Preview: Montreal host DC, aim to close gap in East table

MONTRÉAL IMPACT vs D.C. UNITED
STADE SAPUTO, Montréal, Qué.
August 25, 2012 (WEEK 25, MLS Game #237)
4 pm ET (TSN/RDS)

The Montréal Impact and D.C. United meet in a monumental clash in the playoff futures for both clubs Saturday evening at Stade Saputo. The Impact come into the game four behind United for fifth place and the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, though Montréal have played three more games. The Impact are riding a four-game winning streak after their 3-1 win last weekend against San Jose, while United returned to form with a 4-2 win against Chicago in D.C. at midweek.

REFEREE: Matthew Foerster. AR1 (bench):Adam Wienckowski; AR2 (opposite):Brian Poeschel; 4th:Mathieu Bourdeau
MLS Career: 3 games; FC/gm: 27.0; Y/gm: 6.3; R: 0; pens: 1

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INJURY REPORT:

  • MONTREAL IMPACT – OUT: FW Bernardo Corradi (L knee ACL tear); FW Eduardo Sebrango (L shoulder separation); QUESTIONABLE: DF Alessandro Nesta (R knee sprain); FW Sanna Nyassi (R hip flexor strain); MF Justin Mapp (L groin strain); PROBABLE: DF Zarek Valentin (L ankle sprain)
  • D.C. UNITED – OUT: MF Lance Rozeboom (L knee ACL tear); DF Robbie Russell (L plantar fasciitis); DF Daniel Woolard (concussion-like symptoms); DOUBTFUL: FW Maicon Santos (R toe soreness); QUESTIONABLE: MF Lewis Neal (L adductor strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: MTL: Nelson Rivas (through Aug. 25); Hassoun Camara (through Sept. 2)
WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: MTL: Patrice Bernier
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: MTL: Bernardo Corradi, Sanna Nyassi, Collen Warner … DC: Maicon Santos, Chris Pontius, Dwayne De Rosario, Andy Najar, Dejan Jakovic, Lionard Pajoy, Bill Hamid

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (2 meetings): Impact 0 wins, 1 goal … United 1 win, 4 goals … Ties 1

2012 (MLS)
4/18: DC 1, MTL 1 (Maicon Santos 73 – Corradi 69)
6/30: DC 3, MTL 0 (Pontius 46+; Russell 50; Salihi 91+)
• The teams are meeting for the third time, the first in Québec. Montréal’s Bernardo Corradi and United’s Maicon Santos traded goals in short order to leave the teams in a 1-1 draw April 18, then goals from Chris Pontius, Robbie Russell and Hamdi Salihi gave United a 3-0 victory June 30.
• Coaches record: Ben Olsen vs. MTL: P2 W1 L0 T1 … Jesse Marsch vs. DC: P2 W0 L1 T1

LAST MEETING (MLS)
• United opened the lead in first-half stoppage time. After picking the ball up inside the Impact half, Chris Pontius raced toward goal, turning a defender before thumping a left-footed shot inside the back post.
• The lead was doubled five minutes into the second half. Branko Boskovic whipped a left-footed free kick from the right into the heart of the penalty area that Robbie Russell headed past a helpless Evan Bush in the Impact goal.
• United completed the scoreline in second-half stoppage time, when Hamdi Salihi smashed home a rebound from a saved Nick DeLeon shot from close range.
• D.C. UNITED (4-3-1-2): Bill Hamid - Robbie Russell, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic, Daniel Woolard - Andy Najar, Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius - Branko Boskovic (Lewis Neal 60) - Dwayne De Rosario (Nick DeLeon 75), Maicon Santos (Hamdi Salihi 79).
• MONTREAL IMPACT (4-4-1-1): Evan Bush - Calum Mallace (Jeb Brovsky 46), Zarek Valentin, Shavar Thomas, Tyson Wahl - Davy Arnaud, Felipe Martins (Marco Di Vaio 46), Collen Warner (Hassoun Camara 68), Justin Mapp - Sinisa Ubiparipovic - Sanna Nyassi.

