With six games of the regular season left, last night’s defeat in Chester, Pennsylvania, cranks up the pressure on the Impact.
It’s not all gloom and doom however as they’ve just emerged with three points from two road games against two of the top three sides in the Eastern Conference.
While the victory at Columbus was effective rather than aesthetic, their performance last night against Philly arguably merited at least a share of the spoils.
There has been improvement, injured players are returning, although it would be nice to see Taider also re-emerge, and a new signing has arrived in striker Mason Toye.
The side is playing more positive football and buying into the Henry philosophy. It just needs to be more ruthless in attack and less generous in defence. That was the gist of post-match comments by last night’s captain, Sam Piette and Bologna-bound central defender Luis Binks.
Binks: “I think we deserved at least a draw. We had two very big chances in the second-half but the two goals we conceded are unacceptable, if we want to get to where we want to be. We can’t be conceding two sloppy goals out of nothing really, the second one coming from our own corner, and the first one out of literally nowhere.
“We made it hard for ourselves to get something out of the game.”
Binks feels the team is performing better, there are positive aspects but mistakes are too frequent and often repeated.
“Between both boxes we’re good on the ball. We find space well, we get to the final third [and] sometimes the end product isn’t good enough. And it's the same in our own box.”
He doesn’t absolve himself from blame either...
“The other day in the Columbus game I wasn’t good enough, the clearance wasn’t good enough that led to their goal. I wasn’t good enough in the box.
“Tonight we let runners run off us in our own box, so again we weren’t good enough. If we want to get something out of games, we can’t keep putting ourselves on the back foot by making these silly errors.”
But there is something to be taken from the last two games, each against top sides in the East, in the way Montreal possessed the ball, particularly last night, and in how well they repelled all that Columbus could throw at them last Wednesday. It doesn’t disguise the fact however that the Montreal eleven needs to be more clinical and robust at opposite ends of the pitch.
“These two, Columbus and Philadelphia, are very good teams in our league so it’s not been easy playing them back to back. Again today, we played well but we weren’t good enough in the final third and in our own box.
“So if we want to be one of the teams that opponents fear, then we need to stop conceding and start putting our chances away. At this level you don't get many chances so when they come you gotta’ put them away.”
Sam Piette largely agrees with his team-mate’s view of things which appear consistent with the coach’s thoughts also. But the chance to mentally escape for a day after a disappointment like last night appears to also weigh heavily on the squad if Piette reflects the typical view of being a Montreal player in these challenging Covid-times. The interim captain was also fairly frank about his own contribution last evening...
“After a game like this where maybe you thought you deserved a little bit better or at least not lose the game - I personally felt I had a bad performance tonight - it’s tough to stay around with this group where I cannot go to my family at home and try to change my mind a little.”
It could all have been so different. Piette too was deflated by the golden chance missed that almost definitely would have seen a good comeback point tucked firmly in the bag and change the overall mood.
“On Romell’s chance, on the little chip he was a little bit too cute and that’s something you gotta’ recognize just to put it in with a firm shot on the ground and not be fancy at all, when you are trailing 2-1.”
But again the signs of optimism and positivity prevail...
“There was some good stuff tonight and obviously we have to recuperate as soon as possible because there’s a big game on Wednesday. The good thing is New England played as well today, so they’ll be as tired as were are.
“I think now it’s difficult [being domiciled away from home for so long], but as well it makes us a team that is really strong together and I think it was proven today as we pushed them right up until the last minute to try get the equalizer.
“Unfortunately it didn’t come but I think we’ve shown we have some character and we wanted to go for a tie and even for a win.
“We have proven we are a good team, that we can compete against anybody, but sometimes we just shoot ourselves in the foot. And I think sometimes goals that we allow are very avoidable, and that’s unfortunate because [as well] we couldn’t finish our chances.”
The Impact now face winnable games against both New England Revolution and Inter-Miami, with the Higuain brothers on board, at Red Bull Arena over the next seven days.
Six points would go along way to relieving the pressure, but to do that Montreal must do something that’s been beyond them since June last year... win back-to-back MLS games.