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Canadian Classique, Take 3

After derby reverses in Orlando and Montreal, Impact coach says, “We have to find a way.”

MLS: Toronto FC at Montreal Impact
Impact coach Thierry Henry looking for solutions as TFC dominate derby days...
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

It’s never a good thing when you’re struggling for form and your biggest rival is lording it over the rest of the league.

Just ask David Moyes, Louis van Goal and Jose Mourinho who have all suffered this ignominy in Manchester since the heady days when Sir Alex ruled the roost.

Montreal is not Manchester, but the sentiment remains the same, and it’s not lost on Impact coach Thierry Henry.

“This is the team that everyone is trying to beat in the East. More often than not they go to the [MLS Cup] final. Unfortunately for us it’s a big rival, if not THE rival, so we need to find a way.

“We work on something different. But they [Toronto] know what to do. They have players that can make a difference at any moment, in any lines, so that’s what happens when you play against a team that obviously goes to the final more often than not, but we need to find a way.”

Henry feels something has been learned from the previous two games against TFC and certainly he’s spotted quality in the Reds’ camp...

“But yeah, what we’ve learned is that they showed us a couple of times - I know they lost to New York City FC in the tournament - but they showed us they can understand moments.

“When they need to defend, they defend well. And when they keep the ball they keep it well. It’s not easy to open them up but we need to find a way.

Tomorrow evening’s game will be Montreal’s third in eight days, not ideal in the coach’s mind, but more importantly he’s acutely aware of the need to snap a losing run against the Ontarians.

“Yes it is [more difficult playing for a third time in eight days]. Listen, we lost against them [Toronto] twice. I think in the first game we showed a different face against them than we showed the other day [Friday].

“When you go into this type of run it becomes even more difficult to beat a team you have to beat. You know I had runs in my time when I could never lose against a team, and sometimes I could never beat one. It’s kind of weird. Once you enter this type of zone it becomes really difficult so we need to make sure that we can stop that.”

MLS: Toronto FC at Montreal Impact
Emanuel Maciel moves in to challenge Friday night’s match-winner, Alejandro Pozuelo.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

As well as attempting to avoid a third defeat to Toronto this season, Montreal Impact will be trying to end a losing run at BMO Field that stretches back over four matches. The last time they avoided defeat at the Toronto venue was almost three years ago, a game they won 5-3, which was practically a dead rubber for the Reds.

Of course regular season points are key to the prospect of post-season football, but in this strange, hotch-potch season, they are also vital to what happens in the Canadian Championship. Montreal can breathe new life into the national competition should they claim an unlikely win tomorrow evening, but conversely a TFC success all but confirms their place in this season’s Voyageurs Cup Final.

There will potentially be added spice tomorrow evening after the clubs’ conflicting views on whether to play last Friday’s game under the latest racial cloud to manifest itself across the US.

But Henry has stated, “We need to move on now,” while influential midfielder Victor Wanyama refers to tomorrow night’s clash in Toronto as, “... just a game, just a derby. We go there and take it as a normal game and try to play well.”

Sam Piette and Saphir Taider are back with the squad after becoming new fathers last week, and Bojan Krkic, who we have not seen since the Orlando tournament, is also expected to be available for selection. Maxi Urruti is listed as a doubt.

Toronto expect to have Jozy Altidore and Ayo Akinola back in the fold.

TFC - Westberg - Auro, Gonzalez, Mavinga, Morrow - Delgado, Bradley - Piatti, Pozuelo, Osorio - Altidore

IMFC - Diop - Brault-Guillard, Camacho, Binks, Raitala - Piette, Wanyama, Maciel, Taider - Quioto, Lappalainen


Match Officials - Not yet announced...