FC Dallas-Impact Preview

The Associated Press

The Montreal Impact have lost the Eastern Conference lead, and it now appears they've lost leading scorer Marco Di Vaio.

FC Dallas has its own offensive concerns.

Montreal and Dallas each try to end their longest winless stretches of the season Saturday night in their first matchup in Quebec.

Leading the East with 31 points heading into last Saturday's game at New York, the Impact (9-5-4) fell out of that spot with a 4-0 loss and a victory by Sporting Kansas City, which now has a conference-best 33 points.

Montreal, tied with New York with 31 points, has two games in hand on the Red Bulls and KC, but there are plenty of concerns for a team that's given up 12 goals during an 0-2-2 skid and scored once in its last two games.

"We need to get collectively better,'' midfielder Justin Mapp said after the most lopsided defeat in the Impact's brief MLS history. "We have to do whatever it takes to score goals. It's been a problem of late. But we have two home games coming up and we play well at home."

Montreal was 6-0-1 at home before being held to one point in its last two.

The Impact have plenty to shore up on defense, but there will be a major offensive hole to fill if Di Vaio can't play after returning to Italy this week to tend to a family issue. The All-Star striker leads MLS with 25 shots on goal and is tied for second with 11 goals.

"Whenever you lose a player like that, it's only normal that it affects everyone around," Impact sporting director Nick De Santis told the team's official website. "It's another opportunity for someone else to step in."

It's possible coach Marco Schallibaum could move Daniele Paponi into that spot alongside fellow striker Andrew Wenger.

Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman needs to find some combination that works as his team has been shut out in three straight after last Saturday's 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake. FC Dallas (8-5-7) is 0-3-4 since being atop the MLS standings May 25.

"So for us, I think it's time to make some changes," Hyndman said.

Leading scorer Blas Perez (international duty) won't be able to help, but the expected return of defender George John, who hasn't played in nearly a month due to a hamstring injury, could shore up a backline that's surrendered two or more goals four times in five matches.

"When you look at our back four, Jair (Benitez) is not vocal, Matt (Hedges) is not vocal and Zach (Loyd) is not vocal," Hyndman told Dallas' official website. "(John) comes in and coordinates everybody together and some people thrive off of that and ... play better because of (the leadership)."

All-Star keeper Raul Fernandez has made 25 of his 71 saves - second-most in MLS - during the winless stretch. He's never faced Montreal.

Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins went 0-1-2 against Dallas last season while with Portland.

In the only previous matchup between these clubs, Dallas netted two unanswered second-half goals for a 2-1 victory April 14, 2012.

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