Toronto FC will finally get their hands on the Supporters’ Shield at around 4.30 p.m. at BMO Field this evening.
Then there is the small matter of a fifth and final derby of the season to play against the Montreal Impact. With two games to play, Montreal have been eliminated from playoff contention while Toronto need four points for the MLS regular-season record.
The Reds face a tough trip to Atlanta United next weekend, so three points here may be essential to their hopes of making history.
Kick-off: 5 p.m. ET
Venue: BMO Field, Toronto
I’ve got two for you: Are Toronto over their little hump? And is Sebastian Giovinco fit?
The 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls, I think most would agree, was not particularly convincing. I’m on the optimistic side of the fence - they scored four goals, after all, and the first win after a tough stretch is often a hard-fought one (see last year’s victory over the Chicago Fire on the eve of the playoffs). It certainly would put a few minds at ease internally and externally, though, to make a statement today.
Giovinco needs minutes and rhythm. It was interesting to hear Greg Vanney theorize that long breaks are more of a problem for the Atomic Ant’s health than a heavy workload, and by that logic you would imagine he will be getting the start both here and on the turf next weekend at Atlanta United.
It’s Toronto against themselves, really.
If the Reds play anywhere near close to their best and take care of the ball as we know they can do, they’ll win this game.
If they start shooting themselves in the foot like they did last time Montreal came to BMO Field... well, there’s no team in MLS that feasts on that more effectively than the Impact.
Without wanting to take anything away from Mauro Biello and his players in that 5-3 shocker, I’m not convinced they came out all guns blazing with their season on the line or were particularly inspired tactically that night.
They did a good job of making Michael Bradley’s life difficult by getting Ignacio Piatti and Blerim Dzemaili in his face, sure, but they’re hardly the only team to do that this year. I don’t think they could believe their luck when the Reds made error after error to put a big lead on a plate for them.
The opposition view
Changes may be coming in Montreal.
A couple of reports this month have suggested this is the last time Biello will be leading the Impact at BMO Field, with Italian legend Alessandro Nesta - currently head coach of Miami FC - tipped to return to the club he spent a season-and-a-half with late in his playing career.
Miami knocked Orlando City and Atlanta United out of the U.S. Open Cup earlier this season and have had a strong year in the NASL.
They topped the spring season standings by 10 points and are second to the San Francisco Deltas - who themselves are managed by former Impact coach Marc dos Santos - in the fall table on goal difference.
TV channel & live stream
TV: TSN 1 & 4 (English), TVA Sports (French)
Stream: TSN Go (English), TVA Sports En Direct (French), MLS Live (out of market)
Radio: TSN 1050 (Toronto), TSN 690 (Montreal)
With Sebastian Giovinco set to return, Toronto should have a full squad available.
Montreal are without Daniel Lovitz, who is suspended, plus the injured duo Ambroise Oyongo and Chris Duvall.
Toronto: Bono; Zavaleta, Moor, Mavinga; Hasler, Delgado, Bradley, Vazquez, Morrow; Altidore, Giovinco.
Subs: Irwin, Beitashour, Edwards, Cooper, Osorio, Cheyrou, Ricketts.
Montreal: Crepeau; Camara, Ciman, Cabrera, Francis; Piette, Bernardello; Romero, Dzemaili, Tabla; Mancosu.
Subs: Bush, Boldor, Bernier, Beland-Goyette, Shome, Salazar, Oduro.