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

B.C. invests $115M to create 200 new nurse practitioner jobs

Still unclear how many positions will be allocated to Terrace

Terrace Shopping Centre celebrates 50th anniversary

Nine stores were there at the beginning

Local novelist reimagines overthrow of Inca empire

Inca Sunset transports the reader to the Spanish conquest of Peru in 1523

Council approves $24.7M budget

Five-year financial plan approved on May 14

Police release video on how to ‘run, hide, fight’ if there’s an active shooter

Vancouver police offer video with input from E-Comm, BC EHS, Vancouver Fire and Rescue

Study recommends jurors receive more financial and psychological support

Federal justice committee calls for 11 policy changes to mitigate juror stress

Research needed on impact of microplastics on B.C. shellfish industry: study

SFU’s department of biological sciences recommends deeper look into shellfish ingesting microbeads

B.C. dad pens letter urging overhaul of youth health laws after son’s fatal overdose

The Infants Act currently states children under 19 years old may consent to medical treatment on own

Singh sides with B.C. in hornet’s nest of pipeline politics for the NDP

Singh had called for a more thorough environmental review process on the proposal

VIDEO: Campers leave big mess at rural Vancouver Island campsite

Vehicle parts, garbage, a mattress, lawn chairs, beer cans, and even fecal matter left in the area

VIDEO: B.C. woman gets up-close view of Royal wedding

Kelly Samra won a trip back to her home country to see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle say ‘I do’

30 C in B.C., 30 cm of snow expected for eastern Canada

It might be hot in B.C., but the rest of Canada still dealing with cold

Horgan defends fight to both retain and restrict Alberta oil imports

Alberta says pipeline bottlenecks are kneecapping the industry, costing millions of dollars a day

Most Read