Kansas City, KS – Sporting Kansas City returns home to Sporting Park on Saturday with the tough task of trying to contain the surging Montreal Impact.
Montreal has enjoyed a perfect start to the 2013 MLS season, taking 12 points from its first four matches. It is just the seventh time that an MLS team has started the season with a perfect record through four games.
A debut season in MLS saw the Impact finish with a 12-16-6 record, but a coaching change has turned the club's fortunes around. Marco Schallibaum has helped alter the culture in Montreal, but he is not resting on his laurels.
"When you're doing well, there are 18 other teams that want to be in your place," said Schallibaum. "You have to defend your position when you're on the top of the mountain. When you're there everything is sunny, but when you're on the bottom, its rainy, or here maybe snowy. So, you can't take things lightly, you have to be ready to defend your position."
Montreal's most recent victory came in the form of a 1-0 defeat of Red Bull New York. Marco Di Vaio grabbed the lone goal of the affair, scoring for the second consecutive match.
"He did a lot of good work up top," Schallibaum said of the Italian striker. "He put himself in really good scoring chances, but unfortunately was unable to score a second goal. You have to remember he is an experienced player, so he needs rhythm and pace. He is an extraordinary athlete."
Sporting could just be the right team to stop Di Vaio in his tracks. Kansas City is coming off of two straight scoreless draws, one against the Chicago Fire at home and another against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium.
While Peter Vermes' side has not conceded a goal in 249 minutes of action, he was left to bemoan Sporting's lack of offensive production in New England.
"I don't like the fact that we didn't score a goal, but I also know that it's hard when a team puts 11 guys within 30 or 40 yards of their goal and it's difficult sometimes to break that down," said Vermes. "I just liked from the first minute to the last minute how we played our last game. I think [Saturday] with the guys who jumped in, they were locked into the game. Now, we all know it wasn't pretty soccer by anybody's imagination but it's good because they were in the game."
Facing Montreal should make the play a bit more open on Saturday as the Impact will be eager to get forward in search of a goal to preserve their perfect start.
Sporting struggled to create much on the offensive end while Graham Zusi enjoyed a tour with the U.S. national team, but the midfielder returns to the fold to give the club a much-needed boost going forward.