Montreal Impact will clinch MLS playoff berth if they beat New England Revolution

Montreal Impact will clinch MLS playoff berth if they beat New England Revolution

Main pic: Laurent Ciman of Canada’s Montreal Impact, left, competes for the ball with Michael Arroyo of Mexico’s America, center, and Hassoun Camara of Canada’s Montreal Impact during a CONCACAF Champions league match in Mexico City, Wednesday, April 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP,Christian Palma).

MONTREAL — With two games remaining in the season, the Montreal Impact are one favourable result away from clinching a Major League Soccer playoff berth.

A win against the Revolution in New England on Saturday would send Montreal to the MLS post-season for the second time since joining the league in 2012.

A draw would not be enough to guarantee post-season soccer.

“We control our own destiny,” said forward Dominic Oduro. “We will be facing a good team and we are expecting a very good game. We need to go out there and battle to earn our spot.”

Montreal, currently sixth in the Eastern Conference, could also clinch as early as Friday evening if seventh-place Orlando City SC lose or draw against New York City FC.

Head coach Mauro Biello, however, says Montreal will aim for victory against New England regardless of the outcome of Orlando’s match.

“This is a team we could face in the playoffs,” said Biello of New England after practice on Thursday. “We have to be ready for everything. The game will be intense and it will be a good test for us.

“We have to try to get points. If things go well for us (on Friday), so be it.”

After their away match in New England, the Impact host Toronto FC next Sunday. Just four points separate Montreal from second-place TFC.

“We can’t skip any steps here,” warned Impact defender Wandrille Lefevre, who will be back in the Impact lineup after competing with the Canadian national team in a friendly versus Ghana on Tuesday. “We haven’t even made the playoffs yet. We’re going there first and foremost to earn a playoff spot.

“We’re going on the road against a good team. Points on the road are extremely precious.”

There is still so much at stake in the Eastern Conference, with just eight points separating second place from seventh.

Montreal (13-13-6) has a five-point lead over Orlando, which will be without the suspended Kaka on Friday. The Impact would fail to make the playoffs if it loses against both New England and Toronto and if Orlando wins its final two matches.

Though it’s improbable, Montreal could even finish the season as high as second in the East if it wins its final two matches and if several other results go the Impact’s way.

If Montreal does finish second, Biello’s men would get a first-round bye. If they finish anywhere from third to sixth — which is more likely — the Impact would play a one-off knockout match against either Toronto, D.C. United, New England, Columbus or Orlando.

“Everyone is close in the standings,” said Biello. “We have two games left against teams that are ahead of us. We’d obviously like to take their place in the standings.”

New England (13-11-8) is just two points ahead of the Impact going into Saturday’s clash. The Revolution can clinch a post-season berth with a win or tie against Montreal.

After going on an eight-game unbeaten run, the Revs have since been winless in their last three, scoring just twice on that stretch — once from the penalty spot.

Montreal, meanwhile, is coming off a 1-0 road victory against the Colorado Rapids. Didier Drogba scored the winner, his team-leading ninth goal of the season.

With Drogba on the team, Montreal has turned its season around. The Impact are 5-2-2 over their last nine games.

Because New England’s Gillette Stadium is a turf field, however, it is very possible Drogba will remain on the bench for Montreal.

Montreal’s Ambroise Oyongo (suspension) and Johan Venegas (international duty with Costa Rica) should be back in the lineup. Laurent Ciman (yellow card accumulation) will miss the encounter.

“There’s always pressure on the road,” Biello said of Saturday’s match. “There won’t be much space (on the pitch). If we can keep possession, we have quality players who can hurt the opposing team.”

Notes: Montreal beat New England 3-0 at Saputo Stadium the last time these two clubs met. … The Impact made the MLS playoffs in 2013 but were eliminated by the Houston Dynamo. … The Impact announced this week midfielder Andres Romero will miss six to nine months with a torn ACL.

Kelsey Patterson , The Canadian Press

Categories: Sports

About Author

Write a Comment

Only registered users can comment.