Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Impact Can Move into MLS Playoff Position with Win over Real Salt Lake

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Impact Can Move into MLS Playoff Position with Win over Real Salt Lake

Article excerpt

Impact closing in on MLS playoff spot


MONTREAL - Riding a three-game winning streak, the Montreal Impact are within striking distance of a playoff position for the first time this season.

A victory against Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Saputo Stadium would thrust the Impact above the red line in the MLS Eastern Conference standings. Montreal is two points away from sixth-place Atlanta, which does not play over the weekend, and two points back of fifth-place Columbus with two games in hand.

"We need to keep going on this streak," said midfielder Blerim Dzemaili, who has helped revitalize the Impact since joining the club in May. "We cannot make any mistakes anymore. We need three points against Real Salt Lake.

"Hopefully we're going to be in a playoff spot after next game."

Montreal (9-8-6) has spent its entire season on the outside looking in. Since going winless (0-2-3) in their first five games of the season, Mauro Biello's men have languished near the bottom of the standings.

After dropping a 4-0 contest on the road against the New York Red Bulls three weeks ago, Montreal's post-season fate looked grim. The team was 10th in the East, eight points out of a playoff spot and playing some of their worst soccer of the season.

But consecutive wins against Orlando (2-1), Philadelphia (3-0) and Chicago (3-0) have made Montreal one of the hottest teams in the league right now.

Midfielder Ignacio Piatti has scored four goals during the win streak while Dzemaili has netted another two. The duo's chemistry on the pitch is one of the reasons for Montreal's recent success.

"There's more trust now," said captain Patrice Bernier. "Guys are passing the ball to each other in tight areas. Before we were in a hurry to play forward and get rid of the ball. We've been executing a lot better. If a guy gets beat defensively, someone is there to recover. …

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