TORONTO – Form goes out the window when two rivals meet.
Two teams, seemingly headed in opposite directions, took to the pitch at BMO Field in Toronto on Wednesday night, but it was the Montreal Impact who emerged victorious by handing Toronto FC a 5-3 defeat. The loss marked Toronto's first at home all season, snapping a six-game winning streak and 11-game unbeaten run in the process.
“Tonight was massive,” said Montreal coach Mauro Biello post-match. “We fell into a bit of a rough spell these last couple weeks, dropped some games at home.
“[It] was important to forget about the standings, forget about the distractions, focus on the game: us versus Toronto. The guys came out, bounced back, played with intensity, quality, and confidence. We took a lead against the best team in the league and in the end we're able to come out of here with three points in a difficult place to win.”
Added Anthony Jackson-Hamel, who notched two goals and added an assist in the victory: “It was a great game for us. We pushed a lot, were more aggressive on the ball. A lot of confidence, a lot of heart.”
Riding a four-match losing streak, including a late loss to Minnesota United on the weekend that prompted a strong reaction from the fans and an open letter from Impact owner Joey Saputo, Biello said he hoped that this result vs. Toronto serves as a turning point. Currently, the Impact sit outside the playoff picture with five matches remaining in the year.
“We put ourselves in a tough spot dropping points at home,” said Biello. “If you drop points at home, you've got to win on the road. We were able to win tonight here. The players played well. Now we've got a big game against Atlanta on the weekend. We've got to recover well, try to get points over there, keep clawing our way back into this playoff race.”
“Tonight, we executed offensively and hurt a very good defensive team," added Biello. "We feel that we deserve to be in a better position. ... Tonight was a game where we showed how good we could play against a very good team.”
And that it came against their greatest rivals only added to the occasion.
“This is a great rivalry,” said Biello. “Tonight was one of those games. It's great for the fans. Always good games. They're never over, as you could see tonight when [Toronto] got themselves back in the game. There's a lot to this rivalry between the two cities. It's great for the league and the two [clubs].”
When Toronto pulled two back late through Tosaint Ricketts, Biello had a flashback to last season's Eastern Conference Final, where TFC progressed to the MLS Cup at Montreal's expense in dramatic fashion.
“Tonight was the sequel,” smiled Biello.
A third and final meeting between the two sides this regular season is set for Oct. 15 in Toronto. Three points back of the New York Red Bulls, who have a game in hand for the final berth in the East, Montreal will be looking to vault up the table in the weeks remaining.
“We have nothing to lose. We want to make the playoffs,” said Jackson-Hamel. “We're going to fight until the last game, give everything.”