United head to Canada for the second time in two weeks when they take on the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo on Saturday, July 1, at 7 PM. The French Canadians, who lost the Canadian Championship on Tuesday night in Toronto in heartbreaking fashion, are looking to end their five match winless streak across all competitions while United will look to bounce back after their Open Cup loss to the New England Revolution on Wednesday night.
After playing in Boston on Wednesday, the Black-and-Red fly straight to Texas following Saturday's match to face FC Dallas on July 4. The trip is made more difficult with the loss of MLS save leader Bill Hamid, who is with the U.S. Men's National Team ahead of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. "[Hopefully,] he gets in there and gets some game action and does what he does," head coach Ben Olsen said. "I think Bill will prove that he belongs in that discussion."
But Olsen and co. have a very capable back up in third-year goalkeeper Travis Worra. The Lancaster, Pa., native started 13 matches last season in Hamid's stead and performed admirably, logging three shutouts and being named to the MLS Team of the Week once. This season, Worra has started three matches between the posts for United, including D.C.'s earlier match against the Impact. Worra made three saves against Montreal in May, helped the Black-and-Red take down Christos F.C. in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, and made three more saves against the Revs.
While United will be without Hamid, Montreal will also be missing some key members—goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau, midfielder Patrice Bernier, and striker Anthony Jackson-Hamel are training with Canada's Gold Cup squad while Ignacio Piatti has been ruled out with a leg injury. Crépeau had yet to appear in an MLS match this season, but Bernier and Jackson-Hamel are major contributors for the Impact. Bernier has made 10 starts for Montreal and dished four assists, good for mosts assists on the team, while Jackson-Hamel has appeared in 10 matches, scored five goals, and tallied one assist, giving the striker the second-most goals for Montreal on the season. Without two of their most threatening attackmen, Montreal may be satisfied in bunkering down in the midfield instead of pressing high against United.
Ben Olsen could field a variety of lineups on Saturday based on strategy with the short turnaround time from the Open Cup match in New England and Tuesday's match in Dallas. When United hosted the Impact in May, Lloyd Sam and Lamar Neagle were most effective in the midfield, with Sam creating a team-high three chances and Neagle winning four fouls at the expense of the Impact. The Black-and-Red were missing Patrick Nyarko in their earlier meeting with Montreal, though, and the dynamic winger offers the prowess to elevate United's offensive production. Since returning to play at the end of May, Nyarko has been responsible for four chances and four fouls won, and scored the game-winning goal over Atlanta last week.
With July's FIFA international break on the horizon, United will look to conclude their stretch of three consecutive multi-match weeks on a high note with positive results in both Montreal and Dallas.
"We're in the midst of a lot of road trips, but that's part of the MLS season," Olsen said. "We like our depth, and we've got some guys that can go get the right result."