Key substitutions make the difference

Impact comes from behind to secure playoff qualification

Three days after the fact, we’re all still buzzing from Montreal’s win on Decision Day over D.C. United, a win that confirmed the club’s berth into the MLS Cup playoffs.

That being said, this was a game that certainly kept us on our toes. With both teams absolutely needing a win, going into the locker room down 2-1 at halftime was certainly not an ideal situation for Thierry Henry’s men. Heading into the second half, the man in charge preached patience.

“We continued to work hard, pass the ball, cross, strike, create,” said Impact head coach Thierry Henry. “We were patient. Finally, we were rewarded with a goal from Victor Wanyama, and we were liberated from then on. I think we deserved this win.”

Just minutes before that goal, in the 71st minute, Thierry Henry made two changes that would end up changing the game. Mason Toye, acquired from Minnesota United, was brought on for Anthony Jackson-Hamel, and Mustafa Kizza, who only recently joined the team, replaced Amar Sejdic for his first MLS minutes.

“We didn’t want to exhaust him too early,” explained Henry. “We switched to a 3-4-3 when he came in to try and tie things up. Then we switched tactics again, because we knew other teams in the conference weren’t winning. Mustafa entered the game really well.”

Kizza and Toye’s entrance into the fold proved to be the breaking point for the hosts. The two were able to combine on the left side in the 88th minute, with Kizza finding Toye in behind the defense with a perfectly weighted ball. The American was able to cross it in on his first touch for Romell Quioto, unmarked behind the defensive line, who was able to tap home the game winner and confirm the Impact’s playoff berth.

“I’m happy for Mason, he deserved that assist,” said Impact forward Bojan. “It’s not easy coming into a new team. We were fighting for a playoff spot and he had minutes here and there. Against D.C., he came on and made a difference. That’s what it’s all about. We’re getting contributions from everyone and that’s why we’re in the playoffs.”

The Impact will now face the New England Revolution in the MLS Cup Playoffs on November 20 at 6:30pm, at Gillette Stadium.