Two of the three teams tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference will battle for their playoff lives Saturday afternoon.When it comes to stretch run MLS matches, it's hard to imagine many situations more tense than the one faced by the Philadelphia Union and Montreal Impact on Saturday.
Joined by the Chicago Fire in a three-way tie for fourth in the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia and Montreal will clash in a vital match when it comes to determining the conference's five playoff participants. While Philadelphia is enjoying a modest 2-0-1 stretch, the Impact find themselves in an 0-5-1 free fall that has taken them from the Supporters' Shield conversation to danger of missing the postseason.
Making matters worse, the Impact face the Union just three days after a 1-0 loss at the LA Galaxy. But it should be a stronger side than the one that made the trek to Carson, Calif., with the rested Alessandro Nesta, Patrice Bernier and Felipe likely returning to the lineup and the duo of Matteo Ferrari and Davy Arnaud back from suspension.
The Union, meanwhile, are coming off a last-gasp 1-1 draw with D.C. United last weekend. Although Jack McInerney ended a four-month drought with the equalizer, the Union were disappointed to only get a point against the league's worst team. Although fullbacks Sheanon Williams and Fabinho are back from suspension, MLS assist leader Sebastien Le Toux is a doubt with a foot injury.
Philadelphia is yet to beat Montreal this season, with the Impact triumphing 5-3 on May 5 at Stade Saputo before the clubs played to a scoreless draw Aug. 31 at PPL Park.