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On the heels of a three-game losing streak, D.C. United travel to Canada on Saturday evening to take on the Montreal Impact, in a game with huge playoff implications. United currently sit in 5th place in the MLS' Eastern Conference, with Montreal, Toronto FC, and the New England Revolution trailing closely behind. And United will have to navigate the 90 minutes once again without Wayne Rooney, who is out with a suspension.
The game kicks off at 7:30 PM ET with coverage for viewers in the DMV area beginning on FloFC at 7 PM.
The Black-and-Red are just a week removed from a stretch of three games in eight days, which all ended in defeat for the club. The streak started with a tight 1-0 loss at the Vancouver Whitecaps, followed by a midweek 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls, which saw Rooney get sent off in the first half for violent conduct.
Last Saturday, Luciano Acosta scored his sixth goal of the season in the second half on the road against the Philadelphia Union, but a slow start to the first half meant the goal was of little consolation in a 3-1 loss for United. Those losses, added to Montreal's 2-1 midweek win over the Whitecaps, means that Saturday's tilt could determine who finishes the night in 5th place in the Eastern Conference.
This meeting is almost a mirror image of last season's late matchup between the two clubs at Audi Field. United were still chasing down a playoff spot after Rooney's midseason arrival and needed a win against the Impact to close in on their opponents. What transpired was a lopsided 5-0 win for the Black-and-Red, who would go on to make the playoffs, at the expense of the Canadian side.
Saturday's game could have the same gravitas, as a loss for United would leave them teetering on the edge of a playoff spot. With the Revs and TFC playing against each other on Saturday night, United can't completely fall out of a playoff spot this weekend, but they could finish the weekend in 7th place, after spending much of the summer in the top half of the Eastern Conference.
Opposite them on Saturday is a team that has had their own ups and downs in recent weeks. Two weekends ago, Montreal blew a 3-0 lead at home to settle for a point in a draw with FC Dallas. A couple of days later, manager Remi Garde was fired and was immediately replaced by Wilmer Cabrera, who had also been recently fired by the Houston Dynamo.
Cabrera oversaw the Impact's 2-1 loss to rivals Toronto in his team debut, which also saw the first goal for new signing Bojan Krkic. Cabrera's side fared better on Wednesday, recovering from a deficit at home to pick up three points against Vancouver. Evan Bush saved a penalty to prevent the hosts from falling behind by two goals in the first half, which was quickly followed by a two-goal salvo from Montreal.
The previous game between the two clubs this year came back in April, in a 0-0 draw at Audi Field. Rooney was also suspended for that game, having picked up a red card in the 4-0 loss to LAFC just days earlier.
United might have the luxury of being able to recall Russell Canouse to the squad this weekend after the midfielder missed the last five games after suffering a collapsed lung last month. Meanwhile, on Friday, United announced that Chris Durkin left the club on loan, playing in Belgium until June 2020.
Predicted D.C. United Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Bill Hamid, Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Leonardo Jara, Junior Moreno, Felipe Martins, Lucas Rodriguez, Luciano Acosta, Paul Arriola, Ola Kamara