The Headliner: Circled on the Calendar
When the 2016 MLS schedule was released for Toronto FC, supporters wanted to know two things: when was the home opener, and when was the first game against the Montreal Impact. Today's date, April 23, has long been circled on the calender's of Toronto FC supporters as the day the club can get revenge on their rivals.
In Toronto's first ever playoff appearance, the Impact defeated Toronto FC 3-0 in a result that made a fairly successful season look like a disaster. Today is the first chance Toronto gets to avenge that result.
But today's game is about much more than just a symbolic victory. Major points are on the line and with that comes a big opportunity. To this point, Toronto FC's season-opening road trip has been successful, they have picked up 8 points from 6 games. Today, they get a chance to make it even more memorable.
The Montreal Impact are the top team in the Eastern Conference, and if Toronto were able to beat them at Saputo Stadium it would send a message around the league. If Toronto FC wants to be considered contenders this year this is their first real opportunity to prove themselves.
Standing in their way are two players who have been nightmares for Toronto in the past: Didier Drogba and Ignacio Piatti. Drogba scored twice in the final season game last year to push the Impact in front of TFC in the standings. Piatti was the architect behind their 3-0 playoff victory.
Key to the Game: Defensive Marking
Toronto FC has had a strong start to the 2016 season from a defensive standpoint: allowing just 0.83 goals per game. Today will be a big test as to whether they can keep up their early form. With their number of attacking options and the abilities that they have, Toronto has struggled to contain the Impact in the past.
Drogba is strong in the air, something even this Toronto backline does not defend well against. He is also difficult to mark, as even at his age he is still able to trick defenders. Ignacio Piatti has long been a thorn in Toronto's side with his movement and creativity. Meanwhile, Dominic Oduro's pure speed has been a nightmare for Toronto fullbacks.
In order to make sure all of these threats are dealt with today, Toronto will need to be strong defensively and make sure everyone knows their assignment. One or two slip ups and the team may be behind the eight ball once again.
Toronto FC: Irwin; Beitashour, Moor, Perquis, Morrow; Osorio, Johnson, Bradley, Delgado; Giovinco, Altidore
Subs: Bono, Zavaleta, Williams, Morgan, Lovitz, Endoh, Babouli
Montreal: Bush; Oyongo, Ciman, Cabrera, Camara; Donadel, Alexander; Piatii, Shipp, Oduro; Drogba
Location: Saputo Stadium, Montreal, Quebec
Kick-off time: 4:00 PM Eastern
SB Nation OPPOSITION Blog: Mount Royal Soccer
Available streaming: TSN Go
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.