Canadian teams sure entered the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs in style this week.
On Wednesday, Sebastian Giovinco landed in Toronto from Italy, went to BMO Field, and proceeded to score a sensational winner against the New York Red Bulls to clinch the Reds’ first-ever playoff berth in their ninth MLS season.
This Saturday, against the New England Revolution, it was Ignacio Piatti’s turn to come up big.
Not unlike Giovinco, Piatti turned in midfield and dribbled through the opposition. Unlike Giovinco, Piatti stopped his run before the penalty area, instead curling a stunning shot into the top right corner, past Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Exactly like Giovinco, he scored the winner, sending Montreal into the playoffs – for the second time in the club's four-year history, that is.
And next Sunday on Decision Day, Montreal conveniently host their rivals Toronto FC at Stade Saputo.
“Mission accomplished, we’re in,” Impact interim head coach Mauro Biello told reporters after the 1-0 win against New England. “Now, it's about climbing up the standings. One game remains, and we can still have that home playoff game. It’ll be our focus for the next game.”
Indeed, Montreal didn’t just clinch a playoff spot on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. They’ve also entered the top four zone in the Eastern Conference and could now host a playoff match for the first time.
Better yet, a win against TFC would likely also force their archrivals into a road Knockout Round fixture. And Montreal could yet jump to second in the East with a win and some favorable results, too.
“It’s Toronto. No compromises there,” Wandrille Lefèvre said. “Who knows, maybe we’ll see them in the playoffs? We win the game, and then we’ll look at what our rivals have done and what the final standings are. We want to have our destiny in our own hands, and that’s what’ll determine what comes next.”
The Impact won’t be satisfied with the win at Gillette. They look a team on a mission, with their resolutely stubborn defense and their attackers making a difference–or, as Didier Drogba did on Saturday, agreeing to drop deeper and deeper and deeper to help out in the back.
“We’ve been building confidence,” Drogba said. “Our objective for the end of the season was to grab points on the road. With two away wins, we've accomplished our mission. We'll now get ready for Toronto, but it's great to make it to the playoffs. Everyone's enjoying it. We worked hard.”
But don’t count on him to drop too deep next Sunday. Perhaps Drogba will want to prove Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney wrong. After TFC lost 2-0 to Columbus Crew SC on Saturday, Vanney commented that when it comes to Drogba, “One minute he'll play like a beast, and the next minute he'll fall over.”
“It’s okay,” Drogba said when asked about Vanney's comments. “I’m not angry with him.”
And then, he smiled his Drogba smile.
Can it be Decision Day already?