Montreal ready for defending MLS champion L.A.May 11, 2012 - 10:21 PM Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - The Montreal Impact have bucked the expansion label over their last five games, and can take another step toward a positive debut season Saturday when the Los Angeles Galaxy visit Olympic Stadium.
In their first season in Major League Soccer, the Impact were winless through their first five matches, but a win over Toronto FC in early April started an impressive run that most recently produced a win at Sporting Kansas City.
Montreal (3-5-2) debuted in front 58,912 fans in March at Olympic Stadium, its second home, and could reach 60,000 for the arrival of David Beckham and L.A.
"The last time we had 60,000 was like the coming-out party of our team," said Impact coach Jesse Marsch said. "Now I think our team's moved along more, and it's a more accurate representation of who we are.
"I expect us to be sharp and ready to go."
While Montreal has turned its fortunes around in MLS, it was eliminated in the Canadian Championship on Wednesday by Toronto FC - which is without a win this season in league play.
"We lost, but now that we're out of the Cup, we have to move on," said Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier said. "MLS is all that's left for us.
"We have to concentrate on the next game, and we're lucky it's coming fast. We can switch things around right away."
Marsch said it was a disappointment to lose to Toronto, but also realized the only solution was to turn the page.
"We don't have a lot of time to rest," Marsch said, looking ahead to the Los Angeles Galaxy, "we've got a big game coming up this weekend and we gotta keep pushing forward."
Montreal has accumulated one more point so far this year, although it has one more match played than L.A.. It has not allowed a goal in more than two league matches and has a streak of 198 minutes without a goal allowed.
L.A. (3-5-1) will try to solve former goalie Donovan Ricketts, now the starter for Montreal. The Galaxy on the other hand have yet to post a shutout all year after having 17 last season, which tied an MLS record.
"It's just the mentality ... we need to get back to being a blue-collar team that worked hard and had a defensive mentality first," said L.A. fullback Todd Dunivant. "That doesn't mean we have to sit back and defend, but it means when we lose the ball we're working hard to get after it and backing up the guy next to you.
"Little things have consistently cost us games."
In addition to its woes defensively, L.A. has not scored in its last two games - something that was not expected with Beckham, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Edson Buddle and Juninho all on board.
"It is a bit of a broken record. Even giving up a goal, we had enough chances to create a couple goals in the game," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said after a 1-0 loss to Red Bull New York last week.
"Throughout 90 minutes there were certainly enough chances to get ourselves back in that game. At least get a point or perhaps win the game. It's no one's fault. We have the ball at the feet of our best players. Someone has to make the plays when they're there. We didn't make the plays."
L.A. has lost consecutive matches, something it did not do all of last season. But with a lot of season ahead, there is still plenty of time for the 2011 MLS Cup champions to get on track.
"At this point we're 3-5-1. I wouldn't say we took a step back (last week). We could have won this game. We should have won the last two games at home," said Arena.
"We have to put the ball in the back of the net. It comes down to finishing. Having said that, we've done a better job defensively. I think at home we're more than capable of getting a goal or two and we have no one to blame but ourselves."
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