SPORTS

Impact welcomes Timbers to town, happy to be home after MLS travels

04/27/2012 11:19 EDT | Updated 06/27/2012 05:12 EDT
For the Montreal Impact, it's good to be back home.

The expansion Impact have spent much of their inaugural MLS season on the road where they are 0-5-1. At home they are 1-0-1.

No team has played more on the road this season as Montreal's schedule was loaded with early away games in advance of the mid-June opening of the revamped Saputo Stadium.

By contrast, Toronto FC (0-6-0) has played just two games away from home going into its visit to Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

Captain Davy Arnaud says the Impact deserve better than their record shows.

"The way that we've played and the way as a group we've handled ourselves has been very good," the veteran midfielder said. "I'm being honest with you, I don't know if I've been on a team where this many good performances in a row have been put together on the road. Performances that are worthy of getting points and for whatever reason we've left games without points when we probably deserve something out of them.

"I think we're headed in the right direction. The way that the coaches are asking us to play, everybody 100 per cent believes in. And we have a really good group. I think a couple bounces here or there, once we start getting things turned our way in terms of getting the right results, I think we're going to move up the table and be pushing for a playoff spot."

On Saturday, the Impact welcomes the Portland Timbers (2-4-1) to Olympic Stadium. Montreal will be fresh, coming off a 10-day gap between games.

The Timbers hope to have started their own turnaround. They ended a franchise-record four-game losing streak last Saturday with a 1-0 win over powerful Sporting Kansas City.

"I know (Portland coach) John Spencer is a very passionate guy,"

said Arnaud. "He demands a lot from his team. You know the kind of game you're going to get.

"They're going to come out ready to fight."

The game marks a reunion of sorts for Arnaud. He spent eight seasons in Kansas City with midfielder Jack Jewsbury, now captain of the Timbers.

"Montreal, even though they had their struggles, they've been a tough team at home," Jewsbury told the Oregonian.

Record aside, there are good signs for the Impact.

While Montreal is in the middle of the MLS pack with seven goals, it ranks third in the league in shots (110) and second in shots on goal (40).

Many of those shots have been from long-range, however.

Still Arnaud says the willing offence bodes well in a cosmopolitan dressing room that features 13 different nationalities.

"Especially with a new group, finding a good rhythm offensively and knowing each other's tendencies, that can take a while to develop," the five-foot-11 160-pounder said.

"So that's a positive thing for us. We've had our share of chances and we've played six of our first eight games on the road now. I think that says a lot about our team. It's a small piece but it shows we're very capable."

The 31-year-old Texas native has already made his mark in Montreal, scoring the franchise's first goal in a 1-1 tie with Chicago in the team's home opener before 58,912 at Olympic Stadium.

"You get some moments in your career you're never going to forget and that's definitely one of them," said Arnaud, who has won seven caps for the U.S. "It was special for sure."

The Impact is coming off a 1-1 tie at D.C. United, Montreal's first road point of the season. Italian striker Bernardo Corradi scored the Impact goal, his second in as many games.

Montreal and Portland had some business earlier in the week, with the Impact sending forward Mike Fucito to the Timbers for a SuperDraft second round pick in 2013 or an international roster slot through Dec. 31, 2013.

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