Trying to secure a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference, the slumping Montreal Impact might have to overcome some key injuries to win one of the biggest matches in team history.
Currently out of that playoff picture, the New England Revolution are running out of time to make up ground.
The Impact hope to have the league's leading scorer in the lineup Saturday when they attempt to take a big step toward clinching their first playoff berth in a matchup with the visiting Revolution.
Although they've gone more than a month without a victory, the fourth-place Impact (13-10-7) are closing in on securing a postseason spot in their second year. They lead Chicago by three points and own the tiebreaker with four games remaining, while the Fire - who host FC Dallas on Saturday - have three matches left.
Trailing Houston by two points, Montreal can still finish third in the East and earn a bye in the opening round.
"The game is very important for us," coach Marco Schallibaum said. "We have this goal in front of us to go to the playoffs. We must also be careful because (New England) is also a team that wants to go to the playoffs."
Schallibaum's club is looking to get back on track, having totaled three goals while going 0-3-1 since a 4-2 victory at New England (11-11-9) on Sept. 8. Marco Di Vaio had two goals and Patrice Bernier scored on a pair of penalty kicks in that meeting, but those players are uncertain for Saturday.
Di Vaio, tops in the MLS with 19 goals, is dealing with an ankle injury after limping off the field in a 1-0 loss to Houston last Friday. Bernier has been limited by a banged-up hip and Alessandro Nesta is nursing a strained abductor, though Hernan Bernardello (ankle) has declared himself fully fit.
Montreal could certainly use its full lineup after getting shut out for the second time in three league games. While they're 9-3-3 at home, the Impact will be trying to avoid a team-worst three-game skid there.
"Hopefully, the best is yet to come for the club," midfielder Davy Arnaud told the team's official website. "We have a huge opportunity to experience something special with this team."
Although the Impact are 3-1-0 all-time against New England, the Revolution won 1-0 in their last trip to Montreal on Oct. 27.
Facing a three-point deficit for the fifth and final playoff spot in the East, seventh-place New England has a sense of urgency heading into this matchup following a 2-all draw at New York last Saturday. The Revolution have allowed nine goals while going 0-2-2 in their last four on the road.
"It's a huge game," coach Jay Heaps said. "We keep bringing it up because it's true and unfortunately, we've left points on the table. We're in a situation where we have to go Montreal and get points - it's as simple as that."
Diego Fagundez, tied for fifth in MLS with 12 goals, has scored five times in his last seven matches, including a first-half goal against the Impact in September.
Fellow midfielder Kelyn Rowe (seven goals) provided the other score as New England outshot Montreal 10-8 despite playing a man down for most of the match.
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