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401 Derby 2015 - Toronto FC vs Montreal Impact Preview

In the much-marketed beast that is MLS Rivalry Week, TFC fans get the first installment of Red vs. Blue in MLS play.

The most Canadian photo available in the MLS archive.
The most Canadian photo available in the MLS archive.
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

On MLS Extra Time Radio Patrice Bernier said there is a "natural dislike" between Montreal and Toronto. Jonathan Osorio famously said "I feel nothing for them" when talking about Montreal. Despite the sometimes lack of grandeur in the Toronto-Montreal rivalry, it never fails to garner attention.

Montreal are in fine form, having a picked up a 2-0 win against Orlando. Laurent Ciman had a fantastic game, and the Impact put in a great defensive performance to get the clean sheet. Toronto had a rough outing against NYCFC, in a game that was more down to a lack of ideas and execution on the Reds part than the persistent fouling against Sebastian Giovinco.

Match Talking Points

Montreal are quietly doing well in the Eastern Conference, picking up 17 points in a league-fewest 12 games. They've looked vulnerable and defensively disorganized at times, though, lacking ideas in attack and a true goalscorer. For TFC to get a result the plan seems fairly straightforward - defend Piatti well and attack the space between their slower central midfielders and central defenders with verve.

Many - myself included - felt like the sky was falling after seeing the result of Saturday's game. A more rational, balanced person will see the last game for what it was - a great performance by Josh Saunders, an unfortunate penalty, and a defensive lapse that was capitalized on. TFC had a number of good chances, and although Greg Vanney's Miami Vice shirt no longer has an unbeaten record, it was far from the shambolic early summer collapse we're used to.

It is unlikely TFC make changes to the starting XI they used against New York, save one - Jozy Altidore should be set to take the field from the opening whistle. Both teams have games on Saturday - TFC at home to DC, Montreal away to Philadelphia - where lineup rotation seems more likely.

TFC Starting XI

football formations

No Surprises here -- TFC put forward a first choice eleven to try and get a result.

Keys to the Game

When Extra Time Radio asked Bernier about Giovinco, he mentioned that the best way to stop a player like him is to make sure he can't develop a rhythm. Montreal have used this tactic before against FC Dallas playmaker Mauro Diaz - with Calum Mallace and Marco Donadel carrying out the discipline, as it were. NYCFC used this tactic - a problem I threw a few harebrained ideas at - to great effect on Saturday. Expect Montreal to try and break the game down in midfield and attack on the counter.

The TFC backline wasn't especially poor against NYCFC - Eriq Zavaleta misplayed the pass that lead to the second David Villa goal - and will need to put in a solid game to contain Nacho Piatti and whomever else Montreal puts on the field. Dominic Oduro played for TFC last season and will probably score because of that fact alone. He's also still really fast.

This is an important game for the Reds - not just because it is against Montreal - but because a summer collapse is not an option this year. Things will not always go our way, and in early July we lose 4 regular starters to Gold Cup action.

The game kicks off at 8 pm at BMO. You can catch the game there, on TSN, or MLS Live if you're out of Canada.