Kansas City, KS – A pair of Eastern Conference heavyweights will meet at Sporting Park on Saturday as Sporting Kansas City hosts the Montreal Impact.
The two clubs enter the weekend separated by a single point in the table, though Sporting has played three more matches. Montreal occupies second place in the East with 23 points, followed closely by Kansas City.
The Impact are flying high after a convincing 5-3 home win against the Philadelphia Union. They built upon that victory by claiming the Canadian Championship with a midweek 2-2 draw at Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
At the heart of the club's impressive run is its offense. After opening the season with just 12 goals in nine matches, Montreal has managed to produce eight goals over its last two league games.
Marco Di Vaio scored the first hat trick in his MLS career against the Union last time out, and it was enough for the Italian to garner Player of the Week honors.
"We are happy because this was a big win for us," Di Vaio said. "We needed to win to stay near the top of the standings. I'm happy, because it's been a long time since I scored three. It's good for me, for my head, for my confidence. But most of all, it's important that I helped the team win."
Sporting's defense will pose a more serious threat to Montreal's thriving offense, though. Kansas City enters the clash on a three-match unbeaten run having conceded just three goals over its last five league contests.
The club has played to back-to-back draws against D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo, but Peter Vermes believes that Sporting should have taken more than just two points from those matches.
"We have a good team, but were still not consistent enough in these times," said Vermes. "Going down to Houston and beating them there, going into D.C. and getting a point there, we should have had three but we still go there and get a result.
"When we come home we have to sense that we've done that hard work and now we do the same hard work here at home. These points are big for us, especially when we win points at other people's places."
But with Sporting wrapping up a two-game homestand, the club will be hoping to claim a victory at Livestrong Park for the first time since thrashing Chivas USA, 4-0, on May 5. Kansas City has claimed just four points from its last four home matches, placing an added bit of pressure on Saturday's tilt.