MONTREAL IMPACT
The Montréal Impact won their fourth consecutive match, coming back for a 3-1 victory against the MLS overall leading San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday evening at Stade Saputo. The Impact are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 36 points from 27 matches.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: MTL 3, SJ 1

• The game got off to a fiery start with a 21st-minute altercation between San Jose’s Steven Lenhart and Montreal’s Hassoun Camara that saw both players sent off. The incident also resulted in a penalty awarded to San Jose, and Chris Wondolowski blasted the spot kick low to Troy Perkins’ right to give the visitors the lead.
• The Impact took no time in answering back. Marco Di Vaio sent a long pass towards the right side of the San Jose area, where Felipe beautifully controlled the ball in mid-air, and his return low cross found Di Vaio at the far post where the Italian turned the ball into the roof of the goal.
• The Impact broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute. Patrice Bernier danced through tackles on the edge of the San Jose box before laying the ball to Lamar Neagle, who curled a 22-yard shot past goalkeeper Jon Busch.
• Then in the 71st minute, Neagle released Di Vaio in behind the Quakes defense, and Jason Hernandez brought him down in the box from behind. Referee Armando Villarreal issued Hernandez a straight red card, and Bernier converted the ensuing penalty to put the game beyond doubt.
• Impact head coach Jesse Marsch made one change to the team that defeated the New England Revolution 1-0 at Gillette Stadium. Lamar Neagle came into the side for Justin Mapp.
• MONTREAL IMPACT (4-2-3-1): Troy Perkins - Jeb Brovsky, Matteo Ferrari, Hassoun Camara (sent off 21), Dennis Iapichino - Patrice Bernier, Collen Warner - Davy Arnaud, Felipe Martins, Lamar Neagle (Karl Ouimette 88) - Marco Di Vaio (Andrew Wenger 74).

TEAM NEWS
• The Impact won their fourth consecutive game, by far their longest winning streak in their MLS expansion season. They had won back-to-back games just once (April 28-May 5) before the current winning run.
• “This was probably our best performance of the season so far,” said Impact head coach Jesse Marsch. “There were moments this season when we didn’t respond well to adversity, but tonight we didn’t back down. It’s almost my job to stay out of the way right now. These guys are strong and committed and right now it’s one game at a time.”

WATCH: Impact preview match with D.C. United

• The Impact have won five of their last seven games to pull to within a point of fifth place in the Eastern Conference and the final playoff spot entering the week. But they have played at least two games more than any of the top five in the East.
• When Hassoun Camara was sent off in the 21st minute, Jeb Brovsky was moved into central defense alongside Matteo Ferrari.
• “I thought Jeb Brovsky’s performance was fantastic,” Marsch said. “And we hardly used him at center back at all. He won all his battles, read the game, competed. He was good on the ball. I thought Jeb was fantastic. Great, great job on his end.”
• Said Brovsky: “It was a good experience. I haven’t played there before, but alongside a vet like Matteo [Ferrari], it was a little easier to slip in there. We did a great job as a back line. Dennis [Iapichino] did a great job, and Davy [Arnaud] slid in as right back and did a great job as well.”
• Camara will be suspended for an additional match following a decision by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. Nelson Rivas will be serving the final match of his three-game suspension in the D.C. match, while Alessandro Nesta is still sidelined with a knee injury.
• “This year, it’s never been about who’s missing,” Marsch said. “It’s always been about who’s on the field. That’s who we are, we’re about each other and whenever someone gets called on, they’re ready to go.”
• With Brovsky moving centrally, Arnaud moved to right back – a place he played in March. Lamar Neagle moved to the right side of midfield, while Felipe shifted out to the left.
• “At halftime, we felt like we wanted to push Patrice a little bit ahead of Collen so that [San Jose's Sam] Cronin didn’t have so much time on the ball,” Marsch said. “I think that adjustment meant that we were able to push them a little bit higher on the field, and it wasn’t so easy for them to knock the ball back and forth. Once we did that, we got control of the game.”

