Red Bull New York and the Montreal Impact will meet for a third time this season when the two sides square off at Red Bull Arena on Saturday.
The season series between New York and Montreal has been split down the middle thus far as both clubs have emerged victorious from their respective home matches; the Impact earned a 1-0 win over the Red Bulls at the Stade Saputo on March 23 while the rematch on May 8 ended 2-1 in favor of Mike Petke's men.
New York has lost three of its last four league matches, but still sits just three points back of first-place Montreal.
The Red Bulls most recently faltered in a 2-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids, a result that was brought about by Colorado's opening goal just two minutes into the second half.
"The early goal just deflates you," midfielder Dax McCarty said. "It's just a set piece. They aren't dangerous the whole game, one set piece, and it's a broken play. What can you say? It's a broken play, it's a lucky goal and (Nathan) Sturgis finishes off well."
Despite its recent woes, New York has managed to remain in the race for first place in the Eastern Conference thanks to Montreal's simultaneous struggles. The Impact come into the weekend on a three-game winless run, drawing two straight after a 4-3 home loss to the Rapids.
"We have to admit that this is a tough spell for us, with only two points out of a possible nine," said Impact defender Hassoun Camara. "There's a lot of physical fatigue, a little mental fatigue, but it's a long season and we had to expect that. We have to be strong and stay the course."
Montreal was held to a 1-1 draw by Chivas USA in its last outing, a positive result given the fact that Impact trailed in the match but one that head coach Marco Schallibaum will rue due to his side's missed chances.
"It's unfortunate that we only earned one point," said the Montreal boss. "We did enough to score a few goals, maybe make it 2-1 or even 3-1, but we couldn't break through.
"However, coming back to earn a point after being down for a second game in a row is important as these little points here and there will be important at the end of the season."
New York will need to be wary of Montreal's potent offense early on in Saturday's match. The Impact lead MLS with 31 goals this season while the Red Bulls have conceded six goals in the opening 15 minutes of matches, tying them with D.C. United for the most in MLS.