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Sporting KC aims to keep home dominance vs. Impact
First-place Sporting Kansas City is proving to be the class of the Western Conference after 15 games this season.
On Saturday, Sporting Kansas City will be looking to teach the Montreal Impact a lesson or two.
Kansas City (7-4-4, 25 points) will put a club-record 16-game home unbeaten streak on the line when the Impact (4-4-4, 16 points) visit Children's Mercy Park.
Both teams will be without several players who are on international leave.
The home team will be without defenders Matt Besler and Graham Zusi, who were called up by the United States men's national team, and forward Soony Saad, who is on leave with Lebanon.
"We knew it was coming. The same thing will happen with the Gold Cup (next month)," Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes told the team's website. "This always winds up being a situation where you're gauging where guys are and getting them up to speed. It's just the way it is."
Montreal will be without seven players, but one competitor who third-year head coach Mauro Biello will lean on is midfielder Ignacio Piatti. Piatti led Montreal to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016 and has recorded six goals and two assists this season.
In two career games against Sporting Kansas City, Piatti has found the back of the goal twice.
The Impact recognize the difficult task they face. Montreal has enjoyed the comfort of home cooking the past three weeks and is on a two-game winning streak. Now the Impact head into a hornet's nest where the temperatures are expected to be in the 80s with humidity hovering around 50 percent.
"We are expecting difficult conditions," Biello told the team's website. "We will need to be intelligent in all phases of the game, recognizing the right moments to unbalance offensively and being difficult to break down defensively."
"It's going to be difficult," goalkeeper Evan Bush said. "It will be the first game we play when it will be very hot, and it's a hostile environment. We will have to rely on our depth for sure and it will take a fully committed effort from everyone on this trip to bring something back home."
Montreal beat the New York Red Bulls last week after midfielder Blerim Dzemaili scored his first goal of the season.
In a 3-0 win over Minnesota last Saturday, Ike Opara, Jimmy Medranda and Saad Abdul-Salaam each scored their first goals of the season for Sporting Kansas City.
"You take them any way you can get them," Opara told the Kansas City Star. "I imagined it would be a header or set piece, but I just go out there and take the opportunity."
Sporting KC also counters with one of the league's top goalies in Tim Melia. He leads MLS with an 0.67 goals-against average and a career-high eight shutouts through 15 matches.
Updated June 9, 2017