Union visits Impact in key Eastern match (Jul 19, 2017)

BY AP • July 18, 2017

Two Eastern Conference squads trying get back into the playoff race collide Wednesday when the Philadelphia Union visit Stade Saputo to take on the host Montreal Impact, who will be without their top weapon.

Montreal star midfielder Ignacio Piatti is out with a groin injury. Piatti suffered the injury in late March and has been struggling to heal. He returned to light training this week, but is listed as out for Wednesday's match.

With Piatti sidelined, the Impact have suffered through an up-and-down first three months of the season. Montreal has only one win in its last five outings (1-2-2) and is coming off a 3-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo on July 5.

"It's important for us to go on a run and have a strong second half," Impact coach Mauro Biello told reporters. "In this league, if you're able to find rhythm at the right time, you can go far."

Philadelphia has also struggled with consistency this season, but was in good form in their final matches before this month's two-week international break. The Union posted wins over the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution, and salvaged a 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City on July 6.

Philadelphia (6-7-5, 23 points) sits in eighth place on the Eastern Conference table, two points ahead of ninth-place Montreal (5-6-6, 21 points) and five points behind sixth-place Columbus.

"Yes, on paper, these games are very important because of where Columbus and Montreal sit in the standings," Union coach Jim Curtin told reporters this week. "We have to be aggressive about going after points, going on the road now. We almost have to go at the pace that were on to have a shot at the playoffs.

"In our last 10 we're 6-3-1, we have to sustain that if we want to talk about not just squeaking in. That's the pace we have to keep in today's MLS."

Philadelphia is 1-4-3 on the road this season.

Piatti played and scored when the Impact and Union played a thriller in April in Philadelphia. The Union built a three-goal lead, but fell apart in the second half and had to settle for a deflating 3-3 draw.

Roland Alberg and C.J. Sapong had goals for the Union, and Anthony Jackson-Hamel scored twice in the final 22 minutes to rally the Impact.

Montreal will also be without midfielder Patrice Bernier, who is playing for Canada in the Gold Cup.

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