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Union's Hackworth says Impact are a different team now

CHESTER, Pa. – It’s been less than three weeks since the Philadelphia Union defeated the Montreal Impact, 2-1, with a dramatic goal in the final minutes.

According to Union interim manager John Hackworth, that only makes his team’s job tougher when they take on the Impact again on Saturday at Saputo Stadium (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).

“Playing Montreal in such a short time is going to be tough,” Hackworth said Thursday. “They’re a different team than they were a couple of weeks ago when they were here. It’s going to be a huge challenge for us.”

One major difference is the addition of Italian star Alessandro Nesta, who made his MLS debut for Montreal in last weekend’s 3-1 win over New York.

Another difference won’t be as beneficial to Montreal, as countryman Marco Di Vaio will likely miss Saturday’s game while in Italy for a hearing related to a match-fixing scandal.

Di Vaio, who scored his first MLS goal in the Impact’s win over the Red Bulls, had two breakaways stopped by Zac MacMath in the July 14 contest, creating a little rivalry between the Montreal Designated Player and the Union’s second-year goalkeeper.

“That definitely helps me and gives me a boost of confidence going into this game,” MacMath said. “I thought we played well, dominated possession and that’s something we’ll try to do again.”

Even without Di Vaio, Union players expect a stiff test north of the border in an important game between two teams right next to each other in the Eastern Conference standings.

And the fact that the last game between the Union (7-10-2) and Impact (8-13-3) is still fresh in everyone’s mind will certainly factor in to Saturday’s contest.

“We’re going to play a team that for sure has a little bit of revenge on their mind,” Hackworth said. “They’re going to have a very sour taste in their month from the game here when I’m sure they felt like we stole three points from them. We have to understand that.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.