Football: Amid Drogba drama, Impact clinch MLS playoff berth

Montreal Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti (left) celebrates his goal against Toronto FC with Impact forward Matteo Mancosu during the second half at Stade Saputo.
Montreal Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti (left) celebrates his goal against Toronto FC with Impact forward Matteo Mancosu during the second half at Stade Saputo.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Amid drama surrounding the absence of Didier Drogba, the Montreal Impact settled for a 2-2 draw against Toronto on Sunday that proved enough to secure a Major League Soccer playoff spot.

The Impact announced on their Twitter feed before the game that Drogba was absent with back trouble. But coach Mauro Biello confirmed after the match that reports Drogba demanded to be taken off the 18-man squad after learning he wouldn't start were true.

"Didier was not selected to start the game," said Biello. "I spoke with him yesterday. He did not accept to come off the bench. In the end he did not want to be in the 18. He said that he did not accept the fact that he was coming off the bench.

"There was tightness in his back, yes, but he was capable of playing," Biello added of the 38-year-old Ivorian. "The organization will have to handle this."

Ignacio Piatti scored twice for the Impact, including a stellar 19th-minute opener in which he won a ball at the top of the area and fired a screamer past Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin into the top right corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Jozy Altidore equalized in the 51st with a close-range strike, but Piatti pushed Montreal ahead again four minutes later with a crisply taken penalty. An 86th-minute goal from Tosaint Ricketts salvaged the draw for Toronto.

But the result proved enough to secure a playoff berth for Montreal thanks to the New England Revolution's 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire. Toronto, already post-season bound, remain in the hunt for a first-round bye in the MLS Cup playoffs.

In other action on the penultimate Sunday of the regular season, DC United scored three times before half-time in a 3-1 victory over New York City FC that saw United book a playoff spot.

Patrick Mullins scored his first goal against his former club in the 27th minute to give United a 1-0 lead. Lloyd Sam delivered the low cross that Mullins tapped in, and Sam's corner four minutes later was seized by Bobby Boswell, who headed it in from six yards out.

Andoni Iraola handed United a third goal just before half-time on a poor pass back to Josh Saunders that instead came to Mullins feet. Mullins slipped it back to Rob Vincent, who scored easily.

David Villa pulled back a goal for City from the penalty spot in the 72nd after he was tripped in the penalty box.

Carlos Ruiz was the hero in Dallas, his late goal giving FC Dallas a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders and putting them in the lead for the Supporters' Shield, awarded to the team with the league's best regular-season record.

Dallas now have 59 points, two more than the Colorado Rapids, who fell 1-0 to the Portland Timbers, who cling to hopes of a playoff spot.