The Two Solitudes Derby is one of the most exciting rivalries in Major League Soccer. Today we take an in-depth look at what might be the last grudge match of the season.
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Montreal hosts Toronto FC this afternoon to close out their home games for 2016. The two teams have met in the final two weeks of the regular season every year that Montreal has been an MLS side, with the first three matches in Toronto (0-0, 1-0 TFC, 1-1) and last year’s at Stade Saputo (2-1 Impact). The last two years brought the rivalry out strong, with the 2014 edition being particularly dramatic.
In today’s match, TFC star striker Sebastian Giovinco, who was injured in the last meeting between the two teams, has returned to the Reds lineup. The home side is missing Didier Drogba from the match day 18 with a stiff back.
The Impact still have playoffs to fight for, though a win today will secure their place. Toronto, on the other hand, are still in striking distance of a first round bye, or perhaps even a first place finish in the conference.
In all likelihood, Toronto and Montreal will not meet again this season unless they both make it to the conference finals. However, with playoff standings still so uncertain, even a repeat of last year’s knockout round match is possible.
In advance of the match, Dominic Oduro, one of just three active MLS players who has spent time with both teams, fired some shots in Toronto’s direction:
"No lie, we have a good fan base over here. You come to games, you hear them. They're really loud and we have that bell that sounds all the time when we score. And they're loud. You can't compare that to Toronto. I mean, Toronto, they only have one section. With us, we have two sections and they're just amazing. They come to games no matter what. Even when things are not falling in place in terms of games winning and all that, they still come out to support and that's really important."
Expect a vibrant game this afternoon.