Montreal (11-14-3) sit sixth in the East with 36 points, following an impressive 3-0 home win against the Supporters’ Shield-leading New York Red Bulls on Sept. 1. Next up are the fifth-place Philadelphia Union (12-11-4), with a matchup set for this Saturday night at Talen Energy Stadium (7:30 pm ET | TV & Streaming Info).
A win would move Montreal within one point of the Union, who have played one fewer game. The Impact are two points ahead of D.C. United and three ahead of the New England Revolution, who each also have a game in hand.
“Like a lot of teams we are looking ahead of us, but we’re looking behind us, too,” Montreal head coach Remi Garde said before practice at Centre Nutrilait on Thursday. “We have an opportunity, this possibility of moving closer to a direct opponent. It won’t be easy, but we know that nothing is impossible in this league. The teams are close enough to each other that it’s very interesting for everyone and very rewarding for the league.”
The Impact will face an opponent that is riding a five-game undefeated streak in league play, which includes four straight wins prior to a 2-2 draw in Orlando in their last game.
Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush believes Philadelphia have been able to generate production from all over the field. Whereas many top MLS teams have one or two top players to stop, he said, the challenge in facing the Union is that “they have a lot of guys right in that middle tier of players, and that makes them dangerous because you don’t know who you have to stop.”
Bush noted that striker Cory Burke has elevated his game for Philadelphia over the past few months.
“He’s come in and provided a spark for them,” Bush said. “That’s been able to have them move [CJ Sapong] into different positions, and it’s opened the game up a little bit for Ilsinho and [Fafa Picault]. Then the central midfield with [Haris Medunjanin] and [Alejandro Bedoya] and those guys, they do really well with controlling the game.
“It’s going to be a game where we’re going to have to keep the game in front of us. We’re going to have to be disciplined, because if they get in behind us, they’ve got a lot of guys that can hurt you for sure.”
With a steady approach, the Impact could take another big step toward solidifying their playoff spot.
“If we control the game, and we keep the game on our terms with the pace and all these things, it’s a game that we can go get something out of,” Bush said. “Philadelphia is a team that’s in full momentum. They have a lot of confidence and that’s something that we’re going to have to be aware of.”