Painting the picture against Toronto FC

Last Canadian Classique in 2018

The Impact’s last regular season home game is a big one. Other than the pride that comes with this important rivalry between the Reds and the Bleu-blanc-noir, Montreal is still in the race for an MLS Cup playoff spot and must absolutely win this game if it wants to keep its hopes of participating in the Fall tournament alive.

The visitors, on their end, have nothing left to win this year; they can, however, spoil the party, something they failed to do in Washington, where D.C. United won 1-0 thanks to a magisterial Wayne Rooney free-kick from 35 metres out. Will Toronto once again lack ammunition, Sunday at Stade Saputo (TICKETS – TVA Sports, TSN, 98,5fm, TSN Radio 690), as it won’t be able to count on the services of Jozy Altidore and Victor Vazquez, out injured, and with Sebastian Giovinco back from Italy? For Les Montréalais, motivation should be at its peak for a game that has become a question of life and death. Here are the three keys to the game.

  1. Dictate pace from the start

The Impact can’t let the Reds enter the game with confidence, especially after they suffered another loss on Wednesday. To do so, Montreal will need to set the tone early, to prevent Toronto from finding its bearings and controlling possession; looking back at the game against TFC at BMO Field in August, the first five minutes went the Bleu-blanc-noir’s way, but an unlucky turnover changed the game. Same recipe, different results this time?

  1. Pressure Bradley intelligently

Michael Bradley is the starting point of any TFC attack. The American likes descending between both central defenders to gain possession and orient the Reds’ offense. He is quite skilled at doing this but throwing a spanner in his works will be detrimental to the opposing team’s attacking opportunities. The Impact’s forward and midfielders will need to prevent Bradley from playing his game, but beware: leaving too many open spaces in behind will only allow him to play the type of game he appreciates.

  1. Pre-emptively mark their forwards

We know TFC’s game: either they depend on Altidore – when he’s there – to push the block up the field, or they use Giovinco’s speed to jumpstart its attack. Montreal’s pairing in central defense, supported by Samuel Piette, will need to stay alert when the Impact is in possession. Keeping an eye on Toronto’s forwards will not only limit opposing counters, but it’ll also allow players higher up the field to try and recover the ball closer to the opposing goal.