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Desperate Montreal Impact look to end Red Bulls’ winning streak

Montreal Impact's Michael Salazar celebrates his first half goal against FC Dallas during MLS action in Montreal on Saturday, July 22, 2017.

Peter Mccabe/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Still hurting from loss at home last week, the Montreal Impact now face one of Major League Soccer's hottest teams in a stadium where they have never won in the regular season.

The fifth-place New York Red Bulls (10-8-2) will be a challenge for ninth-place Montreal (6-7-6) when they meet Saturday night at Red Bull Arena.

The Red Bulls have won their last three league games, two of them on the road, by a combined 11-3. They also won a U.S. Open Cup match over New England on July 13 to make it four straight wins overall.

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And while the Impact won there in the Eastern Conference semifinal last fall, the Red Bulls are 7-0-0 in the regular season at home against them since Montreal joined MLS in 2012.

"They're going to high-press us," Montreal coach Mauro Biello said this week. "We know that's their identity – close out the short options, try to win balls in high areas.

"This is a team that we have to be careful in our build-up and not give away balls in dangerous areas because that's what they want. And we have to recognize when we can go direct and put them in difficult situations because they leave areas open and we need to exploit that."

New York coach Jesse Marsch, whose team lost 1-0 in Montreal on June 3, is equally wary of the Impact, a team he coached in their expansion season in 2012.

"They always present problems for us because they like to defend deep and counter," Marsch told New York media this week. "Their attacking players are quite good."

The Red Bulls also have perhaps the league's hottest player in Daniel Royer. The Austrian has four goals in his last three games, including a brace in a 5-1 win over San Jose on July 19. He added another in a 3-0 victory in Minnesota last week.

The Impact answer with young forward Michael Salazar, who has a goal in each of his last three games. The Belize international has played himself back into the lineup after starting the season with the Ottawa Fury in the USL.

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"I learned a lot of stuff, especially playing on the right side," said Salazar. "Getting minutes was one of the most important things.

"I scored a couple of goals while I was there and I think it helped me when I came back."

While he declined to provide details, Salazar said he has had the same pre-game routine before each game and, so far, it has worked.

"I literally go home and do everything the same before each game and it's helping me when I go out there," he said. "I'm super-focused.

"It's a little secret I'm trying to keep."

The Impact will have Laurent Ciman – the anchor of their central defence – back after being rested for a game and they hope to have star midfielder Ignacio Piatti back for a full game after returning from an adductor injury as a substitute last week, although his status remains cloudy.

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They are also without defender Hassoun Camara due to a hamstring problem, while defensive midfielder Marco Donadel is out after a quick trip to Italy to get treatment on a knee. His spot will likely go to veteran Patrice Bernier, who returned after representing Canada at the Gold Cup.

Both teams had a player on the Jamaican side that lost 2-1 to the U.S. in the Gold Cup final on Wednesday night, but neither will play. Left back Shaun Francis, who was acquired from San Jose during the Gold Cup, is to join the Impact next week while Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence is suspended for a game.

Each club also added a 22-year-old central defender this week – Romanian Deian Boldor for Montreal and Panamanian Fidel Escobar for New York – but neither is ready to play.

Video: Former Toronto FC players look back at club’s first season (The Canadian Press)
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