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Impact expect Dynamo to be seeking payback in rematch of MLS clubs

07/20/2012 11:31 EDT | Updated 09/19/2012 05:12 EDT
MONTREAL - If the Houston Dynamo want payback with the Montreal Impact, now's their chance.

There were heated moments the first time the teams met on June 23 in Montreal, a 4-2 Impact victory. It included the sending off of Houston defender Adam Moffat for an attack on midfielder Felipe Martins.

The rematch is set for Saturday night in Houston, with both sides needing a win to enhance their Major League Soccer playoff chances.

Montreal coach Jesse Marsch sees it as a test of his team's mettle.

''I expect there to be a lot of emotion in this game,'' he said this week. ''It means something for both clubs.

''The way the last game finished up, there was a lot of emotion in that game, so this one will be a battle, a fight, whatever you want to call it. But we'll be ready.''

The Dynamo (8-5-7) have not lost in five games since their visit to Montreal.

Houston is 6-0-3 at newly opened BBVA Compass Stadium this season. They have taken the first two games of a three-game homestand, pounding 10-man D.C. United 4-0 on Sunday and edging first-place Kansas City 2-1 on Wednesday night. They are tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference, five points out of first place.

Montreal (7-12-3) is 1-9-1 on the road. They are coming off a 2-1 home win over New England that vaulted them to sixth place, although their closest rivals all have games in hand.

Their last meeting centred on Houston forward Brian Ching's first game against Montreal, the team from which he demanded a trade after he was selected with the first pick in the expansion draft in November.

It turned into a rough match, with Ching accusing Nick De Santis of shouting at Moffat in the tunnel as he left the field, which the Montreal sporting director denied. Moffat had taken exception to diving by Felipe, including one that led to Patrice Bernier scoring Montreal's fourth goal on a penalty.

Ching called De Santis' alleged actions ''unsportsmanlike'' and said ''it's something we'll remember when they come and visit us.''

Marsch relishes the idea of playing a match with some nastiness.

''As a group, that's what we need,'' he said. ''We need to test ourselves with a challenge like this. We'll see where we're at.''

No one should be tested more than Felipe, the clever Brazilian playmaker who has rubbed a few teams the wrong way.

''They were talking to him,'' Marsch said. ''They should try to make it hard on him. He's one of our best players. We're going to do the same with them. We're going to go down there, keep things tight, and we're going to fight.''

The orange-shirted Dynamo buckled down after the defeat, allowing only two goals in five matches. They've also switched to a 4-3-3 formation while adding speedy Honduran winger Boniek Garcia as a designated player. Will Bruin remains their top scoring threat with 10 goals.

Montreal also added a DP in Marco Di Vaio, although the former Bologna scoring star is still seeking his first MLS goal.

''They are a little different,'' Marsch said of the Dynamo. ''They've got Garcia and now they've got a bit more mobility in their team.

''We're going to make a couple of little adjustments. But again, it's going to be a mentality game.''

There will likely be some lineup changes. Collen Warner sat out against New England but should return as a defensive midfielder. Marsch will decide whether to start Swiss newcomer Dennis Iapichino for a second game at left back, or bring Zarek Valentin back into the starting 11.

The Impact, who have conceded a league-worst 39 goals, put the focus on defence against New England and it worked except for Lee Nguyen's goal on a long shot that hit the crossbar and went in off goalie Donovan Rickett's foot.

Another factor is the weather, which is expected to be in the low 30s C. The battle for precious points may raise the temperature a degree or two.

''I think it's going to be an extremely tough game,'' Valentin said. ''Knowing their players and their style of team, they're going to mark it down after that last one.

''We have to come out with intensity and put together a similar performance (to their last meeting). This is a massive, massive game for us, so we've got to go there with the right attitude.''

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