Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact | Canadian Championship Match Preview

TORONTO FC vs. MONTREAL IMPACT
BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario
May 28, 2014 (Amway Canadian Championship final first leg)
7:30 pm ET (Sportsnet One in Canada, FREE STREAM on MLSsoccer.com in US, Mexico)

TORONTO FC OUTLOOK

“The magic of the cup.”

In England, the phrase is used mockingly. The FA Cup remains the oldest competition in the world, but it’s no longer the most prestigious.

That’s hard to reconcile after seeing thousands of fans gather around Emirates Stadium after Arsenal won the FA Cup. People do care, no matter how jaded professional sports has made some fans.

The first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final kicks off Wednesday night at BMO field. Toronto FC will host a Montreal Impact side that limps into Ontario after a resounding 4-1 loss at Colorado on the weekend.

TFC enjoyed a better fate, tying Sporting Kansas City 2-2 thanks to a late equalizer by Bradley Orr. Down to 10 men, the Reds showed the kind of resolve that was lacking since their inception.

The players want this cup, maybe even more than the fans, which is saying something considering the relationship between Toronto and Montreal.

“As a kid growing up, you’d always dream of lifting the cup,” said Orr, speaking to reporters on Tuesday. “Back in England it was the FA Cup – now that I’m here it’s the Canadian Cup and it’s just as important for me as any [Major League Soccer] game because there’s pride at stake and a lot to play for.”

Captain Steven Caldwell reiterated Orr’s sentiments.

“It’s very, very important,” he said. “We want to win the cup. We obviously want to get a good lead from the first leg,”

As for the lineup, not much is expected to change for TFC from their game last Friday. Though Caldwell will miss Saturday’s game against Columbus due to the red card he received in Kansas City, he’s expected to start on Wednesday night.

Head coach Ryan Nelsen indicated midfielder Jonathan Osorio will not be ready to play on Wednesday as he continues to nurse a hamstring injury.

Nelsen hopes his side can avoid a first leg repeat of their semifinal versus Vancouver, when TFC conceded a late away goal that would heavily influence the decider at BC Place the following week.

“We can’t concede an away goal,” he said on Monday. “I think that kind of hurt us in the Vancouver leg."

Montreal and Toronto have made the Canadian Championship their own. The Impact won the Cup in its inaugural year, back in 2008. TFC won the next four, beating the Whitecaps in each final. Last season the Impact returned to the winner’s circle.

It’s a relatively new competition, but the rivalry between these two clubs, these cities runs deep.

This cup matters. Nobody wants a trophy lorded over them, and that’s what will happen when the second leg concludes next week in Montreal. “We beat you” takes on new meaning when Toronto and Montreal are involved.

In the immortal words of Bart Scott: Can’t wait. 

MONTREAL IMPACT OUTLOOK

The Montreal Impact will have another chance to face its huge rivals the Toronto FC in the Amway Canadian Championship. The Impact are traveling to BMO Field to play the first leg of the ACC final this Wednesday night.

TFC is a very different side this year than the one that played in the 2013 edition of the tournament, with the addition of DP striker Jermain Defoe among others, but the rivalry remains just as intense as ever.

“It’s a huge game, a championship game,” said Impact assistant coach Mauro Biello. “You don’t often get a chance to play in a championship final. The game will be aggressive and full of emotions. A good result there with an away goal would put us in a good position to come home and lift the trophy.” 

The Reds, however, will be without a number of its key players, with the likes of midfielder Michael Bradley and goalkeeper Julio Cesar away on World Cup duty with their respective national teams. It is also being reported by local media that midfielders Osorio and Jackson, as well as forward Luke Moore, will not be available for the first leg.

And with midfielder Collen Warner unavailable, having already appeared for the Impact in this tournament prior to his acquisition and therefore ineligible to play for the Reds, TFC will be thin in the middle of the park.

The Impact are not without their own challenges, particularly on the left wing, as Sanna Nyassi is out with injury and Issey Nakajima-Farran ineligible (for the same reasons as Warner). However center back Nelson Rivas should be available Wednesday and could play his first game in 2014.

“We’ve been facing adversity all season long,” explained defender Heath Pearce. “We believe in our plan and we are going to stick to it. A cup game can bring a whole other dynamic to what’s been a difficult season. There is a different energy because you playing for something in particular and it could change a season.”

Game Notes

  • The Montreal Impact beat FC Edmonton 5-4 on aggregate goals, in the semifinal of the 2014 Amway Canadian Championship. The Impact lost the first leg 2-1 on May 7, at Clarke Field, in Edmonton before winning 4-2 the following Wednesday at Stade Saputo.
  • The Impact won 6-2 in the home and away aggregate goal series against TFC in the semifinal of the 2013 Amway Canadian Championship, losing the first leg 2-0 on April 24 at BMO Field before winning 6-0 on May 1 at Stade Saputo.
  • Midfielder Justin Mapp has recorded one goal and one assist in Amway Canadian Championship play against Toronto FC, while striker Marco Di Vaio has registered two goals and two assists.
  • Mapp was named the 2013 Amway Canadian Championship Most Valuable Player after recording one goal and two assists in four games. He has so far recorded two assists in the semifinal against FC Edmonton.
  • The Impact are still looking for their first win in Toronto since 2008, with a 0-5-3 record in all competitions.