Its the biggest 401 derby game to date. Both teams have players who are legitimate stars. Both teams are racking up points towards playoff soccer. The showdown at BMO field has playoff implications - a rarity for this matchup. If Toronto was in with a chance, Montreal were languishing near the bottom of the standings. If Montreal were squeaking into the playoffs, Toronto FC were on the outside looking in with the chance to play spoiler. No more the futility. Time for a game that matters.
Match Talking Points
The most obvious storylines are the absences for Montreal. Losing both Piatti and Drogba is a blow, to be sure, but the Impact have done well without them in the past. In truth, Drogba looked a little like a passenger in his MLS debut, and the 37 year old's fitness will continue to plague Montreal and create uncertainty.
On the Red side of the field, TFC have Michael Bradley all to themselves for the next few games, with a USMNT call up not materializing (by Greg Vanney's design and petition) for the USA and TFC captain. This will help keep the Reds midfield stable, especially if Vanney elects to play the 4-2-3-1 against Montreal.
Although the TFC twitter feed shows a 4-3-3 formation, my guess is the 4-2-3-1 makes another appearance. Jackson doesn't seem likely to play after picking up an injury against Orlando City SC. Williams gets another start at Centre Back, while Morgan shuffles Morrow to Right back. The other players are unchanged from the 5-0 win against the Lions.
Keys to the Game
Honestly, without Drogba the Impact are as dangerous as they were two weeks ago. Dominic Oduro has two things going for him against TFC - he is fast and our backline is slow, and he used to play here, which tends to produce a good game from former TFC strikers. Romero and Donadel can set him up for success against the TFC defense.
On the other end of the field, Laurent Ciman is good. We know this. Sebastian Giovinco is better, and I see the Reds popping a few past a helpless Evan Bush in this game. Bradley has shown his quality since his return from injury, and Jozy's brace against Orlando was no fluke. TFC are among the top teams in MLS in the attack and they should be eager to show it against their rivals.
The game kicks off at 4 pm on TSN. Don't forget to follow along here on WTR for all your game coverage.