D.C. UNITED
D.C. United returned to their winning ways and maintained their home undefeated streak, rolling to a 4-2 win against the Chicago Fire on Wednesday evening at RFK Stadium. United are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 40 points from 24 games.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: DC 4, CHI 2

• United took the lead in the in the 19th minute. Chris Pontius scuffed a left-footed shot from outside the box that rolled past a static Fire defense toward the far post, where Dwayne De Rosario streaked in to knock home his 99th career MLS goal.
• The Fire pulled even in the 44th minute on their first real scoring chance of the game. Sherjill MacDonald, Marco Pappa and Daniel Paladini executed a flowing passing move at the top of the 18-yard box, as Pappa fed Paladini to his left and United goalkeeper Bill Hamid had little chance against Paladini strike from inside the area.
• But United grabbed the game with goals on either side of halftime. In first-half stoppage time Andy Najar – deployed at right back – beat two challengers and crossed to Lionard Pajoy, and D.C.’s newest acquisition headed home. Then in the 51st minute, Brandon McDonald looped a beautifully placed header from a Chris Korb cross following a cleared corner.
• Chicago’s Gonzalo Segares added intrigue to the match’s final quarter-hour when he dove to convert a difficult set-piece header in the 75th minute, from a Pavel Pardo service.
• But Long Tan sealed the result for United, turning home a pass from De Rosario from the penalty spot that just eluded the grasp of Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
• United head coach Ben Olsen made one change to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Union at RFK Stadium. Marcelo Saragosa came into the team in place of the suspended Emiliano Dudar.
• D.C. UNITED (4-4-2): Bill Hamid - Andy Najar, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic, Chris Korb - Chris Pontius (Mike Chabala 85), Marcelo Saragosa, Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon - Dwayne De Rosario (Hamdi Salihi 91+), Lionard Pajoy (Long Tan 77).

TEAM NEWS
• United have now gone 12 games without a loss at RFK Stadium (8-0-4), and extended their lead over Montréal to four points in the race for the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
• “We want to make this a tough place to play and I think we’ve done that. Right now, home wins are important – it’s vital to our success and to where we want to go. So we’ve got to keep that focus and bring that same intensity and focus on the road with us,” said Dwayne De Rosario. “We know our road record hasn’t been the best, and we have time to improve that.”
• De Rosario moved to an out-and-out forward role, partnering with Lionard Pajoy, and scored the 99th goal of his MLS career. With his next goal he will become the seventh player to join the century club in MLS career goals.
• “Dwayne’s back. Dwayne played with a lot of energy and we fed off of that…Him getting that goal is big. But even more so, I saw Dwayne back today a little bit more,” said United head coach Ben Olsen. “The last two games he has really stepped up his game. I think he senses that this team needs him now and the team needs him to be great. He’s inching towards that and I’m hoping that he can consistently put numbers on the board again.”
• De Rosario also collected his 11th assist of the season, now in a three-way tie for the league lead with LA’s Landon Donovan and KC’s Graham Zusi. Chris Pontius moved to a wide midfield role with De Rosario slotting in up top.
• “I think the way we performed tonight really showed what we’re capable of and we’ve got to come with that same intensity, that same performance every game. If we do step on the field with that passion, that emotion, that drive, we’ll be all right,” said De Rosario.
• After starting at midfield against Philadelphia, Andy Najar moved to right back for the Chicago match. He played there twice earlier this season in May.
• “In the Academy, I played that position, so I’m familiar with it,” Najar said. “Overall, I need to learn how to defend better, but little by little it’s coming.” Said Olsen: “He has these unique qualities in this league. I think they lend themselves to the modern right back. You look at soccer now and the outside backs have the ball so much. They have to be good on it, they have to be dynamic, they have to be great engines to get up and back and they have to be brave in defending.”
• With Najar moving to the back four, Marcelo Saragosa was given the start in the midfield, his first start since May 2 vs. San Jose, playing alongside Perry Kitchen in a deep-lying axis.
• “He set a good tone and I’m proud of him. He has had a tough year and I have relied on him very sparingly and he’s always telling me, ‘I got it, you need to put me in the game,’ ” said Olsen. “If their spacing is right, they can coexist. Sometimes when you have two like-minded guys in the same spot, you worry about them both doing that holding midfield role and not being able to push out. I’ll tell you what – they did it very well tonight and I was very pleased. It’s an option now going forward for sure.”
• Lionard Pajoy and Long Tan also netted their first goals for United after arriving from Philadelphia and Vancouver, respectively. “I’m happy for Pajoy. It’s always nice when you go to a new team and get your first goal. I’m happy for Long Tan. For him to come in and put that in, it really eased up some tensions there down the stretch,” Olsen said.