Bare-bones Impact squad looks to deal Sporting KC a rare home loss | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Bare-bones Impact squad looks to deal Sporting KC a rare home loss

Sporting Kansas City forward Gerso Fernandes, mostly obscured, is surrounded by teammates after scoring his third goal against the Seattle Sounders during an MLS soccer match in Kansas City, Kan., on May 17, 2017. A bare-bones Montreal Impact squad will attempt to do what no other side has done in more than a year in Major League Soccer -- win in Kansas City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP - The Kansas City Star, Nick Tre. Smith
June 09, 2017 - 10:32 AM

MONTREAL - A bare-bones Montreal Impact squad will attempt to do what no other side has done in more than a year in Major League Soccer — win in Kansas City.

With seven of its players on international duty, Montreal takes on Sporting KC on the road on Saturday. The hosts are undefeated at home in MLS play since May 2016.

Missing from the Impact lineup are starters Patrice Bernier (Canada), Anthony Jackson-Hamel (Canada), Laurent Ciman (Belgium), Ambroise Oyongo (Cameroon) and Blerim Dzemaili (Switzerland).

Also absent will be Maxime Crepeau and Wandrille Lefevre, substitutes on the Canadian national team.

"It won't be easy in terms of cohesion," said Impact coach Mauro Biello before practice on Friday. "There's always that question when you don't have those minutes and you haven't played. That could be an issue at the beginning, but the experience needs to take over in those moments.

"This team is full of players who work every day and every week and some of them will have an opportunity to step in here and show that they deserve minutes."

With Jackson-Hamel away and Matteo Mancosu still out with a thigh injury, Dominic Oduro will likely be the lone striker up top for Montreal. In the midfield, regular substitutes Calum Mallace and Adrian Arregui could play a larger role for Montreal.

The absence of Ciman and Oyongo in the backfield will mean more playing time for Victor Cabrera, who is returning from injury, as well as Hassoun Camara and Daniel Lovitz. Those three defenders have combined for just 11 starts this season.

"Everyone has to be on the same page," said Lovitz, who will likely make his third start of the year. "We all know what we want to accomplish. Guys need to step in and play. We're all ready for it.

"Any time to get on the field and get a start is a good opportunity and I'll make the most of it."

Western-Conference leaders Kansas City (7-4-4) will also be playing shorthanded due to international call-ups. Defenders Matt Besler and Graham Zusi are with the U.S. national team, and forward Soony Saad plays for Lebanon.

"Both teams have a lot of players missing," said 18-year-old phenom Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla. "It won't be easy. But we'll play them as if all their starters are there."

The Impact (4-4-4) will have their hands full in one of Major League Soccer's most raucous buildings.

Sporting KC are 6-0-1 at home this season, outscoring opponents 16-2. Peter Vermes' men have kept a clean sheet in their last four games at Children's Mercy Park — they've not conceded a goal there since April 9.

Kansas City is also undefeated at home in MLS in its last 16 games (13-0-3) dating back to May 27, 2016. Since then, the team's only home loss was in a Champions League group-stage match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

"It's a good atmosphere there," Biello said. "They've had a lot of consecutive sell-out crowds."

Added Lovitz: "It's a really good environment and a tough one. It's really important to come out of there with points."

The international games come at an unfortunate time for the Impact, who finally looked to be hitting their stride.

With three wins from their last four games, Biello's men are still 10th in the Eastern Conference but they've played fewer games (12) than any other team in the league.

"We've been waiting for us to put together a stretch of games like this, especially wins against good opponents," said Lovitz. "It took a while for things to click but finally it did. We're in the same mindset, but we have the results to back it. We knew it was just a matter of time."

Notes: Sporting KC is 6-3-2 all-time against Montreal and undefeated in their last five (4-0-1) dating back to June 2013. … Dom Dwyer has nine goals in six games against the Impact. … KC goalkeeper Tim Melia leads MLS with eight clean sheets and a 0.67 goals against average.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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