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Intensifying an intense rivalry

Impact to take on Reds three times in a month

There’s no doubt that the next two months will be intense for the Impact. Currently in the seventh and last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with seven games to go, it looks like it’ll be a race to the finish for Montreal and its newly appointed head coach, Wilmer Cabrera. Of course, looming on the horizon is also the Canadian Championship final, a competition Montreal hasn’t won since 2014, and a trophy the Impact players will want to hoist this year no matter what.

In MLS, the road to the fall tournament starts with a game against Toronto FC. As if games against the neighbouring enemy aren’t emotional enough, both teams are tied on points heading into Saturday night’s showdown at BMO Field, Toronto FC currently in ninth and fighting to cross the red-dotted line.

Of course, Saturday’s result will be doubly important, as it’ll set the tone for the Canadian Championship final, where these teams will face off again over two legs, on September 18 and 25, at Stade Saputo (TICKETS) and BMO Field respectively.

Three games against Toronto in exactly one month. Since the Impact entered MLS in 2012, it’s never happened before, not even in 2016, when both teams met in the Eastern Conference final for another two-legged series.

“Emotions will be high. Passion, intensity, competitive edge, everything is heightened in a game against Toronto,” said defender Daniel Lovitz. “I’m more focused on having a good performance and making sure that the result takes care of itself. The best way to move forward is by focusing on one game at a time and embracing the challenge, whatever it may be. For us this week, it’s against a rival, with everything on the line.”

We hear it all the time in the world of sports: “one game at a time”. It’s a smart mentality, especially considering the intensity of the MLS Cup playoff race, but there’s no doubt that a win against Toronto, in enemy territory, will not only set the tone for the Canadian Championship final, but for the six remaining games in MLS as well.

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“It’s an exciting game, it always is,” said goalkeeper Evan Bush. “We’ll see Saturday what our team looks like, but there’s no excuse not to be excited for this game. We can very well go into Toronto and get a positive result, and then come back to Montreal and play a couple of home games with a bit of momentum.”

Those home games start Wednesday, when another Canadian club, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, will visit Stade Saputo on August 28, at 8pm (TICKETS – TVA Sports, TSN, 98.5, TSN 690), followed by D.C. United and Wayne Rooney’s visit to Montreal on Saturday, August 31, at 7:30pm (TICKETS – TVA Sports, 98.5, TSN 690).

 

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