Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact: The history behind the rivalry

EDITOR'S NOTE: As part of Heineken Rivalry Week, TSN2 will be broadcasting the stunning 2016 Eastern Conference Final clash between the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC Thursday at 8 pm ET.


The Canadian Classique, one of MLS's most fierce and well-named rivalries in the league, pits two Canadian clubs Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact against each other. 

Often clashing for memorable matches in MLS and the Canadian Championship, here's a look back at the heated rivalry between cities with a clear cultural divide.

Roots of the rivalry

Montreal vs. Toronto, in any sport, will spark animosity. It's been no different in soccer.

Their first competitive match against each other came before MLS, in the inaugural Voyageurs Cup in 2008. Toronto took that first meeting, 1-0, at Stade Saputo, the first seed of shared history between the clubs, though Montreal won the first iteration of that tournament and qualified for the Concacaf Champions League. Toronto got revenge the next season, scoring six unanswered goals in a 6-1 victory en route to their first of four successive trophies in the Canadian Championship. 

Their first MLS match came in 2012, in front of a big crowd at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, where the Impact drew first blood with a 2-1 win

Memorable moments

The first time the rivalry turned to the playoffs was in 2015. A star-studded affair, featuring Didier Drogba, Nacho Piatti and Patrice Bernier vs. Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley at Stade Saputo. It was Toronto's first playoff appearance in club history, too. 

Montreal stormed Toronto, winning convincingly in front of their home fans 3-0 in a Knockout Round game

A year later, Toronto would have their revenge. 

This time in the Eastern Conference Championship over two legs, the two clubs played out an instant-classic north of the border. The Impact took a 3-2 lead after leg one into Toronto -- which could have been worse as they got out to a 3-0 lead. There were more goals to be had in the second leg, as the Impact kept their lead on aggregate in the 53rd minute at 5-4 before TFC equalized and sent the game to extratime, where two TFC goals sent the club to their first-ever MLS Cup berth.

Altidore and Piatti share the lead in the rivalry with 11 goals apiece, trailed closely by Giovinco with 10.

MLS regular season series

Although the Impact won the first meeting — and Sinisa Ubiparipovic scored the first goal — Toronto FC controlled the early regular season meetings, with Montreal claiming victory just one more in the next nine matchups.

Didier Drogba arrived in Montreal in 2015 and made his impact on the rivalry, scoring twice in a Decision Day win that secured a first-ever home playoff game. The opponent? You guessed it, Toronto FC.

While Toronto FC captured the treble in 2017, Montreal laid claim to a memorable win with the 5-3 victory at BMO Field the highest scoring regular season match played in the rivalry’s history.

Piatti struck for a brace in the penultimate game of the 2018 season, a 2-0 victory that gave the Impact their first regular season series win.

Canadian Championship history

Like the MLS regular season, the Impact drew first blood with a first Voyaguers Cup in 2008. TFC would get the upper hand in 2009, 2010 and again in 2012 — winning the Canadian Championship each year.

The first meeting in the final came in 2014 with Felipe scoring the 91st-minute winner in the second leg for the Impact.

In 2017, Giovinco had the late-game heroics with a 95th-minute goal — his second of the game — providing the difference in Toronto’s second straight, and sixth title overall.

Toronto FC made it a third consecutive title in 2018, but the Impact ended that run in 2019, prevailing on penalty kicks at BMO Field.

MLS Cup Playoffs

The teams met twice, in back-to-back years, sharing the fortunes in some classic matches.

In 2015, the Impact thumped Toronto FC, 3-0, in the Knockout Round with Bernier, Piatti and Drogba scoring in 20-minute span in the first half.

A year later, the Impact struck twice in quick succession, raced out to a three-goal lead and held off a late rally to beat Toronto FC, 3-2, in the first leg at Olympic Stadium. The scene shifted back to BMO Field a week later where Toronto FC prevailed 5-2 in extratime, courtesy of goals two minutes part by Benoit Cheyrou — on his second touch! — and Tosaint Ricketts.

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