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Impact playoff hopes dealt another blow with 1-0 loss in New England

Before practice Friday morning at Centre Nutrilait, Impact coach Mauro Biello was asked what one word would best describe his team’s MLS season so far.

“One word?” Biello said. “I think one word is difficult because there’s been so many things going on. But I see a lot of similarities in the last couple of seasons with this group. When we’ve had our backs against the wall we’ve been able to come through, so that’s a positive.”

The Impact had their backs against the wall Saturday night in New England as they fight for a playoff spot and they failed to come through, losing 1-0 to the Revolution on a goal by Lee Nguyen in the 68th minute.

One word that would describe the Impact’s season so far is average. If you want two words: below average.

The loss dropped the Impact below .500 (10-11-6) and they remain in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with only the top six teams making the playoffs. The Impact, who have scored 42 goals and given up 43 this season, are tied in points with sixth-place Atlanta United FC (10-8-6), which has three games in hand, a plus-12 goal differential and plays host to Dallas FC on Sunday afternoon. The eighth-place Revolution (10-12-5) are now only one point behind the Impact, who have lost their last three games while scoring a grand total of one goal. They have been shut out in their last two.

The Impact had a chance to go up 1-0 only 28 seconds into Saturday’s game in New England after a terrible giveaway by the Revolution in the box, but goalkeeper Cody Cropper charged out of his net to take away the angle and make a leg save on Ignacio Piatti. It was one of only two saves Cropper had to make in the first half.

At the other end of the pitch, Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush had to make five saves in the first half, including a couple for the highlight reels. The Impact failed to get a single shot on target in the second half, while the Revolution had two, including Nguyen’s goal.

In the 48th minute, the Impact’s Anthony Jackson-Hamel was provided with a glorious scoring chance after he snuck behind the Revolution defence to take a beautiful cross from Chris Duvall. But all alone from eight yards out, Jackson-Hamel fired a left-footed shot wide of the net. It’s a chance he’ll probably have nightmares about.

The Impact’s road record fell to 2-6-5 and four of their final seven games are on the road. Two of those games are at BMO field against Toronto FC, the best team in MLS that improved its record to 17-3-8 with a 4-0 home win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday. Toronto FC is unbeaten in 14 home games this season (11-0-3). 

The Impact really have their backs against the wall now.

Two words: almost done.