MONTREAL – The Impact locker room had an odd vibe to it after the team’s 0-0 draw with Sporting Kansas City on Saturday afternoon.
Disappointment. Frustration. Ruefulness. But even within all of that, and despite the sense of points lost, a number of players momentarily showed cryptic smiles, almost as if, seeing the playoff race slowly slip out of their hands, it was now time to look back with pride at the work that was accomplished this year.
Fittingly, head coach Jesse Marsch cracked a joke as he admitted, for the first time, that his team’s playoff chances were not looking good.
“I wasn’t a math major in college, so I’m not sure, but it certainly starts to feel like the points are working against us,” Marsch told reporters after the game.
Montreal are six points out of the playoff zone with only three games left. Had they won on Saturday, they would have cut fifth-placed Houston’s advantage to just four points ahead of the two sides’ crucial showdown at BBVA Compass Stadium on October 6th. They might still have had a decent chance.
But it was not to be.
“The first half, we weren't very good,” skipper Davy Arnaud. “They kind of dictated [the play] and we played into their hands. We played in front of them too much. The second half, we came out and our performance was better. We had some good chances, but it’s one of those days when we couldn’t get a goal.”
As the second half indeed showed, Montreal are not far from being on par with the playoff teams. Sporting leading the East for a reason, and they came to Montreal hunting the full points in order to keep up the chase for the Supporters' Shield. But in the second stanza, the Impact controlled the match and created more than a few good chances.
When the Impact kicked off their inaugural season back in March, few people thought the expansion side would be capable of going toe to toe with the league’s elite sides, let alone make such a push for a postseason berth. But the players did.
“The message [after the game] was that there’s nothing to hang our heads about,” Marsch said. “There’s a lot to be proud of, and who knows? Maybe the points are stacked up against us, have caught up with us, but we’re not stopping. We’re about each other.”