Last week, TFC II started their first USL game with a 2-1 lead going into half time. They played strong offensively putting immense pressure on the Charleston Battery's back line. However, a mistake by rookie keeper Alex Bono and some defensive hiccups, led TFC II to a crucial 90th minute scramble goal in front of the net, which resulted in the winner for the Battery.
TFC II has to still be proud for their efforts against a very tough Charleston Battery team that has a more established squad than the young Reds do. Players like Jay Chapman and Mo Babouli had stellar performances in North Carolina. It wont be long until TFC fans get to see these two play for the first team.
Now, with a game out of the way Jason Bent can look forward to a rivalry match against a new USL side who is in the same boat as TFC II. FC Montreal have yet to play a game in the USL, having a bye week right off the bat. This is good and bad, as they have not played a professional game as a group yet, but have plenty of time to rest and practice to get their tactics just right.
Like the Battery last week, TFC II now has to go against a team that has not played a USL game before. However, FC Montreal has played as a group before this season. Montreal played in the PDL (Player Developmental League) last season where they finished fourth in the North Atlantic Division. FC Montreal is mostly filled with U23 and U18 players that are from Quebec, and aim to develop Quebec born players. Even though a playoff spot wasn't in the cards last year, they team gave valuable minutes to their younger players. Two players in particular that had a good seasons were Frederic Lajoie- Gravelle and Victor N'diane. Both were instrumental in Montreal's success and are looking to keep their momentum up after a productive season in the PDL. Lajoie- Gravell had a good year last season tallying up 16 goals for the PDL side and even earning praise as "Breakthrough Player of the Year". N'Diane paved way with 14 assists and provided Lajoie-Gravelle with passes to allow him more chances at goal. Chakib Hocaine also shouldn't be forgotten, as he was the "Competitor of the Year" voted by his team.
Last week may not have been ended in the best way, but being a team that has never played in the USL and being full of youngsters, that result doesn't seem that bad. Mo Babouli and Jay Chapman and Jordan Hamilton all had stellar performances in the game versus the Battery. The team moved the ball well and kept pressure on the opposition, which is what lead to a very poor ball played my Battery keeper Odisnel Cooper in the 16th minute. Today, the young Impact will get to face a TFC II squad without Hamilton, young veteran Ashtone Morgan and playmaker Jay Chapman as they will all be part of the first team squad heading to Salt Lake to play RSL. Even though they are missing a striker like Hamilton and a playmaker like Chapman, TFC II still has other options to help. The team has called up Raheem Thorpe, full back Raheem Edwards, keeper Fillipo Di Bennando, midfielder Jordan Montoya, Matteo Reshpo and midfielder Martin Davis to help add reinforcements in Montreal. Most notably of tis bunch is Raheem Thorpe and Martin Davis. Thorpe has impressed the TFC II brass with with his ability to not fold under pressure a big reason in why his is successful. Davis on the other hand played for the U17 Jamaican team. Davis has had stints in Spain, playing with Valencia and Getafe and the age of 14. The added reinforcements Jason Bent brought up from the Academy can really add depth to a team who is trying to find out which players will be the right fit and gel comfortably.
Keys to the Game:
The key for Montreal is simple, don't let the added offensive pressure TFC II puts on get to them and play smart. Look for open space and if not, get it out of harms way. Another key is use the offensive power Lajoie- Gravelle has and provide him with chances. Taking advantage of the TFC II back line, which can be weak at times, would help them get more shots on target. Being a young team with not that much USL experience isn't a bad thing, so they shouldn't feel pressure of being the inexperienced team.
The key for the young Reds would be to play like they did last week, minus the hiccups by Bono and not tightening up on defence. Play the ball to Babouli and shift the ball to the opposite side to open up space. Smart passing helped them get chances last game, but at times it just ended up being dumped out.
FC Montreal is like TFC II, so I think this game will be even, with a slight edge to TFC II. They started the game last week off with a bang, coming out of the gates pressuring and making sure they were taking shots from near the box. I say the game will end up being a 3-1 TFC II victory with FC Montreal not giving up at all. All in all, this game will continue the rivalry Montreal and Toronto have, and will show which academy is the best. Montreal has played well in the development league, as has TFC in L1O. Looking forward to this one!