(Photo credit: Cory Knowlton-USA TODAY Sports)
Orlando City has already secured their place in the MLS Cup playoffs, but they will be looking to deal visiting CF Montreal a blow to their postseason hopes when the sides meet on Saturday night.
Orlando (14-7-9, 51 points) clinched its spot in the Eastern Conference field two matches ago -- despite a loss at New York City FC that night -- after an exceptional run that saw the Lions vault up to second place in the crowded East standings.
They followed that with a 1-1 home draw last Sunday against Inter Miami. Duncan McGuire scored the ninth goal of his rookie MLS campaign to level the match in the second half after Miami had taken the lead.
With four regular-season games left, coach Oscar Pareja wants his side to regain the form that saw them win seven of nine between July 1-Sept. 16 to make their climb up the standings.
"It will be a good challenge in these four games so we can stay concentrated on our objectives, concentrated on the way we can keep improving towards the playoffs," Pareja said. "And just take advantage of the fact that we are in, but not reducing the level of performance."
Montreal (11-15-4, 37 points) is winless in its last five (0-3-2) and absorbed its worst defeat since April in a 4-1 defeat at Atlanta United last Saturday.
They still enter the weekend eighth in the East but just one point above 10th-place D.C. United and the playoff line. Montreal has a game in hand on D.C. and ninth-place NYCFC.
That means they still control their playoff chances with their results, chances which could receive a major boost if they win for just the third time on the road this season.
"The mood remains positive even after this loss. We know we've got four games left, and our fate is in our own hands," Montreal defender Mathieu Choiniere said following the Atlanta loss. "So, we're going to stay positive."
Montreal defender Joel Waterman will serve a red card suspension after he was sent off at Atlanta.
--Field Level Media