Red Bulls-Impact Preview

Red Bulls-Impact Preview

Published Mar. 22, 2013 11:25 a.m. ET

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.