Minnesota goes for third straight win vs. replenished Montreal
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Minnesota United will try for its third win over the span of eight days on Saturday night when it visits the Montreal Impact.
The Loons, who enter the weekend in a fifth-place tie with the Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference -- two points behind FC Dallas and the Seattle Sounders, who are tied for third -- have won two in a row starting with a 7-1 home win vs. FC Cincinnati last Saturday. Minnesota (8-7-3, 27 points) followed that up with a hard-fought 3-1 home win over San Jose on Wednesday night, snapping the Quakes' six-game unbeaten streak in the process.
"I thought it was an incredible effort from the group against a really good team," Minnesota coach Adrian Heath told twincities.com after the win over San Jose. "They are difficult to deal with, as their results of late have proved."
The Loons won despite being outshot, 27-13, by the Earthquakes including 8-4 in shots on the goal. The physical contest featured seven yellow cards.
"As you get later in the year, it gets more intense," defender Ike Opara said. "Teams are fighting for positions in playoffs or fighting to get in the playoffs."
Montreal (9-8-3, 30 points) comes in off a 2-1 loss at defending MLS Cup champion Atlanta United last Saturday. The Impact are in third place in the Eastern Conference, five points behind first-place Philadelphia and just a point behind second-place D.C. United.
Montreal, which is 5-2-1 at Stade Saputo, hasn't lost two consecutive games this season. The Impact will also be getting most of their players back from international duty except midfielder Michael Azira, who remains with Uganda playing in the Africa Cup of Nations, and defender Daniel Lovitz, who is playing with the U.S. in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
"It's going to feel good," defender Bacary Sagna told mlssoccer.com. "Extremely important reinforcements have returned, players who bring a lot to the team. It's going to do us good and it'll increase the competition between ourselves. We know everyone in this team can play and that you need to perform to keep your spot. For the team, it's great."
"All the hardships and the adversity that we've been through, I think it'll pay off in the end," goalie Evan Bush added. "A lot of guys got minutes they might not have had if everyone was here. We now have guys that are comfortable in those situations and I'm sure it'll benefit us moving forward."