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Montreal Impact eliminated from MLS playoffs after 1-1 draw with Atlanta United

Montreal has not won an MLS game at home since Aug. 28

Sep 29, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Impact Impact forward Maximiliano Urruti (37) reacts after a missed opportunity by his team against Atlanta United FC during the second half at Stade Saputo. (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

MONTREAL — The sun has set on the Montreal Impact’s season.

The Impact needed a win over Atlanta United FC at home to keep their hopes alive, but they drew the Five Stripes 1-1 at home Sunday. Additionally, the New England Revolution’s 2-0 win over NYCFC confirmed the end of Montreal’s playoff push.

“I went into the locker room and I thanked the players because they put a lot of effort, they tried,” Montreal coach Wilmer Cabrera said. “In this game, what you expect is to try and give it all in the best way possible and they did it.”

After a goal-less half, Atlanta United opened the scoring in the 53rd minute thanks to Julian Gressel. The German made a give-and-go set-up play on the left side of the box to net his fifth of the season.

The Impact leveled the score at the 81st minute with a goal from Bojan Krkic. The Spaniard snapped a 314 minute goal-less streak at home in MLS play. However, the Impact didn’t find a way to get their first win in league play since Aug. 28. For Cabrera, Sunday’s draw came down to the talent level.

“We had a very good opponent today,” Cabrera said. “They are very talented and I would say, with respect, they had more talent than us.”

Sep 29, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Impact midfielder Bojan (9) celebrates his goal against Atlanta United with teammates during the second half at Stade Saputo. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Cabrera added that finishing was the one aspect that cost his team the playoffs.

“We lack the possibilities to finish all the quality plays that we created,” Cabrera said. “The last touch, the last chance, the last moment, the last pass, is where we miss and you have to make a difference.”

Diop impresses

Clement Diop earned his second consecutive start in all competitions for the Impact. It was the first time Evan Bush sat out two games in a row since the 2017 season. In his first MLS start with the Impact, the Senegalese international impressed, making five saves.

Cabrera admitted he didn’t want to mess with the Impact’s initial plan of having Diop start in Canadian Championship games. He enjoyed Diop’s simplicity and role in the second leg’s penalty kick shootout that led to the Impact’s first Voyageurs Cup in five years. 

“That vibe, that momentum, I thought that was important for the team,” said Cabrera about his reasoning to keep Diop in goal. “I think he was very good today. He was very solid and he saved the team in the moments that the team needed to be saved.” 

Diop made good impression with new sporting director Olivier Renard in attendance for the first time. The goalkeeper is in a contract year, but he said he is trying to stay grounded. 

“I’m not thinking about 2020, I’m thinking about next week’s game against New York Red Bulls,” Diop said. “I’m not the one taking decisions. My contract is up, the club will take the decisions they’ll need to take about me. I’m trying to stay focussed on trying to win the New York Red Bulls game if I get a chance to play.” 

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