Toronto Pays First MLS Visit To Saputo

Asif Hossain - TorontoFC.ca
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Coming off a pair of matches where late equalizers robbed the Reds of maximum points, Toronto FC visits the renovated Stade Saputo for a local derby on Wednesday against Montreal Impact (on TSN at 7:30 p.m. ET).

Toronto looked to have three points sealed in Houston last week and at home against New England on Saturday, only to leave the pitch with a single in both instances after respective 3-3 and 2-2 draws. The good news for the Reds is that forward Danny Koevermans - five goals in as many games - is finding his name on the score sheet with regularity. The Dutchman is less focused on personal achievements and more on getting Toronto on the win column.

"You see the last four games we have five points," Koevermans said. "We know we are at the bottom (of the standings) ... hopefully we can get some wins."

Strong Partnership

In head coach Paul Mariner's 4-4-2 formation, Koevermans isn't the only forward thriving in the opposition third. His strike partner Ryan Johnson figured in on the scoring Saturday and attacking midfielder Eric Avila is quietly establishing himself as a gifted playmaker tucked in behind the duo.

"I feel that me and Danny have a good understanding," Johnson told the media before the Reds left for Montreal on Friday. "Little things like going for the headers, trying to win the second ball, we can both do the same things." The Jamaica international praised the service strikers have received lately. While Avila has done his part to feed the goal scorers, Toronto enjoyed a spark out wide with fullback Ashtone Morgan delivering the cross on both goals against New England.

Homegrown Helper

Morgan's performance on Saturday was heralded by Mariner in his postgame press conference. The coach this week has called on the Canada international defender to become a leader on the backline.

The homegrown Toronto fullback enjoys the Montreal rivalry, though he is aware that the Impact like to play the ball wide. Morgan has seen one too many crosses result in goals against his side in recent days. He hopes to put an end to that trend on Wednesday by making "the job easier for the centre backs and (goalkeeper Milos Kocic)." Should Toronto again go late into the match with a lead at Saputo, Morgan knows what to do. "Last five minutes of the game we need to be sharper."

A Team Responsibility

Another local player eager to take on Montreal is midfielder Julian de Guzman. "It's a rivalry that any Torontonian wants to be a part of," the Canada international said this week on Toronto FC TV. The veteran echoed his coach that keeping the opposition from scoring isn't only up to young defenders like Morgan, rather it's a team responsibility.

Encouraged by the offensive outburst for Toronto that Mariner describes as a "system that can create and score goals," de Guzman seems certain Toronto is on the right track. However, his experience makes him cautious when he laments over the points left on the table saying, "there's a lot that needs to be worked on" to not concede in matches that seem within grasp.

This is the fourth meeting between Toronto and Montreal this season, second in MLS. The teams hold an even 1-1-1 record head-to-head in MLS and the Canadian Championship in 2012.

The Opposition

The Officials

Kevin Stott will lead the referee crew on Wednesday with Adam Wienckowski and Brian Poeschel as his assistants. Geoff Gamble is the fourth official.  Over a 223 game MLS career - according to MLSsoccer.com - Stott has called 25.7 fouls and 3.4 yellow cards per game. He has sent off 58 with red cards and pointed to the spot 45 times.