Sat, Sep 22
1:00 PM ET
Sporting KCSKC

Preview: With SKC in town, Impact clinging to playoff hopes

STADE SAPUTO, Montréal, Qué.
September 22, 2012 (WEEK 29, MLS Game #275)
1 p.m. ET (TSN/RDS; KSMO)
The Montréal Impact will face a huge test in their bid to reverse recent fortunes and maintain contact in the Eastern Conference playoff chase when they play host to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday afternoon at Stade Saputo. The Impact come into the game off back-to-back losses, and now find themselves seven points out of fifth place and the final spot for the MLS Cup Playoffs. Sporting extended their lead atop the division and their unbeaten run at midweek, kicking off their road swing with a 2-0 victory at New York.
REFEREE: Jorge Gonzalez. AR1 (bench): Philippe Briere; AR2 (opposite): Daniel Belleau; 4th: Kevin Terry Jr.
MLS Career: 85 games; FC/gm: 25.0; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 24; pens: 23
MONTREAL IMPACT – OUT: FW Bernardo Corradi (L knee ACL tear); PROBABLE: MF Josh Gardner (L groin strain)
SPORTING KANSAS CITY – OUT: FW Teal Bunbury (L knee ACL tear); DF Cyprian Hedrick (L fibula fracture); DOUBTFUL: FW Bobby Convey (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: FW Jacob Peterson (R shoulder sprain)
KC: Roger Espinoza (caution accumulation; through Sept. 23)
MTL: Collen Warner
MTL: Patrice Bernier, Bernardo Corradi, Sanna Nyassi
KC: Julio Cesar, Chance Myers, Jimmy Nielsen, Paulo Nagamura, Lawrence Olum, Matt Besler, Graham Zusi
ALL-TIME (2 meetings): Impact 1 win, 3 goals … Sporting 1 win, 3 goals …Ties 0
AT MONTRÉAL (1 meeting): Impact 0 wins, 1 goal … Sporting 1 win, 3 goals …Ties 0
2012 (MLS)
5/5: KC 0, MTL 2 (Felipe 30; Bernier 64)
7/4: MTL 1, KC 3 (Bernier 49 – Kamara 57; Zusi 75; Peterson 82)
  • The teams are meeting for the third time. Goals from Felipe and Patrice Bernier gave the Impact a 2-0 win at KC on May 5, but Kei Kamara, Graham Zusi and Jacob Peterson all scored in Sporting’s 3-1 win in Montréal on July 4.
  • Coaches' records: Jesse Marsch vs. P2 W1 L1 T0 … Peter Vermes vs. MTL: P2 W1 L1 T0
  • The Impact took the lead four minutes into the second half. Felipe ran onto a Zarek Valentin through ball on the right side of the area and he cut back a low cross which evaded everyone in the box. It fell perfectly for Patrice Bernier, who came charging through the center and unleashed a first-time to the back of the net.
  • But Sporting were level six minutes later when Bernier was whistled for a hand ball in the penalty area. Kei Kamara stepped up to convert the penalty.
  • Yet another scramble in the Impact’s penalty area in the 75th minute saw Montreal captain Davy Arnaud foul KC substitute Soony Saad. Referee Sorin Stoica pointed to the spot once again, and this time it was Graham Zusi's turn to convert and put the visitors ahead 2-1.
  • Sporting added a third eight minutes from full time. Roger Espinoza’s cross from the left found Jacob Peterson on the opposite side and his hard drive deflected off a defender and flew past goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts for the capper.
  • MONTREAL IMPACT (4-2-3-1): Donovan Ricketts - Zarek Valentin, Shavar Thomas, Hassoun Camara, Jeb Brovsky (Eduardo Sebrango 80) - Collen Warner, Patrice Bernier - Davy Arnaud, Felipe Martins, Justin Mapp (Justin Braun 87) - Marco Di Vaio (Sanna Nyassi 71).
