Union, Impact meet in key East tussle
Montreal, QC (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of budding Eastern Conference rivals clash on Saturday in the heat of the playoff chase as the Philadelphia Union visit the Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium.
Both teams are in desperate need of a result if they want to stay in the playoff mix as the sit even on 46 points with two games remaining on the regular season schedule.
Philadelphia looked to be in prime position to make the postseason after 1-0 wins over Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC in consecutive weeks. But the youthful Union hit a snag last week as they could only manage a 1-1 draw against last place D.C. United which saw them drop below the red line.
Playing on the road against a feisty United team that had claimed the U.S. Open Cup title weeks earlier, the Union sat back and were burned in the 36th minute when Nick DeLeon beat Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath with an inch-perfect long distance strike.
But the Union managed to steal a point in the final minute of regulation when Kleberson sent a lofted cross into the box that was nodded home by Jack McInerney, who snapped a 14-match goalless drought with the tally.
The draw means that Philadelphia will certainly need at least another stalemate against Montreal to keep their playoffs hopes afloat. But in two previous encounters in Montreal, Philadelphia has lost both games.
Union players certainly know the magnitude of Saturday's match:
"This is a very important game. It's going to be a war," defender Amobi Okugo said. "Because they know we have a chance to jump them (in the standings) if we win and they have a chance to separate themselves if they get a result. So this game could be the deciding factor with who's going to make the playoffs."
Montreal, meanwhile, also needs a win to get back on track. The Impact looked unbeatable early in the season, but has slowed down considerably late on and having lost three straight games on home soil.
Their most recent setback was a 1-0 defeat to the Los Angeles Galaxy at StubHub Center on Wednesday.
Los Angeles claimed the winner off a corner kick in the 68th minute as Kofi Opare netted his first career MLS goal to give the Galaxy the win.
"Overall, we played a good game so this result hurts," said Impact head coach Marco Schallibaum. "We had at least four or five good scoring chances. To win, you have to score these goals. We deserved at least a point tonight but there's no time to be sad. We must get back on our feet and face Philadelphia this Saturday. Despite the loss, our young defenders were excellent tonight."
Despite the loss, Schallibaum urged his team to quickly move on from the loss against LA and focus on Saturday's tilt.
"There's no time to be sad. We must get back on our feet and face Philadelphia this Saturday," He said.
In four all-time meetings between the sides, Montreal holds a 2-1-1 edge.
10/18 19:10:40 ET