Can Montreal stop its slide?

[MLS: Playoff Push] After 12 games, Montreal was 8-2-2 with the best record in MLS. But it's been all downhill since then. With only one win and 17 goals conceded in its last eight games, the Impact is in trouble even if it has two games in hand on the teams ahead of it in the Eastern Conference.

MONTREAL IMPACT:
Record: 10-7-5
First 10: 6-2-2
Last 10: 2-5-3

THE STORY SO FAR. Well, WTF happened? A four-game winning streak to start the season and a place atop the conference are only distant memories. The Impact has won only one of its last eight and while still in the playoff tier is reeling in the wrong direction.

RECENT MOVES.  Signed as a free agent last month as the second DP in team history, Hernan Bernardello made his debut and played the full 90 minutes Saturday in a 2-1 loss to Chicago. Spanish defender Adrian Lopez, 26, is awaiting his first competitive action. The addition of Bernardello is a clear attempt to upgrade at a critical point of the season.

STYLE POINTS. The Impact might boast the most skilled set of players in the league with Marco Di Vaio, Alessandro Nesta, Daniele Paponi, Andrea Pisanu, Felipe Martins and Bernardello on the roster. Montreal can keep the ball and knock it around for Di Vaio (11 goals) and others to apply the finishing touch, and it can also attack quickly through Sanna Nyassi and Justin Mapp.

NEEDS WORK. Age and fatigue were always going to be question marks regarding Di Vaio and Nesta (both 37) heading into the dog days of August. The back line has been prone to atrocious performances: a 3-3 tie with Toronto, a 4-3 loss to Colorado, a 4-0 pounding by New York, a 3-1 defeat by D.C. United. Patrice Bernier and Mapp have stagnated in recent games. Montreal has conceded the most road goals, 22, in the conference.

FINAL ANSWER. With more games remaining, 12, than any other conference foe but Chicago, the Impact should accrue enough points to qualify for the playoffs. Montreal also has three more group games in the Concacaf Champions League after beating San Jose, 1-0, in its opener Wednesday.

MLS STANDINGS:
Eastern Conference:
PTS TEAM W-L-T +/-

39 Sporting KC 11-7-6 36/24
38 New York 11-8-5 36/31
37 Philadelphia 10-7-7 36/32
35 Montreal 10-7-5 34/34
33 Houston 9-7-6 26/22
-----------------------------
31 Chicago 9-9-4 29/32
30 New England 8-8-6 27/20
26 Columbus 7-11-5 27/30
20 Toronto FC 4-11-8 21/31
13 D.C. United 3-17-4 13/41

REMAINING SCHEDULE:
August 17: D.C. United
August 21: @Heredia (CCL)
August 24: Houston
August 31: @Philadelphia
September 8: @New England
September 14: Columbus
September 17: @San Jose (CCL)
September 21: Vancouver
September 24: Heredia (CCL)
September 28: @Chicago
October 4: @Houston
October 12: New England
October 16: @LA Galaxy
October 19: Philadelphia
October 26: @Toronto FC
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