The Montreal Impact are in the mix for the Eastern Conference’s top playoff seed, in large part due to their explosive scoring attack.
Stingy defense is the main reason the New England Revolution still maintain their postseason hopes.
MLS leading scorer Marco Di Vaio looks to help Montreal end a six-game road winless streak Sunday night against New England, which is in the midst of a three-match unbeaten stretch.
Montreal (12-7-6), battling for first place in a crowded East race, ranks among the best in the league with 41 goals - 15 coming from Di Vaio.
The forward scored twice in wins over D.C. on Aug. 17 and Houston on Aug. 24 before Montreal’s scoreless draw with Philadelphia on Aug. 31.
New England is well aware it needs to contain Di Vaio, who had a goal disallowed in his last contest after being ruled offside.
“He’s the leading goal scorer and for me, one of the best strikers in the league,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “He just always has a knack and an ability to find a little bit of space. When he does, he’s clinical. They know how to get him the ball where he’s going to be dangerous.”
New England, which has allowed a league-low 25 goals, held the 37-year-old Di Vaio scoreless in three matches last season.
“They have a player who can score at any time,” defender Jose Goncalves said. “We just need to be focused and play our game like we have in the last few weeks. We’re getting more confidence toward the end of the season and that’s what we need to have.”
The Revolution (10-9-7) are five points behind Montreal and are battling Houston and Chicago for the East’s fifth and final playoff spot. They won two straight before a 1-all draw with Toronto on Aug. 30, as Kelyn Rowe assisted on Diego Fagundez’s goal in the second minute.
“I think we deserved a point in the game,” Heaps said. “We didn’t deserve all three in terms of how we played.”
Rowe had three goals over the previous two victories, and he’ll look to help solve Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins, who has recorded eight shutouts on the season - one shy of his career best set in 2011 with Portland.
“His preparation and approach are excellent,” Montreal assistant coach Mauro Biello said of Perkins. “Two days before a game, he’s already in his zone, thinking extensively about his game and watching lots of footage. He’s ready for anything.”
Perkins lauded the team’s recent last effort against Philadelphia, but the Impact still fell to 0-4-2 over their last six road contests as they matched their point total from last season, the franchise’s inaugural campaign in MLS..
“The last (six) games on the road were really hectic for us,” Perkins said. “We were solid defensively and this is a great building block to move forward.”
Montreal, though, will be without midfielder Hernan Bernardello for the next four to six weeks after he suffered a sprained left ankle against Philadelphia.
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