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Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

Houston Dynamo look to keep pace in "close" Western Conference race against Montreal Impact

The Houston Dynamo host the Montreal Impact on Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. | TICKETS), their final match before the league takes a two week break due to the 2017 Gold Cup group stage. Mexican national team forward Erick Torres is expected to feature before leaving for the Gold Cup, allowing the Dynamo to count on their top scorer in this match.

Torres scored the lone goal in the Dynamo’s 3-1 loss at Colorado Rapids last Saturday, collecting his 12th goal of the season – one shy of matching the club’s MLS regular season record. The result dropped the Dynamo in the Western Conference standings, making points at home a priority against Montreal.

“We are in a close conference; all the teams are close to each other on points,” said Torres. “It’s going to be vital to get stronger during this second part of the season. We are going to have to close in a good way, because we have the playoffs coming up and the team is heading that way. We are on the right path, but we still have to improve in a lot of details if we want to achieve big things.”

The Impact come into this match with a 5-5-6 record (1-3-5 away) and currently place 9th in the Eastern Conference, on the outside looking in on the playoff race. Led once again by Argentinian midfielder Ignacio Piatti, Montreal are looking to get in the playoff mix to better their trip to the conference finals last season.

Piatti leads the team with eight goals this season and newcomer Blerim Dzemaili leads the team with four assists. These two will be players to watch along with forwards Matteo Mancosu and former Dynamo Dominic Oduro.

“They’re talented, they’re fighting,” said Dynamo head coach Wimer Cabrera. “I know they’re coming with a lot of motivation and are strong mentally because they won [on Saturday] and we have to come strong and with a lot of motivation because this is our home, and we need to be sure that at our home we win.”

The Dynamo will be without their three Hondurans – Alberth Elis, Boniek Garcia and Romell Quioto – who have reported with their national team ahead of Friday’s Gold Cup kickoff. The Impact will have international absences of their own, including forward Anthony Jackson-Hamel and midfielder Patrice Bernier.

Despite the missing names, this matchup will still feature two very able teams that have sights on lifting silverware at the end of the season. Just a day removed from the 4th of July, the Dynamo will be looking to be the ones providing the fireworks on the field on Wednesday night.