MONTREAL – This is no time for Toronto FC to feel sorry for themselves.
Yes, their CONCACAF Champions League dream ended with a 6-2 loss to Santos Laguna on Wednesday. Yes, they're still without their captain, Torsten Frings. And yes, they're running an injured and short-handed defense into the ground with a packed early schedule.
But there is no time to worry about fatigue as they get set to play their fifth game in 14 days – and eighth match in a month – on Saturday against the Montreal Impact at Olympic Stadium (noon ET; TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS Live in US).
“There will be some tired legs after the game this weekend for sure,” Canadian international midfielder Terry Dunfield said after training at Olympic Stadium on Friday afternoon. “But coming here to probably our biggest rival in the league, the fatigue will be the last thing on our mind. We’ll be giving a hundred percent tomorrow and we’ll deal with that next week.”
The Impact, the newest team in MLS, have a natural rivalry with TFC – one that had its beginnings four years ago in the Canadian Championships when the Impact knocked TFC out en route to a quarterfinal appearance in the CCL.
That just added fuel to what was already a smolder. With the jump to MLS, it begins in earnest – joining other Toronto vs. Montreal rivalries in the Canadian Football League and National Hockey League.
“They’ve got a little extra special feel for sure, me being Canadian and there’s another six or seven other Canadians on the team,” Dunfield said.
The Reds are coming off the disappointing defeat in the heat of Torreón, Mexico, that eliminated them from the CCL semifinal, a game they twice led in the first half.
“We have to get over it,” said defender Doneil Henry, a Brampton, Ontario, native. “We can’t have our sorrows about that game. We have our game [Saturday] and we just want to look forward to it. I think the team chemistry right now is perfectly fine.”
There will also be some fresh legs available like striker Danny Koevermans – who was suspended for Wednesday’s game – and defender Logan Emory and midfielder Eric Avila, both of whom were cup-tied.
“I don’t have a long flight behind me,” Koevermans said. “I have a short flight but I would prefer to have played in Mexico. Montreal had a game on Wednesday, [a 1-0 loss at Real Salt Lake] so they have been traveling, too.”
Adding some drama to the proceedings is a hint of desperation from both camps. Toronto are 0-3-0 and Montreal 0-4-1 in the league this year. That, alone, should be enough to override any travel fatigue the Reds are feeling.
“It’s part of the game,” defender Ty Harden said. “We’ve played seven games in such a short stretch. You can’t concentrate on that. The game helps take care of it once you’re on the field. You can’t be thinking about being tired. And you can always work a little harder than you think you can.”
Especially in a game against their biggest rival.