(Photo credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
The Chicago Fire and host CF Montreal will both be battling for their playoff lives when they meet on Saturday.
Chicago (8-11-8, 32 points) has floundered since league play resumed following a month-long break for the Leagues Cup, losing four in a row to drop beneath the playoff line after winning five of six prior to the pause.
The Fire also haven't scored in their last 313 minutes of play, conceding 11 times over that stretch. Their most recent outing was a 4-0 defeat at D.C. United, who leapt over Chicago into a playoff place with the win.
Kei Kamara -- who is one goal from tying Landon Donovan (145) for second all-time on the MLS career goals list -- hasn't built on his team-leading total of five since June 21.
Despite all that, interim coach Frank Klopas realizes the league's new, more forgiving playoff format means his team still has plenty to play for.
"Every game we play is a playoff game. We can't hide from that," Klopas said. "But it's important for us just to make sure that we have a really good game plan, we prepare really well, give the players as much confidence as we can in front of the goal but also our ability to defend well as a unit."
Montreal (11-14-2, 35 points) is also coming off back-to-back defeats that dropped coach Hernan Losada's side down to eighth in the table entering the weekend and only three points above the 10th-place Fire.
But Montreal has still mostly preserved its strong home-field advantage, winning nine of 13 there even after a 4-2 defeat to the surging Columbus Crew in their last game.
Jonathan Sirois is tied for the MLS single-season record with eight home clean sheets kept this season, with a chance to break it against the Fire.
"It's definitely not a goal I had at the start of the year, not even a goal I'd set for myself at any time, but I do think it's a great collective achievement above all," Sirois said this week through an interpreter. "Then, of course, I'm proud of it."
--Field Level Media