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Game Thread: Montreal Impact 0-2 Toronto FC (FT)

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A turning point, of sorts?

MLS: Montreal Impact at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

FT — Lovely. A clean sheet and a 2-0 win for the Reds in Montreal, and TFC return to a playoff spot. All is well.

93’ Montreal Impact 0-2 Toronto FC — YES JOZY! Altidore scores a rocket of a free kick, showing he definitely learned something from Sebastian Giovinco. Hell of a way to cap off a good night all around.

83’ — Montreal have had a couple decent chances in the last few minutes, and Greg Vanney has decided to shore up the backline a little bit. Eriq Zavaleta comes into the game for Jacob Shaffelburg.

75’ — Man, it is raining HARD out there.

66’ — It looks like we’re back! Players are back out on the pitch to get a five-minute warmup in, it seems. Hopefully the Reds have been able to hold onto some of that momentum they had before the break...

65’ — Well. The referee has called the players off the pitch due to the storm raging in Montreal right now. We’re in for a delay of at least half an hour, unfortunately...

61’ Montreal Impact 0-1 Toronto FC — POZUELO! The Wizard of Poz scores a screamer from well outside the box as he jumps on a beautifully headed flick-on from Tsubasa Endoh. Pozuelo has been the best player on the pitch by a mile tonight, and now he has something to show for it.

46’ — We’re back, and Tsubasa Endoh has entered the game to replace an injured Nick DeLeon — groin tightness, according to Greg Vanney’s hilarious walking interview with KJ.

HT — Well, doughnuts at half. Your thoughts? It wasn’t particularly eventful, but definitely some positives to build on into the second 45.

33’ — Oh boy. Sam Piette fires a rocket from way outside the box and actually isn’t far off. That was scary.

27’ — A touch of controversy, perhaps, as TFC appealed for a penalty with Jozy Altidore going down in the box, but nothing in it. We carry on. TFC definitely in the ascendancy right now, dominating the ball and taking the majority of the chances.

1’ — We are off at Stade Saputo!

Lineups

Toronto FC: About as strong a lineup as TFC have fielded this year, although Jonathan Osorio is apparently ill and it seems like Erickson Gallardo might not have gotten all his paperwork sorted out yet (ITC or work visa, presumably).

Montreal Impact: Who cares, it’s Montreal.

Preview

Finally, after a few tough outings and over a week off, Toronto FC are back tonight with a fresh outlook on life.

They enter Stade Saputo this evening as a new-look side, bringing along some new faces in Omar Gonzalez, Erickson Gallardo, and Patrick Mullins, plus a few familiar friends in Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, both returning from Gold Cup duty.

So, it’s with an unhealthy amount of optimism that we approach this 401 Derby. TFC have a lot more firepower than they have recently, plus some reinforcements at the back to try and smooth things out after an annoying 2-0 loss to the LA Galaxy last time out.

Now, what about those blue guys?

The Montreal Impact sit fourth in the Eastern Conference (tied with third-place Atlanta United on 30 points, though). Somehow, though, they have a hilarious goal differential of -8 with the third-worst goals for total in the East (26) and a similarly terrible goals conceded figure (34).

TFC are (marginally) better in both those categories.

Of course, part of the reason for Montreal’s scoring woes has been the knee injury that’s kept Ignacio Piatti out of the lineup since May (and will continue to do so for a while, unfortunately). Piatti is, of course, Montreal’s best player, and one of the most dynamic attackers in MLS. Any team would struggle with him unavailable for so long.

Much of the Impact’s attack has come from Saphir Taider recently, who has seven goals and three assists to lead the team. They’ve also got internationally acclaimed TFC-killer Omar Browne, who ripped the Reds apart down in Panama in the CONCACAF Champions League this year.

Montreal has already played an emotional fixture against a Toronto-area team this week, having drawn 2-2 with York9 FC of the Canadian Premier League in Wednesday’s Canadian Championship matchup. That was a hell of a game, and now TFC will look to double up on the Impact with another good performance by a GTA side.

This is a turning point for the Reds. It’s a new-look TFC, entering with what should be the best starting XI they’ve deployed this season. Time to get back on the board with a resounding win.

Also... do we really need a reason to kick the stuffing out of Montreal?

Team news: injuries, suspensions & international duty

Toronto FC: Just Drew Moor, that’s it. Moor is apparently still sidelined with his nagging injury, but other than that, it’s a clean bill for TFC.

Montreal Impact: Nacho Piatti is out with his knee injury, which could keep him out until late August. The Impact are also without midfielder Clement Bayiha, apparently?

How to watch

Match date/time: Saturday, July 13, 7:30 p.m. ET
TV channel: TSN 4, TVA Sports (en francais)
Live stream: TSN GO, ESPN+
Radio: TSN 1050 (Toronto), TSN 690 (Montreal)