Montreal Impact eager to see what Omar Browne can do next vs. Toronto FC

MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact are set to take on rivals Toronto FC for the first time in 2019, but one of their players has played them already.

Then with Panamanian club Independiente, Omar Browne played the 2019 Concacaf Champions League round of 16 at BMO Field. His two goals helped Independiente eliminate TFC from the tournament, an upset of the 2018 CCL finalists.

Two months later, Browne's Champions League feat earned him a move to Toronto’s bitter rivals. The Panamanian international thinks that his performance from back in February gives him an edge for Saturday’s game (7:30 pm ET | TVAS, TSN in Canada; MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US).

“That definitely will help me because I know how they play, I know what style of soccer they like to play,” Browne told through an interpreter. “It’s going to be a very important game for us. With a full stadium, it’s going to be very important for us to do good.”

Back then, Browne had no idea that TFC and the Impact were rivals. He was first told once he made his way to Quebec. Midifelder Ken Krolicki, who had his first rivalry experience last season, doesn’t think that Browne realized the full scope of what eliminating Toronto means to Impact fans.

“Not yet, I don’t think,” Krolicki said about Browne’s knowledge of his feat. “Once he gets to experience the first game against Toronto I think that he’ll understand how big the two goals he scored were.”

Having realized it or not, Browne – who scored in IMFC's 2-2 Canadian Championship draw with York9 FC at midweek (video at top) – knows that a lot of eyes will be on him following what he did at BMO Field in February. In spite of that, Browne said that at the end of the day he tried to prepare for Saturday’s game like he would for any other.

“I know that [eyes will be on me] but the important thing is that the team has a good game and that the fans leave the stadium happy because we’ll have won,” Browne said.

This may be Browne’s first Montreal-Toronto rivalry game, but the 25 year-old already has experience with coming up big in derbies. In Panama, Browne played in Independiente’s derby games with San Francisco. Back in October 2018, he saved the blushes for Independiente by scoring an 83rd-minute equalizer against their rivals to finish with a 1-1 draw.

“I can definitely feel [the effect of a derby] with a full stadium and I can’t wait to experience the same thing with a full stadium here,” Browne said.

Browne was conscious that scoring another goal against Toronto — in Montreal no less — could elevate him to celebrity status among Impact fans. However, the winger tried to empty those thoughts from his mind in the leadup to one of Montreal’s most eagerly-awaited games.

“It would be a nice thing, but it’s not what I’m looking for,” Browne said. “I need the team and the team needs me. We need to all work together to be able to get the three points. That’s the important thing, not the rest.”