Just below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference, the Montreal Impact essentially have no room for error in their attempt to reach the postseason.
Back from the international break, the Impact have a quality opportunity to gain three points on Saturday night when lowly FC Cincinnati comes to town.
Montreal (11-15-4) is a dismal 2-8-1 since late June, and that stretch is a big reason it sits two points behind New England for the final playoff spot in the East. The Impact have not played since losing 3-0 at home to D.C. United on Aug. 31, so one would think that a good number of their players have had enough rest and preparation to be ready for a final playoff push.
"We're focused on this week, and our game against Cincinnati," keeper Evan Bush told the Impact's official website. "We need to get ourselves back into a position where we can have some confidence moving forward. We need three points this weekend."
Montreal must also find a way to improve its play on the back-end after conceding 18 goals over its last six MLS games. Seven of those goals have come over the Impact's last three at home.
"We need to be open to some instructions and guidance regarding the way we want to play," Bush added. "We haven't had much time to discuss how we wanted to play, so I think (the international break was) a great opportunity for us to absorb all that information. I'm looking forward to seeing how we're going to play on Saturday."
This weekend also presents a chance for Montreal to earn a season-series split with Cincinnati after suffering a 2-1 road defeat on May 11. Orji Okwonkwo (seven goals) scored in the 75th minute of that contest, but FCC was already up 2-0 at that point.
Cincinnati (5-21-3), however, is just 2-14-1 since that victory. It's 0-8-1 since beating Houston at home and Chicago on the road in back-to-back games on July 6 and 13. FCC was down 5-0 to Toronto FC by the time Emmanuel Ledesma scored the game's final goal in the 92nd minute in its most recent contest last weekend.
The team reportedly held a meeting during the week to address matters following that ugly defeat.
"I try to be positive all the time, sometimes maybe a little too much," coach Ron Jans told FCC's official website. "I will keep doing that because there is another game (Saturday) and then four more. We will try to do everything to get them well prepared."
With goals in back-to-back games, Ledesma leads Cincinnati with six in MLS play.
Montreal's Saphir Taider has a team-high nine goals, but none in his last four contests.
Updated September 12, 2019