It's rivalry week in MLS and thankfully for Toronto FC that no longer means anything to do with the Trillium Cup, Columbus instead get to play against their bitter rivals in, um, San Jose. For TFC, that manufactured kerfuffle is now replaced by a much more natural derby game what with Montreal finally being invited to join the big boys table of MLS.
Toronto v Montreal, the classic Canadian derby, with all sorts of historic, cultural and sporting connotations mixed in over the centuries. Even if Impact vs TFC is still very much in a nascent, feeling each other out phase so far, that doesn't mean there hasn't been moments of controversy and hostility, both directly between the teams and indirectly, causing infighting or more amusingly annoying Vancouver, along the way, and that's what this article's about really, not so much about the games themselves as about the emotion and entertainment that have come with them. From a TFC perspective, chronologically presented, here are my favourite moments. For a more Montreal-happy look at things, check out Mount Royal Soccer's take on it all here (spoiler alert, it's shorter than this one).
2008 - The first year that the Nutcan was played for to decide the Voyageurs Cup, and surely TFC would walk away with it over their USL cousins in Vancouver and Montreal. It looked that way with TFC merely needing to beat Montreal at home to clinch the title, and taking a 1-0 lead. Easy from there? Sadly not. Montreal equalised from a corner, this was back in the day with the streamers and stuff and whoever took the corner gathered up a bunch of them, right in front of the supporters section and held them over his head like a championship belt.
TFC couldn't get that 2nd goal and so L'impact raised the trophy and celebrated at BMO Field. The real fun though was from John Carver after the game, laying into Jim Brennan, and Marvell Wynne, but especially Jeff Cunningham who really should have scored a late winner.
"You want my honest opinion on that? I am thinking, ‘How did he score 99 goals?’ That’s what I thought. If you’re a poacher and you have got desire, no matter how you put the ball over the line you put it over the line"
He'd be shipped out to Dallas soon enough. Fun.
2009 - More Voyageurs Cup action, the home leg being notable mainly for Chad Barrett's goal, still right up there among the best ever by a TFC player, see it here as he flicks the ball up and volleys it home, outstanding stuff.
It all went pear shaped against Vancouver and so TFC limped in to Montreal needing a win by 4 goals. Montreal put out a weak team but still took the lead, then De Ro took over, scoring a hat trick, Guevara got two, Barrett once again got the all important 'winning' goal, the 5th, and a famous 6-1 victory was secured, Miracle in Montreal, forward rolls by the coaching staff, reception at the airport and all that.
The best part of it of course was that Vancouver were there watching, their numbers dwindling as the goals went in until it was just Teitur Thordarson left, and his quickly growing sense of outrage of course. Adding to the fun is the Montreal reaction, the Ultras protesting in the next game by not showing up until the second half.
Two years later, the Southsiders were still holding a grudge, producing surrender monkey t-shirts commemorating the occasion.
2010 - The 2010 V-Cup was a much less dramatic affair, Preki's TFC were never in trouble, but the first leg at BMO Field had one of the finest moments in this rivalry when for no apparent reason Roberto Brown punched Nick Garcia, quite deliberately and hard enough that Garcia had to be subbed off. Montreal down to ten men, and Nick Garcia's off the pitch? Couldn't possibly have worked better.
I shouldn't make fun, but watch it here, the stagger from Garcia before he crumples to the ground is comic gold. Also keep watching for another lovely goal from Impact killer Chad Barrett.
Adding to the amusement was Kei Kamara taking to twitter to show his appreciation. "Roberto Brown 4rm #montreal we need to hang out next year when u guys get in the league dinner on me".
2011 - The teams didn't play each other. Move along, nothing to see here.
2012 - 5 games this year. The first saw an Easter weekend invasion from TFC fans that seemed impressive but should hopefully be dwarfed by this year's turnout, but the game itself was nothing special, Montreal's first win in MLS, yeah yeah. The second game (V-Cup semi, 1st leg) was the world's dullest game, TFC parked the bus, and didn't park it well, but L'Impact weren't good enough to get by and so it finished 0-0.
The second leg saw TFC, still pointless in the league, win 2-0, a match livened up by an Eckersley red card, a 'scuffle' between Bernier and Johnson, and Bob de Klerk going all Bob de Klerk on Jesse Marsch at the final whistle. Montreal fans left their mark by ripping up a few seats
The next league game, in front of a paltry crowd at Stade Saputo saw TFC win 3-0. Torsten Frings first goal for TFC followed by Johnson and Koevermans sealing the result. The main thing that sticks out about the game was Jeremy Hall getting kicked in the face, then getting a ball to the face shortly afterwards. he wobbled, but unlike Garcia, didn't go down. 3 welcome points and a win against Montreal are always good, but it was Joey Saputo who put a very satisfactory cherry on top with this post game tweet.
Absolute disgrace, enough said.— Joey Saputo (@JoeySaputo) June 28, 2012
The last game was a 0-0 with not much to recommend it all other than a truly magnificent hissy fit from Marco Di Vaio when he didn't get a pass at the right time, but that result confirmed that TFC won the 5 game season series.
2013 - 5 games to come this year, what new moments will come up to be stored away and gloated over in the years to come? Off the pitch, TFC have already got one up on them. Remember when Marco Schallibaum was announced as head coach? Of course you don't because TFC thoroughly stole their thunder with the 'Mariner's fired, Nelsen's hired, wait Nelsen still plays for QPR, what?' hype. Sit down Marco, no-one's paying attention.