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Impact Reach for The Top

Consecutive wins for the first time this season, will see Montreal join DCU at the top, at least momentarily.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Montreal Impact
Daniel Lovitz scores the 91st minute winning goal in this fixture last season
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal Impact are back home again and will be hoping to consolidate the only 100% home record in the East.

True, they’ve played only one game at Stade Saputo so far this season, but confidence gained from a decent points haul after 8 road games suggests they can make it 2-0-0 at home. There’s also the not so small matter of an unbeaten home record stretching back 7 matches now as well, as IMFC attempts to turn their base into a fortress.

Chicago has not had the best of starts, and has not yet won on the road, however Fire have been involved in three tight games against good opposition. They lost narrowly at LA Galaxy and New York City FC and on their only previous visit north of the border so far this season, actually led late in the game before tying 2-2 with Toronto FC.

The Impact has a good MLS record at home to Chicago (6-2-2), although those two defeats have come in Chicago’s last four visits.

Chicago have some injury woes with former Impact player Raheem Edwards and Fabian Herbers set to miss today’s game with knee and groin injuries respectively. There are further doubts around Przemyslaw Frankowski, Jorge Corrales and perhaps most significantly, DP, Aleksander Katai.

For Montreal, the only injuries are those already well-documented, to Ken Krolicki and Ignacio Piatti, who it’s rumoured may make the bench. Nacho trained with the squad, Friday, whereas previously his work-outs have been more isolated.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Montreal Impact
Missing for the last six games, Impact fans will be hoping there’s at least a place on the bench for Nacho Piatti.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Last year Daniel Lovitz, with his first Impact goal, won the game here between the teams with a goal in the dying seconds. And Montreal’s American is quietly confident again.

“Chicago is a dangerous team that has good attacking pieces. It will depend on what they want to do on the road, but we are focused on this game. We respect them and we know they are a good team, but we see ourselves in the same light. We will control what we can control and we will ready to host this team at home.”

Saphir Taider and Harry Novillo, each carrying knocks, were left out of the midweek trip to New England, but both are expected to be fit to face Chicago.

Fire coach, Veljko Paunovic, sent-off during the midweek defeat to NYCFC, will not be on the bench for the Chicagoans, but he will be relying on strikers CJ Sapong and Nemanja Nikolic to make things difficult for the Impact.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Montreal Impact
Taider and Mihailovic in action during last year’s tussle which Impact won 2-1
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Their new designated player, the Argentinian international, Nicolas Gaitan, formerly of Benfica and Atletico Madrid, has already collected two assists in his four games to date. Keeping Gaitan quiet is likely the challenge that will be thrown down to Samuel Piette, who will be playing his 49th consecutive game (all comps) for the Impact. Piette was effective in keeping tabs on Carles Gil in New England, and more of the same will be required today.

Former German international and World Cup winner Bastien Schweinsteiger should start in the middle of the back four.

Three points will haul Montreal level at the top of the Eastern Conference with DC United, who don’t kick-off until one hour later at Minnesota. Chicago are below the play-off line currently with 9 points from 8 games played.

Line-Ups -

IMFC - Bush - Sagna, Raitala, Diallo, Lovitz - Piette, Azira, Taider - Okwonkwo, Urruti, Novillo.
Chicago - Ousted - Kappelhof, Marcelo, Schweinsteiger, Gutjahr - Adams, McCarty - Sapong, Mihailovic, Gaetan - Nikolic

Referee: Rubiel Vazquez

Assistant Referees: Andrew Bigelow, Matthew Nelson

4th Official: Mark Allatin

VAR: Caleb Mendez