NEWS
09/09/2014 07:00 EDT | Updated 11/09/2014 05:59 EST

Impact defence under the gun against Galaxy's high-powered attack

MONTREAL - What happens when Major League Soccer's highest scoring team and the club with the worst defence collides is something the Montreal Impact may not want to know.

They will find out Wednesday night when the Los Angeles Galaxy bringing their dazzling attack to Saputo Stadium.

But Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush welcomes the challenge from Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and the rest.

"It's a team with a lot of names everyone knows and the last couple of months they've been flying, scoring a lot of goals," Bush said this week. "They scored six last game, so it's a challenge for us.

"But it's one of the games you get excited for. They're one of the big dogs in the league, so the chance to knock them off in your home stadium is something to get excited about."

The Galaxy (14-5-7) are 10-2-2 since the World Cup break in June and have outscored their opponents 37-17 over that span. They lead MLS with 54 goals scored.

The Impact (5-16-5) are last in the 19-team league and are tied with Houston in conceding an MLS-worst 48 goals in 26 games.

Los Angeles is coming off a 6-0 slaughter of Colorado on Friday, although the Rapids had goalie Joe Nasco ejected only 33 seconds in for putting a rugby tackle on Alan Gordon as he was about to score a goal.

Donovan bagged a pair of goals on penalties in that game and added two assists, leaving him four short of Steve Ralston's MLS career record of 135 helpers. The 32-year-old who plans to retire at the end of this season already has the league record with 136 career goals.

Impact forward Dilly Duka looks forward to what will likely be his last chance to play against the Ontario, Calif., native who has also been a stalwart on the U.S. national team, although he was left off this year's World Cup side.

"The guy has done so much for soccer (in the U.S.)," said 24-year-old Duka. "I've been watching him since I was a kid.

"I'm a big fan. It's unfortunate it's going to be his last year, but I'm excited to see him this week and to play against him. Especially for my generation, he's been a role model."

Donovan will line up against a Montreal side that has laboured to keep the ball out of its goal since the start of the season, particularly off free kicks, corners and even throw-ins.

Set-piece goals played their part in a 3-2 defeat Saturday night in Houston, although sweltering heat and humidity in southern Texas were also a factor. Veteran centreback Matteo Ferrari had to leave with heat exhaustion at half time, putting fullback Heath Pearce in to play alongside academy product Wandrille Lefevre.

The central defence has been a nightmare for Montreal, which had Nelson Rivas leave the team after three seasons of knee and leg injuries and had Adrian Lopez go down with a second serious leg injury since he joined the club last year.

Then newly acquired Nigerian centreback Gege Soriola was sent for an MRI exam on Monday due to a separated shoulder suffered last week in training.

Coach Frank Klopas said Ferrari should be ready to play against the Galaxy.

He expects to make few changes because he plans to rest players when the Impact play Sunday in New England. He wants his first eleven fresh for the only game that truly matters now: a CONCACAF Champions League group stage match Sept. 17 at home against the New York Red Bulls. The return leg is Oct. 22.

But the Impact want to do well against the Galaxy just the same.

Their last home game produced a 2-0 win over Columbus on two goals from recently acquired designated player Ignacio Piatti. The Argentine midfielder and Duka had the Impact goals in Houston.

Klopas said Los Angeles' main strength is that most of its squad has played together for a few years. The Galaxy won MLS championships in 2011 and 2012.

"They understand how they play; how they attack and defend," said Klopas. "I think we're a good team when we play at home, better than we were at the beginning.

"The key is the transition. Be good with the ball. We have to stay compact, but our ability in the final third is going to be key because we have players now that can hurt opposing teams and defenders."

Added Duka: "We've still got a chance, mathematically, and we've still got to push and give everything we have, every game."

Both teams are dealing with grief.

The Impact wore black arm bands in Houston in honour of defender Karl Ouimette's sister Julie, who died last week at 20 after a 12-year battle with cancer. L.A. did the same for defender A.J. DeLaGarza, whose week-old son died from a congenital heart condition. He is not expected to make the trip to Montreal.

Ouimette attended the funeral and then returned to Toronto, where he was preparing for Tuesday's international match against Jamaica. He is to return the next day, but is not likely to dress against Los Angeles.

"We're part of Karl's second family, we'll give him our support," said Klopas.

The Galaxy's Gyasi Zardo had two goals against Colorado to give him a record 14 in a season by a "home grown" player (one developed by his team's academy). It is one more than the 13 Diego Fagunez had last year for New England.