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Red Bulls-Impact Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- The New York Red Bulls have scored seven goals in winning their first two matchups with the expansion Montreal Impact.
The Red Bulls could have a more difficult time Saturday night on the road against the Impact, who expect Italian defender Alessandro Nesta to play in his first MLS game.
New York (11-5-5) leads the Eastern Conference with 38 points, picking up six against Montreal (7-13-3) despite conceding the first goal in both meetings. Thierry Henry had a hat trick in a 5-2 home win March 31 before the Frenchman sat out a 2-1 road victory May 19.
Nesta, who has starred for AC Milan and the Italian national team, should help boost a Montreal defense that has yielded 42 goals in 23 matches for the league's worst ratio. Nesta played 63 minutes in his first game with the Impact on Tuesday, a 1-all draw in a home friendly against French powerhouse Olympique Lyonnais.
The Impact back line could also feature Matteo Ferrari and Nelson Rivas, as both saw action Tuesday. Ferrari hasn't played an MLS game since June 16 and Rivas since June 23.
While the French-speaking public in Montreal will get to see Henry for the first time, it's unclear how many minutes he is capable of playing.
The star forward logged 262 out of a possible 270 minutes in a 2-0-1 homestand for New York last week. He lasted 57 minutes in the MLS All-Stars' 3-2 victory over Chelsea on Wednesday.
Henry's 10 goals are second on the team to Kenny Cooper, who is second in the league with 13. Cooper scored both goals in a 2-0 victory over Philadelphia last Saturday to end a season-high seven-game drought.
"The team just has so much quality going forward and I'm happy that we were able to get another win," Cooper said.
The only players unavailable for New York on Saturday are Rafa Marquez (calf strain) and Brandon Barklage (hamstring strain).
Montreal fell 3-0 at Houston last Saturday. The Impact trailed by one before conceding two goals in the last six minutes to lose any hope of gaining at least a point.
"In most of the games that we've lost, we were in it for 80-85 minutes and then we make a mistake or give up a bad goal," defender Shavar Thomas told the league's official website. "We're going to pull through. We're learning very quickly and in the end, it will come for us."
Four of the next five games for Montreal are at home, where it has won its last two league games.
"It's going to be huge for us," midfielder Lamar Neagle said. "We haven't really been able to get momentum going, like a four- or five-game winning streak, this year, so hopefully, at home, we can take care or business pretty well."
Australian star Tim Cahill has yet to join the Red Bulls. Cahill, set to come over from Everton of the EPL, will have his introductory press conference Monday.
Updated July 27, 2012