Sports

Montreal Impact look for win against Seattle Sounders

MONTREAL - The Seattle Sounders may be depleted, but their opponents know they cannot be underestimated.

The Montreal Impact host Seattle on Saturday in both team's last league match before the MLS all-star break.

The Sounders could be without five pivotal players — including U.S. international Clint Dempsey. Forward Marco Pappa, goalkeeper Stefan Frei, midfielder Obafemi Martins and central defender Brad Evans will likely also be absent.

"They're missing some key players and that's a good thing for us," said Montreal's Calum Mallace after training on Thursday. "We're not going to take it for granted. They have a very deep team and a very good team all the way through. We're not going to expect an easy one.

"They've been struggling, so it's a good time to catch them."

Dempsey and Evans are competing for the United States at the Gold Cup. Though beaten in the semifinals by Jamaica, the Americans play their third-place match versus Panama on Saturday. Dempsey is Seattle's biggest offensive threat this year with seven goals and six assists.

Frei (shoulder) and Martins (groin) are both injured and trained with the Sounders this week, but will likely miss Saturday's match.

Seattle will also be without the dynamic Pappa, who has two goals and five assists this season. The Guatemalan was suspended indefinitely by MLS for breaching the league's substance abuse program after being arrested for drunk driving.

"They might be missing a couple of key guys, but it's still a team with a lot of quality," said head coach Frank Klopas. "It's still a team that has experienced players.

"They're a good team and they're under pressure."

After starting out the season strong, Seattle (10-9-2) has since dropped five of its last six MLS matches, slipping to fifth in the Western Conference. The Sounders, who have also lost their last four on the road, are the league's worst team over the last five weeks (tied with New England).

The losses are piling up for Seattle because the club is having trouble finding the back of the net. Sigi Schmid's men have scored just twice in their last six games and haven't scored in 182 minutes of play.

"They're slumping right now," said Impact defender Donny Toia. "But that just means they'll be coming out hard, wanting to win. We have to come out just as hard."

Montreal (6-8-3) has been comparably lacklustre of late, having won just once in its last five games — at home against Columbus two weeks ago. The Impact are eighth in the Eastern Conference, three points out of a playoff spot with a few games in hand.

But it's a different story for Klopas and his team at Saputo Stadium. Montreal has won five of its last six on home soil, and has scored at least one goal in 20 consecutive home games in all competitions.

With the injury to Frei, former Impact player Troy Perkins will likely be Seattle's starting 'keeper on Saturday. Perkins, who played 63 games for Montreal over the course of three seasons, knows how dangerous the Impact are on home soil.

"At home they're a different team," Perkins told the team's website this week. "They're a completely different group of people. They've been playing well at home. They're going to come out flying and fighting."

Notes: This is the only meeting between the two clubs this year. … Newly-acquired midfielder Kyle Bekker could make his Impact debut. … Montreal is 3-3-0 versus Western Conference opponents this season. … The MLS all-star Game, which pits MLS players against England's Tottenham Hotspur, is July 29 in Denver. Montreal's Laurent Ciman will be on the roster for the MLS.

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