The Philadelphia Union will aim to continue their surge toward the top of the Eastern Conference standings Saturday night in Chester, Pa., when they host a CF Montreal team that is also much improved recently.
The Union (8-4-3, 27 points) are unbeaten in their last eight games -- six of those wins -- during an extended run that has seen the defending Eastern Conference champions climb from beneath the playoff line up to third in the conference standings.
That doesn't necessarily mean it's been easy. In a 1-0 home win over Charlotte on Wednesday, Philadelphia struggled to find a breakthrough before finally going in front midway through the second half on an own goal forced by Daniel Gazdag's header.
The Union continued an excellent defensive record by recording a shutout in a third consecutive home match. On this occasion, they required only two saves out of goalkeeper Andre Blake for the shutout.
"We are having a really good moment right now and we have the chance to just focus solely on the league," Blake said, referencing that Philly was eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League and the U.S. Open Cup in early May. "We have a chance to really settle down, be ourselves, regroup and find our identity again."
Midfielder and captain Alejandro Bedoya (quadriceps) has missed the last three games but has been upgraded to questionable on Philadelphia's most recent availability report.
Montreal (6-8-1, 19 points) has made a similar if not quite as dramatic move up the standings under first-year coach Hernan Losada.
After winning only one of their first seven matches, CF Montreal have five wins and 16 total points from its last eight games.
The club will be making the short trip northeast from Washington to Philadelphia after a dramatic comeback in a 2-2 draw at D.C. United on Wednesday night.
Sunusi Ibrahim scored in the 80th minute, then assisted Ariel Lassiter's leveler two minutes later, becoming the second player in Montreal history to both score and assist after coming off the bench.
"We just needed one goal to get back in the game," Lassiter said postgame. "The players' mentality was excellent. We continued to fight -- 2-0 is a very dangerous lead and we showed that tonight."
--Field Level Media