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Eastern Conference Championship

Last-placed Montreal Impact admit they're "very fragile" as losses continue to pile up

MONTREAL – Time is running out increasingly quickly for the Impact.

Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Portland Timbers, their fifth in a row, leaves Montreal 10 points from a playoff spot with 14 games left. Four other teams stand between them and fifth place.

With the CONCACAF Champions League kicking off next week, a turning point in terms of approach could have been reached. Asked about that possibility postgame, assistant coach Mauro Biello – who replaced the suspended Frank Klopas – was noncommittal but opened the door to a good reflection.

“These are difficult moments,” Biello told reporters. “It's disappointing to be in this situation. Obviously, when you lose games like that, and the way we lost the last games, it’s difficult. We have to consider the way we’ll approach the next games and the Champions League.”

Forward Marco Di Vaio, who watched his team from the bench before coming on in the 63rd minute, still believes Montreal can rise from the bottom of the East – if they can pull off a winning streak of some kind.

“We’re not in a situation where we can pick and choose [between MLS and CCL],” Di Vaio said. “We don’t want to finish last [in MLS].”

On Sunday, Di Vaio was disappointed to suffer another loss despite a decent performance – though Portland did control the game well, winning 70 percent of the duels while committing only five fouls. For three or four games, Di Vaio said, the Impact have been “at the other teams’ level.”

“But something's missing to make the difference,” Di Vaio said. “We concede incredible goals, for nothing. It’s a mental thing not working right now. It’s a really difficult situation. We understand the fans, everyone, the club. We have to find the solution in the locker room, between us.”

Biello shared Di Vaio’s assessment, with the caveat that Montreal should be better when closing down opponents and using the ball after recovering it. Right now, Biello admitted, the Impact are “very fragile.”

“As much as it’s on the field, with the ball, it’s a lot in your head,” Biello said. “When things don’t go well, it’s something that’s always there and you try to tell the players to focus on things they can control. You give up three goals tonight at home, and it’s unacceptable. If you want to win a game, you can’t give up three goals at home. We were able to score two.

“It’s a mindset,” Biello continued. “And that mindset has to change if we’re going to win some games.”