Toronto FC have a decision to make today, and what choice they make will define their season. Should they lose today's match, especially in the fashion they did less than a week ago, this TFC team will hardly have removed themselves from the club's haunted past. They were blessed with an expanded playoff field and having two expansion teams in their conference, nothing more.
On the other hand, a win for Toronto FC would be massive on so many levels for a team that has become an afterthought this season in its own city. If there is one thing that Torontonians can get behind more than a victory over a Montreal franchise, it is a win over a Montreal franchise in the playoffs.
This club has lost a lot of love with supporters and the general public for their mistreatment of fans coupled with constant failures, and this is a massive opportunity to get back in the city's good books. This is especially true with the visually-stunning way that a skilled Toronto FC side can play when they are at their best.
The match goes beyond just proving to fans that this team isn't just another heartbreak wearing red, however. With announcements today that MLSE have finally found a new president to replace Tim Leiweke, this is Toronto FC's big chance to show that they deserve the time and commitment the now former president gave them.
The new president likely won't be a soccer fan like Leiweke was, and will need to see some results both on an off the field from this club before he is willing to sanction meaningful investment from MLSE. Winning today could win his favour early.
Should Toronto FC beat Montreal, they would advance to a Conference Semi-Final against the New York Red Bulls, the Supporter's Shield winners and the class of the Eastern Conference. It is a home-and-away series that Toronto would be incredibly unlikely to win.
But even if they lose, it would be an honourable death, a death that finally mean playoff soccer at BMO Field and that most Toronto supporters could accept as a semi-successful season.
Losing today to the Montreal Impact wouldn't be an honourable death, in fact it would be a death that most Toronto supporters can hardly fathom. Losing the knockout rounds of the playoffs without a home game is bad enough, but losing to the Impact would be even worse.
Between two fanbases that continue like each other less and less with each passing week, a win today would mean ultimate bragging rights, likely for years to come.
Neither team has ever reached what some define as "the real playoffs", or the home-and-away stages. Montreal's only playoff appearance was in the knockout round in 2013 when they lost 3-0 to the Houston Dynamo.
To recap, here is what is on the line in today's match: the perception of Toronto FC's season, winning back Toronto's love, impressing their new overlord and bragging rights with their biggest rival. Oh, and a spot in the Eastern Conference semi-finals isn't a bad prize to win either.
Hopefully, Toronto FC's players understand these consequences, and play with the pride and passion they have had when at their best this season.
Otherwise this could not only be another letdown season, it would be one that would add a massive amount of salt to the growing wound for Toronto FC supporters.