NYCFC is looking to bounce back from a 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City when they take on the Montreal Impact Sunday at 5 p.m. at Stade Saputo.
Despite the defeat, which snapped a franchise-best four-match winning streak, NYCFC (8-6-6) remains in first place ahead of the weekend’s games and still has the best away record (5-3-1) in MLS.
Winning at Stade Saputo, though, hasn’t been easy for visiting teams. The Montreal Impact is 4-1-3 at home with the lone loss coming to Toronto FC on April 23.
“For me, Montreal is one of the best teams in the league,” NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira said. “They are really solid, well-organized, they’ve got pace, individual talent, people who can decide games by their talent. It will be a tough game for us.”
The Impact (6-4-8), which is in fourth place in the East with 26 points, is coming off a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers Wednesday at Providence Park. Ignacio Piatti scored the equalizer for Montreal one minute before halftime.
Montreal will be buoyed by the return of former Chelsea star Didier Drogba, who has been sidelined with a thigh injury. It will be the first time Drogba and NYCFC midfielder Frank Lampard, who has scored four goals in the last five games, have faced each other in MLS play.
“Of course, it will be really difficult because he’s a beast up front,” Vieira said of Drogba. “He’s really good, he can score goals, he can hold the ball, and he can play for the other players. What we have to do is work well as a team to prevent the ball from getting to him, but you can’t do that for 95 minutes.”
This is the second of three meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals this year. The teams played to a 1-1 draw at Yankee Stadium on April 27. RJ Allen scored his first professional goal to put NYCFC in front in the 51st minute, but Dominic Oduro leveled in second-half stoppage time for the visitors.
“It’s not going to be an easy place at all to go,” Vieira said. “But I’m really looking forward to it because you always want to challenge yourself and play in the stadium because it’s a really good stadium, a really good pitch and I think it will be a really good game of football.”