The inter-Canadian rivalry between the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC always brings extra importance to their matches, though Saturday’s game (8 p.m. ET at BMO Field in Toronto) could decide both the 401 Derby and Toronto’s postseason fate.
The Impact (10-13-3, 33 points) are level with the Philadelphia Union, with both teams occupying the Eastern Conference’s final two playoff spots. While Toronto FC (6-12-6, 24 points) has nine more games remaining after Saturday, a loss to Montreal could leave Toronto with simply too much ground to cover over the season’s final two months. With last-place Orlando City sitting at 23 points, Toronto FC could even end the weekend at the bottom of the Eastern table.
Toronto head coach Greg Vanney stopped short of calling Saturday’s game a clear must-win scenario, noting that “a lot of teams play each other, a lot of things still happen in the standings.” Still, it is clear that if the reigning MLS Cup champions are to defend their title, Toronto FC must start winning immediately.
“Everything is set up in these last 10,” Vanney said. “For us, even more so, because they’re the only way that we’re getting into the playoffs: to hit an incredible form and run through this stretch.”
After Montreal’s dramatic 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire last Saturday, the Impact would love to impede another team behind them in the standings, particularly when that team is an arch-nemesis.
“I think they’ve taken pride in the past in kind of sticking the nail in our coffin....If we can get a result there, it certainly puts a little bit more pressure on them to get full points moving forward,” Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush said.
Toronto will be without forward Jozy Altidore, who was given an extra game’s suspension for his red card-drawing foul on New York City FC’s Alexander Callens on Aug. 12.
Beyond Altidore, defender Chris Mavinga will also miss the game due to a hamstring injury. Midfielder Victor Vazquez is also questionable for Toronto after receiving a cortisone shot in his knee this week.
Montreal forward Matteo Mancosu suffered a leg injury in training this week and could be questionable for Saturday’s match. Mancosu is the Impact’s fourth-leading scorer, with three goals in 18 games played.
The Impact won the first match between the two rivals back on March 17, a 1-0 result in Montreal. The two clubs will meet again at Stade Saputo in Montreal on Oct. 21.
—Field Level Media