Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact | 2017 Canadian Championship Final Preview
Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact
2017 Canadian Championship Final, 2nd Leg
BMO Field - Toronto, Ontario
Tuesday, June 27 - 7:30 pm ET
WATCH: TSN, RDS (in Canada)
401 Derby bragging rights, the Voyageurs Cup trophy, the title of national champions and a shot at a berth in CONCACAF Champions League are on the line when Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact renew their intense rivalry in the second and decisive leg of the 2017 Canadian Championship on Tuesday at BMO Field.
It's the latest of several high-stakes clashes between these sides, with the most memorable having unfolded in last year's Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, where they battled hammer-and-tongs in the Eastern Conference Championship before TFC produced an extra-time victory in the second leg to advance to MLS Cup 2016.
The host Reds occupy the driver's seat in this week's scenario, having gutted out a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Stade Saputo last week. Under this tournament's total-aggregate-goals format, where away goals are a tiebreaker, that result means any manner of victory or a scoreless draw would spell a second straight Canadian Championship triumph for TFC.
But if Montreal can pull off an upset win or a high-scoring draw on Tuesday, the Impact would take this year's trophy and set up a one-off rematch between these two teams on Aug. 9 to determine which one will represent Canada in the 2018 CCL.
The Reds are presently navigating a torrid stretch of their schedule, with games coming thick and fast in all directions; Tuesday will be their third match in the past week alone. Greg Vanney's group has scarcely missed a beat, though: They sit atop the MLS standings, boast a 7-0-2 mark at home and have lost just twice all season to date.
Even with superstar Sebastian Giovinco hampered by injuries that have left his production shy of his astronomical norms, TFC's ferociously deep roster has racked up results with both style and effectiveness. They know Montreal will mount a fierce challenge as usual, though, as both sides carry on the spirited rivalry between these two cities that dates back centuries.
“One of the great things about this group is the excitement and the energy and the focus for every game has been consistently at a high, high level,” captain Michael Bradley told the Toronto Star this week. “But with that, you play a second leg at home, against Montreal with the chance to lift a trophy, there’s no doubt there’s big excitement. I think the atmosphere [Tuesday] night will reflect that and it’s our first chance this year to win a trophy and that’s something very important to us.”
- Suspended: None
- Int'l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – D Nick Hagglund (torn MCL)
Projected Starting XI (3-5-2): GK: Clint Irwin – Eriq Zavaleta, Drew Moor, Justin Morrow – Steven Beitashour, Marky Delgado, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio, Raheem Edwards – Jozy Altidore, Jordan Hamilton (Note: tournament rules require a minimum of three Canadians in starting lineup)
It's been a trying season thus far for IMFC, who sit in last place in the Eastern Conference with a 4-5-6 record in league play. A 1-3-4 start to the campaign left Mauro Biello's side with a deficit to make up, and injuries and tactical adjustments have further complicated matters.
Montreal just concluded a winless three-game road swing punctuated by Saturday's 4-1 loss at Columbus, an occasion where the Quebec club were tied at 1-1 until the late going only to see the game slip out of their reach.
The contentious circumstances of last week's first-leg draw vs. TFC at Stade Saputo – where Ignacio Piatti missed a penalty kick and Jozy Altidore scored Toronto's potentially pivotal equalizer while Impact defender Daniel Lovitz was laid out on the pitch with an injury – present a defining moment for Biello's men. With a steep task ahead and tough luck all around, will IMFC succumb, or rise to the challenge? It could determine the team's course in the months ahead.
- Suspended: None
- Int'l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT - D Ambroise Oyongo (right knee surgery); Louis Beland-Goyette (undisclosed injury)
Projected Starting XI (5-3-2): Evan Bush – Chris Duvall, Laurent Ciman, Kyle Fisher, Wandrille Lefevre, Daniel Lovitz – Patrice Bernier, Marco Donadel, Blerim Dzemaili – Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Ignacio Piatti (Note: tournament rules require a minimum of three Canadians in starting lineup)
Toronto lead the all-competition series in the 401 Derby with 16 victories to Montreal's 9. That includes a 9-3 advantage in Canadian Championship play. There have been nine draws in the series, five of those in the Canadian Championship (including last Wednesday's first leg).