The 401 Derby continues tonight at the Ontario Soccer Centre, as TFC II will take on FC Montreal in the clubs second meeting this season. The last time the two faced off, TFC II was crowned victorious and earned the team's first ever USL victory.
Things have changed since then, Montreal started the season 0-5 until they got their first win on May 14th. TFC II hasn't done so well either, as both clubs sit in the bottom of the East and both share three wins each. Montreal is coming off back-to-back wins, defeating Pittsburgh 4-2 and putting up five goals against Saint Louis on July 15th.
In fact, Montreal has scored the same amount of goals as the young Reds in those two games than TFC II has scored this whole season. That is a tough pill to swallow for TFC II fans. It is not like they aren't getting the chances, it is just they have been over powered on defence and the attackers cannot find enough space to get a shot off.
Both Montreal and Toronto will also be without core players this evening, as TFC II has had five of its players competing in this years Pan-Am games for Canada, and FC Montreal has had four players also Canadian roster.
As mentioned, Montreal will be without four key players tonight. The likes of midfielders Louis Beland-Goyette and Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare, keeper Maxime Crepeau, and defender Jonathan Grant will be most likely absent from the match since Canada played last night in a hard fought 2-0 loss to Peru at the Pan Am Games.
Even though the club will be without most of its starters, leading scorer Alessandro Riggi will be available. His five goals are the best in the club, and his presence was felt the last time these two clubs faced off.
One to watch is Montreal striker Charles Joy, who is coming off scoring a first half hat trick against Saint Louis FC last weekend. Midfielder Victor Ndiaye and forward Frederic Gravelle are also ones to be wary of.
Focusing on the Rivalry
Three straight losses at their new home isn't easy to move past from. However, TFC II centre back Daniel Fabrizi provides insight on what the club needs to do to find a win against Montreal. "We have to get over it. Everybody knows what we need to do. Hopefully we get a better result."
"The first game it wasn't too easy adapt too. Now that we played a couple games there were getting more use to it. It's getting worked in so it's a lot better. We cant really use the surface as a compliant to why were not performing at our best."
Fabrizi was part of the squad that faced Montreal in the last meeting, playing strong defensively to make sure his side earned their first win against a big rival. "It's always a battle against Montreal. Last time we played them we were successful."
"In the first half the other day, we weren't happy with our performance in our ability to compete. In the second half, they [TFC II] turned it around and took the game to Saint Louis." said TFC II head coach Jason Bent about his teams performance on Saturday.
Bent later added that playing Montreal before will help his side understand their strengths and weaknesses. "We played them before, we know what their about. They're a good young football side as well, want to play football, like ourselves. Looking forward to the challenge. said TFC II head coach Jason Bent about how he thinks his side will fair against their rivals.
The Addition of Sal Bernal
Sal Bernal was drafted in the fourth round, 70th overall in this season MLS Super Draft by Toronto FC and took part in the TFC II's pre-season games in Florida. However, he hasn't been with the team since the pre-season, due to some work problems.
Bernal met the media for the first time yesterday and looked excited to start off his TFC II career in a key rivalry match. "I know it's a big rivalry, it's going to be a big game. If I'm able to play, I'm going to bring everything I have."
Bernal also mentioned how he has spent his time away from TFC II. "I have been with UNLV [University of Nevada, Las Vegas] which is my University. They allowed me to train with them."
Just what type of player can TFC II expect from the five foot seven midfielder? "I like to attack. I like to dribble at guys. Use my speed."
Having the likes of Bernal will be key going forward for TFC II, as the club has been lacking in the offensive categories. Having a fast player who can open space up for his teammates and dribble by to create chances is what the young Reds have been missing.
I was wrong, once again, in predicting Saturday's match against Saint Louis. Tonight, I feel like this will be a true test of the clubs strong Canadian academies. Both clubs are well represented in the Pan-Am games, and will need their younger players to step up their game.
Montreal is coming off two very big games, in which nine goals were scored. I say this game will end up in a tie, but TFC II will find the net for the first time at the Ontario Soccer Centre. 2-2 will be the score against these two fierce Canadian rivals.
The match will be streaming live on torontofc.ca/live at 8:00 PM EST. If you are in the Vaughan area, make sure to visit the ticket booth outside the stadium before the match,. Tickets are available for $12.