More wins, please - Montreal Gazette

Randy Phillips

Coach hopes to keep momentum going

Impact head coach John Limniatis wants his team to show what's its made of while on the road for the next two games.

The Impact faces the Whitecaps in Vancouver tonight in the return leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship before heading to Seattle to face the Sounders for the first time this season in a league game Saturday.

"Not only is it a long trip, but we're playing against two quality teams and it's going to be a good measuring stick for us," Limniatis said. "We got some momentum going for us, so we have to go there and at least play well. When you play well, you give yourself the best opportunity to win."

After one of the worst starts to the season in team history, the Impact is riding a three-game winning streak that includes a 1-0 win over Vancouver at Saputo Stadium June 17 in the first leg of the Canadian Championship - the CONCACAF Champions League playdown of which Toronto FC of Major League Soccer is the third participant.

On either side of that victory was a 1-0 win in league play against the Charleston Battery here June 13 and Sunday's 3-0 romp over the Carolina RailHawks, also at home.

"Momentum is very important in any sport," Limniatis said. "The idea is to keep it going, even if you get a negative result sometimes.

"We do have to be realistic," he continued. "We're not going to go undefeated for the rest of the season although we'd like to. But we have to keep momentum up no matter what happens."

Limniatis is 3-0 since replacing his former Impact teammate and good friend Nick De Santis as head coach June 10. The latter is now general manager of the club.

Limniatis said from the get-go he didn't think wholesale changes were necessary to improve the team after a 1-6-2 start and he's been true to form despite a number of a key players out with injuries.

Forward Roberto Brown, who hadn't played since May 2, and midfielder Leonardo De Lorenzo, out of action since being injured in a 1-0 loss to Toronto in a Canadian Championship game June 17, both returned to play against Carolina and scored a goal apiece while Brown added two assists.

"I told the guys from the beginning that from one point to another everybody is going to be used and that they all have to be ready and available to replace whoever is there," Limniatis said. "I don't like to think we have a starting 11 that's there to play all the time. We need to have guys coming in, either because of injuries or for technical reasons to help us.

"You do make changes in the normal course of game, but at the moment, the things we're doing have been working out," he said. "As far as the squad is concerned, although you're always looking to make the team better, there's nothing going on at the moment with regard to bringing in somebody new."

For the record: Midfielder Mauro Biello, De Santis, retired forward Lloyd Barker and defender Nevio Pizzolitto, are first, second, third and fourth on the list for most games played in the USL First Division with 320, 245, 242 and 228, respectively.

Biello, who missed a game for the first time this season Sunday, because of an injury, is also fourth in all-time scoring in the league with 76 goals, one behind former Rochester Raging Rhinos forward Doug Miller.

Rowdies return: The Tampa Bay Rowdies will join the USL First Division as an expansion franchise in 2010.

The Rowdies last played in the league from 1988 to 1993, but are named for the former Tampa Bay Rowdies team that competed in the old North American Soccer League in the 1970s and '80s.

Next year's new team will be the Austin (Texas) Aztex, which also will be affiliated with English Championship side Stoke City FC.

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2008