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Montreal has Chance Tonight to Win Back Canada Soccer's Favour

There's a reason the national team hasn't been to Quebec in a while, that changes tonight. If all goes well that change could become more permanent.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The late 19th century was when Canada first started to establish itself as a sports nation. Surprisingly, it was the city of Montreal that led the way as the hub for all things sports related in Canada.

Why this is surprising has to do with the contrast of that illustrious sports history to the present. There is no question that Montreal is still a sports town, but it has largely lost its sports diversity.

Les rouges used to have a place in Montreal sporting culture, now everything in the city is centrally focused around les Bleu, Blanc et Rouge, otherwise known as the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League.

The truth is that soccer does have a place in Montreal culture, that place is just small and inconsistent. One week tens of thousands are at the Olympic Stadium to support the Montreal Impact, others they struggle just to draw ten thousand at Saputo Stadium next door.

If projections of ticket sales are to be believed today's atmosphere for Canada's last group stage match in the 2015 World Cup will lean towards to former. That is good news for the profile of the sport in the city, and for its identity going forward.

Montreal hasn't been on Canada Soccer's radar for some time as a result of the aforementioned: it's always been difficult to draw a crowd in la belle province.

Both national teams have only played once in Montreal in the last decade, a 2010 friendly that saw the Men's team top Honduras 2-1 in front of a meager 7,000 people.

The biggest blow dealt to Montreal's reputation with the national team came in 2008 during World Cup qualifying for the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

Canada was playing a crucial home tie at Saputo Stadium against Honduras. 13,000 people would show up for the match which is not a bad turnout by men's national team standards.

The problem however, was that the majority of them were Honduran, and gave the Honduras team a home on the road atmosphere. Honduras would ultimately win that game 2-1 and put an early end to Canada's qualification chances.

National team players have told Waking the Red in the past that this is a big reason why the team prefers BMO Field, and why they are cautious to go back to Saputo.

This is true even with the fact that Saputo Stadium might have the best pitch in the country next year when the Toronto Argonauts come to BMO Field.

Today may well change their minds if Montreal can put on a crowd performance that rivals what Edmonton was able to do for the early part of the tournament.

The city has shown that cometh the hour and cometh the game Montreal has the potential to have the best soccer atmosphere in the country. Few would argue that's what took place earlier this year when the Impact played in the CONCACAF Champions League final.

Today they will have a chance to show they can offer a similar atmosphere for the Canadian national team, and with Canadian soccer people watching that may be enough to mend some fences.

The national team will never truly thrive until it is just that, national. Today is important for one of Canada's premier cities to show that they are ready to support the team when it comes calling.