Montreal, QC – D.C. United heads into the Stade Saputo for Saturday's tilt with the Montreal Impact potentially having turned a corner in its push for a postseason berth.
United was 1-3-1 over its five matches ahead of Wednesday's tilt with the Chicago Fire and making headlines for all the wrong reasons after Chris Korb and Brandon McDonald were involved in an on-field scuffle at the weekend.
But United silenced it doubters by thumping Chicago, 4-2, a result that was not without a slew of positives.
Dwayne De Rosario bagged the opening goal of the affair, leaving the Canadian one goal shy of the century mark in his illustrious MLS career.
Korb and McDonald banished any speculation that their spout would impact their play on the field, connecting in the 51st minute of the match to produce what turned out to be the game-winner.
And the play of Marcelo Saragosa was a pleasant surprise. The Brazilian veteran was thrust into the starting XI and was impressive enough to draw praise from United coach Ben Olsen.
"I was impressed with a lot of guys, starting with Marcelo," Olsen said in his post-match press conference. "He set a good tone, I'm proud of him. He has had a tough year. I've relied on him very, very sparingly and he's always telling me, 'Listen, I've got it. You need to put me in the game.'"
With Olsen stating that a central midfield pairing of Saragosa and Perry Kitchen is "an option going forward," it will be interesting to see how he structures United against a Montreal side that is atop the form table.
Montreal has won four straight matches, becoming the first Canadian club in MLS to reach 11 wins in a season. The Impact are now one win shy of the record for wins by an expansion team of 12, set by Seattle Sounders FC in 2009.
The Impact are close to setting the record for most goals scored by an expansion team as well. Montreal's 39 goals this season ranks the club second in the East behind Red Bull New York. One more goal would see the club tie the Portland Timbers' output of 40 last season.
Montreal is 9-3-2 at home this season, tying the club with Real Salt Lake and New York for most home wins thus far.
Should the Impact come away with three points, they would move to within one point of D.C. in the Eastern Conference table, though United still holds three games in hand.
With Montreal only having seven games left, Saturday's tilt will be instrumental in shaping the playoff picture the rest of the way.