Toronto FC had chances to further cement their claims for a play-off spot last night in the Bronx, eventually settling for a 1-1 draw, after a missed Pozuelo penalty and the denial of one at the other end, following Mavinga’s backhander on Castellanos, a decision the ref may just have interpreted correctly.
The result doesn’t alter life for Montreal Impact too significantly, although every little helps at this stage, and a win for the Light Blues would have been welcomed.
The Impact remain eighth on 37 points, two fewer than New England in the last play-off spot. Toronto with home games against Colorado and Columbus to come and away trips at LAFC and Chicago, look out of reach regardless of last night’s outcome.
The Impact must concentrate on overhauling Bruce Arena’s men, New York Red Bulls (4 pts better off) or DC United (5 pts better off) and ensure they maintain points-supremacy over Orlando and Chicago, the latter condition something that looked highly probably until the current slump.
The latest home defeat against DC United has made progress infinitely more difficult. The topsy-turvy MLS form-book however provides a glimmer of hope. But it is only a glimmer.
Montreal must start their four-match run-in with victory this weekend over Cincinnati, somehow avoid defeat at LA Galaxy, where they have never won, lost two from three and never managed to register a goal, and scrap to victory at home over a high-riding Atlanta United side that will likely have the Supporters’ Shield in its sights.
Seven points from those three is likely to guarantee a last match, must-win showdown with the Red Bulls at Stade Saputo on October 6th.
Red Bulls have a tough run-in, and a game more to play than Montreal, but it begins with a difficult pair of away games in the north-west against Portland and Seattle. There follows visits to the Big Apple for Philadelphia Union and DC United, before wrapping regular-season matters up in Montreal.
In the unlikely event the Impact gathers seven points from their next three games, then unless the Red Bulls pick up six from their next four fixtures, it will be all to play for at Stade Saputo on October 6. The Impact will need to win, while NYRB will progress with a draw.
DC United also have a tough run-in, but their saving grace may well be their last match at home to Cincinnati, although of course, strange things can happen when the pressure is on. Unless the Impact can gather 10 points from their last four games, the team from the capital looks out of reach.
That leaves New England, season transformed by the hiring of Bruce Arena, but showing more patchy form in recent weeks (1-2-3 in last six). If Montreal are to overhaul the Revolution they must gain two more points from their last four matches, than New England collect from their last five.
This may be Montreal’s best chance, as the Revs have difficult encounters at Portland and Atlanta as well as a troublesome home contest against NYCFC. They will hope to get their run-in off to a good start at Orlando at the weekend however, and follow up with home success over Real Salt Lake, still battling for a play-off spot in the West.
The good news for Montreal fans surrounds the international break allowing new coach Wilmer Cabrera an opportunity to work the squad consistently on the training ground, the fact that Bojan, Fanni and Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla are a further couple of weeks on fitness-wise, and the possible availability of one Ignacio Piatti (remember him?).
The bottom-line as far as post-season football is concerned? Impact’s prospects are out of their own hands. They must now achieve positive results from here on in, and hope others slip up, perhaps spectacularly.
Not a great position to be in, still breathing ..... but only just!