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Preview: Toronto FC head East to take on 401-rivals CF Montreal

Friday’s match will be the first 401 Derby in Canada since September 2020

MLS: Toronto FC at CF Montreal
Toronto FC will matchup with CF Montreal for the first time since the opening day of the season.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO, Ont. - In a week that was billed as the most important in Toronto’s season, the Reds walked away with zero points. The Reds who now find themselves in a three match winless streak, travel to Stade Saputo for a matchup with CF Montreal.

Kick-off is slated for 7:30 PM and as usual can be watched on TSN.

This is not a position that TFC have found themselves in the recent past in this matchup. With only two points in the last six matches, the Reds are now 12 points out of a playoff spot and 13 points behind CF Montreal, who occupy the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.

Regardless of their place in the standings, the Reds won’t need much motivation as they take on their Canadian rivals in a rare Friday night match. In addition to making life a little bit more difficult for CF Montreal as they work towards clinching a playoff berth, the Reds will also want to reverse their opening day 4-2 loss to Montreal.

The Club is adamant that the playoffs are still not out of reach, and that this squad has what it takes to make the playoffs. Whether the Reds miraculously make the playoffs or not, we already know that there will be changes coming to this squad in the offseason. For the management and coaching staff, games like these will help determine who from the current squad will remain a Red in 2022.

Heading into Friday night’s matchup, Ayo Akinola (ACL), Jozy Altidore (lower body), and Ralph Priso (lower body), continue to remain out and unavailable for selection. Striker Dom Dwyer and Tsubasa Endoh are listed as questionable.

If Dwyer is healthy, Perez may be tempted to lean on him for this matchup. While Dwyer hasn’t featured much this season, he does have a successful record scoring against Montreal. In 11 games against Montreal, Dwyer has scored 10 goals on 40 shots, topping Altidore’s record of eight goals in 13 matches against CF Montreal.

Montreal is coming into this matchup on a four match unbeaten run, in which they have won twice and drawn each of their last two games. Montreal sport a strong home record this season where they’ve secured five of their seven wins this season, including two wins and a draw since returning to the Stade Saputo.

TFC Head Coach Javier Perez will need to plan for Montreal midfielder Djordje Mihailovic, who has been an influential part of the CF Montreal offence on this unbeaten run. The American midfielder has been involved in three of the last five Montreal goals, and this has been involved in 10 Montreal goals, scoring on four and assisting on six.

Through 21 games this season, Montreal has scored 27 goals and conceded just 26 times so far this season. On the offensive side, Montreal has been able to rely on eight players who have scored more than one goal a game, including forward Mason Toye who leads the club in that department, but is unavailable for Friday night’s matchup through a shoulder injury.

Along with Toye, Montreal will be without midfielder Lassi Lappalainen (groin) and defender Róbert Thorkelsson (adductor), while forward Romell Quioto is listed as questionable.

Defensively, the Club has become accustomed to playing in a lot of tight matches. Montreal’s last 15 matches have all been decided by one goal or less. Except for one match against FC Cincinnati where Montreal conceded four times en route to a 5-4 win, there have been lots of 2-1 and 1-0 score lines. A big part of that has been through the partnership of Victor Wanyama and Canadian International Samuel Piette. Ahead of Friday night’s matchup, the TFC Head Coach made special note of the role that the midfielders play to help Montreal stay strong defensively and help transition the attack.

The Reds and Montreal have exchanged wins over their last four matches, with each club winning on two occasions, with Montreal winning most recently on opening day. The last time that either team won consecutive matchups in this fixture was in 2019 and 2020 when the Reds won four consecutive matches, including the 4-3 thriller at the MLS is Back Tournament, as well as the most recent time these clubs matched up at Stade Saputo. On that occasion, the Reds walked away with a 2-1 victory.

However the Reds’ season has been going, a derby match against Montreal is always circled on the calendar. For Reds faithful looking for positives this season, a win on Saturday would temporarily ease the troubles of the 2021 season.

Match Details

Opponent: CF Montreal
Stadium: Stade Saputo, Montreal, QC
Kick-off: 7:30 PM EST
Watch: TSN