MONTREAL – Two bye weeks in barely a month have left the Montreal Impact relative bystanders as the Eastern Conference playoff picture keeps evolving in the final stretch of the 2012 season.
Having already enjoyed a two-week break between their first two games in September, Montreal will not step on the field until October 6 in Houston against the Dynamo. Remarkably, they will again be off duty for 14 days afterwards.
Meanwhile, cross-country rivals Vancouver Whitecaps will play twice before the Houston game as the Impact and ‘Caps look to grab the top seed for next season’s Amway Canadian Championship.
“It’s frustrating, but at the same time, we’ve put ourselves in this situation,” forward Andrew Wenger told reporters on Tuesday. “We’re just trying to make the best of it and still move forward. There’s still a lot to play for and a lot of things to accomplish.”
Whereas Montreal will remain on 40 points for the time being, Houston and Columbus, their direct competitors for the East’s final playoff spots, are both playing this Saturday. Beating New England would take the Dynamo to 49 points, which is the exact number of points that Montreal can still reach with a perfect record in their final games.
Hence, from a solely mathematical point of view, there is nothing that other teams can do to put Montreal out of the playoff picture.
“If we’re alive, and we go down to Houston and get a win, you never know, at that point, the way things can play out,” Marsch said. “Toward the end of the year, teams feel pressure and some results start to get a little bit crazy.”
And holding onto that shred of hope is key. Mentally, the Impact need to be up for it no matter the circumstances.
“If we go to Houston thinking that we’re out of it, we might as well just pack up our stuff and go home,” defender Jeb Brovsky added. “It’s no use to be out here.”