A Canadian Classique to put things in place

Impact wants to send a message before Canadian Championship final

Impact supporters should feel a little spoiled in the next few weeks. Montreal will play three rivalry games against Toronto FC in less than a month, starting with this Saturday’s matchup at 7:30pm at BMO Field, this one in MLS and in the heart of rivalry week (TVA Sports, TSN, 98.5, TSN 690). It’s clear this game represents a turning point for both clubs in the MLS Cup playoffs race: the Impact, in seventh, and Toronto FC, in ninth, both need points if they hope to qualify to the Fall tournament.

Saturday’s matchup is important in itself, but it’ll also set the table for the final of the Canadian Championship, which will take place on September 18 and 25, at Stade Saputo and BMO Field, in that order. Of course, three points will be welcome in the blue corner and the red corner, but there’s also the mental advantage of vanquishing an opponent a few weeks before a cup final.

“It’s a derby. We know the atmosphere will be special,” said Impact defender Bacary Sagna. “For us, it’s an important game in the table. We’re going there to win. We need to compete. We’ll try to cause them problems. I feel like being positive, training hard and correcting our mistakes. I’m confident in this team, and I know we can compete with the best teams in the league. We’ll continue to work hard.”

That being said, the Impact did take advantage of a very long training session Thursday morning, which was concluded with a corner exercise. It’s clear that the Impact’s new man in charge, Wilmer Cabrera, wants to instill a fighting spirit in his players off set-pieces, a problem area for Montreal in recent games.

“We have a big game coming up against a rival, with a lot of emotional attachment,” said defender Daniel Lovitz. “More importantly, it’s important we set the tone against this team, as we’ll see them very shortly in a different competition. It’s a good opportunity to get into the rhythm and mindset of winning silverware. We want to lift a trophy before the MLS season is over. It’s a great opportunity to do that. Hopefully, it gets us in gear to get what we want to, which is to win the MLS Cup. We don’t say it enough. That’s the goal, that’s what we want to do.”