McInerney, Duka late goals lift Impact to 2-0 win over Earthquakes | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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McInerney, Duka late goals lift Impact to 2-0 win over Earthquakes

September 20, 2014 - 8:07 PM

MONTREAL - The chances of a second straight trip to the Major League Soccer playoffs are finished for the Montreal Impact, but they hope winning at home gives them something to build on for next year.

Jack McInerney and Dilly Duka scored in the final 10 minutes to give the Impact a 2-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night, leaving them 3-0-1 in their last four league games at Saputo Stadium.

It wasn't enough to stave off mathematical elimination from the playoffs as the New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew both won to move out of reach of the 6-17-6 Impact, who have five regular season games left to play.

"We can still play spoiler, even though San Jose's not really there either, but we can still put good performances in for the fans and for ourselves going into next season," said McInerney. "It's important to end on a good note."

San Jose (6-12-10), whose winless run stretched to nine games, is also in grave danger of missing the post-season.

The Impact got the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot in only their second MLS season in 2013, losing their lone post-season game 3-0 in Houston. But they took a step backward in 2014, when poor defence and a 0-11-3 road record was their undoing.

But the season is not a write-off yet.

Their 1-0 win over the Red Bulls at home on Wednesday put them in first place in their CONCACAF Champions League group with one game left (Oct. 22 in New York), so there is motivation to keep their level of play up to try to salvage something from the campaign.

"These games will carry into that," said McInerney.

The Impact got new life in early August when the gifted Ignacio Piatti joined as the team's second designated player. Since then the entire squad has stepped up the pace, so that they are winning games they'd have let slip away earlier in the season.

Other in-season acquisitions, such as Duka and midfielder Issey Nakajima-Farran, have also helped.

"You never want to use a season to build for the next one, but the club is trying to build something long-term," said defender Heath Pearce, who due to injuries anchored an inexperienced back line against San Jose. "You can see the pieces starting to come together slowly.

"Hopefully that will lead into something special next year. You can see the team coming together. You can see a system and a style that we've been hoping for all year, and we've added some pieces and now it's a lot more realistic style."

Nakajima-Farran said it may help that there is little pressure on the Impact in league play at the moment, but he said the players still feed off wins and have had enough of losing.

"It's just being the players we are, we hate losing," he said. "Especially the training after a loss, when everyone's still feeling the loss.

"It's the worst feeling ever. This has been going on for quite a while in Montreal. And when the team doesn't change, guys are getting itchy to get on the pitch. And when we get on, there's a lot to prove, so it's good to get a win."

Piatti, who has been playing through a nagging bout of tendinitis in his left knee, limped off the field in the 57th minute.

Even though the Impact are eliminated and it would be a chance to rest Piatti up for next season, coach Frank Klopas said "We'll have to see" how much action the Argentine midfielder sees.

"These guys are so competitive, they want to play," said Klopas.

McInerney got his eighth of the season and his first since June 29 in the 81st minute to open the scoring.

The ball went to Marco Di Vaio from a corner kick and the veteran striker's curling shot needed a diving save from Jon Busch. McInerney was standing on the doorstep and he put up his hands, as though in apology, as the rebound went off his body and into the net.

In the 88th, Di Vaio fed Duka near the San Jose area. He cut inside and put a shot between two defenders in off the far post for his third of the season.

The Impact were on full attack in the first half, when Piatti and Duka shot over the bar early on and McInerney just missed on a bicycle kick after a lob from Andres Romero.

The closest call came in the 38th minute when Piatti tried a long shot that forced Jon Busch into a desperate leap to tip over the bar.

The second half saw San Jose get chances, with Chris Wondolowski stopped from close range early and Atiba Harris heading just wide in the 70th.

Notes: Montreal outshot San Jose 19-8. . . Playing a third game in eight days, the Impact gave Troy Perkins the start (and the captain's armband) in goal ahead of Evan Bush. Academy product Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare got a start at left back and drew praise from Klopas. Left back Krzysztof Krol sat out a suspension from a red card shown in last week's 2-1 loss at New England.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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