Laurent Ciman celebrates victory-PHI-MTL-8.12.17
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal Impact brush aside Toronto's record ahead of Rivalry Week match

MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact are keeping an all-business attitude ahead of Sunday’s anticipated derby clash against Toronto FC at Stade Saputo (4:30 pm ET; ESPN in the US | TSN 1/4/5, TVA Sports in Canada). 

Although it will be the first time the two teams go head-to-head in MLS this season, Montreal and Toronto already met earlier this year in the Canadian Championship final, where a last-gasp winning goal from Sebastian Giovinco helped Toronto to the title.

Late, dramatic goals from Benoit Cheyrou and Tosaint Ricketts also gave Toronto a berth in last year’s MLS Cup final at the expense of the Impact in a memorable Eastern Conference Championship.

Adding to the flavor of the game and the fanfare surrounding it is that both teams are in excellent form. Sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference, Toronto extended their lead in the Supporters’ Shield race to seven points Wednesday, easily brushing the Philadelphia Union aside 3-0.

Meanwhile, led by star midfielder Ignacio Piatti, the Impact are red hot. With four wins in a row, they’ve surged into the sixth and final playoff spot in the East with 10 games left to play.

Speaking to assembled media on Wednesday following team training, Montreal coach Mauro Biello explained that having a serious and attentive mindset on Sunday will be crucial.

“There’ll definitely be a playoff atmosphere for us and a mentality for us to beat the best team in the league,” Biello said. “It comes down to focus and concentration in little moments and taking care of details when we need to and that’ll help us and push us to success.”

Defender Laurent Ciman, who’s in his third season with the Impact, played down the importance of the game, saying the team was simply focused on doing what it needs to do to get the three points.

“It’s a game like any other,” Ciman said. “It’s a derby, but we have to focus on us and keep our feet on the ground, despite winning four games in a row. That will be the key too. Or else we’ll get a good whack on Sunday. We have to work hard this weekend, evaluate the opponent, strong points, weak points, and then play the game like we know we can at home.”

Although conceding that Toronto are the best team in MLS, the Belgian international wasn’t interested in delving into any of the game’s major storylines, such as Toronto’s place in the standings, or their chances of winning the Supporters’ Shield and the treble.

“Today, it’s the best team in the league, we shouldn’t deny it, but I also couldn’t care less,” Ciman said. “Us, we take care of ourselves. We know where we are in the standings, we work for ourselves.”

Twenty-one-year-old Quebec native Louis Beland-Goyette, who made his second start in last Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake, doesn’t agree that Toronto is the league’s top team.

“No, I don’t think so, and playing Toronto you forget about all these things” Beland-Goyette said. “If I was them, and I was looking at Montreal Impact, whatever place we’re in, I don’t think you look at that, because it’s a rivalry; it’s a war; it’s whoever comes out with three points. We know they have good players, we know they’re doing good, but we’re doing amazing right now, and we’re going forward. So, it’s the perfect time to face them.”