Included in the price of this weekend’s Supporters’ Shield ceremony is a soccer game. After Toronto FC force the Montreal Impact to watch them lift a trophy (for the third time in their past four visits to BMO Field, no less), the two sides will square off with little else but pride on the line.
Neither team has anything tangible to play for, but an incensed Montreal side looking for one small positive to take from this season will be no pushover. They're already the only team to beat TFC at home this year, and they'd love to do it twice.
The Reds should have a full-strength team for the first time in over a month on Sunday, which will help them find their footing before the playoffs.
They may have beat them on the Plains of Abraham, but TFC still have unfinished business on the Field of BMO (please forgive me this is so awful).
Here's how they might line up.
As usual. I highly doubt we see Clint Irwin in a TFC shirt again this year, if ever, barring injury (*furiously knocks on wood*).
Chris Mavinga, Drew Moor, Nick Hagglund
I think this might be the back three Greg Vanney has his eye on for the playoffs. No disrespect to Eriq Zavaleta, but all three of these players fill crucial roles.
Mavinga’s pace gives TFC’s attack a little more jump from the back, making it easier for Justin Morrow to get involved. The Frenchman is also a player I’d count on more than most for a game-saving tackle.
Moor has always been an incredible workhorse in the middle of the defence. He's like a mini-Michael Bradley back there, with a top-notch passing ability and a strong sense for positioning and marking.
As for Hagglund, nobody has patrolled the skies better than him since Billy Bishop. He manages to get his head on pretty much any ball thrown into the box. He's an invaluable asset, especially on set pieces.
Justin Morrow, Victor Vazquez, Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Steven Beitashour
For now, at least, Beita still gets in over Nicolas Hasler in my books. He's been more consistent over a larger sample size, and he’s probably more helpful defensively, especially against a counter-attacking team like Montreal. Hasler would also arguably have more impact off the bench than Beitashour would, given his speed and creativity.
I'm not quite as confident in Delgado as I was a couple of months ago, but the spot is still his. It's not impossible that Jonathan Osorio wins it from him, but that definitely hasn't happened yet.
The other three are all absolute locks, as far as I'm concerned. Like Hasler, Raheem Edwards will probably be used as a substitute this fall.
Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore
Nothing is more satisfying than putting those two names down together. It's been a while, but thankfully they both look likely to start on Sunday. These last two regular season games are crucial for form, so they really need to find a few goals together to get their chemistry going.
Some goals for Jozy would help him shake off the sting from his USMNT campaign, and a few for Seba would knock off some rust after more than a month off.