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Impact seek to prevent Revolution from clinching MLS playoff spot

10/10/2014 05:37 EDT | Updated 12/10/2014 05:59 EST
MONTREAL - It took most of the Major League Soccer season before the Montreal Impact started to consistently get results in their own stadium.

The Impact, last in the Eastern Conference at 6-18-7 and eliminated from the playoffs, have three wins and a draw in their last four games at Saputo Stadium. They are undefeated in their last six at home if you count CONCACAF Champions League matches.

With little else to play for, they will try to keep the streak alive on Saturday afternoon when they play host to the second-place New England Revolution (15-13-3).

"It won't be an easy match, but we have two home games left and we want to put on a good show for our fans," said striker Marco Di Vaio. "We want to play the same way we have the last two months at home. I hope a lot of people come out."

The Revolution can clinch a playoff spot with a win or a draw and will try to narrow their four-point gap with first-place D.C. United.

So the Impact want to play the spoiler as well.

"They're going for first place, but every game, especially at home, we try to win," said defender Heath Pearce. "I'm sure we'll put out the best team we have to try to get a result and continue to move forward.

"We didn't get the results we wanted this year, but we'll try to continue to move the club in the right direction, regardless of what we're playing for."

The Impact have run an advertising blitz reminding fans that it is the first of only two more chances they will get to see 38-year-old Di Vaio play at home before he retires. They close out the season Oct. 25 at home against D.C.

After that, Di Vaio will end his 2 1/2-year stint with Montreal and return to his native Italy, where there may be a job waiting at his former club Bologna FC, which is in the process of being bought by a group that includes Impact owner and president Joey Saputo.

It is a match the Impact feels it can win, having beaten New England 2-0 at Saputo Stadium on May 31 on goals from Andres Romero and Jack McInerney. That ended the Revolution's five-game winning streak.

New England returned the favour with a 2-1 win on its home turf on Sept. 13, although the Impact was resting some key players for a CONCACAF match later the same week.

The Revolution are on another hot streak that has them 7-1-0 in their last eight games.

"They're a team that's playing well," said Impact coach Frank Klopas. "With us, I look at the first game we played them here and we won: We were good on the ball, good in possession. We stayed compact.

"The last game was different. We played on (synthetic) turf. Their pitch was a little smaller. Our field is bigger. So our ability to be good in the final third is going to be key."

With Di Vaio as the star attraction, it's likely McInerney will start on the bench even though he has a history of scoring against New England, with five goals in 11 career meetings.

However, Montreal designated player Ignacio Piatti has been ruled out due to knee tendinitis. He hopes to be ready for a Champions League match Oct. 22 at New York.

Veteran Justin Mapp, who returned from injury in a 0-0 draw in Chicago last week, strengthens the midfield in Piatti's absence. He'll likely play on the outside with Dilly Duka the likely candidate to take Piatti's spot in the middle.

Montreal is also missing fullback Eric Miller, who is with the U.S. under-23 squad, and three players selected by Canada's national team: Karl Ouimette, Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare and Issey Nakajima-Farran.

The Revolution bring a formidable lineup that includes midfielder Lee Nguyen, who scored his 14th goal last week against Columbus, and attacker Jermaine Jones.

"Their most dangerous weapon is Lee Nguyen," said Pearce. "He's been their best player all year.

"He's been in talks as an MVP candidate. He's a creative player that connects the midfield to the attack. That's the guy we need to keep a lot of our attention and focus on. They're a good team. They've managed to get results all year. But we expect to play our game and hopefully force them to make adjustments to us."

The Impact are perceived around MLS as a team that is better than its record. Montreal got the fifth and final playoff spot last season, but got off to a disastrous start in 2014 and only recently showed signs of a rally. Failing to win a game on the road all season has been their undoing.

The Revolution expect a difficult game against a team with nothing to lose.

"It makes teams more dangerous," Revolution defender Chris Tierney said on his team's website. "I've been in that situation before and you carry a certain amount of frustration and anger into a game that really gives you an extra edge.

"We're going to have to button up defensively and limit their chances."

The Revolution can also clinch a playoff spot if Toronto FC fails to win Saturday against New York. That would lower the stakes considerably when Montreal plays at Toronto on Oct. 18.

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