Needing a big win in front of their home fans to save their season, the Montreal Impact played one of their worst games of the year.
The Impact are all but eliminated from playoff contention after losing 1-0 against New York City FC on Wednesday.
“It’s another missed opportunity,” said goalkeeper Evan Bush. “Collectively and individually there was something lacking there. I don’t know why that is. Some guys looked like they were nervous or scared. It’s extremely disappointing and frustrating.
“Sometimes when you’re heavy in the head you get heavy in the legs.”
Mathematically still alive
Montreal is mathematically still alive, but just barely. The Canadian club is four points out of a playoff spot with three games remaining this season. The sixth-place New York Red Bulls have a game in hand on Montreal.
“They beat us every time we had the ball,” said Impact coach Mauro Biello. “Disappointing game considering we’re in the playoff race. Playing like that at home in front of our fans is unacceptable.”
The Impact played like a team already eliminated from post-season contention. They appeared sluggish and often wasteful with the ball.
A 3-3 Red Bulls draw against D.C. United on Wednesday could have helped Montreal’s cause but the home side created very few chances in front of a slim crowd of 16,005 at Saputo Stadium.
Montreal saw 42 per cent of the ball and completed just 359 passes to New York’s 510. The visitors outshot the Impact 22-10.
The score remained close only because the visitors squandered several good goal-scoring opportunities on the night.
“We weren’t able to match their intensity,” said Biello. “They got back behind the ball. They were able to close us down and win back balls. In the end we looked so tired. We looked like we were struggling the whole game.”
New York City’s Jack Harrison sank the Impact in the 29th minute by scoring his 10th goal of the season. The 20-year-old fired a bouncing ball past Bush into the top corner of the net from a tricky angle.
Harrison got the play going seconds before when he connected with Rodney Wallace for a one-two pass. Blown coverage by defender Victor Cabrera gave Harrison enough time to steady himself before firing on goal.
‘Our play was all over the place’
The Impact (11-14-6), who are 1-6-0 in their last seven games, were shut out for the second straight contest. Biello’s men have also lost four consecutive home games for the first time in franchise history.
“Our play was all over the place,” said captain Patrice Bernier, who plans to retire at the end of the season. “We lacked execution and cohesion. There’s no acceptable way to lose but we were at home. There are certain things you need to show at home. Now there’s nothing. It’s just lifeless.”
NYCFC improved to 6-6-3 on the road this season. Only Toronto has more wins (seven) away from home.
The victory kept New York’s slim hopes of winning the league’s Supporters’ Shield for best club in MLS alive. NYCFC (16-8-7) is seven points behind league-leaders Toronto FC with three games remaining.
“It is important for us to build on this momentum and play well,” said NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira. “We created a lot of chances. But we only scored one goal and that’s our problem this season. We have to be more ruthless in front of goal. We have to finish games much earlier.”
New York City FC are 2-1-3 in their last six games, scoring just five goals over that stretch.