Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Impact Look to Keep Fading Playoff Hopes Alive against Red-Hot Sporting

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Impact Look to Keep Fading Playoff Hopes Alive against Red-Hot Sporting

Article excerpt

Impact look to buoy fading playoff hopes

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MONTREAL - The dream of making the Major League Soccer playoffs in their expansion season is fading for the Montreal Impact, but they aren't giving up hope just yet.

In seventh place in the Eastern Conference, the Impact will need to run the table in the four games left in their regular season and hope that the Houston Dynamo, who hold the fifth and final playoff spot, and the sixth-place Columbus Crew both falter down the stretch.

It will be tough enough for Montreal (12-15-3) just to win their next game as they face the Eastern Conference leader, Sporting Kansas City (16-7-6), at a sold-out Saputo Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

A 2-0 victory over the Red Bulls in New York on Wednesday gave Kansas City a 5-0-2 record in their least seven games.

''They pressure teams for 90 minutes,'' said Impact captain Davy Arnaud, a former Kansas City skipper. ''Physically, they're very good. They can wear you down.

''Even though they played (on Wednesday) I don't expect them to be anything less than what they've shown recently. They want to get first place in the conference and try to win the Supporters Shield (first place overall). I think that's their goal now.''

The Impact raised their fans' hopes with a five-game winning run in August, but they lost their last two games on the road against conference rivals -- 2-0 in Columbus and 3-1 last Saturday in Chicago -- to fall to seven points out of a playoff position.

''We realize the situation in terms of the table right now, but in terms of our approach, it won't change,'' added Arnaud.

Kansas City will put one of the league's best road records (8-4-2) up against a Montreal squad that sports one of the top home marks (10-3-2).

The irony is that in their two meetings this season, Montreal and Sporting have each won in the other's stadium, with the Impact taking a 2-0 decision at Kansas City on May 5 and losing 3-1 at home on July 4.

''They've had success on the road because they press, they don't just sit back,'' said Montreal coach Jesse Marsch. ''We're ready to deal with that.

''We can also feel that even when they press we can open up space ourselves and play a bit. …

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