Since June 29th Montreal has earned just 6 points from a possible 24. Call it a slump, a collapse, or a blip, call it whatever you want, but it's not pretty. In the process they've slipped from 1st in the east, to now 4th, thankfully with a couple games in hand on the teams above. However, the teams directly below are right on their heels only a few points behind.
Montreal will be looking to Saturday as a must win. Not only for points in the standings, but as a catalyst to propel this team back to winning ways through the final third of the season.
The Team in Blue
Marco Schallibaum will have to consider a challenging away fixture against CD Heredia in the CONCACAF Champions League midweek when making his selection on Saturday.
With 3 points to lead Group 5 in the CCL standings, Schallibaum will surely be tempted to field a strong side away from home on Wednesday with the hopes of leaving Guatemala with a firm grip on first place.
This is where squad depth and man management will be paramount. Thankfully something Schallibaum has plenty of experience in from his days in Switzerland, and has shown already with the winning of the Canadian Championship earlier in the year.
Currently just Andrew Wenger is injured from the core team, but that alone is enough to influence the formation.
The 4-4-2 has been favored at home recently and is a likely formation again for Saturday. The lack of forwards with Wenger out however, could lead to the 4-3-3 being used.
Not only would this keep the available forwards fit and fresh for the upcoming games (3 games in 7 days), it would also allow for the starting midfield to feature Hernan Bernardello, Patrice Bernier and Felipe Martins together: A strong midfield three, surely capable of commanding possession in the middle of the park.
And something I'm sure the fans will be hoping to see
I'd be surprised to see Karl W. Ouimette, Maxime Tissot or Wandrille Lefevre get the start,. They'll no doubt see some time in the CCL or as substitutes on Saturday. That would give some rest to any member of the traditional back four we see week in and week out.
Adrian Lopez played a solid 90 minutes last Sunday against Chicago in the Reserve League, but again it would be more likely to see him make his debut in the CCL.
It's lonely at the bottom
I'm sure there's some sort of great analogy I'm missing about being the team in last place, with no pressure, and how that can make you even more dangerous. In any case, that's the position D.C. United find themselves in.
With just 2 wins in 8 games, and a grand total of 3 all season (all at home), the word nightmare is never too far from the lips of D.C. United supporters and staff.
And for a team who made it to the semi-finals of the playoffs last year - it's been a long fall from grace.
Still, this is a team that can still be very dangerous. With new players coming in and returning players from injury, it's a side in transition with nothing to lose.
Luis Silva has scored 3 goals in 3 games since his arrival from Toronto FC. If he recovers form his knock he received against Chicago and plays, this is someone the defensive line will need to watch carefully.
Dwayne De Rosario is obviously the focal point of the team and will be dangerous as always. Chris Pontius (who scored a beauty against Montreal in the Walt Disney Classic back in February in Florida) hasn't been having the season he'd hoped for, but can still cause plenty of problems if left unchecked.
Canadian international Dejan Jakovic has slowly been making his way back from injury and is likely to play a part on Saturday.
Unfortunately the brotherly matchup between the Nyassi brothers (Sanna and Sainey) will have to be put on hold once again since Sainey is recovering from injury and didn't make the trip.
DC will look to stay compact, defend tightly and catch Montreal on the counter attack. Something Bernardello will need to monitor from his spot in front of the back line.
An odd twist of events
In exactly that, Dennis Iapichino was signed off waivers by DC on Wednesday and is available for selection by his new team for the match on Saturday.
Nick de Santis revealed earlier in the week that the desire to give more play time to homegrown talent such as Ouimette, Tissot and Lefevre, prompted the decision to place the left back on waivers.
Iapichino had shown poorly as well in recent weeks. Although he was very well liked in the locker room, it's nice to see the Impact willing to make changes to see recently promoted academy players get time on the pitch.
With something to prove, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Iapichino get at least some minutes against his former team.
Look for a blistering start by the Impact who have something to prove. And a game at home against the worst team in the East at Stade Saputo is the perfect stage to go out and do just that.
This Saturday at Stade Saputo the Impact will have eyes for 3 points alone.