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Impact dismiss head coach Klopas in hopes to "change the momentum"

MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact braintrust decided Frank Klopas was not the right person to lead the team to the MLS playoffs.

Montreal fired head coach Klopas late Saturday night just hours after the Impact fell 2-1 to Toronto FC — the club's third loss of the week and third straight defeat in the league.

Assistant coach Mauro Biello takes over on an interim basis until the end of the season.

"In order to change the momentum of the recent run of poor results, the club decided to make this move," said technical director Adam Braz at a press conference at Saputo Stadium on Sunday afternoon. "Was Frank disappointed? Of course. But he fully understands that in his capacity as head coach, he's judged strictly on results.

"He understood that the recent trend of results didn't go in our favour."

Montreal (8-11-5) has picked up just 11 points out of a possible 33 in its last 11 outings — a 3-6-2 stretch that started with a 3-1 loss in Toronto on June 24.

The Impact are one point out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings with 11 games left in the regular season.

"Professional sports is all about results," said Richard Legendre, vice president of soccer operations for the Impact. "The recent results, especially those in the second third of the season, forced us to make this decision."

Montreal is 0-4-2 in its last six matches in all competitions. The team has scored just four times in that span.

On Wednesday, the Impact lost 2-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps in the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final. With the loss, Montreal will not play in the CONCACAF Champions League next year.

On Saturday, Montreal continued its poor run of form in the league, losing to rivals Toronto FC at BMO Field. The defeat pushed the Impact into seventh place in the East, just below the playoff line.

"This week was a big week for us," said Braz. "We knew that if things didn't go well, we'd have to analyze where we stood at the end of the week. Unfortunately, things didn't go our way."

Vice president of international relations Nick De Santis broke the news to Klopas over the phone late Saturday after the Impact had returned to Montreal from Toronto.

Braz said De Santis, Legendre, Impact president Joey Saputo and himself were all involved in the decision to fire Klopas.

"In the end, it's a club decision," said Braz. "Continuously throughout the season we discuss results, trends, which way the team is swinging. It's for everyone to speak about it and discuss it.

"After the game last night, the decision was taken and the calls were made to get the situation sorted."

Biello, 43, is in his sixth year on the Impact coaching staff. He joined Montreal in 2009 after a 19-year professional playing career, including 16 years in an Impact uniform.

"It's natural that if the coach is relieved of his duties, that the first assistant takes over on an interim basis until a permanent decision is made," said Braz. "Mauro has years of experience. He knows the team well and its players. He knows their characters. He knows what to expect of them."

Added Legendre: "We believe in Biello and we're confident in his abilities. It's a new start, but it's also good for continuity."

Klopas was in his second season as Montreal's head coach after joining the team in December 2013.

Under his guidance, the Impact won the Canadian Championship last year and were runners-up in the 2014-15 Champions League.

In Klopas' first MLS season with the Impact, Montreal finished dead last in the league with a 6-18-10 record.

Biello's first test as head coach is Saturday when the Chicago Fire come to Saputo Stadium.

Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press

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