Red Bulls-Impact Preview

It may be early, but the second-year Montreal Impact are

surprisingly owners of the best record in MLS.

The New York Red Bulls are still searching for their first

victory.

The Impact look to keep rolling and improve to 4-0 by

capitalizing on the short-handed Red Bulls on Saturday at Olympic

Stadium.

Montreal (3-0-0) had a promising inaugural MLS season in 2012,

going 12-16-6 while falling 11 points short of a playoff spot. So

far, it looks like the Impact are going to be a force in the

Eastern Conference this year.

They’re the first team to three wins after beating Toronto 2-1

last Saturday in their home opener.

Still, Montreal doesn’t think it’s a favorite against New York

(0-1-2), which is off to its worst start since going 0-2-2 in 2009.

The Red Bulls are also without forward Thierry Henry (MCL sprain)

while midfielder Tim Cahill and defender Roy Miller are with

Australia and Costa Rica, respectively, for World Cup

qualifiers.

“I don’t think we’re at a point where we’re the favorites,”

assistant coach Mauro Biello told the team’s official website.

“Playing against New York, they’re a good team on paper. They’re a

team that should be vying for MLS Cup, for the playoffs. From our

perspective, we have to be ready to face a team like New York.

“Yes, we do have nine points. Yes, things are going well for us.

They’re going through tougher times. But every guy here, every

coach, every staff member, we know that it’s going to be a very

difficult game against New York and that we need to be ready.”

Montreal went 1-0-2 against the Red Bulls last year, winning 3-1

at home on July 28 in Alessandro Nesta’s Impact debut.

The Italian defender, however, is out for about two weeks after

leaving last weekend’s win in the 12th minute with a strained

adductor muscle.

Dennis Iapichino is the expected replacement for Nesta

again.

While the defense has received much praise for allowing two

goals – one on a penalty kick – so far, the team’s five goals have

been scored by five different players. Patrice Bernier and Marco Di

Vaio got their first goals of the season last weekend.

The Red Bulls may not care who finds the net in order to score

for the first time since Eric Alexander’s tally in the 17th minute

of a 2-1 loss at San Jose on March 10. They followed that up with a

scoreless draw at home with D.C., coming up empty on a league-high

24 shots – seven on goal – while losing Henry to injury.

“That’s what happens sometimes,” first-year coach Mike Petke

told the team’s official website. “It’s not written in the stars,

it’s not meant to be in a way. I can accept that.”

Production from Fabian Espindola would surely help. The forward

hasn’t managed a shot on goal in two games after scoring twice in a

season-opening 3-3 draw at Portland on March 3.

In an effort to bolster its attack, New York signed forward

Peguy Luyindula this week, but he’s awaiting the arrival of his

visa. The Frenchman spent the last six seasons with Paris

Saint-Germain, scoring 37 goals in 179 games.