Impact face tough challenge at LAFC

LAFC, Leagues, Major League Soccer, Montreal Impact, Story

After failing to capitalize against two of the weaker teams in Major League Soccer, the Montreal Impact now face the daunting challenge of visiting league-leading Los Angeles FC on Friday.

In the Impact’s past two matches, Montreal collected just one of six possible points against the bottom two teams in the Eastern Conference — a 2-1 loss to FC Cincinnati on May 11 and a 0-0 draw against the New England Revolution last Saturday.

“There’s no point in drawing upon negativity and the things that we haven’t done well because we’re still in a good position,” goalkeeper Evan Bush said after the Saturday game. “It’s another clean sheet. It’s a point that keeps us going in the right direction even though it wasn’t three points.

“You don’t want to get in a position now where you’re trying to make up those points the next game. … Just focus individually on each game like we did to start the season.”

The Saturday result was Montreal’s third scoreless draw of the season, putting a slight damper on an overall strong defensive performance that has resulted in six shutouts in its past 10 matches.

The Impact (6-5-3, 21 points) will be missing a key element of that defensive unit against LAFC. Central midfielder Samuel Piette is serving a one-game suspension due to yellow-card accumulation.

Montreal will get an offensive boost in the form of star midfielder Ignacio Piatti, who returned from a 10-game injury absence to play 24 minutes against New England. Piatti will see action against LAFC, though it isn’t yet known if he will be in the starting lineup.

Los Angeles (9-1-4, 31 points) is also coming off a down match by its high standards. Head coach Bob Bradley described his side’s 1-1 draw against FC Dallas last Sunday as “a frustrating game.”

“No real fluidity, no real sharpness, choppy at the beginning, all sorts of fouls. … Having said all that, I would give our guys credit for pushing and hanging in there,” Bradley said.

Carlos Vela scored a penalty kick equalizer in the 80th minute against Dallas, giving the forward 14 goals in 14 league games this season.

Friday’s game will be LAFC’s fourth in a 14-day span.

Los Angeles’ Eduard Atuesta (knee sprain) and Steven Beitashour (hamstring) are questionable for Friday. Atuesta missed the Dallas game, while Beitashour left the field after only 31 minutes.

–Field Level Media

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