The Montreal Impact head to the state of Kansas to take on Sporting Kansas City Saturday night, at 8:30pm, at Sporting Park, in its first and only meeting of the season between the former rivals.
With two expansion teams on the east coast having joined MLS in 2015, SKC was moved to the Western Conference. However, the shift has not slowed Sporting down, having lost just three games this season (8-3-6) and is undefeated at home with a 6-0-3 record.
“They have great fans at home and they like to press, especially in the middle of the park,” said Calum Mallace. “We are going to have to play simple and get out of tough situations to get out of there with a result.”
“Any team that has success against them exploits the wide areas because they have backs that like to move forward,” added goalkeeper Evan Bush. “That was our key to success in Champions League; exploiting that space with our pace with guys like Romero, Oduro and Duka, and hitting them on the counter.”
SKC defender Matt Besler, as well as midfielders Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber, have been voted to the MLS All-Star team, but Zusi will be unavailable for the game as he is on international duty with the USA at the Gold Cup.
Sporting has scored 26 goals - one shy of the league lead - over its 17 games played this season, with Kristian Nemeth (7), Dom Dwyer (5) and Feilhaber (5) leading the way.
The Impact is looking to build on its solid performance last Saturday, a 3-0 home win over the Columbus Crew SC in which Dominic Oduro became the third IMFC player to record a brace this year, after Dilly Duka in the Champions League against Pachuca on February 24 and Andrés Romero in MLS action against Real Salt Lake on May 16. The Ghanain striker has three goals and four assists against Kansas City in his career.
“Sporting KC has been a team that has been strong over the years,” said Impact head coach Frank Klopas. “It’s a good test for us on the road and we will have to be at our best, like against Columbus. To be successful on the road, we will have to finish our chances.”
Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti is on a three-game scoring streak with two goals and one assist. He is currently tied for first in MLS with four game-winning assists. Fellow Argentine Andres Romero is available for selection after serving a one-game suspension last weekend due to yellow card accumulation.
The Impact plays its next game on July 25, at home against the Seattle Sounders FC at 8pm ,at Stade Saputo. (Tickets: ticketmaster.ca).