MONTREAL – A pair of teams entrenched in the Eastern Conference playoff race will go head-to-head on Saturday afternoon at Stade Saputo when the New England Revolution visits the Montreal Impact.
The Revs (11-11-9, 42 pts.) enter the weekend three points back of the final playoff spot in the East, currently occupied by the Philadelphia Union (12-10-9, 45 pts.), while the Impact (13-10-7, 46 pts.) is perched just one point ahead of Philly in fourth place.
An afternoon kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m., with regional coverage on both Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub’s HD2 channel.
Current Form: Revs desperate for points with three games remaining; Impact clings to fourth
Late goals from Lee Nguyen and Diego Fagundez put the shorthanded Revs in position to claim three massive points last weekend at Red Bull Arena, but a controversial finish was capped with Tim Cahill’s 97th-minute equalizer and the visitors were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw.
While the Revs returned to Foxborough with a single point, playoff rivals Chicago, Philadelphia and Houston all secured victories last weekend, putting even more weight on Saturday’s trip to Montreal.
“It’s a huge game,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “We keep bringing it up because it’s true. Unfortunately, we’ve left points on the table. Now we’re really in a situation where we have to go to Montreal and get points, simple as that.”
Montreal, once a frontrunner for the Supporters’ Shield, now finds itself in the midst of the frantic playoff battle in the East following a four-game winless run (0-3-1). Particularly surprising has been the Impact’s recent home form, having lost its last two home matches after starting the season 9-1-3 at Stade Saputo.
Past Meetings: Early red card marred September meeting at Gillette Stadium
These sides met just five weeks ago at Gillette Stadium, but the game was altered in the fifth minute when Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis was sent off after tripping up Impact forward Marco Di Vaio. Montreal went on to convert two first-half penalty kicks and the 10-man Revs – despite outshooting the Impact – weren’t able to make up the deficit in an eventual 4-2 loss.
“I think there are some different components to the match. Hopefully we’ll have 11 men for a little bit longer,” joked Heaps. “I think the elements of this game are different. The intensity’s higher because both teams are playing for points.”
While this is the Revolution’s first visit to Stade Saputo this season, the club did pick up three points in one of its two trips to Quebec in 2012. Center back A.J. Soares nodded home a Chris Tierney free kick in the dying stages to earn the Revs a 1-0 victory in last year’s season finale.
Injury Report: Farrell good to go after suffering facial contusion; Impact facing injury concerns
The collision which forced Andrew Farrell off the field late in last weekend’s draw with the Red Bulls left the rookie right back with a nasty contusion around his right eye, but the swelling has since subsided and he’ll be available for Saturday afternoon’s meeting with the Impact.
Montreal’s official injury report lists three players as out – defenders Nelson Rivas (L knee) and Adrian Lopez (R knee), and midfielder Maximiliano Rodriguez (foot fracture) – and none as questionable, but reports out of Canada tell a different story.
Left back Jeb Brovsky, who has appeared in all 30 games this season, has been ruled out with a broken toe, while Di Vaio, Patrice Bernier, Justin Mapp and Daniele Paponi were all limited in training this week while dealing with various ailments.
While the status of that quartet remains up in the air, Montreal will most definitely be without the services of right back Hassoun Camara, who will serve a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation.
The Revs will also be missing one player through suspension – Andy Dorman, after being red-carded last weekend at Red Bull Arena – while Jerry Bengtson is unavailable while on international duty with Honduras.
Final Thoughts: Nothing comes easy with playoff spots on the line
“It’s tough; Montreal’s also fighting to stay in playoff position,” noted Nguyen. “They just lost the last game, so they need a win as well. Teams are pushing. Philly, Columbus, Chicago; they’re all behind us, or we’re behind them, all pushing for a playoff spot. So every game now is huge for both teams.”