Montreal, QC – Two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference will square off at the Stade Saputo on Saturday as the Montreal Impact play host to Sporting Kansas City.
Montreal sat atop the East for much of the first half of the season, but a recent slide paired with a solid run of form from Kansas City has seen Sporting usurp the Impact for control of the conference.
Sporting is coming off of an impressive 2-1 win at Real Salt Lake, extending the club's unbeaten road record to five games.
"For us I think it was just the fact that we knew coming in here it was going to be a difficult match," Sporting head coach Peter Vermes said after the match. "We needed to just keep going and going. We tried not to let them play that much, and I thought we did a pretty good job at that. (There are) always a lot of teams that go on the road and try to press high up the field like we did tonight, and I thought that was a really good quality that took them out of their flow a little bit which helped us I think over the course of the game."
The victory, which came about as a result of a last-gasp winner from Ike Opara, saw Sporting extend its lead at the top to four points after Montreal was held to a scoreless draw at home by FC Dallas.
Montreal came into last weekend's tilt with Dallas having conceded 12 goals in its previous four league matches, so an improved defensive showing was a clear priority for Impact head coach Marco Schallibaum, especially after a 4-0 demolition at the hands of Red Bull New York.
"We saw our team that was very strong-willed tonight," Schallibaum said after the match. "The will to win was there and we were very well-organized and solid defensively. After playing a game like that, we would have liked the win, but our effort was there. We showed that fighting spirit during the game that I wanted to see and we never gave up, even if it was frustrating not to score after having outplayed our opponents. I'm very proud of the guys tonight."
The Impact will be hoping to snap a five-game winless run on Saturday before they embark on a two-match road swing.
"We have a veteran team with a lot of experienced guys and I knew we'd rebound well from last week's performance (against New York), especially at home," said Schallibaum. "Another big game at home next week, so we have to build on this and keep moving forward."