June 29, 2018 / 7:37 PM / 4 months ago

Impact face stiff test at home vs. Sporting KC

The Montreal Impact head into Saturday night’s game with Western Conference-leading Sporting Kansas City in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. But with 10 of their final 17 games at Saputo Stadium and coming off of back-to-back shutouts of Orlando City SC, the Impact believe there’s no need to push to panic button.

Montreal (6-11-0, 18 points), which lost 10 of its first 13 games under first-year head coach Remi Garde, has shut out three of its last four opponents and brings in a 252-minute streak without conceding a goal, including a 2-0 win at Orlando City last Saturday that some players believe might be a turning point to their season.

“It’s a mentality,” defender Chris Duvall told MLSsoccer.com. “We’ve had the right pieces for a long time, it was just a matter of flipping a switch and wanting to win more than anything else.”

Despite their horrible start, the Impact, who play three of their next four MLS games on home turf, are only three points behind the sixth-place Philadelphia Union, who play at LAFC on Saturday, for the final Eastern Conference playoff berth.

“It’s far from finished,” Duvall said. “We’re still below the red line and we’ve got half the season to go. This (the win at Orlando) is a good start to the second half and we’ll hopefully push to make it to the top.”

“The next few games at home will be very important ones,” Garde said.

Sporting Kansas City (9-2-5, 32) comes in on a nine-game unbeaten run (6-0-3) in all competitions, including seven games in a row (4-0-3) in MLS play. Sporting comes in off a dramatic 3-2 win over the visiting Houston Dynamo last Saturday, rallying from a 2-0 halftime deficit to win it on forward Khiry Shelton’s goal in the 88th minute.

SKC, which has allowed just two goals in its last six away competitions and is 4-0-2 in its last six meetings with Montreal, hasn’t lost a match since a 1-0 setback at the New England Revolution on April 28 and is 3-1-2 all-time at Saputo Stadium. Captain Matt Besler, who has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, is listed as questionable.

—Field Level Media

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