Impact-New York City FC Preview

BY foxsports • July 31, 2015

The Montreal Impact's long run of inconsistency has been due in part to New York City FC, which has won both meetings during that span. Those victories have also helped NYCFC put together an impressive two-month stretch.

The expansion team looks to continue its strong play and keep Montreal from winning two in a row for the first time since early June on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

NYCFC (6-9-6) defeated Montreal 3-1 at home June 13 and 2-1 on the road July 4, with red-hot David Villa scoring three goals in those games.

Villa tallied twice as NYCFC overcame a hat trick by Cyle Larin and beat Orlando City 5-3 in the Bronx on Sunday. Ten of Villa's 12 goals have come in his last nine games, and he also scored the winner in MLS' 2-1 victory over Tottenham in the All-Star Game on Wednesday.

Sunday's result gave NYCFC a 5-2-1 record in its past eight league contests as it continued to overcome a rough start to its MLS existence.

"(Last Saturday) four teams from our conference tied, so they missed out on two points," Villa said. "Today we beat Orlando, who is another one of our rivals. This victory helps us gain two points on teams vying for the playoffs and three against Orlando. Having won today is fantastic."

The game also marked the NYCFC debut of midfielder Andrea Pirlo, who heard chants of "We want Pirlo" throughout the first half before entering in the 56th minute to a loud ovation. He helped set up goals by Villa and Tommy McNamara.

"I'm really excited about what we're seeing from the attacking end of the field," coach Jason Kreis said. "We have had so many dynamic moments we're seeing around the goal creating scoring chances. That excites me."

Kreis' team has scored 19 goals in the last eight games after managing 10 in the first 13.

Lots of offense hasn't been a recent theme for Montreal (7-8-3), which defeated Seattle 1-0 last Saturday to give it five games in the past eight in which it's scored one goal. The Impact have gone 3-4-1 in those contests.

Defender Laurent Ciman scored off a header in the 88th minute against the Sounders, giving Montreal the win in a game in which it held a 14-3 shot advantage.

''He's very comfortable with the ball,'' coach Frank Klopas said. ''He's a very experienced player. He jumps very well, so he's a weapon for us in set pieces. The moments he finds throughout the game where he can get forward, I think that's good.''

This week saw plenty of drama in Montreal due to the arrival of 37-year-old Didier Drogba, but the former Chelsea star isn't expected to be ready to play in this game, needing time to train and acclimate to his new team.

Still, even Drogba's impending arrival might be enough to spark the Impact this week.

"He's going to improve us because of his ability to hold balls up there when we're under pressure, to give us a different presence in the box with his strength and his ability in the air," Klopas told the league's official website. "There are different kinds of characteristics that he brings, but it's also his leadership and his quality."

Montreal is 1-6-2 on the road.

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