TORONTO, Ontario – The Montreal Impact will take on its biggest rival, Toronto FC, for the second and last time, this Saturday at 7:30pm, at BMO Field (TVA Sports, TSN, 98.5, TSN 690).
“I’m here to work for the club,” said Impact head coach Wilmer Cabrera. “As I told the players, I’m here to help them. I want to be a tool for them to achieve their goals. The only way to do it is by working together. I’m sure the players want the same thing. That’s my goal coming here. Right now, the first step will be Saturday’s game.”
A new era for the Impact
Wednesday, the Impact announced the hiring of Wilmer Cabrera as its new head coach. The 51-year old Colombian has a clear mandate: bring Montreal to the MLS Cup playoffs. Currently seventh in the Eastern Conference standings, right above the dotted line giving access to the fall tournament, the Impact is truly in the middle of a palpitating playoff race which includes D.C. United, in fifth, the New England Revolution, Orlando City SC, Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire, in 10th, just six points away from the Washingtonians.
This Saturday’s matchup against TFC will be the first of three in one month between the two rivals, and all three will have an important influence on both teams’ seasons. On both sides, the points up for grabs on Saturday are of vital importance in the playoff race; furthermore, in the Canadian Championship at the end of September, one of these teams will lift the Voyageurs Cup and qualify for the 2020 Concacaf Champions League.
“I want to see the same thing we expect every week, which is a spirited effort and a willingness to compete,” said goalkeeper Evan Bush. “We need to have conviction and intent in what we’re doing. That hasn’t necessarily been the case and that’s on us as players. We have to take responsibility. We need 90 minutes of fight and energy. In many ways, Toronto is in the same situation as us. They’re a bit fragile in moments, so we need to be the stronger team.”
Difficult stretch for Toronto
Greg Vanney’s men are also going through difficult stretches, winless in their last three MLS games. Toronto’s striking duo, Alejandro Pozuelo and Jozy Altidore, have combined for four goals and two assists in their last five games. French newcomer Nicolas Benezet, in two games played with Toronto until now, hasn’t made an impact on the scoresheet yet.
In its history across all competitions, the Impact has a record of 12 wins, 16 losses, and eight draws against the Reds. In Toronto, however, Montreal has only won twice at BMO Field, in 2016 and 2017, during the MLS regular season. Striker Maxi Urruti, formerly a TFC player who only played two games with them in MLS, has played six games against the Torontonians, scoring twice and adding an assist.
“This is a huge game. We don’t need to talk about the relevance and the importance of a game against Toronto for this club,” said defender Daniel Lovitz. “We all know it. Given the context of our season, this is a team we want to face and impose our will on, because we’re also going to face them in a tournament format with a championship on the line very shortly. We want to make sure they know it won’t be easy. We’re taking it one game at a time, but this is a very important game. We know what it means to us, and we have to show it on the field.”
The Impact will play four consecutive games at Stade Saputo after its game in Toronto. On Wednesday, August 28, at 8pm, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC will visit (TICKETS – TVA Sports, TSN, 98.5, TSN 690), before the arrival of Wayne Rooney and D.C. United on Saturday, August 31, at 7:30pm (TICKETS – TVA Sports, 98.5, TSN 690). Following the international break, FC Cincinnati will visit Stade Saputo for the very first time on Saturday, September 14, at 7:30pm (TICKETS – TVA Sports). Finally, the Impact will bring an end to this home stretch by hosting Toronto FC in the first leg of the Canadian Championship, on Wednesday, September 18, at 7:30pm (TICKETS).