Qin Ru Zhang
They’ve done it! The underdog and tired Impact took down the well rested New York Red Bulls, arguably the heavy Conference favourites. Their 1-nil victory on Sunday allowed them to take a lead on the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The only goal was scored by Matteo Mancosu, a mid-season transfer from Bologna FC, during the 2nd half of the game, and it was spectacular. Arguably, it was their best game of the season.
But the path to victory hasn’t been easy. Last Thursday, they won 4-2 over D.C. United with a great team effort to enter the semifinals, where Mancosu scored two goals. But, with only two days of break, the Impact knew they could not be fully rested against the Bulls, which makes this massive win even more surprising.
Before all of that, the Bleu-Blanc-Noir struggled to finish the regular season and limped into the playoffs. After a bad month this September and a scandal due to Drogba not being in the starting 11, Coach Mauro Biello took a lot of heat. He took even more heat when he decided to rest his best players and instead start a few non-regulars for the last game of the season, where the Impact lost 3-nil.
Looking back, these controversial decisions were the correct ones to make. The Impact saw results with Drogba out of the lineup and their best players were rested for the start of the playoffs.
The playoffs this year are visibly getting the best out of the underdog Montreal team, and as a fan I couldn’t be happier. We can only hope that things can get better from here on out.