Thursday night saw the Montreal Impact knock Toronto FC out of the MLS playoffs with a 3-0 victory at Stade Saputo. The win for the Impact was the second in under a week, as Montreal defeated TFC by a score of 2-1 on Sunday evening. The win puts the Bleu-Blanc-Noir into the Eastern Conference semi-final against the Columbus Crew in a two-leg, home-and-home matchup. The loss was not how TFC wanted their first ever playoff match to unfold, and will go back to the drawing board with significant offseason changes in the cards. The win marks the first time an MLS side from Canada has won a playoff match.
Fast Out of the Gate:
"We started tonight's game with a huge hunger to play our game and win" - Mauro Biello
Whereas the Impact have been tentative in the first half over the last few matches, Thursday night was a different story. Impact manager Mauro Biello started an attacking lineup which featured Patrice Bernier in the starting eleven, and the move payed off in spades. The captain opened the scoring in the 18th-minute after receiving a perfectly laid off pass from Ignacio Piatti. Bernier made no mistake sliding the ball past TFC Chris Konopka, scoring his first goal for the Impact since 2013.
No Piatti - No Party:
"We played a great team game tonight. From the back four, to the middle and the top" - Nigel Reo-Coker
The scoring was far from done in the first half and Ignacio Piatti was next in line to put the Impact ahead 2-0. In the 33rd-minute TFC defender Josh Williams slipped on the Stade Saputo field, and Piatti pounced on the defensive mistake. The Argentine made no mistake and curled the ball by Konopka giving Montreal a stronghold in the match. As much as starting Bernier was a sharp tactical move by Biello, moving Piatti out to his more natural left wing position may have been even better (and something supporters have been asking for).
Drogba Just Keeps Scoring:
"This is one of the most satisfying games for me in an Impact uniform" - Patrice Bernier
Six minutes later the Impact put the match out of reach, by whom other than Didier Drogba. Montreal continued to push forward after Drogba made a quick pass to Dilly Duka, who then thread it through to Bernier. Bernier had his shot cleared off the line however was able to recuperate the ball and find a wide open Didier Drogba who tapped the ball passed a hapless Chris Konopka. The goal marks the Ivorian's twelfth goal in twelve games since joining the Montreal Impact.
The Columbus Crew. The Impact will play the first-leg of the home-and-home series at Stade Saputo on Sunday evening, the match starting at 7pm EST. The return leg in Columbus will take place a week later on Sunday November 8. The Impact did well not to accumulate any cards on Thursday night which steers them clear of any extra-disciplinary action (something the Impact have struggled with this season). With only a two day break before the first game against Columbus Mauro Biello could make a few minor tactical adjustments for Sunday night.
Match statistics and quotes courtesy of the Montreal Impact:
MTL - GK-Evan Bush; D-Donny Toia, Laurent Ciman, Victor Cabrera, Ambroise Oyongo; M-Nigel Reo-Coker (Calum Mallace 71'), Marco Donadel, Dilly Duka ((Dominic Oduro 84'), Ignacio Piatti, Patrice Bernier (Kyle Bekker 77'); F-Didier Drogba
Subs not used: GK-Eric Kronberg; D-Hassoun Camara, Wandrille Lefèvre; M-Johan Venegas
TOR - GK-Chris Konopka; D-Jackson, Josh Williams, Ahmed Kantari (Eriq Zavaleta 46'), Justin Morrow; M-Robbie Findley (Herculez Gomez 72'), Michael Bradley, Benoit Cheyrou, Jonathan Osorio (Marco Delgado 70'); F-Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore
Subs not used: GK-Joe Bendik; D-Ashtone Morgan; M-Collen Warner; F-Luke Moore
MTL - Bernier (Piatti) 18'
MTL - Piatti 33'
MTL - Drogba (Bernier) 39'
TOR - Delgado 87'