Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC | Audi MLS Cup Playoffs Knockout Round Preview
MONTREAL IMPACT vs. TORONTO FC
Stade Saputo, Montreal, Québec, Canada
October 29, 2015 (2015 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, Knockout Round)
7 p.m. ET (UniMás in US, TSN1/4/5, RDS1 in Canada)
Long-time rivals mark their first MLS postseason meeting when the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC meet in the Knockout Round of the 2015 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs on Thursday evening at Stade Saputo. While Toronto FC reached the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in their nine-year history, Montreal have the honor of being the first Canadian team to host a home playoff game; MLS Cup was held at BMO Field in 2010, while the Impact's only previous playoff experience was a Knockout Round loss at Houston in 2013.
Both teams feature star Designated Players, with Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco (22 goals, 16 assists in 33 MLS games) excelling all year and Montreal's Didier Drogba (11 goals in 11 MLS games) joining mid-season. While Toronto won the regular-season series 2-1, Drogba's two goals overcame Giovinco's assist in Montreal's season-ending win on Sunday, also at Stade Saputo.
In addition to their MLS battles, the teams have met in the Canadian Championship in seven of the last eight years, including four consecutive two-leg knockout series from 2012-15. This year, Montreal edged Toronto FC on away goals after the teams each won at home, 1-0 in Montreal and 3-2 in Toronto.
REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo.
AR1 (bench): Ian Anderson; AR2 (opposite): Mike Rottersman; 4th: Silviu Petrescu
ALL-TIME MLS HEAD-TO-HEAD: MTL 3 wins, 12 goals … TOR 5 wins, 18 goals … Ties 3
2015 MLS HEAD-TO-HEAD: MTL 1 win, 4 GF … TOR 2 wins, 6 GF … 0 ties
ALL-TIME CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP HEAD-TO-HEAD: MTL 3 wins, 13 goals … TOR 8 wins, 20 goals … Ties 3 … MTL 3-1 in two-leg series 2012-15
2015 CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP HEAD-TO-HEAD: MTL 1 win, 3 GF … TOR 1 win, 3 GF … 0 ties … MTL advance on away goals
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: First meeting.
- Montreal’s meteoric rise up the Eastern Conference table was nothing short of astounding, especially considering the team snapped a 26-game road losing streak in May. With a back-loaded schedule after their spring run to the final of the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League, the Impact registered a 7-2-2 record after Didier Drogba’s arrival in September and have not lost at Stade Saputo since Aug. 22.
- Toronto FC bested Montreal in their regular-season series, winning two of three matches and outscoring the Impact 6-4, but Montreal won the teams' final meeting on #DecisionDay.
- The Reds were a prolific offensive side this year, scoring 58 goals — second only to the New York Red Bulls — and have no shortage of big-game experience between Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Benoît Cheyrou. With the pressure of the franchise’s first playoff berth mounting, leadership will prove vital for TFC.
- Had Didier Drogba played a full season with Montreal, there’s no telling just how many goals the Ivorian icon could have scored. He finished the regular season with 11 goals in 11 games but is by no means solely responsible for the Impact’s revival.
- Newcomer Laurent Ciman established himself as one of MLS’ elite defenders, while midfield maestro Ignacio Piatti turned in nine goals and eight assists in 26 regular-season appearances.
- Meanwhile, for Toronto FC, Audi Golden Boot winner Sebastian Giovinco took home hardware for his record-setting season, becoming the first player in MLS history to notch 20 goals and 10 assists, and he, like Drogba, is capable of commandeering a game.
- However, TFC will continue leaning on a star-studded supporting cast that includes US national team stars Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore (13 goals) and budding Canadian international Jonathan Osorio.
Impact believe Sunday's second half holds formula to taking down Toronto (10/29)
Drogba expected to play despite picking up injury (10/27)
Toronto shake off loss as rematch looms (10/25)
Eight years of agony: Toronto FC wait for playoffs is finally over (10/15)