TORONTO – The Montreal Impact are in for a long, stressful Sunday.
Montreal were unable to get the win they needed to clinch third place in the Eastern Conference straightaway, as Toronto FC picked up a deserved 1-0 win at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon. There will thus be lots of peeking at the scores in the Impact camp on Sunday, as they need some favorable results involving the New England Revolution, the Houston Dynamo and the Chicago Fire.
“For me, it’d be great if we get in – if things go our way, great. But I’ll still be thinking about today,” goalkeeper Troy Perkins told reporters.
For most of the match, it was actually TFC that looked like a team desperately in need of a result. The Reds played around Montreal, who rarely got the ball in threatening positions and left gaps for their archrivals to exploit, particularly in the first half.
There seemed to be a tad bit of panic in the Montreal ranks in that first 45 minutes, and head coach Marco Schällibaum concurred after the match.
“The way we played in the first half, it wasn’t possible,” Schällibaum said. “There were too many individual mistakes, too much nervousness. We complicated matters at the back as well. In the second half, I saw a reaction, with clear opportunities created, but we didn’t put them in and you’re not going to win that way.”
Saturday's best chance was a 62nd-minute Marco Di Vaio finish that was waved off for a handball infraction. As their final tally of 50 goals this season indicates, Montreal can indeed score. And as recently as last week, they put two goals past the Philadelphia Union in a win that kept Montreal’s playoff prospects in their own hands.
But those two goals are the only ones they scored in the last five games of their 2013 regular season.
“It looked like many previous games,” defender Hassoun Camara said of Toronto’s control over the game. “Circumstances repeat themselves. We can’t say it’s just an accident. We’ll improve the content of our games, our possession. We have a very good team in that regard. But we don't manage those situations, especially away from home. There are things to improve.
“But despite those weaknesses,” Camara continued, “we’re on the verge of making the playoffs, even though our destiny isn’t in our hands anymore.”
They’ll just have to tune in instead of savoring.