Preview: Impact takes on MLS Cup champions Saturday at Sporting Park
Sporting Kansas City - Montreal Impact
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – 8:30pm (EDT)
Viewing party: Coin du Metro, 10719 Lajeunesse
KANSAS CITY, Kansas – With points from its last three games, the Montreal Impact (0-3-3) will be taking on the defending MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City (2-1-2) this Saturday, 8:30pm EDT, at Sporting Park.
This is the first of three regular season meetings between both teams in 2014. Last season, the Impact went 2-1-0 in three meetings versus SKC, winning its only home game 1-0 at Stade Saputo on July 27 on a stoppage time goal by Blake Smith. The clubs split the two games in Kansas City with the first going to Sporting 2-0 on March 30 and the second to the Impact 2-1 on June 1.
In six games played since the Impact joined MLS, the bleu-blanc-noir has an all-time record of 3-2-1 versus SKC, including two wins at Sporting Park in just three games.
Although still looking for its first win of the season, the Impact has managed to get a result in three straight games, including last weekend’s 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire. Forward Jack McInerney scored his first goal in an Impact uniform in his first game for the team.
McInerney has scored 16 of his 26 career goals on the road.
With Jack Mac and Di Vaio both starting up top, the Impact played with a 4-4-2 formation for the first time this season against the Fire, while Karl W. Ouimette made his first start of 2014.
In just three games played this season, forward Marco Di Vaio leads MLS with 22 shots.
Midfielder Justin Mapp has four career goals against SKC, while McInerney has three and Patrice Bernier has two.
The Impact has outshot the opponents four out of six games played and leads MLS with 97 shots taken and 36 shots on goal.
Defender Hassoun Camara has received four yellows since the start of the season, and will serve an automatic one-game suspension if he receives his next caution over the next three games.
Defender Nelson Rivas is close to a full return with the Impact, while Sanna Nyassi and Adrian Lopez and Hernan Bernardello are still injured.
Sporting Kansas City currently sits in third spot in the Eastern Conference with eight points from five games played. In its most recent matchup, SKC tied Real Salt Lake 0-0 at home and has won only once in three matchups at Sporting Park in 2014.
The team was also eliminated from CONCACAF Champions League play last month with a 5-1 loss to Cruz Azul in the quarterfinals.
Erik Kronberg has taken over the goalkeeping duties following the retirement of fan-favourite Jimmy Nielsen. He has posted two shutouts with a .80 goals against average so far.
Dom Dwyer has managed two goals so far for his club after a solid return to SKC midseason in 2013 following a loan stint to Orlando City SC, while US national team stalwart Graham Zusi has two helpers on the year.
Despite a relatively quiet offseason, Sporting did bring in Sal Zizzo from the Portland Timbers to help shore up the midfield, having started in four of five appearances in 2014.
Sporting Kansas City doesn't expect defender Ike Opara to play again this season following a knee injury suffered last week, but the team acquired 19-year-old Brazilian defender Igor Juliao on loan from Fluminense FC two weeks ago.
The Impact will play its stadium opener at Stade Saputo on Saturday, April 26, taking on the Philadelphia Union at 4pm EDT.