MLS is Back Group C Review: No Real Surprises

MLS is Back Group C Review
Second Half photos on 07/17 – DC United vs New England Revolution – Wide World of Sports - Matthew Stith

Group C is now complete. There were no real surprises as Toronto FC and the New England Revolution are through to the MLS knockout stage as the top two teams. However, the games were close with three ties occurring between three of the four teams in Group C.

The Montreal Impact despite having two losses also made the knockout stage. Unfortunately, D.C. United, despite positive results has been eliminated.

MLS is Back: Group C Review

Team that Advanced

1. Toronto FC

Ayo Akinola and Alejandro Pozuelo were the biggest reasons Toronto FC advanced to the knockout stage. Akinola is tied for first in the Golden Boot race with five goals in the tournament while Pozuelo has five assists. TFC had six goals in Group C, which shows the significance of both Pozuelo and Akinola.

Furthermore, TFC scored the first goal against both the Montreal Impact and D.C. United. This allowed Toronto FC to enjoy a lead in both games. Omar Gonzalez and Chris Mavinga also played a key part in Toronto FC’s win. This is what Greg Vanney said about Ayo Akinola according to the Canadian Press:

“He has soft feet, he can hold things up but he’s so powerful and fast? He’s gotten himself fit, he worked incredibly hard in the pre-season. He just looks like he loves playing soccer. And all of that is coming out in his performances.”

2. New England Revolution

New England Revolution performed very well in Group C. In their first game, they had 18 shots, five of which were on goal. The Montreal Impact only had seven shots, with two on target. Yes, the Revolution should have been more clinical, but the job was done, winning 1-0.

The other thing the New England Revolution was able to do was to score the first goal in their first two games. This was critical for the Revolution to advance to the knockout stages. Also, their stellar defence stepped up as only two goals were scored against the Revolution.

The Revolution had several more shots and shots on goal against the Montreal Impact and D.C. United. This is what Revolution head coach Bruce Arena said about the team according to revolutionsoccer.net.

“I think our guys have given us a really good effort in group play.”

3. Montreal Impact

The Montreal Impact is heading into the Round of 16 as one of the best third-placed teams. The biggest reason was that the Impact won against D.C. United. This is what Thierry Henry said about the game according to Dylan Butler of MLSSoccer.com.

“Today, or this morning, they showed me that they can respond,” Henry said in his post-match press conference. “It wasn’t pleasant, it wasn’t pretty in the second half, but we [hung] in there, stayed tight and we got the result we needed.”

Clément Diop made big saves against D.C. United. This was while Saphir Taïder scored the lone goal for the Impact. Furthermore, Taïder scored three goals in the tournament. Two of them were penalties and one of them happened late against TFC.

Yes, they lost against TFC but getting that third goal was critical to advancing to the knockout stage because of goal difference.

The Team that Did not Advance

4. D.C. United

Yes, D.C. United got positive results in two of the three group stage games. The problem was that the two positive results were ties. Most importantly, they never led a game and never scored the first goal of the game. If they did that, they may have been able to make the knockout stage.

In the Montreal Impact game, there were a couple of things United did wrong. One was having six shots and only one of them being on target. Most notably was Ulises Segura’s attempt early in the game. In the fifth minute, Julian Gressel passed it to Segura.

He had a golden opportunity to score but completely missed the net. United also had other chances to score that they failed to capitalize on. This is what D.C. United head coach said according to pscp.tv.

“Unfortunately, we just did not make any plays. We made one unfortunately for them.”

Overview of Group C

Unfortunately for D.C. United, this will be the second time in the last five years that they have been eliminated by the Montreal Impact. The other time United was eliminated was the 2016 MLS knockout stage, where the Impact pulled a shocking 4-2 win over D.C. United.

The other three teams are in the knockout stage. The New England Revolution will play against a tough Philadelphia Union on July 25. On that same day, the Montreal Impact will face Orlando City SC. Lastly, Toronto FC will face New York City FC on July 26. This game will be a rivalry match as TFC eliminated NYCFC in the 2016 and 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs.

The winner of this tournament earns a berth to the 2021 Concacaf Champions League. So, there is a lot on the line for all MLS teams involved in the knockout stage.

Looking back at the odds to win the group by oddschecker in the MLS is Back: Group C Preview, there were no surprises. Toronto FC as expected won the group. The Revolution, who had the second-highest odds finished second in the group. This is while the bottom two teams the Montreal Impact and D.C. United had the lowest odds of winning the group.

While there were no real surprises, Group C was a fun group to watch. Despite being eliminated, D.C. United showed heart and determination. Toronto FC and the New England Revolution were the elite of Group C while the Montreal Impact got results needed to advance to the knockout stage.

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