Desperate for a win, Montreal Impact head to Colorado mountains

Desperate for a win, Montreal Impact head to Colorado mountains

Main pic: Laurent Ciman of Canada’s Montreal Impact, left, competes for the ball with Michael Arroyo of Mexico’s America, center, and Hassoun Camara of Canada’s Montreal Impact during a CONCACAF Champions league match in Mexico City, Wednesday, April 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP,Christian Palma).

MONTREAL — When there was still snow on the ground in Montreal last winter, the Impact were training at high altitude in Mexico during an unexpected run to the CONCACAF Champions League final.

Unfortunately for them, too much time has passed for that adjustment to thin air to help them as they head up the Rockies to face the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.

“It’s been a really long time,” forward Dominic Oduro said this week. “That edge is out of us now.

“It’s going to be a whole different chapter. But every team goes out there to play in that altitude so you can’t make any excuses. We have to be one of the teams that goes out there and gets a result.”

The Impact have never taken a point against the Rapids, going 0−3−0 since joining Major League Soccer in 2012. They have lost both meetings at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, including a 4−1 setback last season.

But if they are ever going to beat Colorado, now is the time.

The Impact (12−13−6) are clinging to the sixth and final Eastern Conference playoff position, only one point ahead of Orlando with a game in hand. A win would eliminate New York City, which is five points back, and put Orlando in deep trouble with only two regular season games to play.

The Rapids (8−13−10) are last in the Western Conference and are winless in five games. They were officially eliminated with a 2−1 loss to Salt Lake last weekend.

“We control our own destiny,” said Oduro. “You win, you’re in, pretty much.

“So it’s up to us to make it happen. We have that chance.”

The Impact have made it hard on themselves.

The game in Colorado will be their third on the road in eight days, following a crushing 2−1 loss at Orlando, when they could have clinched a playoff spot but instead let the Lions back in the race, and a 2−1 loss to the first−place New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night.

The Impact came out flat against New York and right back Ambroise Oyongo was expelled for a hand ball 15 minutes in, leaving Montreal with 10 men the rest of the way.

It was Didier Drogba who kept it close, playing mind games that contributed to Sasha Kljestan missing a second Red Bulls penalty and then scoring himself from the spot in the 68th minute to give the Impact some hope.

It was the former Chelsea striker’s eighth goal in as many MLS games, tying him for the team lead with Oduro and Ignacio Piatti.

“You never know when designated players come in, there are always skeptics and people talk about age, but he shown he’s come here for the right reasons and he’s part of the group,” Impact captain Patrice Bernier said of Drogba. “He wants to push this team to go as far as it can.”

Piatti was held out of the New York game because he hadn’t enough time to adjust after returning from attending to a family matter in Argentina.

His chemistry with Drogba could be crucial against Colorado. And his compatriot, midfielder Andres Romero, should also see action after sitting out a game.

Oyongo (Cameroon) and midfielder Johan Vengas (Costa Rico) are away on international duty, as are defender Wandrille Lefevre and midfielder Maxim Tissot with Canada.

There was a scare in the 71st minute when it appeared defender Laurent Ciman was shown the yellow card, which would have brought a suspension. But the caution was for Bernier.

The Impact play a fourth straight road game Oct. 17 in New England.

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

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