Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore against Montreal Impact midfielder Saphir Taider
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Toronto FC, Montreal Impact prepare for huge "must-win" match in Canadian Championship battle

Toronto FC aren't mincing words: Their rivalry clash with Montreal Impact on Wednesday night (8 pm ET | TSN 4/5, TVAS in Canada; MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US) is a must-win. 

The game has huge implications that go beyond the standings. On top of TFC looking to rebound from a pair of back-to-back losses, those results opened the door for the Impact in the race to qualify for the final of the Canadian Championship.

Between TFC, Montreal and the Vancouver Whitecaps, the team that accumulates the most points over each of their six games against each other will face an entrant from the Canadian Premier League in the final of the Canadian Championship, with a trophy and Concacaf Champions League qualification on the line. Currently, Toronto are in first place in those standings with nine points from five games. Montreal have six points and, as well as their meeting with Toronto, have two more games against Vancouver still to play over the next eight days. For Toronto, meanwhile, Wednesday night wraps up their schedule from phase one to MLS's return to play.

"It's a must-win," Toronto forward Ayo Akinola told reporters during a virtual press conference on Tuesday.

Added head coach Greg Vanney: "This is our last game and our last chance to impact this tournament, so for us, It’s a cup final."

The Impact got the better of TFC, 1-0, last week in a match best-remembered for Toronto's failed elaborate penalty attempt in which Alejandro Pozuelo passed the ball from the spot to an oncoming Pablo Piatti. But Montreal defended strongly against Toronto's onslaught, in which TFC held 62% possession and outshot the Impact 20-10. TFC then lost to Vancouver over the weekend to really open the door for Montreal to get the inside track on qualification to the Canadian Championship final.

“We’re in a very good spot," Impact midfielder Samuel Piette said. "We know tomorrow a result for us could put Toronto out of the race as long as we get the job done against Vancouver. We’re in a good position.”

Toronto will be without injured captain Michael Bradley against the Impact, but should have a strong contingent of options beyond Bradley. Richie Laryea is "coming along" and should be available, said Vanney, while Chris Mavinga could start as well after coming off the bench against the Whitecaps on Saturday.

“It’s a special game for us, just like it is for them," Impact head coach Thierry Henry said. "It’s a game we want to win, it’s a game they want to win. They’re a tough team to beat.”

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