The Montreal Impact needed a win against their rivals to keep their heads above water. Two penalties helped them stay in the race: One in Montreal from Ignacio Piatti and another one at the 96th minute in Orlando.
Seconds after the final whistle at Stade Saputo, Sacha Kljestan converted the penalty that gave Orlando City a 2-1 win against the Columbus Crew. With that loss, the Crew now hold on to the last playoff spot only two points above the Impact.
Some Impact players didn’t even want to know the scores of the games involving their direct opponents, the Crew, and D.C. United during the game. Others, like Evan Bush, were watching from the corner of their eyes.
“I noticed that they didn’t put the scores [from the other games] up on the video board at all today,” Bush said. “And so after the game I actually said to Jukka [Raitala]: ‘I didn’t see any scores up on the video board so I’m assuming it was bad news.’”
As staff members informed the players of Kljestan’s late penalty, the mood brightened above having just given their arch enemies a 2-0 loss.
“We would’ve been content with a draw but we’re elated about a victory,” Bush said. “It puts a lot of pressure on [the Crew] and obviously we have to do our part still.”
“We’re excited, we’re re-energized, or at least I’m a little bit more re-energized to start going next week already.”
Having gotten a crucial win against a rival, the Impact could not have asked for a better result following a 3-0 against the Crew two weeks prior. For Remi Garde, the Impact have been in playoff push mode for a little while now but entering its last game having won games against a rival and a direct playoff opponent gives his team an added boost.
“[There is an added boos] for the next game for sure because the momentum is good for us. All of the points that we have won in the last weeks are very important,” Garde said. “I prefer to have this scenario, to have started the season lower and to increase our level, than the opposite. If we have to opportunity to get to the playoffs it will be with good momentum.”
In addition to a loss or a draw from the Crew at home against Minnesota United, the Impact still needs an away against the New England Revolution to qualify for the playoffs. One of the least liked pitches to play on in MLS, Gillette Stadium will be where the Impact’s playoff hopes will make or break.
“For me, the worst stadium is New York City FC’s so it’s not so bad,” said Samuel Piette. “But every time I played in New England we haven’t won so I want to change this situation for sure.”
Piette, who will live his first MLS Decision Day game with playoff implications attached to it, doesn’t think his team needs to change their preparation. With a lot of intangibles along the way—the stadium conditions in New England and the Crew’s last game—Piette calls for simple goals. He thinks his team should only focus on getting a win on their last game and finish the season with their heads high.
“It will be tough but we shouldn’t start thinking about the conditions and the field,” Piette said. “We just need to focus on what can do on the field and have no regrets with whatever happens in Columbus.”