Whether Toronto FC plays a makeshift 4-4-2 or 4-4-1 or goes for the ambitious 3-5-2 formation it seems to master, the Impact players have a dilemma when they walk in at Olympic Stadium on Tuesday night.
Being in a conference final is a historical feat for both Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact. It’s an even bigger deal for Canadian clubs in MLS to be able to face-off for the first time in the Eastern Conference Final. No matter what Canada will be represented at the MLS Cup in December.
But before deciding whether Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau will wear a red or blue jersey for the MLS cup winning team (yes a Canadian club will be crowned MLS champion this year), let's reflect on some of the challenges the home team will face next Tuesday.
Wait and see
If the Impact's motto is " Tous Pour Gagner", this playoffs' motto for the bleu-blanc-noir is definitely " Let's wait and see". Playing the counter-attack has been key for Mauro Biello's vision quest to lift the MLS Cup. Though on many attacks, Montreal has been more of a quick transition team than a pure counter-attacking team. But we will let you debate on that.
The main question for Montreal will be whether the game plan will continue to be to sit, wait and pounce on key mistakes by Toronto FC. This squad has the mental fortitude not to cave in under pressure, especially with an epic CONCACAF Champions League run that gave this squad a lot of experience. One could assume that the pressure of playing in front of a sell-out Olympic Stadium could "force" the players to be excited and decide to attack.
Impose yourself..no matter what?
Even if the team has shown to be tactically sharp and disciplined during the 2016 MLS playoffs, is there a chance that Biello's squad, intentionally or unintentionally, change the game plan to surprise Greg Vanney?
Highly doubtful to see Montreal go through such a drastic evolution while keeping in mind that winning the first leg, while keeping a clean sheet, is key for a historical berth to the MLS Cup final.
If Montreal wants to impose itself throughout the game, I would expect to see a very aggressive team during the first 15 minutes of the game to try and destabilize Toronto FC early in the game.
Scoring early will be huge for the Impact when you look back at the trauma it inflicted to D.C. United in playoff knockout game at RFK Stadium. That same trauma might not hurt a more experienced and more talented TFC squad. But it would force the Reds to open up.
But once again, experience and talent are also on TFC's side, having learned from last year's 3-0 trashing , going through therapy for a whole year to then inflict the same trauma on New York City FC in the other Eastern Conference semi-final.
We know the matchups in advance, what each team is capable to do and at this point of the competition, it will come down to execution. Ask the New York Red Bulls.
History is waiting to be written. Will you use red or blue for the first chapter?