The Montreal Impact's playoff destiny is out of their control.
Needing a win and some help from other teams, the Impact try to keep their slim hopes alive when they host Toronto FC on Sunday at Saputo Stadium.
Montreal (13-15-4) overcame a woeful first two months of the season and worked its way into a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference on July 7. It held on to that spot until Oct. 13, when D.C. United won their first game in hand, dropping the Impact below the cut-off line. They're now four points back of D.C. after the latter won its second game in hand.
"We put ourselves in the situation we're in now mostly because of our bad start to the season," midfielder Samuel Piette told the Journal de Montreal. "That's what hurt us the most."
Anything other than a win against Toronto will eliminate the Impact from playoff contention. Even with three points, their post-season hopes could still be extinguished on Sunday. If D.C. and the fifth-place Columbus Crew, five points ahead of Montreal, both win their matches, the Impact are out.
"Unfortunately, it's out of our hands," Piette said. "We weren't on the field to prevent them from winning."
Toronto's minute hopes of a championship repeat were quelled earlier this month, reducing the club to a spoiler role for its final few games of the season. After roaring to the top of the standings a season ago, TFC (9-17-6) finds itself at the other end of the spectrum after struggling through the 2018 campaign.
"I would be lying if I said that there's an excitement in the group," coach Greg Vanney said. "But there's a professionalism in the group where they understand that these results are still important, these performances are important, that our role has changed and now we're the spoilers instead of the team trying to win the Supporters' Shield or anything else."
Montreal and Toronto have alternated wins in their past five meetings, with each side winning at home in each of the past three matches.