Tough test ahead for Sounders in first road match of 2014 against the Montreal Impact

Sounders FC vs. Montreal Impact

MLS Regular Season
Sunday, March 23; 1 pm PT; Olympic Stadium in Montreal
TV/Radio: JOEtv (Locally); ROOT Sports (Regionally); KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; ESPN Deportes Radio (Spanish)

In two attempts, Sounders FC has yet to solve the Montreal Impact in MLS play.  Now Seattle will get a third crack at Montreal, facing a team with a new coach and some changes to the roster but also a desperate team in need of a win after starting the year with consecutive road losses.

It’s the first road match of the season for Sounders FC and the home opener for the Impact, who play a similar style under new coach Frank Klopas.

“The team really is the same.  They’ve changed some personnel, but they still play a 4-2-3-1,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said.  “Their defense has changed a little bit, so that’s something that we maybe have to look at and our hope is maybe that’s somewhere where they are still learning each other and getting to understand each other.”

That defense is anchored by Mateo Ferrari and Hassoun Camara at center back while rookie Eric Miller carries the load on the right side and fourth-year starter Jeb Brovsky mans the left.  Troy Perkins came on strong for Montreal last season, posting his best season since leading D.C. United to the Supporters’ Shield in 2007, helping the Impact to the playoffs.

The strength of the team comes from its midfield with Designated Player Hernan Bernardello and Patrice Bernier playing the holding roles and Felipe Martins providing the creative spark in the middle.  Bernier, Martins and Justin Mapp all had eight assists last season.  However, Sanna Nyassi, who scored one of Montreal’s two goals in a 3-2 loss to FC Dallas to open the season, will not be available after suffering a knee injury last week.

“They’re still a very dangerous team.  There are still a lot of guys you have to worry about,” Schmid said.

In addition to Nyassi, Montreal won’t have 2013 leading scorer Marco Di Vaio, who scored 20 goals last season but is missing his third straight match due to suspension after his actions in a 3-0 playoff loss to the Houston Dynamo.

Without Di Vaio, Klopas has turned to former No. 1 SuperDraft pick Andrew Wenger.  The top selection in the 2012 draft, Wenger scored in the opener and while dangerous, can’t match the scoring prowess that had Di Vaio playing in Italy, Spain and France.

“Di Vaio is a cold-blooded sniper.  He’s a guy who with very few chances makes the most of it and buries things,” Schmid said.  “Do the other forwards have the same sort of cutting edge as he does?  That’s the reason he keeps playing because his cutting edge is better than them.”

Seattle will be playing without a key scoring threat too, as Clint Dempsey serves the first of a two-match suspension levied by the MLS Disciplinary Committee on Friday.

The match, rescheduled due to the threat of heavy snowfall on Saturday, will kickoff at 1 pm PT on Sunday from Olympic Stadium.

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