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Roger Espinoza, Paulo Nagamura (Peterson Joseph 86) - Kei Kamara (Soony Saad 69), Graham Zusi, C.J. Sapong - Teal Bunbury (Jacob Peterson 46).
The Montréal Impact lost for the second time in as many outings, the Chicago Fire storming back for a 3-1 victory on Saturday evening at Toyota Park. The Impact are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 39 points from 30 matches.
  • Marco Di Vaio gave the Impact the lead in the 20th minute when he settled a beautiful lead pass off a header from Hassoun Camara, beat a defender and placed his shot in the lower corner of the goal.
  • But the Fire pulled level in the 34th minute. Jalil Anibaba’s cross from the right flank found Sherjill MacDonald, and he flicked a header to the far corner.
  • In the 61st minute, Alvaro Fernández found Alex with a pass into the penalty area after a Montreal turnover in their own half, and the Brazilian gave the Fire the lead by beating goalkeeper Troy Perkins to the upper corner.
  • Ten minutes from time, Fernández put the game out of reach when he settled a cross from Dan Gargan and beat Perkins with a shot to the lower corner.
  • Impact head coach Jesse Marsch made two changes to the team that lost 2-1 to the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium. Hassoun Camara came back into the back four for Jeb Brovsky, and Sanna Nyassi came into the midfield in place of Lamar Neagle.
  • MONTREAL IMPACT (4-2-3-1): Troy Perkins - Hassoun Camara, Alessandro Nesta (Jeb Brovsky 81), Nelson Rivas (Justin Mapp 65), Matteo Ferrari - Collen Warner (Andrew Wenger 73), Patrice Bernier - Davy Arnaud, Felipe Martins, Sanna Nyassi - Marco Di Vaio.
  • Coming off a five-game winning streak, the longest winning streak for an expansion team since the end of the shootout era, the Impact have now lost back-to-back games, their first consecutive losses since losing three in a row June 27-July 4.
  • Montréal comes into the week five points behind the final playoff spot, but have played more games than any other club in the Eastern Conference, including one fewer than both D.C. United and Columbus (directly ahead of the Impact) entering the weekend.
  • “We’re not out of it, we’re still alive. Each time we drop a game it makes it that much more difficult. But mathematically, we are certainly still alive. We are going to continue to push this thing all the way,” said Impact head coach Jesse Marsch.
  • Marco Di Vaio scored for a fourth consecutive match, and all five of his MLS goals have come in his last six matches played.
  • Hassoun Camara returned to the Impact back four after a two-match absence, playing 90 minutes at right back.
  • “For the most part, I don’t think we were tired,” Marsch said. “We were, I felt, on top of the game. Maybe a couple of guys here and there were feeling it a little bit, but for the most part, I felt like that game was under control. That game was under control from a lot of different perspectives. Then we made bad mistakes and we gave it away.”
  • Justin Mapp made his first appearance since Aug. 12, after suffering a hamstring injury, coming on for the final 25 minutes.
  • “It's tough, especially in a tightly contested, pretty fast-paced game like this,” Mapp said. “Not having full match fitness, it's a tough situation, being down a goal, but I tried to give a little something. … I had a couple of good moments, but sometimes, those games, it’s tough to get involved in the flow. He asked me to be dangerous and try to put them on their heels.”
  • After having allowed just two goals over their five-game winning run, the Impact have allowed five goals over their consecutive losses.
  • “All year long we’ve been trying to figure out how to eliminate the mistakes. And it’s not easy, because they come from different areas, and they come in different ways. That part has let us down. That part has been, more often than not, has been the reason why we have lost games,” said Marsch.
  • The home match against Sporting KC is the only one in a five-game stretch from Sept. 1-Oct. 20 at Stade Saputo for the Impact. They are tied for the most home wins in MLS, with 10, coming into Week 29; away from home, they are 2-12-1.
  • “We know that our back is up against the wall now,” midfielder Justin Mapp said. “Four games remaining, given the standings, there’s really no room for error.” Added Davy Arnaud: “There’s still 12 points out there for us to go and get. And I think we're more than capable of doing it.”
