Mike Magee and Patrick Nyarko have played significant roles in the Chicago Fire's resurgence, but one of them will have to miss the next game.
A head injury will keep Nyarko from helping the Fire try to extend their three-game unbeaten streak in league play Saturday night against the struggling Montreal Impact.
Magee has taken over MLS' goal-scoring lead by finding the net in each game during the Fire's 2-0-1 run. His 14th goal of the season was the tiebreaker in a 2-1 victory at Philadelphia last Saturday.
Nyarko assisted on that goal and scored one of his own in the win, but he took a blow to the head in Chicago's 2-0 loss to D.C. United in Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup semifinal. He'll sit out at least this match due to concussion symptoms.
The forward has scored three goals in his last five MLS matches and also assisted on Magee's goal in a 1-all draw at Houston on July 27.
Nyarko's injury hardly helps a Fire club seeking to boost its playoff hopes. Chicago (8-9-4) is five points behind fifth-place Houston and seven back of Montreal for third in the Eastern Conference.
"We are still in the hunt for the playoffs and we have a key game on Saturday on short rest and we have to be mentally ready for sure," defender Gonzalo Segares said.
The Fire will try to avenge a 2-0 defeat at Montreal on April 27 and would appear to have a good chance given the Impact's recent woes. Plus, Chicago is 4-1-1 in its last six MLS home games while Montreal has gone 1-5-2 in its past eight on the road.
The Impact (10-6-5) are 1-3-3 in their last seven league games overall and scored just three goals over the past five, including a 3-1 defeat at league-worst D.C. last Saturday.
Like the Fire, Montreal could have to fight off some fatigue after a mid-week game. The Impact, though, might have received a boost from their 1-0 win over San Jose in CONCACAF Champions League group play Wednesday.
Designated player Hernan Bernardello assisted on Hassoun Camara's goal in his debut with the Impact.
"It lifts the team's morale going into the game against a good team in Chicago," goalkeeper Evan Bush said. "We are coming off of a deflating loss this past weekend, and this will help give us some confidence."
Montreal's other designated player, Marco Di Vaio, notched one of his team-best 11 goals in the win over Chicago in April but has none in his last four league games.
Di Vaio also scored in the Impact's only visit to Chicago, but his club gave up three unanswered goals in a 3-1 defeat Sept. 15.