The Montreal Impact’s attack has been listless during a three-game stretch in which Marco Di Vaio has failed to add to his league-leading tally of goals.
Now they have a quick turnaround to contend with after a long flight ahead of Saturday’s critical home matchup with the Philadelphia Union.
Montreal, Chicago and Philadelphia each have 46 points and occupy spots four through six in the Eastern Conference, with the top five reaching the postseason.
The Impact (13-12-7) are the only team in this matchup that can clinch a playoff berth with a victory and if New England fails to beat Columbus on Saturday night.
Montreal has been held scoreless in three straight games following Wednesday’s 1-0 loss at Los Angeles.
“We deserved at least a point tonight but there’s no time to be sad,” coach Marco Schallibaum told the Impact’s official website. “We must get back on our feet and face Philadelphia this Saturday.”
Di Vaio remains stuck on 19 goals, which ties the Fire’s Mike Magee for the MLS lead. The Italian forward was forced to leave early due to an ankle injury Oct. 4 in a loss to Houston, although he has played 90 minutes in the two subsequent matches.
The Union (12-10-10) are all too aware of Di Vaio, who had a hat trick in a 5-3 home win over them on May 25. The teams played to a scoreless draw in Philadelphia on Aug. 31.
“When we played up there in the first game, I thought they had one of their best performances of the year,” Union coach John Hackworth said. “But I think when we played them here, we were able to do a lot of things to counter what they do well.”
Montreal has managed only one draw during its current six-game winless slide in MLS play, including its first three-game home skid.
The Union have gone 2-0-1 in their last three, gaining a crucial point last Saturday when Jack McInerney ended his 14-game goal drought with a 90th-minute equalizer for a 1-1 draw at lowly D.C. United.
McInerney leads the team with 11 goals, one more than Conor Casey.
A win Saturday will be key for Philadelphia, which has fewer victories - the first tiebreaker - than the teams it is fighting for a playoff spot.
“A draw is probably not going to do it and we’re certainly going for three points in Montreal,” midfielder Danny Cruz said.
Union defender Michael Farfan is suspended for this match over yellow-card accumulation, while Fabinho and Sheanon Williams will both be available. Forward Sebastien Le Toux’s status is questionable due to plantar fasciitis.
“I think both of us are going to be in a position where we need to get a result on Saturday,” Hackworth said. “The advantage for them is that they’re at home, and that’s a good advantage but it also puts a little more pressure on them.”
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