With the 401 Derby on the horizon, it’s do-or-die for the Montreal Impact. If the Bleu-Blanc-Noir want any chance at making the play-offs, they will need to overcome their bitter rivals for a crucial three points.
Playing in front of a home crowd, in-form Montreal have been tipped as favourites to win the game. The last five league games have seen mostly positive results for the Impact (3-1-1), whereas the Reds have had a somewhat abysmal run of form (2-3-0). Montreal also have the better goal difference from the past five games, scoring 11 and conceding 7, whereas TFC scored 10 and conceded 9.
Montreal head coach Remi Garde will have to keep his team on their toes however, as the former MLS Cup champions have little to lose and would love nothing better than to hamper Montreal’s hopes of a play-offs spot. Netting twice against the Impact back in August, TFC’s Sebastian Giovinco will be a major point of concern for Garde, considering Montreal have already conceded 52 goals this season.
Impact captain Ignacio Piatti (14 goals, 13 assists) and forward Alejandro Silva (5 goals, 10 assists) have been in outstanding form recently, and will be crucial in Montreal’s hopes to overcome their rivals. “When you have two wingers that are difference makers, it’s hard to defend [against],” said former Impact player and assistant coach Jason DiTullio on TSN690, “because you can shift and bring the double team on Nacho’s [Piatti] side, but at the same time you know now that you have a player that can make the difference, that can score goals and can basically hurt you.” The Impact will also hope that Evan Bush can replicate his goalkeeping heroics from their last game against Columbus.
This game will mark the third time these two match-up this season, with Montreal clinching the points in the season opener in March, but Toronto getting the upper hand the last time they faced-off in the summer.
The line-ups for today’s game have yet to be confirmed, but TFC’s roster will be strengthened since the last derby by the presence of defender Chris Mavinga (who was ruled out because of a hamstring injury), and forward Jozy Altidore (who missed out due to a suspension), although the latter’s ankle injury may ultimately rule him out.
Overall, Toronto FC have had more favourable results in past encounters against the Impact, with a 20-11-9 record compared to Montreal’s 11-20-9. Catch the game this afternoon at the Saputo Stadium, which kicks off at 3 P.M. Eastern Time.