The last time the two teams played it was branded a historic moment for Canadian soccer. Millions of people watched on TV, and tens of thousands more live, as Toronto FC dramatically defeated the Montreal Impact in the MLS Eastern Conference finals.
After Wednesday night’s 4-0 victory for Toronto over the Ottawa Fury and Montreal’s 4-2 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Tuesday, the two sides are set to meet again. This time the Canadian Championship will be on the line.
Toronto and Montreal haven’t met in a Canadian Championship final since 2014, with the Impact prevailing. This year’s grand final is set to kick-off on June 21 in Montreal, with the second leg taking place June 27 in Toronto.
“Given the excitement of the playoffs at the end of last year this is one of those opportunities where the Canadian Championship can also benefit from some excitement between these two teams,” said Greg Vanney after the Ottawa win. “It will be exciting.”
He’s also happy Montreal is the opponent from a travel perspective, as a series with Vancouver would mean a flight to the west coast. For a team as busy as Toronto FC of late, that makes a big difference.
Like TFC against Ottawa, Montreal also came back from a 2-1 deficit in the road leg against Vancouver to reach the final. They showed how much this competition means to them by playing a first-choice lineup against Vancouver in that second leg.
The Impact are searching for their fourth Canadian Championship, and perhaps more importantly another berth in the CONCACAF Champions League. The Impact came incredibly close to becoming the first MLS team to win that competition in 2014-15.
“We are playing to solidify our spot in the Champions League, they are playing to get back to the Champions League,” said Vanney. “We are both taking it very seriously, which should make for a good series.”
Toronto are the defending tournament champions, but the recent restructuring of the Champions League has forced them to re-qualify for the continental competition. Should Montreal beat the Reds over two legs, the teams will play another one-off match at BMO Field on August 9 to determine with represents Canada.