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Union, Impact eye playoff spots

Sports Xchange
14 Sep 2018, 16:45 GMT+10

The Philadelphia Union look to take a step closer to securing a postseason spot Saturday night when they welcome a Montreal Impact club grappling for its playoff life.

The Union (12-11-4) are unbeaten with four wins in their last five matches to climb into a relatively comfortable perch in fifth place in Eastern Conference. That's four points ahead of the Impact and six points above the playoff line and seventh-place D.C.

Three of those five results in the run came away from Talen Energy Stadium for Philadelphia, which now plays four of its last seven games at home. And the Union also hold a game in hand on the Impact, who are being challenged by D.C. and also the New England Revolution, who are three points back for that final playoff spot.

Still, the Union could help their cause tremendously with a victory over the Impact to create even more space between the clubs -- two games after a win at Audi Field kept D.C. from gaining ground.

"The table is very tight right now in the Eastern Conference," Philadelphia coach Jim Curtin said. "A lot is on the line. I think it's good going into a game like this with our guys and their confidence being high."

Meanwhile, the match will be the first of three down the stretch for Montreal against other clubs hovering around that playoff line.

The Impact (11-14-3) also visit D.C. on Sept. 29 and New England on the final day of the regular season late next month. And after four matches without a victory (0-3-1), they've won two of three, including an impressive 3-0 win over the East-leading New York Red Bulls their last time out.

"The next few weeks will be decisive, with decisive games," Impact coach Rmi Garde said. "We're approaching this stretch one game at a time, but knowing that every team we'll play is fighting for something. It's an interesting situation, difficult, that we're taking on with enthusiasm and a little bit of confidence due to our most recent performances."

Both squads are seeing late-season additions pay off.

For Philadelphia, Cory Burke has been with the Union all year. But since coach Jim Curtin decided to give Burke the starting forward role and shift CJ Sapong out wide, Burke has consistently churned out goals.

He scored again in Philadelphia's last match, a 2-2 draw at Orlando on Sept. 1, and has six of his eight goals since winning the job in July.

Meanwhile, Montreal is adjusting to life with Bacary Sagna, the former Arsenal and Manchester City right back who signed with the Impact ahead of the summer transfer window deadline. The 35-year-old has played the full 90 minutes in Montreal's last three matches, scoring his first MLS goal against New York.

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