Sports Impact facing pivotal match as team looks to make MLS playoffs

02:01  27 october  2020
02:01  27 october  2020 Source:   montrealgazette.com

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When the final chapter’s written this season on the Impact — whether it makes the playoffs or not — the team’s porous defence will be mentioned, in abundance.

a person with a football ball on a field: Impact goalkeeper James Pantemis makes a save against New York City during MLS game at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 24. © Provided by The Gazette Impact goalkeeper James Pantemis makes a save against New York City during MLS game at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 24.

And, while Rudy Camacho’s mistakes have been frequent and conspicuous, it can sometimes be too easy pointing the finger at one player.

“There have been times where I’ve made mistakes and others have. That’s the life of a defender,” English teenager Luis Binks said during a video conference call Monday. “You make a mistake, it almost (always) ends up in a goal. You see the mistakes we make … but there’s mistakes that come before that. I could have prevented the cross. Someone else could have kept the ball. Although you see the final mistake, there’s a lot more leading up to it. It’s hard.

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“But it’s always goals we can prevent. It’s frustrating. Hopefully as time goes on we’ll develop more togetherness … and these mistakes won’t keep happening. They can’t keep happening.”

Time isn’t something the Impact has on its side. Only three regular-season games remain, with Nashville SC up next Tuesday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. (7 p.m., TSN 1, 3, 4, 5, TVA Sports, TSN Radio-690).

It’s a pivotal match for both sides. Nashville (6-6-7, 25 points) sits eighth in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the ninth-place Impact (7-11-2). Ten teams make the playoffs, although Montreal has only two victories and a draw in its last 10 games while allowing a conference-high 39 goals. The Impact has gone 12 matches without producing a clean sheet.

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Teams would play each team in their division four times, each non-division conference opponent Hunt Conference: ASC East: Toronto FC, Montreal Impact , Columbus Crew SC, FC Cincinnati Play each team in your mini-league four times for 28 games. Then play one game against each team from

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“Now it’s about getting results,” Binks said. “We all know what’s required of us. We’re not keeping enough clean sheets. We’re giving our goalkeeper too much to do.”

Both Finnish defender Jukka Raitala and ‘keeper Clément Diop have returned to the group, served the requisite quarantine period and could dress against Nashville. Raitala was with his national team, participating in its UEFA Nations League group games, while Diop returned to France for personal reasons. Kirkland native James Pantemis has started the last three games in place of Diop.

“Where we are is because we deserve to be where we are,” manager Thierry Henry said. “The teams behind us are where they are because of that also. (Five) teams are within five points. Basically the run is the same for everybody, almost. We’re all trying to adjust and follow the path of the teams at the top. All of us. Not only us.

“You concentrate on the next game. You can’t think it’s done or not done until the ref blows the whistle. You play to win games. It’s going to be a must-win against Nashville. The aim is to make the playoffs. Nine points are in play.”

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Teams who play any more than four additional matches than the team with the least number of matches played in the playoffs pay a clear penalty compared to Using the playoff formats at the time, a team with four or fewer additional matches had an 85.9% likelihood of making the MLS Cup.

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Nashville is in its inaugural Major League Soccer season, although the city was previously home to a USL franchise. The club made headlines last July when it was forced to withdraw from the MLS is Back tournament, held just outside Orlando, Fla., when nine players tested positive for COVID-19 . Five were diagnosed upon the team’s arrival in Florida, while four additional cases were subsequently confirmed.

So, while every side has been forced to play a condensed schedule with little recovery time, Nashville also was required to make up those tournament matches. With 19 goals, the team has struggled offensively. But it also doesn’t concede many, having allowed 18.

“Nashville is good at what they do — aggressive and difficult to break down,” Henry said. “They have guys that are physical, quick and aggressive. I have a lot of respect because it’s a new franchise. They had to deal with a lot of stuff during the MLS is Back and they’re more than surviving.”




Resilient Impact displayed character with backs against the wall .
When the epitaph is written on the Impact’s season — unless things suddenly improve dramatically and the club has an extended playoff run — there will be plenty of deficiencies that require attention. But perhaps one that won’t is character. With the Impact’s season on the line Sunday afternoon and its playoff hopes close to being extinguished yet again, this team somehow managed to rally in the final 20 minutes of regulation, scoring twice for a 3-2 victory over D.C. United at Audi Field. In any other year, Montreal’s 8-13-2 record wouldn’t have been nearly enough. It would have meant elimination from the playoffs for a fourth successive season.

usr: 3
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