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Opening Game Joys & Woes...

A retro-statistical look at previous CF Montreal & Toronto FC season openers....

SOCCER: MAR 17 MLS - Toronto FC at Montreal Impact
Jeisson Vargas takes on Michael Bradley on the day he proved the Big O match-winner on St Patrick’s day 2018.
Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Season Openers...
The last time Toronto FC lost a season-opener as a visiting team was way back in 2013 under Ryan Nelsen, when Vancouver Whitecaps prevailed through a lone strike by Ghanian Gershon Koffie. Since then they have played half a dozen opening games on the road and remain undefeated in all six.

Their only opening day defeat in that time actually came at home in 2018, when their pre-game ceremonial display of silverware seemed to unsettle the MLS Cup holders, Columbus Crew running out winners by 2-0. 2018 is also the last time Toronto FC lost it’s opening MLS road game of the season, Jeisson Vargas giving Montreal the points in the Big O.

Montreal has played their season-opener at home only once. That was last season when goals by Quioto and Urruti were enough to overturn a one goal deficit. new England Revolution defeated 2-1.

Montreal’s opening day record in 9 seasons of MLS is won 4, lost 5. They’ve yet to play out a draw. It might be a good time also to remind there hasn’t been a draw in the last 12 MLS Regular Season Canadian Classiques either.

Toronto’s record on opening day (14 seasons) is won 5, lost 7, drawn 2, which mirrors exactly their playing record for opening road games over the same period.

Home Openers...
As far as home openers go for Montreal, their record is pretty good.

They’ve only ever lost one, to Seattle Sounders (0-2) in 2014, a season which started badly and simply got worse.

Seattle Sounders FC v Montreal Impact
Matteo Mancosu (#21) is congratulated by team-mates after giving Montreal Impact the lead over Seattle Sounders, home-opener 2017.
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The Sounders are the only club to visit the then Impact in its home opener and leave undefeated twice. The second occasion was in 2017. Montreal thanks to goals from Mancosu and Piatti, looked home and dry going into the last ten minutes, but they were in for a shock!

First Nicolas Lodeiro pulled a goal back from the penalty spot, then Will Bruin levelled in the fourth minute of added time, on an assist from former Impact man, Kenny Cooper.

That 2-2 draw four years ago is the last occasion on which Montreal failed to win a home-opener.

The Bleu/Blanc/Noir has come up trumps in home-openers over the old enemy twice in two attempts. In 2013 a penalty by Patrice Bernier and a goal in first-half added time by Marco Di Vaio set up the perfect platform for victory. Toronto did manage to half the arrears through a penalty by Welsh international Robert Earnshaw, mid-way through the second-half, but could not push on for parity, Impact winning 2-1.

Then that St Patrick’s Day 2018 victory when Jeisson Vargas’ goal gave Remi Garde his first MLS victory. This was also the game in which Rod Fanni made his Montreal debut.

Biggest Home Opener Margin of Victory...
Montreal’s greatest margin of victory in a home opener is 3-0, when Jesse Marsch’s New York Red Bulls were defeated at Stade Olympique in 2016. The game was scoreless for almost an hour before Dominic Oduro finally broke through. Nacho Piatti and Anthony Jackson-Hamel, four minutes into added time, added further goals to deliver a very comprehensive victory.

New York Red Bulls v Montreal Impact
Nacho Piatti (#10) scores in the 71st minute for Montreal in their 3-0 Stade Olimpique victory over New York Red Bulls in 2016.
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

New Coaches...
Today represents only the second time in MLS history a new Montreal coach has met an opposing team also with a new incoming coach. The first was on opening day 2014, when Frank Klopas faced Oscar Pareja’s FC Dallas in front of 18,011 at Toyota Stadium.

It was a game that started well for the Impact, with Sanna Nyassi opening the scoring in minute 10. But it wasn’t long before they trailed to strikes from Fabian Castillo and a penalty by Blas Perez. Mauro Diaz inflicted further pain two minutes after the break, and although Felipe provided a great cross from which Andrew Wenger headed the Impact closer, they were unable to get back on level terms.

Check out the latest, The Ball Is Round Podcast (Episode 25). Recorded Wednesday evening (14 April), the TBIR team discusses the CFM v TFC clash (with special guest Michael Singh of Waking The Red website, Montreal football issues of the week, their top three picks for per Conference, Concacaf Champions League & Canada’s WNT in the UK... Plus all the usual favourite features... including, Eve’s Time Machine... Don’t miss it!

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