MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact see no reason to panic, even if they have yet to post a win in their first four games of the Major League Soccer season.
Their 0-1-3 record includes two games in which they’ve blown late leads and settled for draws, including last week’s 2-2 result in Chicago in which they went ahead in the 90th minute through impressive 18-year-old Ballou Tabla only to concede the equalizer in added time.
They will try for their first win Friday night against the Los Angeles Galaxy (1-3-0) in Carson, Calif.
"In 2015, we had two points in our first five games and we ended up making the playoffs and we were the third seed that year," goalkeeper Evan Bush said this week, adding that the New York Red Bulls started last season 1-6-0 and ended up first in the Eastern Conference. "So there’s no time for panic at this point.
"Everyone goes through ups and downs. I wouldn’t even put this down as a down moment because we’ve put ourselves in position to win games. It’s just that plays here and there are costing us."
Montreal’s best chance to win came in their only home game thus far when they led Seattle 2-0 at Olympic Stadium only to see the Sounders tie the game in the second half. That started the Impact’s current run of three straight draws.
The Galaxy are also struggling to get on track under new coach Curt Onalfo, the former Galaxy II bench boss who was promoted when Bruce Arena left to coach the U.S. national team.
L.A. is 1-3-0 after opening the season with consecutive losses at home. They were beaten 4-2 in Vancouver last week despite leading 2-1 at the intermission.
"No team is going to run away with the league," said Bush. "Columbus (3-1-1) is in first place but they’re not running away with the league.
"They’ve been fortunate enough to have a number of home games and somewhat of a softer schedule. These things will balance out over the season."
The Chicago game felt like a win to some because the Impact were without star midfielder Ignacio Piatti, top central defender Laurent Ciman and left back Ambroise Oyongo, while captain Patrice Bernier was limited by an injury to substitute duty, although he went in late and picked up his fourth assist in as many games on Tabla’s goal.
Piatti, recovering from a groin problem, will sit out a second straight game but may be back April 15 for the first game at Saputo Stadium against expansion team Atlanta United.
Ciman has a good chance of returning to face his former teammate at Belgian club Standard Liege, Galaxy captain Jelle Van Damme.
Oyongo only missed last week’s game because he was late getting back from international duty with Cameroon.
Coach Mauro Biello’s starting lineup may be influenced by how much banged up players, including Bernier and fellow central midfielder Marco Donadel, react to the more-than six hour flight to the west coast.
They will be without central defender Victor Cabrera, who was shown a red card in Chicago and will serve a one-game suspension. Also, backup defender Wandrille Lefevre is out with an illness.
That means the Impact will have a fifth different back four in as many games. This week’s likely starters, right to left, should be Chris Duvall, Hassoun Camara, Ciman and Oyongo if all four are ready to go.
"Every week seems to be different," said Bush. "But we have guys who should be comfortable in a number of positions.
"Hassoun’s very experienced. Duvall’s the one constant on the back line this year and he’s starting to find rhythm. It shouldn’t be a shock for anyone to step in."
Ballou, an academy product who scored his first MLS goal in Chicago, is expected to fill in for Piatti for a second week.
The Galaxy’s only win came in Salt Lake on March 18 on two second half goals, when their opponents were down a man after star defender Kyle Beckerman was ejected.
But L.A. still has a formidable lineup with midfielder Giovanni dos Santos, U.S. international Jermaine Jones, fullback Ashley Cole and new French midfield designated player Romain Alessandrini.