It was his hometown club’s season that the Québécois midfielder was referring to, but Patrice Bernier could also have been expressing an opinion on Montreal’s 1-1 draw with Houston on Saturday.
“Us knocking on that door, it was a message: we are a good team,” Bernier said. “A very good team that probably deserved better.”
Knowing that leaving BBVA Compass Stadium with less than three points would spell the end of the Impact’s playoff hopes, every player threw himself forward in the dying minutes. But they could not find a winner, and now it’s clear.
The Impact will not be heading to the postseason in their year on the MLS map. But they didn’t miss by much.
“In the end, it is what it is,” Bernier told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the game. “We nevertheless gave a very good performance in a tough place to play.”
Indeed, despite the hill leading to the playoffs becoming steeper in recent weeks, Montreal refused to throw in the towel until they were mathematically out.
Marco Di Vaio’s inspired pass for Sanna Nyassi’s equalizer gave them a glimmer of hope that they could actually make numbers lie again. Calls for fouls and penalty kicks went unanswered, though Bernier insisted that decisions eventually do even themselves out.
But unfortunately the only ‘1’ that changed into a ‘2’ on the scoreboard had “Half” written above it.
And now that they are looking at two largely meaningless games to end this season, they take the blow with no shame. Before this season started, most Montreal supporters felt they would be happy with a strong playoff push come October, without necessarily believing it.
“I’m proud to be a part of this team,” midfielder Calum Mallace told MLSsoccer.com. “I can look every guy in the eye and give them a nod knowing that they’ve given everything they’ve got.”
There are, however, a few lingering regrets.
“It’s disappointing when you look at the cohesion, the strength we gathered in July and August,” Bernier lamented. “That helped us to have a go, but with all the points that we lost when we had the lead, it’s tough not to give it double meaning. Yet deep down, we know we have to look at the big picture and be satisfied.”