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Fire-Impact Preview

By KATE HEDLIN

STATS Writer

(AP) -- The Montreal Impact suffered a disappointing result in their MLS debut, but they hope to take advantage of what's expected to be a full house in their home opener.

The Impact go for their first win Saturday when they take on the Chicago Fire, who will be without starting goaltender Sean Johnson in their season opener.

After playing in various other leagues for nearly two decades, Montreal joined the MLS, becoming the league's 19th team. The Impact weren't able to pick up a win in their debut, losing 2-0 to Vancouver last Saturday.

"The disappointing part is that it happened so quickly into the game," said coach Jesse Marsch, whose team gave up the first goal in the fourth minute. "We don't even give ourselves a chance for the game to settle in, and we're already down 1-0."

While nerves could be blamed for the poor start, Montreal did have its chances, putting seven shots on goal.

The Impact will try for better results in their home opener at Olympic Stadium. Montreal announced that more than 50,000 tickets have been sold.

"Now that we have a game under our belt, we'll be more focused on exactly what the game is going to require," Marsch, a member of the Fire from 1998-2005, told the league's official website. "We have enough guys who have played in front of big crowds and in big games. It's going to be a good opportunity to show the city who we are."

Chicago will be looking to quiet that full stadium in its opener.

"They'll be trying as much as possible to play the crowd and to intimidate us and the officials," said forward Dominic Oduro, who led the Fire with 12 goals last season. "I believe we have a good team in terms of experience in chemistry to go in and get points out of it."

The Fire missed the playoffs for a second straight year in 2011 despite finishing strong after a poor start, going 7-1-2 in their final 10 games.

A big reason for that success was the play of Johnson. He gave up 12 goals during that 10-game stretch, though he'll miss the first three contests this season while playing for the United States in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying action.

Chicago has not said whether it will start veteran Jay Nolly or 23-year-old Paolo Tornaghi in his place.

"Jay is an experienced guy, and Paolo, his experience is different," coach Frank Klopas told the Fire's official website. "He's not the kid out of the draft or college, he's been in a good environment. We're comfortable with either choice."

Chicago returns most of last season's roster, including Oduro and Patrick Nyarko, who had a team-best nine assists.

The Fire added some depth behind them in Colombian midfielder Rafael Robayo and German defender Arne Friedrich, who appeared in 82 games for his national team.

With Montreal playing in front of what should be an emotional crowd, Chicago's goal is to get off to a quick start.

"It would be huge to go in and get an early goal to take them out of it and calm us down," Oduro said.

Updated March 16, 2012

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