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Canada

Impact limps out of playoff berth after loss to Toronto

For the first time since the opening game of the season, the Impact is out of a playoff position in the MLS Eastern Conference.

Justin Morrow spoiled Wilmer Cabrera’s debut as coach of the Impact when he scored in the 81st minute to snap a 1-1 tie  and give Toronto FC a 2-1 win over the Impact on Saturday at BMO Field in Toronto.

The win in the Canadian derby moved Toronto FC into the seventh and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 37 points, three more than Montreal. Toronto FC also hold a game in hand.The Impact also fell four points behind sixth-place New England, which edged the Chicago Fire 2-1.

Montreal Impact defender Zachary Brault-Guillard (15) slide tackles Toronto FC forward Jordan Hamilton (7) during the first half at Rogers Centre on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019. Kevin Sousa / USA TODAY Sports

Cabrera replaced Rémi Garde in mid-week, but the result showed it will take more than a coaching change to produce a post-season appearance for the Impact. The team suffered its seventh consecutive loss on the road and is 1-7-1 in its last nine games. One bit of good news is Montreal will play five of it six remaining MLS games at Saputo Stadium.

But the inability to win on the road is only one problem The team is still missing key personnel  like designated player Ignacio Piatti,  midfielder Samuel Piette and defenders Victor Cabrera and Rudy Camacho.

Homegrown striker Anthony Jackson-Hamel joined the list of wounded Saturday. It’s safe to say Jackson-Hamel wasn’t one of Garde’s favourites and the coaching change gave him a new opportunity. But minutes after he replaced Ballou Tabla in the second half Saturday, he suffered what appeared to be a left knee injury and was carried off the field on a stretcher.

The Impact took a 1-0 lead when Bojan scored his first MLS goal in the 49th minute. He offered s glimpse of why he was regarded as a top prospect as a teenager with Barcelona when he created some space for himself at the top of the box and beat Toronto goalkeeper Quentin Westberg to the near post from 25 yards out. It was the third time in the last three games Montreal has scored first, but the Impact has picked up only oner point in those games.

Toronto FC pulled even in the 63rd minute. Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush dove to punch away a dangerous ball from Alejandro Pozuelo, who came off the bench at the half. The rebound came back to Marky Delgado, whose shot from outside the box found its way through defender Bacary Sagna’s legs and in.

Morrow gave the home side the lead when he hooked up with veterans Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore in the box. Bush nearly made the save, but the ball bounced over him and and over the line.

While the score was close, Toronto FC had a definite edge in play, outshooting the Impact 19-4 with a 5-1 edge in shots on target.

phickey@postmedia.com

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