Montreal Impact vs. Portland Timbers | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Montreal Impact vs. Portland Timbers
2017 MLS Regular Season
Stade Saputo - Montreal, Quebec
Saturday, May 20 - 3 p.m. ET
WATCH: TVA Sports in Canada, MLS LIVE in US
Two teams in the midst of disappointing stretches will meet in an inter-conference matchup with the Montreal Impact hoping to climb out of the Eastern Conference basement and the Portland Timbers ready to regain their footing among the Western Conference's best.
The host Impact are fresh off an emotionally-draining 3-2 loss to Columbus Crew SC, who broke a 2-2 deadlock in stoppage time thanks to MLS Player of the Week Justin Meram completing a hat trick. That spoiled what had been a nice comeback with Ignacio Piatti and Anthony Jackson-Hamel both scoring to erase a 2-0 deficit — and sent Montreal into last place in the East with 10 points, along with the rising Philadelphia Union.
The Timbers are in far better position near the top of the crowded Western Conference standings with a healthy 18 points. But things were better for them a few weeks ago before they went through three games without a win, a stretch capped by a 1-1 home draw with Atlanta United last week.
"We're not satisfied with that at all," Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said. "And now we’ve got to make up for that on the road.”
The good news for the Impact is that new Designated Player Blerim Dzemaili stepped right into the lineup just a couple of days after being acquired and performed admirably in his MLS debut. The Swiss midfielder, on loan from Italian side Bologna, played a full 90 and set up Jackson-Hamel's game-tying goal.
"We felt that it was important for him to start," Impact head coach Mauro Biello explained. "He's physically fit so the more time he would get with the group, the quicker the adaptation. You know, you see it's a guy that needs the ball and can make plays. Now we just have to be able to find him so he could express himself and engage the others."
While the Impact have a lot of work to do to get back into the playoff conversation, the star power that Dzemaili and Piatti provide should have Montreal fans feeling pretty good.
- Suspended: None.
- International duty: None.
- Injury report: OUT: M - Shamit Shome (foot injury), M - Andres Romero (hamstring injury), D - Victor Cabrera (ankle injury), F - Matteo Mancosu (thigh injury 4/29, out 6-8 weeks); QUESTIONABLE: D - Hassoun Camara (concussion), M — Marco Donadel
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Evan Bush (GK) - Ambroise Oyongo, Laurent Ciman, Kyle Fisher, Chris Duvall - Adrian Arregui, Blerim Dzemaili - Hernan Bernardello, Ignacio Piatti, Ballou Tabla - Dominic Oduro
Notes: The Impact have lost two consecutive home games. The last time they lost three home games in a row was from July 12 to August 2, 2014. There have been 42 home games between the streaks.
The Timbers have plenty of stars of their own but have been dealing with some injuries. Influential playmakers Diego Valeri and Darlington Nagbe were both out two weeks ago in a rough 3-0 loss to San Jose, and Nagbe missed his second straight match in last week's draw with Atlanta.
On the other end of the field, it will be interesting to see if Porter keeps captain Liam Ridgewell, fresh off his first goal of the season, and Roy Miller together after pairing them for the first time last week.
- Suspended: None
- Suspended next yellow card: None
- Injury Report: OUT — D Gbenga Arokoyo (Achilles), D Chance Myers (hamstring), GK Jeff Attinella (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE — M Darlington Nagbe (hamstring)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, left to right): Jake Gleeson — Vytautas Andriuskevicius, Liam Ridgewell, Roy Miller, Alvas Powell — Diego Chara, David Guzman — Sebastian Blanco, Diego Valeri, Dairon Asprilla — Fanendo Adi
Notes: Portland are unbeaten in the last three matches against Montreal (2W-1D). The last match between these clubs ended in a 1-1 draw at Providence Park on July 13, 2016. ... Portland have had a mixed bag on the road so far this season posting a 2-2-1 record. The Timbers only have one cleansheet on the road and have conceded multiple goals in three games.
The two teams haven't played each other very much, but the Timbers have had some nice success in Montreal, winning two of their three games there.
- Overall: Impact 2 wins, 8 goals; Timbers 2 wins, 7 goals; 1 draw
- In Montreal: Impact 1 win, 5 goals; Timbers 2 wins, 5 goals; 0 draws
- Referee: Jair Marrufo
- AR1: Kyle Atkins
- AR2: Jeffrey Hosking
- Fourth official: Rubiel Vazquez