After opening the season with a four-game winning streak, the Impact (5-2-2) has managed just one win in its last five matches and heads into Saturday’s tilt against Real Salt Lake winless in its last two. Both were on the road, where Montreal finished in a draw against the San Jose Earthquakes last Saturday before falling 2-1 to the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday.
Yet while the score didn't fall in their favour in New York, the team was nonetheless buoyed by its play.
"I thought Wednesday was our best game on the road," head coach Marco Schallibaum said of his team, which sits tied with Sporting Kansas City for third place in the Eastern Conference with 17 points."We played really well tactically and team-wise because the guys didn't give up when they were down.”
Wednesday's defeat was just the second Montreal has suffered this season, both coming on the road.
Home, however, has been as sweet as it was a year ago. The Impact is 3-0-1 in MLS play at Saputo Stadium and Olympic Stadium this season, outscoring the opposition 6-2. The club also won a home tilt against Toronto FC earlier this month in the back end of the Amway Canadian Championship, pulling off a 6-0 rout.
The month of May has been a busy one for the Impact, who will be hitting the field for the fourth time in 10 days on Saturday. The run will finish with five games in 14 days when the club faces off against Vancouver in the Canadian Championship on Wednesday.
"Obviously with all the travelling we're not fully fresh but the fact that we've been able to rotate players, guys aren't as worn down even from playing lots of minutes," said Montreal midfielder Patrice Bernier. "We may not be where we were two weeks ago but I think Wednesday was more of a mental factor because we felt we played well."
Real Salt Lake (5-4-2) arrives for its first-ever visit to Montreal on a two-game winning streak for the first time this season. After shutting out Vancouver last week, the club shocked the Revolution in New England when a tally from second-half substitute forward Olmes Garcia in the 89th minute secured the victory on Wednesday.
The Impact, however, are prepared.
"They're going to be strong, they're going to battle back there; they've got some big guys," said forward Andrew Wenger. "But if we come to play like we can, after today's training session, we should take care of business."
One player in particular that Montreal will be keeping its eye on is Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman, knowing that much of their opponent's attack comes from the veteran.
"He’s a really good player with good vision. We've got to keep him at bay, keep him from moving the ball up," Bernier said.
"As for us, we've been getting a lot of chances lately and we have to keep pushing. We have to pressure them, dominate like we did on Wednesday but this time get the winning result."
"We have to put pressure on them to take them off their game," Schallibaum added. "We have our strengths and we've shown that we can beat anyone."
Impact captain Davy Arnaud isn't expected to play against Real Salt Lake as he recovers from concussion-like symptoms suffered in the home game against Toronto in the Canadian Championship on May 2.