There goes that momentum. After climbing to fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings on the strength of a pair of decisive home wins, the Crew could be as low as seventh when it next takes the field.

Crew view

There goes that momentum. After climbing to fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings on the strength of a pair of decisive home wins, the Crew could be as low as seventh when it next takes the field. Eight games remain, the final seven of which are against teams in the East, but the Crew’s flat performance against cellar-dweller Montreal on Saturday in a 2-0 loss means it will have to search anew for a spark. With five points separating teams in third through ninth place in the conference, it’s rapidly becoming do-or-die time for the Crew.

Yellow

Saturday was not a good night to be a Crew central midfielder. Both Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani, who were one yellow card shy of a one-game suspension for accumulation, were carded against the Impact and will miss Sunday’s game against Chivas USA. Both players had been one yellow from suspension since mid-July, and both were booked for challenges on Montreal designated player Ignacio Piatti. Tchani’s came in the 34th minute and Trapp’s in the 81st, which bothered coach Gregg Berhalter. “I can excuse Tony,” he said. “I think it was a play that made some type of sense. I think Wil’s was inexcusable. To me, it was tactically not clever, and that’s what we pride ourselves on and what we make ourselves known for. … It was not a smart play.” Look for Kevan George and Daniel Paladini to step into the void this week.

Additions

The longer the Crew goes without adding any new players, the more unlikely it is that anyone will be added to the roster this season. Major League Soccer rosters freeze on Sept. 15, giving the Crew two weeks to either execute a trade within the league or sign a player currently out of contract. Last week, Berhalter reiterated that the Crew is being specific in its search for new players and that it would not make a signing simply to make a signing. Greek forward Dimitrios Papadopoulos had been linked with the Crew but signed with a team in Greece last week. With less than two months remaining in the season, time is running out for any new acquisitions to make an impact on the club, which in turn also affects the Crew’s search, Berhalter said.

Progressing

Berhalter prefers not to change much when the Crew is playing well, but Saturday’s performance might trigger at least one lineup change. Eric Gehrig has started the past four games at right back and helped solidify the position, but Hector Jimenez is almost completely recovered from a knee injury suffered July 4 and has come on for Gehrig in each of the past two games for longer periods of time (14 minutes on Aug. 23 against Houston, 31 minutes against Montreal) and could be in the mix to start against Chivas. Gehrig has proved that he deserves to be on the field, and Tyson Wahl has filled in admirably after the sale of Giancarlo Gonzalez to an Italian club, so Berhalter is facing a tough decision.

League look

After contending for the Supporters’ Shield (best record in MLS) for much of the season, Sporting Kansas City suddenly is springing leaks. After capping a four-game winning streak on July 26, Kansas City has won just once in five games (1-3-1) and is nursing a two-game losing streak after Friday night’s weather-delayed 3-1 home loss to Houston. The Dynamo, meanwhile, has gone 3-1 against its past four Eastern Conference opponents — the defeat coming at the hands of the Crew — and looks to be on another late-season climb up the standings. As parity continues to reign in MLS, the final two months will carry plenty of intrigue.

Quotable

“We’ve been playing pretty well, but it’s harder to continue that winning streak than it is to get those first couple. I don’t think we matched that effort level that we had in those past two wins.” — Wahl, after Saturday’s loss

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy