Montreal, QC – The San Jose Earthquakes will try to maintain a cushion at the top of the Western Conference when the club travels to Saputo Stadium to take on the Montreal Impact on Saturday.
With three wins from its last five games San Jose holds a five-point lead on second-place Real Salt Lake in the conference.
But the Earthquakes won't find it easy to take three points from the expansion side at Saputo Stadium.
Head coach Jesse Marsch has his team riding a three-game winning streak heading into the match, which marks the longest streak of the season for the club.
And with an 8-3-2 mark on home soil, Montreal has proven to be a tough place to play for opposing teams.
The Impact's strong form at home is a big reason why the club finds itself just three points out of a playoff spot, although Marsch acknowledged that glancing at the Eastern Conference table can be a little misleading.
"It's definitely hard to read the table," said Marsch. "The fact that we have played more games and that it's not easy to predict results leaves us in a position where we can't really look too far. We have to take it one game at a time."
Montreal has played four more games in fact than D.C. United, which currently owns the final playoff spot. But at this point, all the Impact can do is control what happens in its own games the rest of the way.
One player who could play a big role down the stretch for Montreal is defender Alessandro Nesta, who is currently battling a knee injury and is unlikely to take part in Saturday's game.
"At this point, he's doubtful," Marsch told reporters on Thursday. "More than anything, I think we need to be smart with him and just progress him in a way that makes sense. He's disappointed, because I know he really wants to play, but we're all trying to do this in a way that can make sure that he's ready for some big matches down the stretch."