Toronto dents Impact’s playoff hopes with 1-0 win

Needing a win to secure an MLS playoff berth without help from

other teams, the Montreal Impact fell flat. Again.

The Impact turned in a woeful first-half performance and were

beaten 1-0 by a Toronto team that started the day 23 points behind

its Canadian rival.

Robert Earnshaw scored his team-leading eighth goal of the

season in the 16th minute for Toronto (6-17-11), which could have

led by three after the first 45 minutes of the regular-season

finale for both clubs.

Once a force in the East, the Impact have collected four of a

possible 24 points available over their last eight games

(1-6-1).

”The first half, we weren’t very good,” Impact coach Marco

Schallibaum said. ”A lot of mistakes, a lot of tension. There were

errors.

”The second half was better. Not much better, but better. There

were also chances to score, maybe (make it) 1-1. But it was not

good enough to win this game today. And that’s a pity.”

Just how much of a pity will be determined Sunday.

Montreal (14-13-7, 49 points) will be out if Houston beats D.C.

United, New England defeats Columbus and Chicago beats or ties New

York. It could be worse, but the Impact could have rendered

Sunday’s results meaningless had they shown up Saturday.

With just Toronto, D.C. United and the Columbus Crew eliminated

from playoff contention and New York and Sporting Kansas City

already in, it made for a complicated final weekend in the East

with Montreal, Chicago, New England, Houston and Philadelphia vying

for the final three playoff berths.

Philadelphia was ousted after losing 2-1 to Sporting Kansas City

earlier in the day. The Union had needed a win and help from other

teams.

Chicago (49 points), Houston (48) and New England (48) all get

their chance Sunday.

The Impact went into the weekend in the best position, tied with

Chicago on points but well ahead in the next tiebreaker (goals

for).

There was little on the line for Toronto other than pride – and

the chance to pick up a sixth win, one more than last season, when

the team went 5-21-8.

It was a ”win and you’re in” game for Montreal but there was

little sense of urgency from the visitors despite the cheers of

Impact supporters squeezed into the corner of the east stand of BMO

Field.

After a sluggish start by both teams, Toronto began to take

control and outshot the Impact 10-5 (5-0 in shots on target) in the

first half.

Montreal made changes in the second half and began to finally

test the Toronto defense. The Impact outshot Toronto 10-6 in the

second half, but only put three shots on target to Toronto’s

two.

When Montreal did find its aim, Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik

was equal to the task.

He stopped Davey Arnaud at point-blank range in the 53rd minute.

And he robbed Andres Romero in the 88th minute.

Montreal misfired the rest of the time.

A 62nd-minute goal by Marco Di Vaio was called off due to

apparent handball. Three minutes later, substitute Andrea Pisanu

headed just wide. Andrew Wenger shot wide from in front of the net

in the 72nd minute.

Toronto was coming off a 1-0 loss in Chicago, a defeat that

stretched its league road scoring drought to 6hours, 45 minutes.

Toronto has failed to make the playoffs since entering the league

in 2007.