Determination can take you a long way.
Without a doubt, the game plan that the staff led by head coach Mauro Biello put together and that the players executed brilliantly was a key factor in the Impact reaching the Eastern Conference Championship. But against this Red Bulls team that had been so strong at home, the Bleu-blanc-noir mostly needed to stubbornly believe in itself and to never give in.
This is precisely what the Impact did on Sunday in its 2-1 win at Red Bull Arena. Showing courage in its defensive half, the team did not lie down for the Red Bulls, only conceding a goal on a deflected strike.
Captain Patrice Bernier had one word to describe his team after the game: character.
“We’ve told ourselves that there are a lot of games where we showed a lot of character,” Bernier said. “In Columbus, being down 4-1 and getting back to 4-4. Losing 2-0 at home and winning 3-2. Going to Toronto where we hadn’t won, going down a man and winning 1-0. You pile those up, and we go to D.C. where we haven’t won before and win.
“We play four days later, with older legs and people saying that we’ve got nine guys over 30, and we battled and won 1-0. We came here and put some ghosts to rest. But we’re not done yet.”
For the sixth time this season, the Impact won in a stadium where it had only gotten losses or ties. Two of those wins have come during this MLS Cup Playoffs run, indicating that this group is more united and committed than ever.
Ahead of an Eastern Conference Championship series that is bound to be fascinating against archrival Toronto FC (home leg on Tuesday, November 22, at 8pm at Olympic Stadium – TICKETS), this togetherness bodes well.
“I hope that the fans will be there for us. That’s what they want: a team that fights for them on the field and that is proud to be wearing this jersey,” said Hassoun Camara. “That’s what we’ve shown up to now. I hope that they will be a big influence in Montreal.”
Added Bernier: “You have to come to the stadium. We’re expecting you there. No excuses. We’ll need the support from Montreal and from Quebec as a whole to bring this cup to Montreal.”