Win or go home

Three points essential for Impact hopes of qualifying to next round

The start of the MLS is Back tournament hasn’t been ideal for the Montreal Impact. With two losses after their first two games, Thierry Henry’s men find themselves with their backs against the wall as the last game of the group stage approaches, set to be played tonight at 10:30pm EDT against D.C. United (TVA Sports, TSN, 98.5, TSN 690).

With first and second place in Group C out of reach, Montreal can still finish third and hope to finish among the four best third-placed teams, a task that is definitely not impossible.

Step one: the Impact needs to beat D.C. United. A tie or a loss simply won’t cut it.

Step two is where it can get a little tricky, as it involves scenarios depending on results from other games. But with all games in Group A officially over and New York City FC sitting in third with a -2 goal difference, the Impact will officially be better placed than the New York side with a win, as their differential would automatically be better.

“We’re definitely keeping an eye on the other groups,” said full-back Zachary Brault-Guillard. “For now, we have a huge opportunity to finish among the four best third-placed teams. It’s on us to play well against D.C. and hope to qualify for the next round.”

Controlling the controllable

It’s easy to get lost in the math during the last game of the group stage, with so many different scenarios possible after it’s all said and done. Thierry Henry’s men, on their end, don’t want to fall into that trap, preferring to focus solely on their task at hand and what they’ll need to rectify to be successful against D.C.

“We have to avoid making those little mistakes that are costing us goals,” explained midfielder Shamit Shome. “We conceded too easily in the first two games and that will be the difference for us against D.C. We need to minimize those mistakes and be better as a team defensively overall.”

Montreal dominated possession in a 4-3 loss against Toronto FC, especially in the second half, creating more opportunities than Greg Vanney’s troops but lacking the finishing touch in front of goal at certain times, despite putting three past goalkeeper Quentin Westberg.

“We understand that the first two games haven’t gone according to plan,” added Shome. “We know that within those games, we’ve done some good things. If we can put the pieces together and put up a good performance, we’re confident we can win against D.C. and hopefully qualify to the next round.”