Impact only needs tie Sunday night at home

When the two teams face off Sunday night at Claude Robillard Sports Complex (7:00 pm, live on RDS, FSW) in the second game of the home-and-away, aggregate-goal series, the Rhinos will need nothing less than a win to avoid being eliminated, while a tie would be enough for head coach Nick DeSantis’ men to move on to the Eastern Conference finals.

"They have to decide whether to open up the game right away or wait, but the pressure is on them," said DeSantis. "If they do open up and we have opportunities to counter-attack, it’ll be up to us to execute and capitalize on our chances."

Montreal’s win, Friday, means the Impact put an end to a significant trend, as the Rhinos had not lost a playoff game at home in their 21 previous match-ups at Frontier Field.

It will now be the Rhinos’ turn to try to put an end to a long streak, as they have not won in Montreal since 1998 — June 14 in the regular season, by a 1-0 margin, and 3-2 in a playoff match played September 20. Furthermore, Rochester has not scored a goal at Claude Robillard Sports Complex since July 23, 2000, and that includes two playoff games, 0-0 ties played in 2002 and last year.

Therefore, if the Rhinos have been able to eliminate the Impact in each of their four meetings against Montreal in the playoffs so far, it is because of their performances in Rochester. That advantage has now been taken away. Nonetheless, no one on the Impact side is taking anything for granted.

"It’s a two-game series and we won the first, but we still haven’t accomplished anything yet, this series is not over," said Impact captain Mauro Biello. "If we want to win a championship title, we have to be dominant at home. We didn’t sit back in Rochester, so we definitely plan to play the same game we’ve played all year in Montreal."

"We’re going to play to win the game," said DeSantis. "We dictated the pace of the play for most of the game in Rochester, and we won’t stand on our heels at home."

The Impact will be able to count on the return of defender Nevio Pizzolitto, who will be available after serving a two-game suspension. Rhinos defender Bill Sedgewick will be out of the line-up with the second of a two-game suspension.

If the Rhinos were to win by a one-goal margin and tie up the series, the two teams would have to play overtime immediately after Sunday’s game — two 15-minute, sudden-death overtime periods. Penalty kicks would then follow if necessary.

In the other conference semi-finals, Friday, the Syracuse Salty Dogs beat the Kickers 1-0 in Richmond in the East, while the Vancouver Whitecaps prevailed 2-0 at home against the Minnesota Thunder in the West. Wednesday, the Portland Timbers came up with a 2-1 win at home against the Seattle Sounders.



Stéphane Banfi
514-328-3668 (ext. 27)