MONTREAL – Toronto FC have said the Montreal Impact’s dismal MLS form will make them hungry come Wednesday in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final (7:30 pm ET; Sportsnet One in Canada, Free Stream on MLSsoccer.com in the US).
Good, then. Montreal expect a similar hunger from TFC.
The Reds, of course, cut a much different picture from last-placed Montreal this season, with 13 points from nine games, good for seventh place in the Eastern Conference but with at least three games in hand on the teams above the red line.
But when it comes to last season’s ACC, however, it isn’t as comfortable a proposition.
After a 2-0 win over Montreal at BMO Field in the semifinals, where the Impact typically struggle, Toronto suffered a 6-0 stuffing at Stade Saputo a week later. Montreal then went on to beat the Vancouver Whitecaps in the championship game.
So Impact players know TFC will be itching for revenge.
“If I’d lost 6-0, I’d be furious,” Impact defender Karl Ouimette told reporters in French on Tuesday. “They’ll try to avenge that loss because in the end we won the Canadian Championship, and it could have been them. They'll come at us like lions, and we'll need to come at them like lion slayers.”
If Montreal are to fight the attempted mauling, shoring things up at the back becomes even more of an obligation than was displayed in Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at Colorado. Head coach Frank Klopas, who recognized the need to “address some situations” defensively on Monday, may explore his options with Matteo Ferrari, Eric Miller and Maxim Tissot still unavailable.
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But fighting for a trophy against their antagonists in this “crazy rivalry,” as defender Heath Pearce put it, is spurring the group on to correct flaws and bring a result back to Montreal for the second leg next Wednesday.
“We’re preparing like we always have, but you can feel there’s a little bit of a different energy because you’re playing for something,” Pearce told reporters on Tuesday. “That’s the kind of thing that can change the season really quick. It can bring a whole other dynamic to what’s been a difficult season so far.”
But the league is not lost, Frank Klopas said, insisting that “there’s still a lot of games left.”
“This is a goal for us,” Klopas said of the ACC on Monday. “We need to do whatever we can to try to win the [Voyageurs] Cup. That's one step, and also [we need to] focus within the league. So it’s still two objectives.”