By: Marco D'Onofrio
Despite a massive victory on Friday night for Orlando City, the Montreal Impact dealt the expansion team's playoff hopes a crushing blow with their 1-0 victory at Gillette Stadium against the New England Revolution on Saturday night.
Even with rookie sensation Cyle Larin taking Major League Soccer by storm this season, it doesn't look like his prolific campaign will be enough to get Orlando City in the playoffs. He destroyed the old rookie record for most goals scored in a single campaign set by Damani Ralph in 2003. Prior to this year, his tally of 11 goals stood as the benchmark for all rookies, Larin has 17 in 2015. But his two undoubtedly most important goals came against New York City FC on Friday night.
The kid from Brampton, Ontario not only kept Orlando City's playoff hopes alive with his brace against NYCFC, he also paid tribute to his hometown by 'stirring the pot'. The gesture has been used consistently throughout the year as a celebration by the Toronto Blue Jays, and most recently by Sebastian Giovinco as well, in honour of the city's baseball team.
However, Larin's contributions will seemingly be in vain after the Impact's win on Saturday. The victory guaranteed at least one playoff game for the Canadian club, and ensured that Orlando wouldn't be able to pass them in the table.
“If Montreal get a result, good for them," Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath said Friday night following his team's victory against New York City.
"We won’t be able to affect that. But we will certainly have given them a run for their money and I think they are going to feel the pressure.”
Indeed, Orlando did their best to set up a nerve wracking Decision Day next Sunday, but the Impact were able to impressively string together consecutive 1-0 wins on the road to seal their spot in the postseason.
Last week, it was Didier Drogba's free kick that won Montreal the game in Colorado, and on Saturday night it was the brilliance of the club's other Designated Player Ignacio Piatti that earned them three points.
"I have to say mission accomplished tonight, but we have one more game to move up the standings, so we have to keep our focus for the next game," said Montreal head coach Mauro Biello in his postgame press conference.
"We went on the road with a number of difficult games, including here in New England who lost just once at home this season. I’m proud of the group."
While the result at Gillette Stadium ensured that the Impact will be playing past next Sunday, it also prevented the Revolution from booking their playoff ticket.
New England sit just three points ahead of Orlando City, but the expansion club have to make up for a differential of eight goals, which seems almost impossible in just one game. Nevertheless, the Revolution still have to earn a result next week at Yankee Stadium against NYCFC to guarantee their place in the postseason.