quebec Soccer Federation will translate into an Impact/MLS consumer. It is something that I don't agree with. I am not saying that the club is doing that, but it's the impression I have since following the team.

Thanks to Sofiane and the MRS crew for playing ball with us this week-- be sure to check out the "reverse fixture" over on their site, in which Raf tackles three questions on NYCFC! Keep it locked on Hudson River Blue as we get set for tonight's 7:00 kickoff.