Jack McInerney and Hernan Bernardello celebrate a goal for the Montreal Impact
USA Today Sports

Canadian Championship: Montreal Impact plan to rely on counterattack against Toronto FC in cup decider

MONTREAL -- Going into Wednesday's Amway Canadian Championship final second leg against Toronto FC (7:30 pm ET, free stream on MLSsoccer.com in US/Mexico, Sportsnet One in Canada) tied 1-1 on aggregate, the Montreal Impact's prospects bode fairly well. They are coming off their most accomplished performance of 2014, one in which they rested the likes of Patrice Bernier and Justin Mapp against the first-place New England Revolution but executed a winning game plan that could prove useful against Toronto.

“Playing so well on Saturday, we want to replicate the same thing coming into Wednesday,” forward Jack McInerney told reporters on Tuesday. “We played a different formation last Wednesday against Toronto, changed it up this weekend, and with it going so well, I don’t see why we should change the way we play.”

One reason Montreal's game plan was so effective against New England was jumping out to a third-minute lead. That allowed the Impact to sit back against the Revs, capitalizing on another chance Montreal created on the counter – albeit with the help of the cup-tied Issey Nakajima-Farran, who cannot play Wednesday night.

With away goals as a tiebreaker, the onus is on Toronto to score on Wednesday to avoid a fatal goalless draw, so this strategy could reward the Impact – if they take care of the likes of Jermain Defoe, Alvaro Rey and Jonathan Osorio as well as they did against Patrick Mullins, Diego Fagundez and Lee Nguyen.

Assistant coach Mauro Biello would not dive into tactical details with the media, pointing out instead that the players’ increased ability to find solutions on the field must carry over to Wednesday’s final if the Impact are to pick up their ninth Voyageurs Cup – and their second straight title as an MLS club – and join the New York Red Bulls and El Salvador’s FAS in Group 3 of the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League.

“When we do that well, the players start to believe that they can, that they’re good players and that we can win,” Biello told reporters in French. “Tomorrow, we’re coming out against a team that’s going well right now. For us, it’s a step toward the right track. It’s extremely important that we grab that title.”

Despite their top seed in the tournament as the MLS club with the highest point total last season, many would qualify it as an upset if the Impact successfully defend their title, given how Montreal’s season has gone so far. But then again, the Impact pulled the proverbial rabbit out of their hat just last weekend.

“Nobody expected us to be at that level, and we were happy to respond positively to all the criticism,” defender Hassoun Camara said in French. “We want to build on that to put in a good performance against Toronto, a game that's all the more important given that it's a final and a derby."

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