It’s all doom and gloom at the Impact these days, and frankly their parachute needs to open up quickly to break the fall.
They’ve been stuck on 30 points now since June 26, when Orji Okwonkwo’s thunderous volley almost ripped the Portland net.
Even one win from the four fixtures since would have things looking much rosier. But it hasn’t been the case as the team’s defending wavers between disorganized and inept. It had been a strength early season despite aberrations at Sporting Kansas and Philadelphia.
Now, after working extremely hard over the first half of the league and displaying determination and grit, qualities needed when you must punch above your weight to compete against more talented opposition, the Impact finds itself teetering dangerously on that play-off line. Perhaps they will fall below it before today is concluded.
Perhaps that is a reflection of their true level.
Of course there are 11 games to go, and despite most other clubs having even more games left, play-off soccer is still in their own hands. But it won’t be for long if the current run continues. And it doesn’t get any easier with Conference leaders Philadelphia Union next up at Stade Saputo in six days time.
The Impact are being helped by teams below them struggling for consistency too. Take TFC for instance. Who would have predicted their 1-3 reverse last night at home to Houston, a side that has avoided defeat on the road only once previously all season?
The play-offs look beyond Chicago, Philly denting their faint hopes last night, but New York City kicked on in Colorado and are certain to make the cut.
Today brings three all-Eastern Conference ties. The Atlanta v DC match-up is probably the least of Impact’s worries. Both clubs look consummately capable of a higher finish than Montreal, who will be hoping Cincinnati can pull of a minor miracle in defeating New England at home.
And in the other game this evening, it’s probably best if the Red Bulls can win on the road, thus retaining the Impact’s four point gap over Orlando City.
Impact coach, Remi Garde must also be questioning himself after taking four defeats on the bounce, and must wonder how he can bring his side’s shambolic defending back to basics. It doesn’t seem to matter what combination he chooses or is forced upon him these days, nothing seems to be dovetailing. Things were different in March, April and May, when Evan Bush kept his last clean-sheet.
But this is not his only problem with a midfield lacking creativity and a strike force for the most part ineffective, without Piatti.