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Impact hosts Puerto Rico Wednesday

August 4, 2004 - USL First Division (USL-1) - Montreal Impact News Release


MONTREAL, August 3, 2004 — Still alone on top of the Eastern Conference following games played over the weekend, the Montreal Impact will have a chance to extend its lead in the standings this week, playing two home games in three nights. The Puerto Rico Islanders will be the visitors at Claude Robillard Sports Complex, Wednesday (7:30 pm, CJAD, CKAC), while the Vancouver Whitecaps will follow on Friday (8:00 pm, live on FSW and CKAC, tape-delayed on RDS).

Impact forward Eduardo Sebrango, who scored the game-winning goal in the teamÂ’s 2-0 win in Puerto Rico in the inaugural game of the season, April 25, seems to be his old self again, having found the back of the net in four of MontrealÂ’s last five games.

After scoring a club-record 18 goals in 2002, SebrangoÂ’s season came to an end on July 23 last year because of a torn ACL to the right knee.

He has a total of six goals and two assists so far this summer. His 14 points give him second place among team scorers, one point behind Fred Commodore.

"Now I think about finishing in first place," says Sebrango, laughing, when asked if heÂ’s looking to finish first in the Impact scoring race, as he did in 2002. "But over the years and after what I went through last year, you realize that soccer is a team sport. Sure, I want to score a lot of goals, but to me itÂ’s more important that we finish the season strong as a team, and that I just keep looking for ways to improve my play."

Although his knee operation dates back to last August 15 and he recovered in time to start the 2004 season, Sebrango admits his return to play wasnÂ’t as smooth as he had wished.

"In the beginning, I wasn’t playing as well as I wanted to," admits Sebrango. "I wasn’t 100 percent, my hamstring was acting up. It was frustrating and it took a while to find out what was wrong — it was a side effect of the operation.

"Ronny Varga, the team physio, told me I was lucky I was playing at all. He told me that if I kept working, everything would fall back into place. And now, I feel great. I said to myself that the past was the past, I canÂ’t change it. The most important thing for me was to get back in top shape in time for the playoffs."

Although the Islanders are an expansion team, the Impact cannot afford to take them lightly. After posting a 0-6-2 record to start the season, they replaced Vitor Hugo Barros by Hugo Maradona, DiegoÂ’s brother, at the coaching position. Since then, Porto Rico is 5-7-4, thanks in part to the solid play of former Impact goalkeeper Michael Ueltschey, who has seven shutouts in 12 starts and a goals-against average of 1.35.

The Impact will have to do without midfielder ZĂ© Roberto, suspended for the next two games because of an accumulation of yellow cards.

"This is a game we want to win although itÂ’s never easy, but itÂ’s also important for us to keep improving as a team from game to game," said Sebrango. "If we do things right and keep doing them right, it will pay off in the playoffs."

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