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Montreal Impact hope improved play at home will lead to rise in standings

05/15/2015 05:19 EDT | Updated 05/15/2016 05:59 EDT
MONTREAL - The Montreal Impact want to make a fortress of Saputo Stadium.

The struggling Impact know picking up points on their home turf will be crucial in their climb up the Major League Soccer standings, starting with Saturday's game against Real Salt Lake.

"We have to start winning games right now, especially at home," said winger Dominic Oduro before the Impact's practice on Friday. "We're a good team, we know that. We've shown it. We have to start putting words into action now.

"Not to hit any panic button, but it's a must-win game for us."

Montreal (0-3-2) is last in the Eastern Conference with two points from its first five games. Frank Klopas's men are 0-1-1 at home this season, with the loss coming last week versus the Portland Timbers.

"We know how hard it is to get points away from home, so we need to get as many as we can at home," said centre back Wandrille Lefevre. "As soon as we drop points at home, it's a loss.

"Home games are where we need to dictate the play and the tempo of the game."

Despite their MLS record, Montreal is 7-2-5 on home turf in its last 14 matches in all competitions. In fact, last Saturday's 2-1 loss to Portland was the team's first defeat in 10 games at Saputo Stadium.

But Montreal remains the only MLS club without a win this campaign as it continues to concede too many second-half goals. Nineteen of the Impact's 23 goals against this year have been scored after halftime.

Montreal is also in a prolonged scoring slump. The Impact have not scored more than two goals in a single game in their last 24 MLS matches dating back to June 29, 2014.

Oduro, however, is certain the goals will come.

"We're getting our chances," said the midfielder, who's scored in two straight contests. "It's just a matter of putting them away. That's what this game is about. We have to be aggressive.

"We're playing well. We have to finish our chances."

On Saturday, the Impact will have to deal with Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando — one of the league's seasoned veterans. The 35-year-old Rimando is tied for first in MLS with a 0.75 goals-against-average and is tied for second with four clean sheets.

Rimando helped Real Salt Lake (3-2-5) end a five-game winless skid with a 2-1 victory in Chicago last Saturday. RSL is 2-1-2 away from home this season.

Though it's highly unlikely he will play this weekend, 23-year-old Cameroonian defender Ambroise Oyongo has finally reported to the Impact four months after being traded to the club. Following messy contract negotiations and his own desire to play in Europe, Oyongo has finally joined his new teammates.

"I'm happy to be here," he said. "It was very difficult for me to get here. I'm going to give everything I can for this club. This is a good team with very good players. I'm proud to be here today."

Oyongo knows Montreal fans may be a little sour after months of limbo, but the defender wants to let his play on the pitch do the talking.

"They've been waiting four months for me," he said of the Impact faithful. "When I get on the field, I think the fans will support me the way they support the rest of the team."

Notes: Klopas will not be on the sidelines this weekend due to a one game-suspension. … Forward Kenny Cooper (knee) will likely require arthroscopic surgery and could be out a minimum of two months. He was hurt in a game against Toronto FC earlier this week in the Amway Canadian Championship.

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