Major League Soccer

Fire-Impact Preview

Looking to build on the type of victory that can kick-start a season, the Montreal Impact play just their second home match of the season Sunday when they host the Chicago Fire.

Montreal (4-3-2) regrouped from last weekend's 3-0 loss at Philadelphia by reversing that scoreline Wednesday at New England. Due to travel difficulties, the Impact did not arrive in the Boston area until the day of the match and did not reach Gillette Stadium until four hours before kickoff.

They also were playing without top playmakers Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taider through injury, but their absences barely registered as a starting XI that had five changes from the loss to the Union took the match to the Revolution. Shamit Shome snapped a scoreless deadlock in the 79th minute before substitute Anthony Jackson-Hamel added a brace in an eight-minute span to secure the three points.

"We caused problems because we were very aggressive on whoever was in possession," coach Remi Garde told the Impact's official website. "We were disciplined and rigorous defensively, as we usually are, but we put more intensity into our runs. The speed up front with Orji 1/8Okwonkwo 3/8, Maxi 1/8Urruti 3/8, and Clément 1/8Bayiha 3/8 really hurt them. We had a game plan and it worked out. We should be very happy, but not for too long because we need to do it all again this Sunday."

Sunday's match kicks off Montreal's first stretch of back-to-back home games this season after surviving a gauntlet that had the Impact on the road for eight of their first nine matches. Wednesday's victory was also their fourth shutout in five matches, and 10 of the 14 goals they have conceded came in two of their three losses.

The Fire (2-3-3) were thwarted in their bid for back-to-back wins for the first time this season, and a four-match unbeaten streak also ended with a 1-0 defeat at New York City FC on Wednesday as a ninth-minute defensive breakdown led to the match's lone goal.

Chicago failed on all fronts to break down NYCFC as none of its six shots failed to register on target, with Djordje Mihailovic's 20-yard effort wide of the left post in the first half its best scoring chance. Fire keeper David Ousted kept the scoreline respectable by denying a penalty attempt from Max Moralez in second-half stoppage time.

Fire coach Veljko Paunovic might not be on the touchline for this match after he was ejected by referee Robert Sigiba in the second half Wednesday.

"I just want to clarify on the situation on my sending off, on my red card," he said post-match. "All that I'm saying to the referee is that their player has touched the ball when he called offside and that's all. I don't think that anywhere in the world that is something that somebody should be sent off for. I don't think that there is any disrespect. I did not use any disrespectful language."

The home team won both matches last year, with Montreal emerging with a 2-1 win in the most recent matchup on a stoppage-time goal by Daniel Lovitz. Piatti gave the Impact a 1-0 lead on a sixth-minute penalty before Nemanja Nikolic pulled Chicago level on 70 minutes.

Updated April 26, 2019

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