With a few injuries to his lineup, Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen told the media that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win the Canadian Championship, even if it means dressing his coaches to play the Impact next Wednesday at BMO Field at 7:30pm (ET).
His rival down the 401 feels just the same way.
“It’s nice to have an opponent who is willing to do everything to win,” said Impact head coach Marco Schällibaum. “It elevates the challenge, but we are not afraid. We want to absolutely win the game. We respect them as an opponent and we know it won’t be an easy first game. It’s good to see them motivated. It means we’ll have an exciting matchup.”
“There is a lot of pride that comes from a tournament like this,” explained Impact homegrown defender Karl W. Ouimette. “Beating your long-time rivals from BC and Ontario is always a big deal. Even at the youth levels, I remember how the rivalry between provinces was intense.”
Added to the prestige of being named Canada’s top team is the heated opposition between these two clubs that has built over the years.
“There is the history between the clubs that makes this tournament even more special,” said Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier. “Last season we played TFC five times, this season is the same, and we have always played some tight, difficult games. I’m expecting an aggressive matchup with a lot of intensity.”
However, the approach to this rivalry game will be a little different, with a second leg scheduled next Wednesday at Stade Saputo.
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“The difference here is there is the return match,” added Schällibaum. “We have to play well tactically on the road and then we come home to play at Stade Saputo in front of our supporters where we have home field advantage where we will have the last word.”