Montreal Impact want better finishing against Columbus Crew
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MONTREAL - Same game, better result.
That was the mantra of the Montreal Impact heading into their match Saturday night against the visiting Columbus Crew.
Last week, the Impact (5-7-3) dominated everywhere except the scoreboard in a 2-1 loss at home to New York City on a pair of sweet goals from Spanish star David Villa.
They hope the same effort with some better finishing at the net will produce a win over Columbus (6-6-6).
"We dominated from start to finish," defender Laurent Ciman said Friday of the New York setback, which ended a four-game home winning streak. "Unfortunately, they got two chances, two goals.
"It's too bad, but we played well and we have to keep that going."
The Impact see it as an instance where the best team on the night didn't get the victory, but the same could be said of their game at Columbus on June 6. Montreal ended a 25-game road winless run that night with a 2-1 victory despite being outshot and mostly out-played by the Crew.
It was the Crew's last defeat. They have two wins and a pair of draws in their last four games, with forward Kai Kamara stretching his MLS-leading goals total to 12.
"Sometimes the game is not fair," said coach Frank Klopas. "During a year, I'm sure there are times you win games you don't deserve to win, but the important thing is we played well."
Both Impact goalscorers in Columbus, Maxim Tissot and Andres Romero, will miss the rematch. Tissot is away with Canada's national team while Romero is suspended one game for yellow card accumulation.
It leaves Montreal, already missing Eric Alexander and Justin Mapp to injuries, thin on outside midfielders.
The Impact's lone goal last week came from Ignacio Piatti on a penalty, despite outshooting New York 25-5, including 10-3 in shots on target. Chance after chance was wasted, leaving doubt about the team's confidence around the goal.
That was another message in training this week: don't let the missed chances get in your head.
"We have to have confidence," said Klopas, a forward in his playing days. "A striker can't be thinking about missing an opportunity.
"You always have to be looking at the next play. Even if you miss five times, you have to have the confidence that the next one will go in. That's what we've been stressing."
Much of that responsibility falls on Jack McInerney, who generally plays as the lone forward in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
"The hardest thing is creating opportunities and we had plenty of those," said McInerney. "We have to continue the same stuff.
"We played some really good soccer. Sometimes the ball just rolls that way. If we play the same way we're going to win nine out of 10 games against anyone in this league."
The Impact have only one win in their last five, to fall to ninth place in the 10-team Eastern Conference.
But with only 15 games played, they still have games in hand on their rivals, and the east is especially weak this season. Columbus is tied for second place with 24 points, only six more than Montreal with three more games played.
"I don't think there's any concern," said McInerney. " There are plenty of games left.
"We have a good opportunity this weekend, a winnable game at home. Since we lost last week we have to take care of it."
Klopas said Mapp, Alexander and fullback Hassoun Camara are getting close to returning. Mapp is to undergo tests on a dislocated elbow early next week. He said they may need some games with the reserve team to get their rhythm back.