The big game is right around the corner, as the Montreal Impact host Toronto FC in their final home game of the 2016 season, win or lose, on Tuesday.
What’s happened so far this year between the rivals? Let’s rewind and see how the other meetings went against the Reds this season.
April 23 (MLS): Impact 0, TFC 2
It was Didier Drogba’s first start of 2016 for Montreal, after sitting out the games at the Big O, and the result wasn’t a great start for the hosts, who gave up the home loss. A brace from Sebastian Giovinco gave Toronto, starting the second season in a row on a long road trip, all three points.
June 1 (Canadian Championship): TFC 4, Impact 2
The biggest result, on either side, of the season series came in this game, with TFC taking a commanding win in the first leg of the Canadian Championship semifinal series. This game had pretty much everything — a big rivalry win, two late goals (including one from Drogba) from the Impact to give the return leg some intrigue, a first-half red card to Patrice Bernier, multiple scuffles between the teams. It was a tough result for the Impact, but that series could be a way for Mauro Biello to gameplan the Eastern Conference finals, with an eye to replicating what Toronto did in the Canadian Championship series.
June 8 (Canadian Championship): Impact 0, TFC 0
The return leg of the Voyageurs Cup semis was an exercise in futility for the Impact, unable to overcome their two-goal deficit in the series and picking up another red card, this time to Lucas Ontivero 60 minutes in. With Toronto taking a big lead in the first leg, they were able to sit on their lead and prioritize defense, something which stymied the Impact’s efforts to advance in the tournament.
August 27 (MLS): TFC 0, Impact 1
But look, Montreal returned the favor of the first rivalry loss of the year in MLS play with a road win. A no-nonsense direct play made the difference, as Evan Bush booted the ball upfield, and Dominic Oduro played it to Ignacio Piatti, who did what he does to grab the winner in the 73rd minute.
October 16 (MLS): Impact 2, TFC 2
The MLS regular season finale between the clubs resulted in a split, a back-and-forth 2-2 draw that included two leads by the Impact, but the home side was not able to hold on for the result.
On the bright side, Piatti scored a brace in this game, so it’s safe to say he’s capable of producing against Toronto. One man can’t make the difference in a playoff series alone, but Piatti has shown a knack for showing up when it matters just as much as Giovinco.
So there you have it. Montreal’s mark for the season was 1-2-2 against TFC across all competitions, obviously not a winning mark but a sign that the teams were pretty evenly matched this year.
And while the stakes of the Canadian Championship are considerably different than the MLS Playoffs conference finals, that series can be considered, perhaps, a dress rehearsal of sorts for this upcoming playoff series. Playing winner-take-all two-legged ties is different than other games, and the Impact have recent history of success at it in the Champions League. But they also have the experience earlier this year against TFC, both in league play and in the Voyageurs Cup, and that experience could prove vital in extending the deepest Impact playoff run in their MLS history.