The Philadelphia Union won't make a second consecutive playoff appearance this year, but they've matched up well lately against teams that could end up in the postseason.
The New England Revolution will not be one of those clubs.
Philadelphia looks to remain undefeated in this series and hand the Revolution a franchise-record 13th road loss Saturday night.
Though the Union (9-15-6) were officially eliminated from postseason contention last Saturday, they've gone 2-1-0 following a season-worst 0-4-4 slide. They closed September by facing two teams currently within one point of each other for the Eastern Conference's final playoff berth, defeating Houston 3-1 and losing 3-2 to Columbus on an 88th-minute goal.
Their solid play continued Wednesday, posting a 3-1 victory over Chicago to end a franchise-worst 0-3-3 road skid. Jack McInerney, Gabriel Gomez and Antoine Hoppenot all scored as Philadelphia ended the Fire's six-game home winning streak and prevented them from moving within two points of the East lead.
"For us, it wasn't as much about knocking off Chicago as it was more about reinforcing the performances that we've had in the recent weeks," coach John Hackworth told the Union's official website.
Hackworth has to feel encouraged by an offense that has eight goals in three matches - the last two without Freddy Adu (left quad strain) - after scoring twice over the previous five.
It's uncertain if the Union will face Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis for a third time this season. With New England (7-16-8) out of playoff contention, coach Jay Heaps could give backup Bobby Shuttleworth a third consecutive start.
"I feel comfortable now whenever I'm called upon to step in and hopefully that'll lead to a consistent spot on the team," Shuttleworth, who made five saves in last Saturday's 2-0 loss at Houston, told the Revolution's official website.
Reis stopped three shots in a 2-1 loss at Philadelphia on July 29 and had a season high-tying six saves in a scoreless draw against the Union on Sept. 1 when the Revolution's winless stretch hit a team-record 10.
New England is looking for its first win in this all-time series, having gone 0-3-3, and first on the road since a 3-1 victory over Los Angeles on March 31.
The Revolution have since gone 0-10-2 away from home and now look to avoid breaking the single-season team record for road losses. The 1997 club finished 4-12-1 on the road.
New England will again be without its top two scorers - Saer Sene (ACL) and Lee Nguyen (shoulder) - while key defenders Chris Tierney (knee, hamstring), Flo Lechner (MCL), and Stephen McCarthy (concussion-like symptoms) are not expected to see action.
"We have limited options (at defense)," said Heaps, who added that midfielder Alec Purdie could see time at defender alongside regulars Darrius Barnes and A.J. Soares.
Hackworth will likely have to find a replacement for midfielder Danny Cruz, who suffered a toe injury Wednesday.
Philadelphia's Gabriel Farfan (ankle, hamstring) is questionable, while fellow defender Sheanon Williams won't be available due to yellow-card accumulation.