Montreal Impact hope to build on last week's road win when they visit Portland
Montreal Impact Wandrille Lefevre, Sanna Nyassi, Zarek Valentin and Patrice Bernier, left to right, take a break during the first day of training camp Montreal, Monday, January 21, 2013 i. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Published Friday, March 8, 2013 4:49PM EST
The Montreal Impact have the opportunity to match the number of road wins they claimed in their inaugural Major League Soccer campaign just two games into their sophomore season.
After struggling to a 2-12-3 record away from home last season, the Impact will try for a second straight road win when they take on the Portland Timbers on Saturday night at JELD-WEN Field.
The Impact got their second MLS season underway on a winning note last Saturday with a 1-0 victory in Seattle before a crowd of 38,998.
"It was an ideal start for us to get a win in one of the toughest places to play, and now we have another opportunity to get a result and keep the momentum going in another tough place to play," said Montreal captain Davy Arnaud, who scored the game's only goal against the Sounders. "Playing in front of good crowds like this one is always fun and easy to get up for."
Arnaud was named to the MLS Team of the Week along with new head coach Marco Schalibaum, who won his North American debut.
The Impact, who host Toronto FC in their home opener at Olympic Stadium on March 16, finished seventh out of 10 teams in the Eastern Conference last season. Surprisingly tough at home, Montreal went 12-16-6 overall under previous head coach Jesse Marsch and struggled mightily on the road.
"Winning last week helped us realize that we can get a result on the road," said Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins, who posted his 41st MLS shutout.
The Impact remained on the West Coast all week to train rather than making the cross-continent flight twice.
Perkins singled out the Impact's post-season trip to Europe, after Marsch was let go and before Schallibaum was hired, as a rallying point for the team.
"When we went to Italy last year as a team it really bonded the team together as a group and the core of the guys that was there for that trip was really solidified," Perkins said.
Perkins was in his second season with Portland when he was acquired by Montreal in an Aug. 7, 2012 trade that saw the Impact send Donovan Ricketts to the Timbers in a swap of former MLS all-star goalkeepers.
Perkins and Ricketts had similar track records of success, with each having previously won MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honours.
Perkins, a 31-year-old native of Springfield, Ohio, was named the league's top keeper in 2006 when he posted eight clean sheets in 30 starts with D.C. United. He helped Washington win the Supporters Shield in 2007. Ricketts, 35, won MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honours with Los Angeles in 2010.
Perkins left a scoreless tie 63 minutes into the Timbers' only previous game against Montreal after he was struck in the face by current Impact teammate Sanna Nyassi's cleat.
Portland backup goalkeeper Joe Bendik was beaten for two late Montreal goals by Bernardo Corradi and Sinisa Ubiparipovic in the Impact's 2-0 win at Olympic Stadium on April 28, 2012.
A week after facing a partisan Seattle crowd, Perkins knows very well the kind of atmosphere the Impact can expect for its first MLS game in Portland.
"Coming here, it's the same idea," said Perkins, who has five shutouts in 10 MLS starts overall with Montreal. "Less people, but they're right on top of you so it feels the same. It's going to be a game where you have to manage the atmosphere and manage the emotion."
The Timbers posted a 3-3 come-from-behind draw with the New York Red Bulls in their season opener last weekend.
Darlington Nagbe and new designated player Diego Valeri both scored for Portland and were also named to the MLS Team of the Week.
Valeri's skills were on full display when he scored 14 minutes into his MLS debut to claim Goal of the Week honours, beating out Arnaud's in the process.
"I saw a team that put a lot of pressure on New York," Schallibaum said. "Portland is a team with a lot of heart and will be a little bit unhappy to have not won that game. We respect all the teams, but we are not afraid as we also have quality on our side."