MONTREAL — With back-to-back home wins under their belt, the Montreal Impact now want to prove they can be successful away from Saputo Stadium.
The Impact will look to record their first away victory in MLS in their last 25 road games when they take on the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park on Saturday.
“Playing on the road is always difficult,” said defender Bakary Soumare, who spent the bulk of his MLS career with the Fire. “Admittedly, it’s more difficult for us than for other teams. But away wins are definitely our priority.
“To make the playoffs in this league, you need to get points away from home.”
Montreal is 0-18-7 in MLS road games dating back to Sept. 8, 2013, when Patrice Bernier and Marco Di Vaio each scored twice to beat 10-man New England. Since that victory, the Impact have been outscored 46-16 away from home.
“It was difficult last year, but we have different qualities in our players and a different team this year,” head coach Frank Klopas said. “That also helps from a confidence standpoint.”
This season, the Impact are 0-2-1 as the visitor, failing to score in all three games. Starting with Chicago on Saturday, five of Montreal’s next seven games are on the road.
“The travel requirements are a lot more than any other league,” said goalkeeper Evan Bush before practice on Friday. “We’re flying across the country — it’s not charter flights. A lot of those things, combined with a lot of parity in the league, it’s going to be hard to get results on the road.”
But with two straight wins and a newfound scoring touch, Klopas’ men are brimming with optimism.
Montreal (2-3-2) convincingly thumped Real Salt Lake 4-1 at home two weeks ago, and the club held on for a 2-1 victory over FC Dallas last Saturday. After scoring just three goals in their first five matches, the Impact have six in their last two.
“We feel like we’re in a good way right now,” said Bush, who’s 1-0-1 versus Chicago in his career. “In this league, you have to take advantage of the times when you’re in good form. We’re going to go into this week with a lot of confidence.”
Sitting in eighth in the Eastern Conference, the Fire (3-5-2) are winless in their last four matches.
The team’s high-profile off-season signings — namely designated players Shaun Maloney and Kennedy Igboananike — have failed to produce offensively. The Scot and Nigerian have combined for just one goal so far this season.
With three goals, Chicago’s leading scorer is centre back Jeff Larentowicz. Speedy winger David Accam, also acquired this winter as the team’s third designated player, has scored twice.
Absent from the Fire lineup will be former league MVP Mike Magee, who underwent hip surgery last September. Though he has recently begun training with the club, Magee will not see any action versus the Impact.
Notes: Right back Eric Miller (hamstring) will not play. He should be match fit next week. … The Impact have four former Fire players: Soumare, Dilly Duka, Justin Mapp and Dominic Oduro. Klopas coached Chicago from 2011 to 2013. … Defender Ambroise Oyongo was selected to the Cameroonian national squad. The 23-year-old will miss two MLS matches in June as a result.
Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press