A stressful Sunday awaits the Montreal Impact.
Montreal still stands this evening with reasonably good chances of making the 2013 MLS playoffs, but a 1-0 loss Saturday at Toronto certainly leaves Marco Schallibaum’s team vulnerable and uncomfortable.
Montreal remained third in the East as it came off a rainy BMO Field in Toronto late Saturday afternoon, surly stinging, not just for forfeiture of a playoff clinching opportunity, but also for losing to its Canadian rival.
Robert Earnshaw’s 16th-minute goal held up, although Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik needed to supply a couple of wonderful reaction saves to preserve the win. Either way, good for Ryan Nelsen’s club for standing up and being competitive when it might have been easy to start vacation just a little early.
This was only Toronto’s fourth shutout of 2013.
Back to the team with playoff soccer ahead – we think. The problem for Montreal is now this: If three other Eastern teams win this weekend, the Impact will miss the post-season.
Odds are that between Houston, New England and Chicago, one of them will fail to get all three points in Sunday matches. All play on the road, making a sweep even less likely. Still, this means nervous Montreal moments.
Plus, there does seem a high likelihood that one of the clubs will get the job done – Houston at D.C. United, Chicago at New York and New England at Columbus. Every time one of Montreal’s pursuers wins, the Impact slides down just a little further.
It’s that first slide that hurts, as it puts Montreal into the 4th-vs.-5th midweek elimination match.
Here are the standings in the East going into Sunday: