On Saturday night Toronto FC host their bitter rivals, the Montreal Impact at BMO Field. The 401 Derby, as it has become known, is one of the most bitter rivalries in North America, as the cities of Toronto and Montreal have been feuding for hundreds of years. On the pitch is no different, as the match is often a feisty one, and this time has extra meaning behind it. Toronto are trying to steal a playoff spot and Montreal currently occupy the last one. With a victory, TFC will inch closer to the playoffs but if they lose, they will surely lose all hope of getting a spot.
Both Jozy Altidore and Chris Mavinga have been ruled out of this match. Altidore had his suspension increased following a red card, while Mavinga is dealing with an injury. The two will be missed, but TFC have dealt with the absence of them for much of the season, so it won’t be anything new. I think Greg Vanney will go with a 4-4-2 diamond for this match.
Bono has received a lot of criticism in recent weeks for giving up a few easy goals, especially the one last time against San Jose. Despite his dip in form, Bono remains the number one keeper at TFC, so I doubt Vanney gives Clint Irwin a match, especially in a big game against Montreal.
Gregory van der Wiel, Drew Moor, Nick Hagglund, Justin Morrow
With veteran defender Drew Moor back to full fitness, the backline is a lot stronger than it has been all season, but since Chris Mavinga is injured, it’ll likely be either Nick Hagglund or Eriq Zavaleta starting alongside him. In a deliberate attempt to annoy me, Greg Vanney seems to read my predictions and pick the one that I don’t choose, so this time I flipped a coin: heads means Hagglund starts and tails means Zavaleta gets the nod. It landed on heads.
Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Jonathan Osorio, Victor Vazquez
It remains to be known if Victor Vazquez will be ready for Saturday’s match as he has missed the last few with an injury. If he is available, I think he starts at the top of a diamond, but if not, Jonathan Osorio could step into that role. Marky Delgado had an awful run of matches in late June/ early July but has since improved quite a bit. He looked bored/ uninspired (the Canada Day game vs NYRB comes to mind), but has since played with the tenacity and passion that he became known for last season, really making a noticeable change in body language, something a few other players on this team should try.
Sebastian Giovinco, Lucas Janson
While this duo lacks height and physicality, they have incredible technical ability, as seen in the last match against San Jose. Janson, making his TFC debut, scored his first goal for the club following a string of nice passes spearheaded by Giovinco. The duo is capable of unlocking defences with their dribbling and passing abilities, something they’ll have to do against a physical Montreal back line. I’m a bit worried that this pair might get pushed around a lot, but it’s the best duo that The Reds have to offer without Altidore.