Just about the only bright spot for the Montreal Impact this season was their victory over Toronto FC in the Canadian championship.
The worst team in MLS is mired in a five-game losing streak and just fired its sporting director as it gets ready to host Toronto on Saturday evening.
Montreal (3-12-5) won 2-1 on aggregate over Toronto, capping the two-legged series with a 1-0 home win June 4.
It marks one of the few successes for the Impact, who completed an 0-5-0 July with Sunday's 3-2 home loss to Portland. The club, which has never lost six consecutive games, decided to fire sporting director and club legend Nick De Santis on Wednesday.
"Obviously Nick took responsibilities as sporting director," owner Joey Saputo told the Impact's official website. "He made decisions during the offseason. There's a certain amount of accountability that you have to take, and unfortunately we're not where we want to be, and he's paying the price for it."
Saputo said first-year coach Frank Klopas will assume the vacant duties, and Klopas is clearly coaching to save his job.
There is some sentiment that Montreal may not focus as much on the MLS season since it begins play in the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday against Salvadoran club FAS.
The focus for Toronto (7-7-5) is clearly on this weekend as it tries to end an 0-2-2 slide. Its streak of scoring in 13 straight matches ended in Wednesday's 3-0 loss at D.C. United despite a 14-10 edge in overall shots.
"We were soft, we were soft in both boxes," said coach Ryan Nelsen after his club fell to 0-2-4 in its last six on the road.
Toronto is desperate to reach the playoffs after failing to do so in its first seven MLS seasons. It is tied for third place in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.
"The reality is still, more or less, halfway through with 26 points," midfielder Michael Bradley said. "We're not up at the top but we're not down in the bottom and now it's just about finding a way to keep ourselves going."
Defender Doneil Henry returns from suspension for Toronto while forward Gilberto could make his third start in four games after he was a substitute Wednesday.
Toronto star Jermain Defoe is fourth in the league with 11 goals although only three have come on the road.
The Impact could debut Dilly Duka, acquired Tuesday from Chicago for fellow midfielder Sanna Nyassi. Klopas coached Duka last season with the Fire.
Montreal's Issey Nakajima-Farran returns from suspension to face the team that traded him for Collen Warner in another swap of midfielders May 16. Warner makes his return to Montreal after spending his previous two-plus seasons with the club.
Nakajima-Farran and Warner were not eligible for their new clubs in the Canadian championship.
Jack McInerney leads the Impact with six goals but has come up empty in every contest of this losing streak.
These clubs split their three-game MLS season series a year ago with one victory apiece and one draw.
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- Toronto FC
- Montreal Impact
- Frank Klopas