Toronto FC is first place in the Eastern Conference at the latest point they have ever been in a Major League Soccer season. Today, they have a chance to announce it to all of Toronto in the best way possible: with a big home victory over their rival Montreal Impact.
BMO Field will be full of fans eager to welcome home their team, who just went undefeated on a three-game roadtrip. The city's media are starting to take notice, something that isn't always a guarantee in a busy Toronto sport's market.
Today's match has all the attributes of a monumental moment for this franchise, the kind they have so rarely had. With the MLS Cup Playoffs just around the corner, Toronto FC is under a spotlight. Historically, they have failed to live up to moments like this, just see last year's first ever playoff appearance, also against the Impact. But this team has already proven that they are different, perhaps they can live up to the hype.
This could end up being the most interesting match of the so-called MLS rivalry week, especially considering how much this match means to Montreal as well. The Impact could really use the momentum boost that would come with beating a rival team on the road today.
While Toronto FC comes into this match playing their best soccer of the year, the last three games for the Impact has been their worst stretch all season. They are winless in their last three matches and have been outscored 7-2 in that time. The lowest point came in a 3-0 loss to the Chicago Fire at Saputo Stadium, the Fire's first road win in two years.
The contrast between the two teams continues when it comes to designated players. Toronto FC's have been red hot. It would take something tragic to happen at this point for Sebastian Giovinco not to win his second straight MLS MVP award. He currently leads the Golden Boot standings with 16 goals, and is working his way up the assist table as well with 13.
The talking point recently in Toronto, however, has been the play of Jozy Altidore who has four goals in four matches. Altidore has been at the centre of Toronto's recent run of form, the secondary attacking piece the club has been missing since he went down to injury in May.
Montreal, on the other hand, has been missing that x-factor. At the start of the season, Ignacio Piatti seemed to be neck in neck with Giovinco in terms of MVP candidates. However, with only a goal to show for his last five games he, like his team, has been struggling of late. Toronto will still need to be mindful of his threat, however, he more than any other Impact player has caused them problems in the past.
With the exception of a hat-trick in a 5-1 drubbing of the Philadelphia Union, Didier Drogba has been even worse. The veteran striker who seemed unstoppable in his first MLS campaign hasn't looked nearly as sharp in his second season. That hattrick is the only game he has scored in since late May.
Recently, it has been defensive issues which have plagued the Impact. They push too far forward, especially their wingbacks, and then do not deal well with counterattacks. The bad news for them is that Toronto FC is one of, if not the best, counterattacking team in the league.
All signs point to another three points for Toronto FC, and them cementing themselves at the Eastern Conference peak. However, MLS is as unpredictable as they come, and if Toronto FC isn't up for this game they will be sorry.