After suffering the worst loss in franchise history, the Philadelphia Union have a prime opportunity to bounce back against the East-leading Montreal Impact on Saturday at PPL Park.
The Union had a golden chance to create some separation between themselves and the teams below them in the standings with a win on the road against the New England Revolution last week.
But the hard-charging Revs had other ideas when Kelyn Rowe scored from distance in the 26th minute to give the home side the lead.
Philadelphia equalized in the early moments of the second half through a Danny Cruz goal and appeared to take the lead when Matt Reis failed to keep hold of the ball and Conor Casey poked it home, but the referee waived the goal off.
Following the disallowed goal, the Union fell apart and New England scored four unanswered second-half goals to roll to a 5-1 thrashing.
Making matters worse for Philadelphia, central defender Amobi Okugo will miss the next two league matches after receiving a red card in stoppage time. As such, the Union will need to figure out a way to fill the void.
"Amobi's been so important to everything we're doing," Hackworth explained. "We'll have to have guys step up. The good thing about any of these situations, if you look at our whole season so far, any time we've had a guy that was out to injury, or a call up, or yellow cards or red cards -- guys that are coming on have stepped up. I think that's a positive sign for us. Amobi is important, but now it becomes an opportunity for someone else. Maybe Aaron Wheeler is the guy you'll be writing about next week because he had such a great game at center back."
"I think there are some plays made early in that second half and we felt like we did all the right things coming out of the locker room at halftime and had the moment and get the equalizer and then we felt like we got the go-ahead goal," Union manager John Hackworth said. "And for whatever reason, the officials felt otherwise. It's incredibly hard to take that part of it, because it changes so much."
Philadelphia, though, has been a resilient bunch all season and boasts an impressive 4-0-3 record following a loss this season.
Montreal, meanwhile, is coming off a 5-0 drubbing of the Houston Dynamo last week at Saputo Stadium.
Marco Di Vaio struck first for Montreal in the 35 minute and Felipe doubled the lead two minutes later. In the second half, Jeb Brovsky scored in the 58th, Di Vaio completed his brace 20 minutes from time and Andrea Pisanu finished the rout with a goal in stoppage time.
"I think if we look at our game today, it was important to manage our team well this week with Wednesday's game," said Impact assistant coach Mauro Biello. "We saw tonight a fresh attitude on the field, lots of play on our side and a big win for us."
"We've already played well this season, but this was the first time we played well the whole 90 minutes," added Di Vaio. "Today was a very big game for us and we were very concentrated. We know we have a good team and we also have something more than the other teams."
Last time the clubs met, Di Vaio torched the Union backline for a hat trick in a 5-3 victory in Montreal on May 25, while the last time the clubs met at PPL Park, Carlos Valdes netted the winner in the 88th minute to lift the Union to a 2-1 result.