Struggling Impact look to top D.C. United for first away win of MLS season

Struggling Impact in tough against D.C.

MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact have had a laborious start to the Major League Soccer season and it won’t get any easier when they visit D.C. United.

The Impact (1-3-4) will be looking to rebound after blowing an early lead in a 2-1 loss at home to Vancouver last weekend when they face D.C. United (3-3-2) at RFK Stadium on Saturday night.

Montreal reached the Eastern Conference final last year but has looked slow and vulnerable this season. The Impact are tied for the worst mark in the conference with 14 goals allowed.

They will face a team that is returning home from three straight road games capped by last weekend’s uplifting 3-1 win in Atlanta.

“The good thing is we have a group that has a lot of experience,” Impact assistant coach Jason Di Tullio said this week. “It’s simplifying our game. If we’re down or up, we have to stick to our game plan.

“With the leadership we have on this team, we’re confident that we will get out of it.”

It doesn’t help that six of the Impact’s first nine games are on the road, where they are 0-2-3 thus far. They will need to correct the defensive lapses that have repeatedly cost them points.

On the offensive side, Montreal also has to deal with the loss of striker Matteo Mancosu, who left in the fourth minute against the Whitecaps and is gone for six to eight weeks with a thigh injury. Veteran Dominic Oduro is expected to move from the right wing to Mancosu’s centre forward position, although the coaches may opt to give 23-year-old Anthony Jackson-Hamel his first start of the season.

If Oduro starts in the middle, Ballou Tabla can play on the right side. The 18-year-old was Montreal’s best attacker against Vancouver, but couldn’t convert on three good chances in the second half.

Jackson-Hamel, who had three goals in the previous two games coming off the bench, replaced Mancosu but had to leave in the 73rd minute with cramps. He said this week he is 100 per cent fit to play.

“We’re looking for consistency in our performances,” said Di Tullio. “Before the last game, we were giving up the first goal so we said, “Let’s get the first goal,’ which we did.

“Now what happens after that? Can we get a good 45 minutes under our belt, where we’re not giving up good chances or losing focus — because that’s been costing us. We’re positive because once we can increase that consistency those ties or late losses will turn into points.”

Oduro said it is too early in the season to panic. The Impact are 10th in the 11-team conference, but only four points out of a playoff spot. 

“It will be a different story once we start playing home games,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll be having the same conversation.

“It’s a bit tough for us to win when we’re always on the road. It is hard, but we’ve got to win our home games. The game against Vancouver wasn’t a must-win but it was something that would have really boosted our confidence. We’ve got a couple of home games coming up but first we have to go to D.C. and fight.”

After D.C., the Impact have home games against Columbus and Portland. Montreal is 1-1-1 at home this season.

D.C. is also dealing with injuries to veterans like midfielder Patrick Nyarko and defenders Nick Deleon and Steve Birnbaum. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid, the star of the Atlanta win, is listed as day to day with a groin strain.

The Impact have never won in the regular season in Washington, but pounded them 4-2 there in the knockout stage of the playoffs last fall.

“In MLS it doesn’t matter — playoffs is a different mentality,” said Oduro. “They went to Atlanta, which has a very tough home crowd, and beat them so you have to respect that.

“But we’ve also gone on the road and done some damage so I hope that instinct kicks in.”

There is help on the horizon for the Impact.

Swiss international midfielder Blerim Dzemaili is to arrive next week from Bologna FC of Italy’s Serie A. Coach Mauro Biello said there is a possibility Dzemaili will play against Columbus if he is fit and has time to train with the team. 

 

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

Security guard now on patrol at three Terrace banks

Company hired to secure ATM vestibules due to safety concerns

LNG Canada sponsors driver’s license training in Terrace, Kitimat

The $80,000 contribution is part of the company’s commitment to hire locally

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

Mermen calendar targets ‘toxic masculinity,’ raises big money for charities

Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club gave a cheque for more than $202,000 to Violence Prevention NL

Super snow moon set to rise across B.C.

It is the biggest and brightest moon of the year

‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax house fire

A man and woman remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon, the man with life-threatening injuries

Minister says plans to fight poverty, climate change, focus of B.C. budget

The NDP said in its throne speech last week that affordability will be the hallmark of its initiatives

UPDATED: ‘Violent’ B.C. man back in custody after Alberta arrest

Prince George man with ties to Vernon was being sought by police

After a week away, SNC-Lavalin questions await MPs returning to Parliament

Two have resigned already: Jody Wilson-Raybould was veterans affairs minister and Gerald Butts was Trudeau’s principal secretary

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

Chanel: Iconic couturier Karl Lagerfeld has died

He spent virtually his entire career at luxury labels catering to the very wealthy

Most Read