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No room for error: Toronto FC gearing up for a must-win match vs. Montreal

Looking for all three points, the Reds look to snap their two-game losing streak in Montreal.

MLS: Toronto FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Toronto FC face a must-win match on Wednesday night.
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO, Ont.—Toronto FC will head east on the 401 to their final Canadian Championship qualifying match and look to keep their 2020 Canadian Championship Final hopes alive against the Montreal Impact at the Stade Saputo. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m EST on Wednesday.

It was only a week ago that the Reds were in pole position to advance to the Canadian Championship Final. A three-game win streak which included three clean sheets and some dominant performances had TFC ahead of Montreal and Vancouver, with the remaining games looking like a formality.

Now, after two straight losses, it’s the Impact who are in the driver’s seat and control their own destiny. Toronto will need to take all three points on Wednesday night to put pressure on the Impact and give themselves a chance at playing in this year’s final. Even with a win, however, the Reds will need Montreal to drop points in their final two games against Vancouver in order to secure their spot in the 2020 Canadian Championship Final. If they don’t, Montreal can finish top of the group based off of goal differential.

Against Vancouver on Saturday, Greg Vanney decided to make changes to his Starting XI. Michael Bradley was unavailable due to injury (week to week) and Chris Mavinga and Jozy Altidore were left on the bench to manage minutes. Just like at the MLS is Back Tournament, Saturday once again proved that outside of the Omar Gonzalez and Chris Mavinga pairing, the Reds have very little depth in the heart of defence. The lack of reliable options at centre-back is going to force Vanney to all but surely play his regular pairing of Gonzalez and Mavinga Wednesday night.

Liam Fraser, who was the beneficiary of the Bradley injury had a decent outing and was only sacrificed as the Reds searched for a second goal and brought on a second striker in Jozy Altidore. Whether Fraser will be part of Wednesday’s crucial match will be interesting to see. With Bradley injured to start the season, Vanney opted for a Jonathan Osorio and Marky Delgado midfield duo and it won’t be a surprise if the Toronto boss elects to do so once again, against Montreal.

The Reds’ problem in the last two games hasn’t been creating offence. Toronto has been able to keep possession and play their fluid brand of attacking football. However, finishing on the chances they’ve created has caused headaches. In their 1-0 loss against Montreal last week, the Reds offence was able to play effectively around the Impact defence but were not able to find the final ball and ultimately the back of the net. Similarly against the Whitecaps, the Reds created their fair share of chances, found the back of the net twice but it was their defence that let them down on Saturday night. On Wednesday, Toronto will need their offence and defence to be clicking to make sure there are no more lapses.

TFC may have been in the driver’s seat for the first half of the Canadian Championship qualifying phase, but now, it’s up to seven-time Canadian Champions to put some pressure on their 401 rivals and give themselves a chance to represent the MLS in this year’s Canadian Championship Final.

Additional Notes:

  • Saturday was the first time TFC has lost two games in a row since May 2019. The last time the Reds dropped consecutive games was to Real Salt Lake and San Jose Earthquakes ( 3-0 and 2-1, respectively).
  • Alejandro Pozuelo’s goal and assist on Saturday night puts him second on the team in goals (tied with Richie Laryea) and first in MLS in assists.

How to Watch:

Kickoff is set for 8:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday night, and those in Canada can watch on TSN 4/5.