MLS Preview: Montreal Impact vs. Chicago Fire
By Nick Webster
Following a bye week in MLS action, the Montreal Impact (4-1-1) will be playing the second of six games in just 18 days, this Saturday at 4pm ET, when it hosts the Chicago Fire (2-4-1) at Stade Saputo. The game will be broadcast live on TSN, RDS and NBC Sports Network, along with CJAD 800 on the radio. You can get live updates using the Impact mobile app or by following @impactmontreal on twitter.
Two weeks ago, the Impact played the Columbus Crew to a 1-1 draw in its first match of the season at Stade Saputo. DP Marco Di Vaio scored his third goal in as many home games this season.
The Impact is undefeated at home in 2013 (2-0-1), continuing its strong play from last season where the team compiled one of the best home records in MLS (10-4-3). The Impact has never played to consecutive draws at home.
Midfielder Justin Mapp played eight seasons with the Fire, from 2003 to 2010, scoring 14 goals in 174 games. He also helped the team win the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2003 and 2006.
Davy Arnaud has three career goals versus the Fire, one with the Impact in the first MLS game in Montreal on March 17, while Di Vaio scored one.
Despite falling to second place in the Eastern Conference tied with the Houston Dynamo at 13 points), the Impact has a game in hand on the Dynamo and two on conference leading Sporting Kansas City (14pts).
Defender Matteo Ferrari will miss the game with a calf strain that will keep him out of action, while Andrea Pisanu returned to the lineup against Toronto FC on Wednesday, making his first appearance in three games due to a similar ailment.
Recently acquired forward Daniele Paponi made his first appearance for the club on Wednesday versus TFC, coming on as a substitute in the 60th minute.
Defender Alessandro Nesta, forward Marco Di Vaio and team captain Davy Arnaud could return to the starting lineup tomorrow.
Head to head
This is the first of three regular season games between these teams in 2013.
The Impact and the Chicago Fire played on two occasions in 2012. The Impact first tied the Fire 1-1 in its first ever home game in MLS, in front of 58,912 supporters at Olympic Stadium. Team captain Davy Arnaud scored the first ever goal for the club in MLS. The Impact then lost the second matchup 3-1 at Toyota Park on September 15.
Chicago Fire news
The Fire is coming off of a 1-0 shutout victory at home over the Columbus Crew last Saturday. Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz scored the game winning goal late in the game.
The seventh seed in the Eastern Conference has had a bit of a roller coaster start to 2013. The team from the windy city managed wins versus San Jose on the road 1-0 and the Houston Dynamo at home 3-2, but then put in some counter performances, getting hammered by the LA Galaxy 4-0 at Home Depot Center before losing at home at Toyota Park 4-1 by Chivas USA.
The team is tied for the most goals against in the entire league at 12, all while struggling to score, averaging less than a goal per game with six goals in seven matches.
In the offseason, the team lost midfielders Alvaro Fernandez (on loan to Al-Rayyan SC in Qatar) and Pavel Pardo (retirement), along with forward Dominic Oduro (trade to Columbus). Trying to fill the holes in its roster, the Fire acquired forward Maicon Santos, who leads the team with just two goals scored, through the waiver draft from D.C. United and then made trades to bring in midfielders Jeff Larentowicz (1G, 1A) and Joel Lindpere from the New York Red Bulls.
Daniel Paladini leads the team with three assists, while forward Chris Rolfe is first in shots with 17 so far this season.
German World Cup veteran Arne Friedrich is still recovering from an injury that has sidelined the defender since the start of the 2013 season, while defender Wells Thompson will miss Saturday's game due to a one-game suspension following a reckless challenge on Columbus midfielder Agustín Viana.