Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact | 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs Match Preview
TORONTO FC vs. MONTREAL IMPACT
2016 Eastern Conference Championship – Leg 2
BMO Field | Toronto, Ontario
Wednesday, Nov. 30
7 pm ET (FS1, FOX Deportes in USA| TSN, RDS in Canada)
Drama was in high supply when Montreal and Toronto met in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship on Tuesday night, and next Wednesday's return leg at BMO Field figures to be no different. After fighting back to claim two away goals in a 3-2 defeat in front of a raucous crowd of 61,004 at the Olympic Stadium, TFC will look to complete the comeback in front of what figures to be an equally enthusiastic crowd that will now be cheering on the Reds.
With a trip to MLS Cup on the line, these two games are the biggest so far in what has quickly become one of the most hotly-contested rivalries in MLS. Further adding to the drama is the fact that both teams are in uncharted territory – neither have made it to this stage of the playoffs, and Toronto had never even picked up a playoff win prior to the 2016 postseason (they now have three). The series also represents a golden opportunity for Toronto to avenge their elimination at the hands of Montreal in last year's Knockout Round contest, a sound 3-0 defeat at Stade Saputo.
- Scenarios: How Toronto, Montreal can advance to MLS Cup
- Toronto "would never bet against" Giovinco in Leg 2
- Impact to respond to TFC banter "on the field"
- Couch: Which MLS Cup matchup should you root for?
- Oduro tweaks TFC on Twitter over MLS Cup ticket chatter
- History not on TFC's side heading into Leg 2
- Mancosu emerges as the Impact's playoff key
- Discuss: Which two teams will make it to MLS Cup?
- Impact wave off Toronto's Olympic Stadium complaints: "It works both ways"
- Fans explains #TORvMTL rivalry: "This runs deep"
- Altidore: Exiting Drogba "is a legend of the game"
- TFC's Bradley, Altidore reflect on USMNT coaching change
- Toronto buoyed by comeback, but know job is not done
- WATCH: Which Canadian team will advance to MLS Cup?
- WATCH: A history of the Toronto-Montreal rivalry
- Impact ready to pounce on the counter in Leg 2
- Drogba aims to exit Montreal as MLS Cup champion
Toronto FC Snapshot:
- 2016 Regular Season Finish: East No. 3 seed (14-9-11 record, 53 pts / 8-3-6 home record)
- Current Form: W-W-W-W-L
- Strengths: Toronto have a trio of star Designated Players the equal of any such trio in the league, and as their 7-0 aggregate romp over New York City FC showed, they can be hard to stop when firing on all cylinders. In addition, TFC boast a strong veteran supporting cast on most of the backline and the center of midfield.
- Weaknesses: TFC's backline was repeatedly taken apart by a speedy Impact counter in the first half of Tuesday's loss and that's how Montreal will continue to attack them. Toronto will need to take care of the ball, especially as they attack Montreal's midfield three, in order to keep things close.
- Injuries/Suspensions: None reported.
- Player to Watch: Jozy Altidore: Everyone's going to be watching Sebastian Giovinco anyway, so let's not forget Altidore, who has now scored in all four of TFC's 2016 playoff games and chipped in three assists to boot. He's had his share of critics throughout the years, but he's in red-hot form now and a vital goal on this stage could go a long way toward cementing his legacy with TFC.
- Probable Starting XI: Clint Irwin; Nick Hagglund, Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta; Justin Morrow, Jonathan Osorio, Michael Bradley, Armando Cooper, Steven Beitashour; Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore
Montreal Impact Snapshot:
- 2016 Regular Season Finish: East No. 5 seed (11-11-12 record, 45 pts / 4-6-7 away record)
- Current Form: L-W-W-W-W
- Strengths: The Impact are one of the deadliest counterattacking teams in the league, and the fact that they only need a draw to advance should play to their strengths, as it is very likely that Toronto will leave themselves exposed at some point during the contest as they push for a winning goal.
- Weaknesses: Marco Donadel was effective in the first hour or so of Tuesday's game, but struggled when Toronto shifted to a 3-4-1-2, matching him up directly against Giovinco. TFC may look to exploit this match-up from the get-go on Wednesday.
- Injuries/Suspensions: Andres Romero (torn ACL) – OUT.
- Player to Watch: Matteo Mancosu: Like Giovinco for TFC, much of the focus around the Impact will certainly be on Ignacio Piatti. And like Giovinco, Piatti also has a strike partner with four goals in four playoff games. Mancosu has kept Didier Drogba out of the starting lineup, with his speed, clever movement and finishing ability suiting Montreal's counterattacking game to a tee.
- Probable Starting XI: Evan Bush; Hassoun Camara, Laurent Ciman, Victor Cabrera, Ambroise Oyongo; Hernan Bernardello, Patrice Bernier, Marco Donadel; Dominic Oduro, Matteo Mancosu, Ignacio Piatti
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Assistant Referees: Corey Rockwell, Adam Wienckowski
4th Official: Baldomero Toledo
Toronto vs. Montreal Head-to-Head
All-Time (15 meetings):
Toronto 6 wins, 24 goals • Montreal 5 wins, 18 goals • Ties 4
All-Time Playoff (2 Meetings):
Toronto 0 wins, 2 goals • Montreal 2 wins, 6 goals
All-Time in Toronto (7 meetings):
Toronto 3 wins, 10 goals • Montreal 1 win, 7 goals • Ties 3
2016 Meetings (4 meetings):
TOR 2, MTL 0 (April 23); MTL 1, TOR 0 (Aug. 27); MTL 2, TOR 2 (Oct. 16); MTL 3, TOR 2 (Nov. 22)