The Bleu-blanc-noir is ahead in the series.
This simplest of sentences is much more meaningful than it suggests. Yes, the Impact did lead 3-0 at one point on Tuesday. Yes, the Impact did concede twice at home to TFC. But most of all, as the Impact approaches its date at BMO Field on November 30 at 7pm (RDS, TSN, FS1, Fox Deportes, 98,5fm & TSN Radio 690), it does hold an advantage on Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference Championship.
The onus will be on the Reds to take the game to the visitors in an attempt to defeat them – and that has been a tough ask this year when those visitors are clad in Bleu-blanc-noir: in 19 regular-season and MLS Cup Playoffs games on the road in 2016, the Impact has managed 13 results that would see the team move on to MLS Cup on Wednesday.
“If you look at our season, we’ve gone through hardships,” said team captain Patrice Bernier after Tuesday’s win. “But we made it through those hardships with renewed strength. We had a strong finish to this season. Mentally speaking, we’ve recovered this collective determination and character that made us tough to score against. We saw that tonight; we simply lost it for five minutes. This is a good team in front of us. We can’t forget that. We have to adopt the same approach in the next game and address the things that happened in those five minutes.”
As goalkeeper Evan Bush pointed out, it’s all a matter of perspective. TFC cut into the Impact’s three-goal lead. But what if the home team had broken a 2-2 deadlock late on instead? Would public opinion on the result be better?
“It’s all going to be about the mentality and the mindset in the week leading up to the game. The first goal is going to be a very important goal in that game. Even if we’re even on aggregate at some point in that game, we still have game changers on our team. We have the ability to win a game at any point. We’re in a position we feel very comfortable with.”
Added Bernier: “We won. We can’t just look at the negatives. We conceded two goals. We know why. We have to address that, keeping the same mentality. They still have to come out and beat us. They have to take the game to us. With the team that we have, I know that we can score a goal and defend better. We defended well for 60 minutes. We can do that for 90.”