MONTREAL – “There will be blood.”
The grin by Impact defender Zarek Valentin gave away the playful nature of his comment regarding Sporting Kansas City’s visit to Stade Saputo on Wednesday night (7 pm ET, TSN and MLS LIVE), but there may be a degree of truth to it.
The May 5 encounter between the Impact and Sporting saw Montreal pull off one of the upsets of the season, a 2-0 road win at Livestrong Sporting Park. The defeat against the league's newest expansion team did not go down too well in Kansas City, and the Impact expect Sporting to show a more ruthless, take-no-prisoners approach.
“It’s just going to be a hard-fought game,” Valentin told reporters on Tuesday. “Both teams like to battle and both teams like to play, so whoever wins those individual battles will probably win the game. We know we have to come guns blazing and outwork them.”
Preview: MTL vs. SKC
But if Sporting pick up where they left off in their 1-0 home loss to the Chicago Fire last Friday, the Impact could be up against wave after wave of attacks in the early stages. SKC had no less than eight attempts on Chicago 'keeper Sean Johnson's net in the last four minutes – plus stoppage time – and Sporting's Kei Kamara, Aurélien Collin and Teal Bunbury were unlucky not to net the equalizer.
Collin is one player the Impact will be watching closely. Ever since he joined Sporting, the French defender has been a massive threat on set pieces, an aspect of the game which has caused several problems for Montreal this season.
The last time these two teams met, Collin had a total of four attempts at goal and all of them came on corner kicks and free kicks.
“The first time we played them, they had 20, 30 set pieces,” Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier recalled, “so it’s our job to make sure our mentality remains the same, as we gave them almost no chances. That’s how we can get a win against such a good team.”
The Impact back line, which has allowed six goals in the last two games, will have to make do without one of its leaders against SKC. Veteran Italian center back Matteo Ferrari, who jogged with teammates on Tuesday, is still out with a right quad strain but manager Jesse Marsch confirmed that his injury was healing faster than expected and he could be back in action in two weeks instead of four.