Before wrapping up the season with two tough tests, the Montreal Impact look forward to having their top midfielder back with a chance to end their road woes against the league’s worst home team.
With Ignacio Piatti expected to play, the Impact will try to strengthen their hold on the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot and snap their road winless streak at five Saturday against the West-worst Colorado Rapids.
In the league’s only match this weekend, both clubs will be short-handed due to national team duty. Colorado designated player Kevin Doyle (Ireland) along with teammates Maynor Figueroa (Honduras), Gabriel Torres (Panama) and Dillon Serna (U.S. U-23) have received international call-ups.
Montreal also will be without several key players, including Johan Venegas (Costa Rica), Maxime Crepeau, Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare, Anthony Jackson-Hamel (Canada U-23), Wandrille Lefevre, Kyle Bekker and Maxim Tissot (Canada) and Ambroise Oyongo (Cameroon).
"We’re going to miss players, but we’ve counted on our roster all season long, even more so these last few weeks," Impact captain Patrice Bernier told the team’s official website. "Everyone’s responded, and we have to keep going like that."
The absences will be easier for Montreal to overcome with Piatti set to return. He missed four games while visiting his ill father back in his native Argentina.
Piatti returned to the club Monday but didn’t get in enough training time to participate in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to New York. The skilled midfielder, who has four goals in his last four road matches, will try to add to his team high-tying eight goals and team-leading six assists.
Piatti and Didier Drogba, a former Chelsea striker, give Montreal a prolific pairing on the attack. Drogba has scored eight goals in eight matches since signing with the club in late July.
Seeking their second playoff appearance in four years, the Impact (12-13-6) hold a one-point advantage over Orlando City for the East’s sixth and final spot with three games remaining. Before taking on two clubs ahead of them in New England and Toronto, they are hoping to add to Colorado’s struggles in the third of four consecutive road matches.
Montreal, however, is 0-3-2 in its last five away games and 2-9-4 on the season. It also has lost all three meetings with Colorado, most recently falling 4-1 on the road May 24, 2014.
The Rapids, though, are a league-worst 5-6-5 at home this season. They’re the only team to have been outscored on their home field (22-19).
Colorado was officially eliminated from postseason contention with Sunday’s 2-1 home loss to Real Salt Lake, but still won the Rocky Mountain Cup rivalry with a 4-3 aggregate score.
"It’s been a long season with ups and downs like every season," defender Bobby Burling said. "But at the end of the day, we’ve still got jobs to do."
In its final home game, Colorado (8-13-10) looks to avoid a season-high four-game losing streak after allowing eight goals in its last three defeats. The Rapids also have scuffled offensively, totaling a league-low 30 goals after scoring only five during their current five-game winless skid.
They’ll be missing three of their top four goal scorers in Doyle (five), Torres (four) and Serna (three), though Dillon Powers has given Montreal trouble with three goals in the past two matchups.