The Impact qualified for the MLS playoffs in just their second season, but limped to the finish line in the final two months and lost their first-ever playoff match against the Houston Dynamo 3-0 on Thursday.
A loss on the final day of the regular season pushed them down to the No. 5 seed, forcing the Impact to travel to Houston for the one-game knockout round against the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo finished two points ahead of Montreal in the standings to earn home field for the knockout round.
First-half goals by Will Bruin and Oscar Boniek Garcia sucked the life out of the Impact, who had a share of the Eastern Conference lead as late as Sept. 8 before falling to fifth.
Bruin scored a second goal in the 72nd minute after Montreal defender Nelson Rivas was ejected from the match following his second yellow card two minutes prior.
Justin Mapp had a chance to even the score in the 18th minute, but his shot just missed the right post after Bobby Boswell turned the ball over in the far corner. Marco Di Vaio led the Impact with five shots, just two of which were on target.
In the 16th minute, Bruin received a back-heeled pass from Ricardo Clark, found some space just inside the box and ripped home his fifth career playoff goal. Bruin scored four goals as Houston reached the MLS Cup final a year ago.
The Dynamo extended their lead in the 27th minute as Boniek Garcia converted a penalty kick after Montreal's Hernan Bernardello tripped him in the box.
Since Aug. 24, following a 5-0 win over Houston in Montreal, the Impact has won just two of 11 games and has been shutout seven times.
Impact defender Andres Romero and forward Di Vaio were also shown red cards in the 89th minute for fighting.
"Sorry for my reaction in the game tonight," said Romero in a tweet after the game. "I felt great impotence and no I couldn't control. Excuse me!"Suggest a correction