MONTREAL – The Impact’s first two games of the season against Sporting Kansas City are experiences best not repeated.
Montreal had just picked up their first points of 2014 in three draws when they visited Sporting Park on April 19. But they took an own goal 31 minutes in, and SKC scored three times in the last 20 for a 4-0 win.
The Impact won their first game the following week, but on May 10, they were handed an even more comprehensive defeat – and at home no less. Taking advantage of an early Collen Warner red card, Sporting KC broke a couple of records as they beat Montreal 3-0.
The third meeting happens this Saturday at Stade Saputo. But the Impact are adamant that the team that dropped the first two games was different. The sample size is short, but Montreal have looked improved since the World Cup break, conceding only once in three games.
“I think the momentum has changed,” defender Hassoun Camara told reporters on Thursday. “We’re a more competitive team than at the beginning, I think. There’s been a fair amount of shuffling around from the staff and front office. We’re ready to play this team, and we’ve got full confidence that we'll grab three points, because I think we're a good team as well.”
For three points, Montreal will need a neat attacking effort. Using the World Cup break parameter again, they’ve scored three in three. But they all came against struggling Houston.
“We look forward to this next challenge and also for us to continue to play well defensively, but also with the ball,” head coach Frank Klopas said. “We’ve been good. We’ve created many chances in every game, and we have to continue to do so in this one, but put them away, this time.”
Developing that Marco Di Vaio-Jack McInerney partnership further seems to be the plan. But unlike his younger colleague, Di Vaio has failed to find any continuity. Suspended for Montreal’s first three games, he then played five league games in a row before dealing with a couple of injuries.
Di Vaio is thus hoping that this game against Kansas City – the only Eastern Conference team he’s never scored against – will put a spring in his step.
“I need to play with continuity, to find continuity with the team, with the game, with game situations,” Di Vaio said. “That’s what’s been missing for me this year.”