SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Montreal Impact (7-9-5) plays against the Puerto Rico Islanders (10-5-8), Saturday at 8 pm at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium, in Bayamon (USLlive.com).
It is the first match of a two-game road trip. The Impact will then face the City Stars, in Cleveland, Tuesday (7 pm, USLlive.com).
With a win Saturday Montreal would remain in 6th position in the standings ahead of its closest rivals, the Miami FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps, which however have one more game to play.
In its last match, Wednesday, against the leaders in the USL First Division standings, the Portland Timbers, the Impact lost 1-0, in a close game that was decided on a late goal from midfielder Ryan Pore (83rd minute).
«We will have to be very focused to Puerto Rico,» noted Impact head coach Marc Dos Santos. «Lately, we have made too often mistakes that have cost us a match and we absolutely need to put an end to these oversights. We will try to earn six points, but it will be difficult, so we will be satisfied with four points. We want to start this trip with a win, but we have to be aware that Puerto Rico manages very well dead ball situations and counterattacks.»
The Montreal Impact has lost only three times in 16 regular season matches against the Puerto Rico Islanders (9-3-4, 18 GF – 9 GA).
The Impact has however not won in its four matches against the Islanders (0-3-1). Montreal has lost twice against the Islanders earlier this season: 3-2 in Bayamon, May 2, and 1-0 in Montreal, July 19.
«Puerto Rico is going to be a good challenge for us,» said midfielder David Testo. «We’ll have to show a lot of character because it’s a tough environment to play in. To get a good result, we have to stay compact the full 90 minutes. They’re a dangerous team to play against but we need to focus on what we do.»
For a second consecutive year, the Islanders qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League group phase. In the preliminary round, Puerto Rico shut out the Canadian champions, Toronto FC, 1-0 on aggregate goals, on a home-and-away series, July 29 and August 4.
«The Islanders proved once again that they’re a very good team, following their performance in the Champions League, added Testo. «It’s established now in North America that Puerto Rico has a great team.»
Midfielder Leighton O’Brien, who joined the team Monday, will travel to Puerto Rico.
Nevio Pizzolitto and Roberto Brown, who each received a fifth caution in the last match against the Thunder, will be available against the Islanders. They will each serve an automatic one-game suspension against Cleveland, August 18. Pizzolitto however has not made the trip for personal reasons.
Simon Gatti, who was issued a fifth caution this season in the match against the Timbers, will also serve a one-game suspension next week, probably against Austin.
– In their last match, which was played at home on August 8, the Islanders shut out Miami FC 4-0.
– At home, head coach Colin Clarke’s squad has only lost once in 11 matches (7-1-3) and leads the league with 21 goals scored.
– Goalkeeper Bill Gaudette still leads the league in minutes played (1980), wins (10) and saves (91), in 22 matches played this season.
– Defender Cristian Arrieta is currently the Islanders points leader with eight goals and three assists, for 19 points, in 22 matches.
– Tuesday, August 18 – IMPACT @ Cleveland – Middlefield Cheese Stadium -7 pm (USLlive.com)
– Sunday, August 23 – Austin @ IMPACT – Saputo Stadium – 3:30 pm (Radio-Canada, FSW, CKAC Sports, THE TEAM 990)
– Sunday, August 30 – Carolina @ IMPACT – Saputo Stadium – 3:30 pm (Radio-Canada, FSW, CKAC Sports, THE TEAM 990)
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