MLS Closeup: Impact's season snowballs out of control

In a season of home dominance by many MLS teams, Montreal’s recent failure to prevail at Stade Saputo has turned its season in the wrong direction.

A 1-0 loss to New York City Wednesday, coupled with a shocking 3-2 triumph by Minnesota United in its previous home match, has neutralized the momentum and points generated by a 5-3 defeat of Toronto FC last week. That was the first BMO Field loss for TFC this season and seemed to have set up the Impact for a strong playoff push down the stretch.

Instead, Montreal fell behind in the 29th minute when Jack Harrison played a one-two with Rodney Wallace and powered home his 10th goal of the season. Despite its desperate need for points to climb into the playoff tier, the Impact was outshot, 22-10, and lost at home for the seventh time this season. It has lost six of its last seven games, four of them at Stade Saputo.

“For a reason or another, we are having a tough time since the past couple of weeks,” said goalkeeper Evan Bush, who turned away five shots to help keep his team in the game. “We slipped up and it kind of snowballed from there. We missed another good opportunity tonight to climb in the standings.”

Earlier in the season, the addition of Swiss international Blerim Dzemaili had eased the team’s dependence on Ignacio Piatti, but neither has been consistently productive during the team’s recent skid. Dzemaili has scored seven goals and 10 assists in his 20 appearances but he has just one goal and two assists in the last seven games.

Piatti (17 goals, 6 assists) notched two of each in the big win over TFC but otherwise has produced only one goal in the other six matches. Setting aside the TFC game, Montreal has been outscored, 11-3.

The loss leaves Montreal four points behind the sixth-place Red Bulls, which have four more games to play. Montreal has only three, starting this weekend at Colorado, which by losing to FC Dallas, 2-0, Wednesday has been eliminated from postseason contention.

The Impact had hoped to build on its upset of the Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals last year; instead the future of the team and its head coach looks very murky.

“Tonight was not good enough in all aspects of the game, especially as we are in the playoff race,” said head coach Mauro Biello. “We cannot accept that kind of performance in front of our supporters. We now play on Saturday in Colorado, we have to work hard to get the win.”

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