MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact’s good first week back from break may be getting better.
Striker Marco Di Vaio (hamstring) and winger Justin Mapp (groin) both skipped Montreal’s 0-0 tie at Vancouver on Wednesday but took the opportunity to build some fitness. They could be available this Sunday when the Impact host the Houston Dynamo at Stade Saputo (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live).
Mapp didn’t speak to the media on Friday, but Di Vaio said he “felt nothing in my hamstring” and now needed to “train with the team and recover fitness.” Both Mapp and Di Vaio did just that on Friday, which thrilled head coach Frank Klopas.
“It gives us options, and we need these guys healthy,” Klopas told reporters. “They’re quality players and important players for our team. We’ll evaluate tomorrow, but for sure, I think that we have to go into the game Sunday, having played midweek on turf with the travel, being able to freshen up the team in some way.”
These reinforcements will buoy Montreal some more after an encouraging effort at Vancouver. Team captain Patrice Bernier believes that the Impact are increasingly able to force the opponent into mistakes leading to goalscoring opportunities.
“The last game was a good one when it comes to defensive solidarity,” Bernier told reporters. “We didn't concede a goal against a team known for scoring at home.”
Montreal will be facing a different kind of task against Houston, who’ve been struggling to score away from home. Dominic Kinnear’s men have scored five goals in eight away games this season, but four of those tallies came at Chivas USA on May 3.
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The stats are perhaps skewed by the absence of Brad Davis, currently away at the World Cup with the US national team. In their last five league games, all played without Davis, the Dynamo suffered three road shutout losses.
Boniek Garcia may return from Brazil in time to face Montreal – Klopas is convinced he’ll be at Stade Saputo on Sunday – but no matter the personnel involved, Montreal expect a hard-fought game.
“They may miss [Davis’] qualities a bit, but they’re so relentless, hard-working and fierce that they don’t let go for 90 minutes,” Bernier told MLSsoccer.com. “Against them, you really need to be focused for the whole game.”