In hindsight, the Montreal Impact’s previous visit to Kansas City probably did them more good than harm in the long run.
On March 30, Montreal strolled into Sporting Park with a perfect 12 points in the bag. But the ensuing 2-0 defeat by Sporting KC was brutal, comprehensive, suffocating even. Throughout the first half, right back Chance Myers seemed parked in front of the stadium’s press box. It is roughly aligned with the edge of the penalty area Montreal defended.
Fast forward two months, and Montreal look better equipped to see off the kinds of situations Peter Vermes’ side put them through then (Saturday, 8:30 pm ET, watch on MLS Live). The new Canadian champions twice came from behind to capture the Voyageurs Cup in midweek, and while no team enters the field wishing to concede, the Impact have gotten better at playing their way through pressure.
“When you lose, you learn and you grow,” assistant coach Mauro Biello told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Kansas City. “I think we bounced back well after that loss. We have to keep on growing as a club and as a team, and it’s in those moments that you learn from your mistakes.”
KC midfielder Graham Zusi is on international duty with the US national team and will miss Saturday's game (Getty Images)
Despite the numerous absences for Kansas City – most notably Graham Zusi, whose insurance marker in March capped a delightful personal performance – Biello believes those lessons learned will still apply this Saturday.
“We expect the same kind of game,” Biello said. “Any one of their players can merge into their good system. They follow their philosophy and style closely. Obviously a player like Zusi, with the quality he has, can change a game, but we’re getting ready to face a team that has similar intentions no matter who the players are.”
As for his team’s own XI, Biello mentioned that numerous factors, including the 3,800 miles they’ve traveled in the past week, are making selection decisions difficult. But above all that, the Impact staff will insist on the emotions from Wednesday’s Canadian Championship final triumph to be well controlled.
“Our team’s having success, the players are confident, and we’ll keep going along the same lines while also adjusting a few things to give us an advantage,” Biello said.