With Toronto already eliminated from playoff contention, the Montreal Impact were good as dead last weekend down 1-0 to Philadelphia.
Then two players rescued hopes for a Canadian team to make the postseason – one dependable and one surprise.
Marco Di Viao brought himself back to the top of the league’s goals tally with a 64th minute equalizer, and Karl Ouimette got his first MLS goal in the 84th minute, none too late to save Montreal’s hopes.
Now, the Impact are in fantastic position to play on after this weekend – but it’s not done yet.
A win would clinch the first ever playoff berth for Montreal, while a draw could leave an opening for Chicago, New England, or Houston.
And it couldn’t come against a more fitting opponent. It’s a chance for redemption – redemption for a late season slide that very nearly grasped the Impact in its gravitational pull downwards.
Before last Saturday, Montreal had dropped five of their last six matches, and hadn’t won since a 4-2 road win over New England on September 8. But they’re not done yet, not thanks to last week’s heroics.
The Impact will be without defender Alessandro Nesta, who picked up a calf injury against Philadelphia. He will be retiring at the end of the season, whenever that may come for Montreal.
On the flip side, it’s been a struggle of a season for Toronto, but they could play spoiler against one of their biggest rivals. They’re coming off their fourth consecutive road loss, but coming home will provide a bit of a boost.
But Montreal’s ready for the rivalry matchup. “If they can knock us out of the playoffs, or even knock us down to that fifth spot where we have to play an extra game, it’d be great for them” said Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins. “For them to get a result, the way they’ve had this whole season, would be a huge relief for them going into next year.”
The Impact have a serious test Saturday, one that will tell the world whether Montreal are truly over their late-season slide, or if last weekend wasn’t enough to escape the black hole.