The Montreal Impact snapped their lengthy winless drought with a thrilling finish to their most recent game. A favorable stretch in their schedule could keep them heading in the right direction.
The Impact will have two matchups with last-place D.C. United in the next two weeks, beginning with Saturday night's visit to RFK Stadium.
Montreal (10-5-5) lost its lead in the Eastern Conference during an 0-2-3 stretch but picked up some key points with a 1-0 win over first-place Sporting Kansas City last Saturday. Blake Smith scored the lone goal in the 96th minute.
"It's a huge win and really good for the team's morale, especially after such a good effort to win the game in the end," All-Star midfielder Patrice Bernier said. "We now move within one point of first ... our smiles are a little bigger. We couldn't have asked for better."
The Impact will try to climb back into the lead and improve their recent lackluster play on the road during a four-game stretch against teams that are currently out of playoff contention. Montreal, 1-4-2 in its last seven away from home, travels to Chicago next week before hosting D.C. on Aug. 17.
There's a good chance that a pair of recent high-profile signees, designated player Hernan Bernardello and defender Adrian Lopez, could join the team sometime during those four games.
United (2-15-4) head into this matchup having been outscored 9-2 during an 0-4-1 stretch. Luis Silva gave his team an early lead last Saturday against visiting New England, but D.C. gave up two goals in the second half for a 2-1 defeat.
Silva, acquired from Toronto FC on July 9, has scored in each of his first two games with United. The club might need his help even more with forward Lionard Pajoy slated to miss the next six weeks while recovering from hernia surgery.
Pajoy was tied with Dwayne De Rosario for the team lead with two goals at the time of his injury.
The status of Chris Pontius (leg) remains unclear, and it's unknown how long De Rosario will get to play. De Rosario, who had been dealing with an ailing hip flexor, appeared in his first game in nearly a month last Saturday.
Goalkeeper Bill Hamid is back with the team after serving as a backup with the U.S. national squad, but coach Ben Olsen wouldn't say if he would replace Joe Willis, who has started four straight games.
"(Hamid) hasn't had a lot of games. He's been doing a lot of watching, unfortunately. He'll come back and we'll see what he has. We'll see how sharp he is and we'll evaluate it this week and for the weekend and we'll go from there," Olsen told the team's website.
Montreal was 1-1-1 against D.C. United in its inaugural season and 0-1-1 at RFK. United won 3-0 in the Impact's most recent visit June 30, 2012, but Montreal won 3-0 in the most recent matchup Aug. 25.