Just days after a surprise run in the U.S. Open Cup ended, the Philadelphia Union will try to continue their MLS resurrection Saturday at PPL Park against the Montreal Impact.
Philadelphia lost to Sporting Kansas City in the Open Cup semifinals Wednesday as its quest for its first trophy ended, but the third-year MLS squad can win its third straight league match this weekend.
With MLS wins over the Los Angeles Galaxy and Toronto FC this month, the Union have accumulated nine of their 17 points since late June, starting with a 4-0 win over Sporting.
Under interim coach John Hackworth, the Union (5-9-2) have won three of their five matches. Under former manager Peter Nowak, the club managed just two wins and eight points through 11 matches.
Philadelphia welcomes expansion Montreal to PPL Park having played two fewer matches than the top five clubs in the Eastern Conference, meaning a continued run of success could send the club into a playoff position.
"The Cup run was very important for us," Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath said. "We are still on track despite this lost. We still have a great shot to make the playoffs in Major League Soccer. We need to look forward to Saturday."
Montreal (6-11-3) sits four points ahead of Philadelphia, but has played four more matches this season. The Union could move within a point of Montreal this weekend.
"It is a must-win situation," Union forward Jack McInerney said, "because they are right in front of us in the standings. These are important points."
The Impact have played well for a first-year club, but it has earned just four points on the road.
Montreal has continued to evolve, as Italian World Cup winner Alessandro Nesta was recently signed, and young Swiss defender Dennis Iapichino was signed this week as well.
The Impact picked up an important 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew on Sunday, as they ended a three-game losing streak. Zarek Valentin and Patrice Bernier both scored after the 78th minute.
Montreal rallied from a halftime deficit for the first time, and will attempt to build on the result despite having Bernardo Corradi, Matteo Ferrari, Nelson Rivas, and Andrew Wenger ruled out with injury.
"It was a good game mentally. This is a moral victory that will help us when we are in tough spots in the future," Bernier said.