MONTREAL – A full house is expected at Saputo Stadium and coach Mauro Biello wants show the 20,801 fans that the Montreal Impact are still a force on home turf.
That hasn’t been the case lately, with a 0-2-1 record in their last three home games. That includes an embarrassing 4-1 setback against Orlando in their last home fixture Aug. 27.
The fifth-place Impact (9-8-11) will try again Saturday night against the seventh-place New England Revolution (8-12-9).
“We want to bounce back at home, get back our rhythm and confidence back at home so that it’s difficult for teams to come in here,” Biello said Friday. “We want to re-establish that dominance we once had at home.”
There will be factors in Montreal’s favour, including a 3-0-2 record in their last five meetings with New England. The Revolution will be playing a third game in eight days, including a 3-1 win at home last Saturday followed by a 4-2 loss to Dallas in the U.S. Open Cup final Tuesday night.
And the Impact can draw on its comeback 3-2 win over New England at home in July. Impact-killer Kai Kamara spotted the Revolution a 2-0 lead inside 33 minutes only to see Michael Salazar tie it with a pair of goals before Ignacio Piatti’s winner from the penalty spot.
Montreal’s recent troubles stem mainly from an anaemic attack that has scored only seven times in its last eight games. The last time the Impact scored more than one goal in a game was a 5-1 win July 23 over Philadelphia.
Biello feels his attack is overdue.
“I would say we were a bit unlucky,” he said. “Even the game against Orlando, we could have scored five goals.
“Throughout the year, we’ve been able to score. Now is a bit of a soft period, but as long as the chances are there, eventually the luck will turn for us and we’ll get that confidence back and go from there.”
The Impact is coming off a 1-1 draw in Philadelphia on Matteo Mancuso’s 88th-minute equalizer, which left them 1-3-2 overall in the last six games. The dry spell compromised Montreal’s chances of taking one of the top two spots in the Eastern Conference but the club remains in a playoff position with six regular-season games to go.
With goalkeeper Evan Bush back from a one-game suspension, Biello has almost a full squad to chose from and the question now is whether he’ll decide on a set starting 11 and ride them the rest of the way. Between injuries and players leaving for national team duty, the first 11 has been in flux for most of the campaign.
“We’ve got a lot of guys healthy now who think they deserve to be playing,” said midfielder Harry Shipp, one of those returning from injury. “It’s a week-by-week thing, battling in practice to see who is playing the best.
“I think you want some consistency in who’s playing. It would help. But now I think it’s tough with the results we’ve had. We haven’t strung together good enough results to justify keeping the same people on every game.”
Biello has been taking steps in that direction.
Hassoun Camara looks to have settled in at centre back beside Laurent Ciman, with Ambroise Oyongo and Donny Toia as the fullbacks. Hernan Bernardello and Marco Donadel look to be the holding midfielders.
Piatti is a fixture in the attack, usually on the left side, with Didier Drogba at striker. Mancosu started up front in Philadelphia, but Biello said that was a matter of managing 38-year-old Drogba’s minutes.
“We’re always tinkering a bit with the lineup, but I think you’re starting to see that certain elements are being put into place,” said Biello. “It’s a process.
“You want to go with the lineup that gives you the best chance of winning.”