EDITORIAL – Every team in Group C of the MLS is Back tournament has played two games. With the final games on Tuesday, there will be an in-depth look at what each team needs to do on Tuesday. There is still everything to play for as Toronto FC, D.C. United, and the New England Revolution battle for two spots in Group C. Group C is a tight group as the Montreal Impact is the only team to lose a game.
What’s at Stake: MLS is Back Group C
United, caught up from behind to tie the game against the New England Revolution. United also did the same thing with TFC. These two games are certainly morale boosters for United. This includes Federico Higuain scoring off a Revolution turnover. He leads United with two goals in the MLS is Back Tournament.
— dcunited (@dcunited) July 18, 2020
However, it does not take away from their weaknesses. The most glaring one is not scoring the first goal and having a poor start. With both TFC and the Revolution, the United were behind 2-0 and 1-0 respectively. Specifically, when looking at TFC, they were behind 2-0 with a man down in the second half. While it showed great character for United, it will be hard to do that every game.
Furthermore, although United are undefeated, they have only two points. If they lose against the Montreal Impact, they are out of the MLS is Back Tournament. In the 2016 Eastern Conference Knockout Round, the Impact shocked host D.C. United 4-2 and advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. United will want to flip the script and eliminate the Impact from the MLS is Back Tournament on Tuesday night.
— dcunited (@dcunited) July 19, 2020
For the Impact it is simple: Win or go home. Even if the Montreal Impact wins, they still may not qualify for the knockout stages. Yes, the Impact was in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League. However, in MLS league play, they have not been in the playoffs since 2016. There is a lot on the line for the Impact on Tuesday.
Like United, the Impact needs to find a way to score the first goal. Also, like United, the Impact needs to have more shots on target. In the previous two games, TFC and the Revolution have had more shots on goal than the Impact.
Impact head coach Thierry Henry is concerned about the number of goals the Impact gave up against Toronto FC. However, there are some positives from the Toronto FC game. The Impact head coach was happy with the fight the Impact gave against TFC according to MLSsoccer.com.
“This is the most important thing for me,” Henry said in responding to one media question in Spanish. “The other day against new England it was different because we didn’t fight. Today you can’t say that. We fought a lot.”
Henry was impressed with Emanuel Maciel who assisted in Romell Quioto’s goal against Toronto FC.
— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) July 17, 2020
New England Revolution
The New England Revolution is now in second place after a 1-1 showing against D.C. United. They were 20+ minutes away from qualifying into the MLS Knockout stage. A big part of that was Adam Buksa’s header that went into the net.
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) July 18, 2020
However, a goal by Higuain in the 73rd minute tied the game against the Revolution. This goal was clearly preventable, and the Revolution should have six points in the group right now. However, like how Toronto FC gave up two points against D.C. United, they will have to move on and try to get a result against TFC.
That message seems to be the same for the Revolution as they play on Tuesday against Toronto FC.
“It doesn’t really matter who scores goals, who makes mistakes – we are a team and we take responsibility as a team for the result." #NERevs
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) July 18, 2020
However, there is not much at stake for the Revolution besides trying to win the group. Worst case scenario, they lose against Toronto FC and D.C. United wins against the Montreal Impact, they drop to third in Group C. However, even then four of the top six third-place teams will qualify for the MLS Knockout stage.
In Group A, the third-place team, which will be either Inter Miami CF or New York City FC, can only finish with a maximum of three points. The Revolution currently has four points. This similar principle applies to current Group C leaders Toronto FC.
Like all BMO Derby’s, the game against the Impact was unpredictable. It was a lot like the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016, where teams exchanged goals quite frequently. In this particular game on Thursday, TFC came out winners against the Impact. Ayo Akinola was the hero of that game scoring a hat-trick against the Montreal Impact.
— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) July 17, 2020
He has scored five of Toronto FC’s six goals. He currently leads the Golden Boot in the MLS is Back Tournament with five goals. Furthermore, Alejandro Pozuelo has had five assists on Toronto FC’s six goals. He is currently leading the MLS is Back Tournament in assists.
Lastly, it sounds like TFC is hungry for more as they look for another three points against the Revolution.
“It's not been perfect; there's still a lot that needs to improve and needs to get better, but four points from the first two games is still a good start. We want to finish the group off with another win against New England.”#MLSisBack | #TFCLive
— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) July 18, 2020
It is important to keep in note that Toronto FC only needs a tie to advance to the knockout stage. Yes, both Toronto FC and the New England Revolution are tied in points, wins, and goal differential. However, TFC has scored more goals than the Revolution and that is why they sit on top in Group C.
Overview of Group C and What is at Stake
It is not guaranteed that Toronto FC and the New England Revolution will be in the MLS knockout stages. They will play against each other at 9:00 AM eastern time on Tuesday.
The game with more on the line will be the Montreal Impact vs. D.C. United at 10:30 PM eastern time on Tuesday. If either team loses, they are out of the MLS is Back Tournament. Since United has two more points than the Impact they can make the knockout stage with a tie.
Although a tie would not guarantee United to make the knockout stages. For the Impact, even if they win, they may not make the knockout stages, but it gives them a chance.