Sporting Kansas City started their two-game Eastern swing with a massive victory, knocking off the New York Red Bulls 2-0 on Wednesday evening at Red Bull Arena. Sporting are in first place in the Eastern Conference, with 54 points from 29 matches.
  • Sporting took the lead 12 minutes in. From a free kick straight out from the Red Bulls goal, Graham Zusi’s curling shot clanged off the crossbar. The rebound fell to Matt Besler, who passed the ball to C.J. Sapong, and he quickly turned and rifled a shot past goalkeeper Bill Gaudette.
  • Kei Kamara doubled the lead for SKC seven minutes later. Kamara broke away from Wilman Conde’s marking at the near post and headed home a Zusi corner kick with ease for his 11th goal of the season.
  • Sporting head coach Peter Vermes made no changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo at Livestrong Sporting Park.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Julio Cesar - Paulo Nagamura (Lawrence Olum 90), Roger Espinoza (Jacob Peterson 79) - Graham Zusi (Oriol Rosell 90), C.J. Sapong, Kei Kamara.
  • Sporting Kansas City extended their current unbeaten streak to seven games (5-0-2), matching their seasonlong when they opened the campaign with seven consecutive victories.
  • “We didn’t let them build out of the back so we put them under a lot of pressure which then there weren’t a lot of balls, it put them under pressure to have to defend and then go 80 yards and try to build their game up if they did get out, but with a lot of work,” said SKC manager Peter Vermes. “I think that really disrupted them a lot, I also think it presented us with some very good chances and second chances.”
  • Sporting also continued their sterling road performance, now with eight wins and two draws from 14 matches away from Livestrong Sporting Park. Their current road winning percentage of .643 would rank as the sixth best in MLS history.
  • “I don’t think it’s much of a secret, when we play at home everybody just sticks everything behind the ball and they do play for 90 minutes with basically trying to counter us. It’s not a lot of space to play in; it’s just what it is,” said Vermes. “What happens when we come to other people’s places is they have to play because it’s their place and they have to drive the game a little bit so they can’t sit back. They have to open themselves up, and when they do we find opportunities and I think that’s one of the biggest reasons why.”
  • Kei Kamara continued his recent hot streak, scoring his seventh goal over the last 13 games. His 11 goals are a career single-season high, bettering his 10 goals scored in 2010.
  • “Obviously we’re playing away so nobody is expecting us to do that, but that’s kind of how we play. The weather is going back perfect to how the season started, where we can basically just do what we do,” said Kamara. “We came out here, it felt right, we really wanted to interrupt their home record, their play, not give them time and it worked out perfect.”
  • C.J. Sapong also continued his return to form, scoring for a second consecutive match after going 14 league games, from June 20-Sept. 1, without scoring.
  • Graham Zusi also regained the league lead with his 14th assist, putting in the corner kick that led to the second KC goal from Kamara.
  • Sporting have scored 10 goals this season from set pieces, now fourth in MLS, behind San Jose (15), Houston and Portland (both 11).
  • “We have Graham Zusi. He delivered a great cross and all we have to do is just make our runs, finish our runs. I just have the determination that I’m going to go win,” said Kamara. “I don’t think I’ve scored on a corner kick in a while and I had that feeling going to the game and it worked out perfect.
  • It was the 12th shutout of the season for SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, taking over the league lead from Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall. Nielsen’s 0.86 goals against average is second to Seattle Sounders FC’s Michael Gspurning’s 0.76 (who has played 14 fewer matches).
  • “We weren’t going to sit in and drop 11 guys in a 30 yard space and just try to play that way. We talked about right from the get go trying to disrupt their rhythm. I think the two goals are well-deserved,” said Vermes. Said defender Matt Besler: “It was a great team effort, defensively. The Red Bulls at home are a very, very good attacking team. So it's a job well done to everybody.”
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