Sneaking into the MLS playoffs would be an understatement for the Montreal Impact. From coach to player, the message of dissapointment and feeling of shame is felt and heard through words and comments. Making the playoffs , after your second season in the league, is a feat to relish. But like some chinese dishes, this qualification does have a sweet and sour taste for Les Bleus, leaning towards the sour.
Marco Schallibaum admitted that it was hard to watch Sunday's games that helped his team qualify. But the Swiss head coach did share his worry about his team's bad form of late. While admitting to the justice behind the Impact's 5th seed, Schallibaum insists that his team needs to have a similar hunger than the one displayed by their Eastern Conference counterparts, that made the playoffs.
That pretty much sums up where the Impact stand right now. With a season clearly cut in half, one great and one pretty bad, the playoffs could have an effect of remedy or a catalyst to an inevitable defeat.
The objective was to get into the playoffs [...] It's a second season and as in all sports, you have another chance. If I remember correctly, last year's finalists finished 4th and 5th so everything is possible -- Patrice Bernier
The spiritual captain ,one might say, Patrice Bernier, is never one to be disingenuousness and made it clear that this is a new page for the Impact. Confirming that he is feeling better (hip injury), he is not necessarily weary of the conditions in Texas but is focused on the do-or-die game against the Houston Dynamo.
The Impact brain trust is probably neither happy nor satisfied with the 5th seed, even if it marks a MLS historical playoff berth. What is worrisome is the club's recent form of 1W-7L in its last 8 MLS games.This is when the investement on experienced players will need to a yield substantial return, as it did during the first 17 games of the season.
With Alessandro Nesta out for the game (calf injury) and Nelson Rivas close to being available to play, maybe the Impact could use the Colombian's agressiveness, if he can actually play.
The solution that Schallibaum needs to find seems to be more of a mental one, at least in how he will prepare his team. There is little room and time to discover a new tactical philosophy and have everyone at 100% physically.
The Character of this team needs to come back to where it was, when Les Bleus were winning games they were not supposed to win, games they deserved to win and games during which they fought for every inch.