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Impact refuse to be distracted by off-field controversies with two defenders

07/17/2015 04:35 EDT | Updated 07/17/2016 05:59 EDT
The Montreal Impact refuse to be distracted by off-the-pitch controversies.

After a pair of defenders called out the organization publicly this week, Montreal will hope to overcome powerhouse Sporting Kansas City on the road Saturday.

Bakary Soumare asked to be traded from the Impact on Monday because he felt he was spending too much time on the bench. Three days later, the Malian was sent to FC Dallas in exchange for Canadian international midfielder Kyle Bekker.

On Wednesday, Laurent Ciman became the centre of controversy when his wife Diana told a Belgian newspaper she felt "abandoned" by the Impact. Ciman came to Montreal because he was guaranteed top-level care for his autistic daughter Nina, but he and his wife expressed dissatisfaction with the way the team has been dealing with its promise.

"Throughout the year, things like this occur," said head coach Frank Klopas on Wednesday. "It's never easy because you go through different moments. It's normal, as long as it doesn't affect what you're doing on the field.

"This is just one little thing that happens throughout the season. You just have to manage it. I don't think it's a big issue. We have to address it with the team and move on."

Soumare, who was acquired from the Chicago Fire in January, quickly became displeased with his dwindling playing time. The 29-year-old had started in seven of Montreal's first eight MLS matches but he only appeared in three of the team's last eight — once as a substitute.

Ciman, meanwhile, believes the Impact will keep their word and eventually help his daughter Nina. He just wants to speed up the process.

"For me, it's not a distraction," said goalkeeper Evan Bush of Soumare and Ciman's issues. "It becomes something you talk about in the locker room. But when you get on the field, all those things go by the wayside and you just work on the game."

Controversies aside, Montreal (6-7-3) is in tough against a high-scoring Kansas City squad with an impeccable home record. The Impact will look to build on a convincing 3-0 home win its last time out against the Columbus Crew.

Montreal is currently eighth in the Eastern Conference with six wins. Five of those victories, however, have come at home. The Impact are 1-5-2 away from Saputo Stadium this season.

On top of its poor road form, Montreal will need to contend with a raucous crowd at Sporting Park and the sweltering Midwestern heat.

"Kansas City is a tough place to play," said midfielder Calum Mallace. "If you can go there and get a result, you know you're doing something right. If we do, it will be good momentum for us going forward.

"It will probably be chippy at times. Both teams are physical and will do whatever it takes to win."

Sporting KC (8-3-6) is unbeaten at home this year with a 6-0-3 record. They've won three straight against the Impact and seven consecutive home games in all competitions. In MLS, Sporting KC is unbeaten at home in its last nine.

Despite sitting in sixth place in the Western Conference, Sporting is two points from first with three games in hand on leaders Seattle.

Kansas City, which leads MLS in goals-per-game, has conceded a league-low 17 goals and own an MLS-best plus-nine goal differential. Peter Vermes' men have kept five clean sheets in their last six league matches. Their nine shutouts are tied for most in MLS.

"This is going to be one heck of a great test," said Mallace. "They're likely to press. It's going to be a tough game, especially in the middle of the park. We're going to have to move the ball quickly to get out of those hard situations."

Notes: This is the only meeting between the two clubs this season. … Forward Krisztian Nemeth leads SKC with seven goals. … Sporting is the only team to have three players with five or more goals.

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