The Impact held on to the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but Toronto has a game in hand.
CHICAGO — An inability to win on the road has left the Impact in a precarious position as they battle to maintain a playoff position in the MLS Eastern Conference.
After losing five consecutive away games, the Impact was in a position to earn a point against the Chicago Fire Saturday but a determined comeback effort was wasted when the Impact’s failure to defend on set pieces proved costly once again.
With the score tied 2-2, the Impact gave up a corner kick in the 88th minute. Djrodje Mihailovic delivered a ball into the box and Bastian Schweinsteiger, the veteran German International, stepped in front of defender Zakaria Diallo and headed the ball beyond goalkeeper Evan Bush to give the Fire a 3-2 victory.
The Impact was fortunate that two teams which are battling Montreal for a playoff spot — the New England Revolution and Toronto FC — both tied Saturday. New England drew 3-3 with Seattle and moved into sixth place with 34 points. Toronto drew with Orlando City 1-1 and is tied with Montreal for the seventh and final playoff spot. Each team has 33 points, but Toronto FC has a game in hand.
The Impact trailed 2-0 before the game was 20 minutes old. Schweinsteiger set up Dax McCarty for the opening goal in the eighth minute and Aleksandar Katai set up Nemanja Nikolić for a tap-in at the far post in the 19th minute.
The Impact cut the lead to 2-1 in the 34th minute on a penalty kick by Saphir Taider, who was taken down in the box by Chicago goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm in a race for the ball. Taider scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season.
Defender Jorge Corrales, who was acquired from the Fire earlier in the week, set up the tying goal. Maxi Urruti found Corrales with a short pass off a corner kick, and the former Cuban International delivered a perfect ball for Bacary Sagna to head past Kronholm.
Bojan Krkic, the Spanish attacking midfielder who joined the Impact on Wednesday, came off the bench in the 63rd minute and he produced two shots. Ignacio Piatti, the team’s all-time leading scorer, also came off the bench but played only 10 minutes.
The Impact flew to Calgary on Sunday to become acclimated to the high altitude in preparation for the second leg of the Canadian Championship semifinal against the Cavalry FC. Montreal won 2-1 in the first leg at Saputo Stadium.
The Impact resumes its MLS schedule next Saturday when FC Dallas visits Saputo Stadium.