Toronto FC misses playoffs with draw against Impact
TFC spent $100 million on payroll this season
Toronto FC's playoff hopes died for the eighth straight year Saturday afternoon, thanks to a 1-1 draw with the Montreal Impact.
Toronto (11-14-8) needed to win its remaining games against Montreal and New England and hope that fifth-place Columbus lost both its matches against New York and Philadelphia.
Instead Eastern Conference cellar-dweller Montreal (6-18-9) played spoiler, denying TFC the points it needed and booking Columbus a berth in the playoffs.
Toronto can't have any complaints, picking up one point from 12 available in the last four matches.
Warren Creavalle scored for Toronto, which had the better of play in the first half and pressed late in the game for the winning goal.
Felipe replied in the 39th minute for Montreal. The Brazilian was a thorn in Toronto's side all afternoon.
Draw a fitting result for Canadian also-rans
"It's disappointing. You look where we are in the standings, and there are a lot of things that we have to address, and areas where we have to adjust, but you have to have the ability to win on the road," said Montreal coach Frank Klopas.
Toronto can't have any complaints, picking up one point from 12 available in the last four matches. Despite setting several single-season records in 2014, its history of failure continues.
"You have to execute, you have to take points ... you must win the home ones, especially down the stretch" said Toronto coach Greg Vanney, citing a costly loss to Houston earlier this month.
"The draw today is not good enough in terms of results. Effort is one thing but execution and finishing games and taking points is what professional sports is about," he added. "We put in the effort but we didn't execute well enough."
There were plenty of empty seats for the home finale on a breezy 11-degree day at BMO Field. But it was no fault of Montreal, which had a healthy travelling contingent in the west stand. The announced crowd was 18,329, the second straight non-sellout.
Toronto was without its two biggest stars: striker Jermain Defoe (groin) and midfielder Michael Bradley (suspended). Centre back Nick Hagglund was also out.
Argentine midfielder Ignacio Piatti, who joined the Impact as a designated player in July, sat out the game with a knee injury.
Montreal came into the game with the league's worst road record (0-12-4). But BMO Field has been anything but a fortress this season for Toronto, which came into the weekend with the third-lowest home winning percentage (.500, 7-7-2) in the league.
Montreal had the benefit of the wind at its back in the first half but Toronto struck first in the 20th minute, with Creavalle's stylish volley finding the corner of Evan Bush's goal. The chance came after a Luke Moore's shot squibbed off defender Matteo Ferrari high into the air before dropping nicely onto Creavalle's foot.
It was his first goal for Toronto FC — and the fourth of his four-year MLS career — and he may not score a nicer one.
The former Houston Dynamo midfielder almost added an assist in the 30th minute, sending a dangerous cross through the box. But no one could get a foot to it.
Toronto came close again in the 36th but Moore's on-target header was knocked away by Ferrari.
Montreal, which had previously settled for long off-target shots, tied it up in the 39th minute — against the run of play — on Felipe's powerful shot from the edge of the penalty box. Andres Romero knocked the ball over to him after taking a magnificent pass from Patrice Bernier just inside the Montreal side of midfield.