Red against blue. This might be the least meaningful match of at least five between these two Canadian rivals this season, and yet there is still a sense of anticipation around it - both sets of fans have had to wait a while for this latest meeting in MLS.
Last time out in June, Toronto FC grabbed a 1-1 draw at Stade Saputo in the Canadian Championship final before winning the second leg - just - to claim the trophy, and they’ve had the Montreal Impact’s number for a while now. It was exactly a year ago, in fact, that Montreal beat TFC despite playing a half with 10 men at BMO Field.
Since then, Montreal’s only win in five in this derby was tainted by the fact that they allowed a 3-0 lead to be cut to 3-2 in last season’s playoffs, setting Toronto up to advance to the MLS Cup final.
Kick-off: 4.30 p.m. ET
Venue: Stade Saputo, Montreal
Are Montreal for real?
The Impact had been mediocre this season and looked set to miss the playoffs before rediscovering their famous counter-attacking prowess and stringing together a four-match winning run.
Those four wins, however, have come against two average sides (Real Salt Lake and the Philadelphia Union) and two horribly out of form (the Chicago Fire and Orlando City). This will be their biggest test by far since they were dumped on 4-0 by the New York Red Bulls a month ago.
I hate to jump on a guy who did a serviceable job as a bench player for TFC, but every time I look at the Impact’s lineup I can’t help but be drawn towards Daniel Lovitz at left-back as a point of weakness.
It will be interesting to see who Greg Vanney places opposite him. I have a sneaking suspicion we might see Steven Beitashour draw back into the lineup today, but on paper the natural pick would be to unleash the in-form - and more attacking - Nicolas Hasler down the right.
The opposition view
Montreal youngster Louis Beland-Goyette - who made his second MLS start last time out - is feeling pretty confident and does not think about Toronto as the league’s best team:
“No, I don’t think so, and playing Toronto you forget about all these things. If I was them, and I was looking at Montreal Impact, whatever place we’re in, I don’t think you look at that, because it’s a rivalry; it’s a war, it’s whoever comes out with three points.
“We know they have good players, we know they’re doing good, but we’re doing amazing right now, and we’re going forward. So, it’s the perfect time to face them.”
TV channel & live stream
TV: TSN 1 & 4 (Canada, English), TVA Sports (Canada, French), ESPN (USA)
Stream: TSN Go (Canada, English), tvasports.ca (Canada, French), WatchESPN (USA)
Radio: TSN 1050 (Toronto), TSN 690 (Montreal)
Nick Hagglund and Benoit Cheyrou remain the only absentees for Toronto, while Montreal have Ambroise Oyongo sidelined.
Otherwise, both clubs should have a full complement available.
Montreal: Bush; Duvall, Cabrera, Ciman, Lovitz; Bernier, Piette, Dzemaili; Salazar, Mancosu, Piatti.
Subs: Oduro, Fisher, Camara, Beland-Goyette, Romero, Jackson-Hamel, Crepeau.
Toronto: Bono; Zavaleta, Moor, Mavinga; Hasler, Delgado, Bradley, Vazquez, Morrow; Altidore, Giovinco.
Subs: Irwin, Ricketts, Cooper, Edwards, Beitashour, Osorio, Hernandez.