MONTREAL – With Vancouver hosting lowly Portland on Sunday, the Montreal Impact’s chances of clinching the top seed for next year’s Amway Canadian Championship seemed grim after they played to a scoreless draw at Toronto FC a day earlier.
Yet once the weekend was over, Patrice Bernier and his teammates came back to training with their ACC destiny firmly in their hands. The Timbers’ Cascadia Cup-clinching upset of the Whitecaps at BC Place left Martin Rennie’s team level on points with Montreal, but with an insurmountable 10 goal deficit in the tiebreaking goals-scored column.
“With the Cup at stake over there, you never know what can happen,” Bernier told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “Plus, toward the end of the season, teams that are seen as down and out can sometimes pull off such a result.”
A win next Saturday against the New England Revolution could therefore ensure that the Impact will face second-division side FC Edmonton in the semifinals of next season’s ACC. With nothing at stake for Jay Heaps' team, however, Montreal will have to be wary of suffering a damaging result similar to Vancouver's.
Moreover, the team that will grab the top seed will become the best Canadian team in the history of the league for regular season points. Both Vancouver and Montreal already have three more points than Toronto’s previous record of 39 in 2009.
“That’s our goal right now,” head coach Jesse Marsch told reporters. “It’s not the Supporters’ Shield, it’s not the playoffs, but it’s our own way of being proud and showing everything that we’ve done this year and having it mean something.”
Still, Vancouver have achieved what no other Canadian team has in the past: making it into the MLS Cup playoffs. Marsch admits that, while he feels his club’s playoff fate in these circumstances is “unfortunate,” he is also happy for Vancouver that they have achieved this milestone.
“Anytime you get into the playoffs, you know you’ve done a good job of giving yourselves a chance to win a championship,” Marsch said. “Congratulations to them, but we still want to have the bragging right of being the best Canadian team.”