SPORTS

Impact back searching for MLS road win after thrilling CONCACAF victory

03/19/2015 07:04 EDT | Updated 05/19/2015 05:59 EDT
MONTREAL - Winning in the CONCACAF Champions League was a highlight for the Montreal Impact, but now comes that messy business of Major League Soccer play.

The Impact (0-1-0) travel to Foxborough, Mass., to take on the winless New England Revolution (0-2-0) on Saturday afternoon still buzzing from their 2-0 victory at home over Alajuelense in the Champions League semifinal first leg.

If they can carry that form into Gillette Stadium, they may have hope of ending an MLS road winless run that dates to Sept. 8, 2013 — a 4-2 victory at New England.

"We set standards," Impact midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker said after the win over Alajuelense. "Regardless of it being the Champions League, it's the same mentality we have to take into MLS games.

"It's about being aggressive. We have the right players to play a system like that: high tempo, high pressure, attacking football."

The Impact finished last in MLS in 2014 largely because they didn't have the team to grind out difficult points away from Saputo Stadium.

With extensive off-season changes, they hope to do better, although they didn't come close in a regular season-opening 1-0 loss at D.C. United on March 7.

There were encouraging signs against Alajuelense, including a return to form of midfielder and designated player Ignacio Piatti, who is coming off knee surgery. There was also a strong game from Dominic Oduro, who moved from forward to the right wing to replace the injured Justin Mapp.

And tenacious rookie forward Cameron Porter continues to make people wonder how he waited three rounds to be selected in the MLS SuperDraft.

Coach Frank Klopas will likely make some changes, particularly if midfielder Dilly Duka needs a rest after leaving at halftime with a leg injury. Andres Romero, the regular left side midfielder, remains sidelined with a quadriceps problem.

That could put veteran Eric Alexander into the lineup.

It may be an opportune time to face the Revolution, who are coming off road losses of 3-0 in Seattle and 2-0 to the expansion New York City in Yankee Stadium.

New England, which went 12-4-3 at home last season, is without centreback Jose Goncalves, who was shown the red card for pulling down City's Khiry Shelton and will sit out with a suspension.

His spot may be take by veteran Darrius Barnes, who is looking forward to the return to home turf.

"I think it's exactly what we need," Barnes told his team's website. "We've had two rough goes on the road and to get back here in front of our home fans, to get the ball rolling here at home would be huge, to get three points and get that momentum and confidence."

New England right back Kevin Alston is also out with a hamstring injury.

The Impact hope to show that their strong form in CONCACAF play can carry into the league and that they are a better side than the one that won only six games last season.

"It was a fantastic night for the city and for us as players, but we have to follow that up now," said Reo-Coker. "We've got a second leg, but we still have to do well in the league.

"For us, its about consistency. That's how we want to play every single game. Great, high tempo."

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