Montreal heads to DCU with sights set on first place

Updated: August 2, 2013

Washington, D.C. (Sports Network) – A pair of teams at opposite ends of the
Eastern Conference table will meet at RFK Stadium on Saturday as D.C. United
gets set to host the Montreal Impact.

Montreal has maintained a position inside the top-three in the East for much
of the season, but United has turned out an abysmal campaign that has seen the
storied club lose 15 of its 21 matches.

D.C. has been cemented to the foot of the overall MLS table as it enters the
weekend on 10 points, seven points adrift of next-worst Chivas USA and Toronto

United has dropped four of its last five league contests, most recently
falling in a 2-1 loss to the New England Revolution at home last weekend.

The fact that D.C. reached the semifinals of the MLS Cup playoffs last season
has added to the frustration this term, but head coach Ben Olsen still has
faith in his roster.

“(Luis) Silva is a real piece, and we are looking to add as many real pieces
to the club right now,” Olsen said. “I’ve got one eye here presently on the
week-to-week MLS … I have another eye on the Open Cup, which is a big deal,
and finding out what the best team is that we would have out there. And I have
my third eye on the future of this club, and that’s a very important thing
right now. I still believe in the future of this club and a bunch of these
guys I have in this locker room.”

Like United, Montreal had experienced a poor stretch when it brought a five-
game winless run into its clash with Sporting Kansas City last weekend, but
the Impact were able to end the poor spell thanks to Blake Smith’s late goal,
which gave the Canadian club a 1-0 victory.

“The win was huge for us today and that’s all that really needs to be said,”
Smith said after the match. “We fought hard and played the entire 90 plus
minutes and we deserved the win. I want to come in and give the team a spark
and help for one final push when I come in the game.”

While Smith stole the headlines with his dramatic winner in the final minute
of stoppage time, head coach Marco Schallibaum was quick to disperse credit to
the rest of the team, namely the defensive unit.

“We had another good game defensively today,” Schallibaum said. “They had very
few scoring chances. We played right up until the very end and we never gave
up tonight, even in stoppage time and for me as a coach, it was a happy ending
when you make a change and bring a player who scores the winning goal for us.
We deserve to win. It’s important that we point out that we didn’t steal this
game in the final minutes. We earned it all game long.”

The Impact, level with Red Bull New York on 35 points apiece, enter Saturday’s
match at RFK Stadium within one point of first-place Sporting. And with Kansas
City playing host to the Red Bulls earlier in the day, maximum points could
lift Schallibaum’s team to the Eastern Conference summit, depending on the
result at Sporting Park.