Didier Drogba’s arrival and a coaching change have made a world of difference for the Montreal Impact, who have their sights set on the playoffs.
D.C. United is looking to snap its prolonged slump and prevent itself from slipping further down the Eastern Conference standings entering Saturday’s meeting in Montreal.
Montreal (11-11-6) holds the edge over Orlando for the East’s final playoff spot and is looking to cap off this homestand with its first three-match winning streak of the season. The Impact have outscored opponents 10-5 during a 3-0-2 stretch since Mauro Biello replaced Frank Klopas as coach, and a sixth consecutive match without a defeat would set a club record.
The club is also 3-1-1 with Drogba, who was acquired as a designated player July 27. The 37-year-old striker has five goals in his last four games, netting one in each of Montreal’s back-to-back victories against New England and Chicago this week.
"We knew this week was going to be important and we put ourselves in position to take all nine points available to us at home," defender Wandrille Lefevre told the team’s official website. "This team has a lot of depth and that has allowed us to go undefeated over this busy stretch, using different players and different formations. We will be ready to leave it all on the field this Saturday."
The Impact haven’t won three in a row since a club-record five-match winning streak their inaugural season July 28-Aug. 25, 2012.
D.C. (13-11-6) isn’t entirely out of the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, though it has tumbled to fourth because of its late-season swoon. The struggles continued with Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Columbus, and the club is 3-6-2 in its last 11 matches without a win in the last five – its longest drought since a 12-match winless stretch to end 2013.
United may have some momentum after scoring three second-half goals to come back for a 3-all draw at Montego Bay United in Tuesday’s CONCACAF Champions League match. The club hasn’t scored multiple goals in any of its last six league fixtures.
D.C. won both earlier meetings this year 1-0, improving to 3-0-2 in the last five meetings. The Impact largely outplayed United at home on Aug. 8, claiming a 26-1 advantage in shots.
Montreal, which is plus-12 at home compared to minus-11 on the road, plays its next four matches away from home before returning for its regular-season finale against Toronto FC.
The Impact will be without defender Laurent Ciman and midfielder Andres Romero, who have combined for 44 starts, six goals and six assists. Ciman received two yellows in Wednesday’s 2-1 win against Chicago, while Romero is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.