It’s come down to this. One game to decide where and when Toronto FC will open their first playoff campaign in club history. And of course it had to go down in Montreal, where the Reds will take on their rivals with at least 500 travelling fans in support.
Both teams are in good form. The Impact have picked up 20 points from their past 10 games. TFC had their four game winning streak snapped last Saturday against Columbus, but picked up 12 out of a possible 15 points during their homestand.
The matchup pits two of the league’s most thrilling players against each other. Didier Drogba has made a massive...impact...for Montreal while Sebastian Giovinco is the runaway MVP favourite.
"I'm not sure there's one particular way to stop [Giovinco], said Montreal Goalkeeper Evan Bush this week. “It's gonna have to be a group effort.”
Here are three keys to Sunday’s #DecisionDay regular season finale.
Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore have owned Montreal this season.
All three players scored in the 3-1 win over the Impact at BMO Field on June 24. Bradley and Altidore scored in the 2-1 win, once again at BMO Field, while Giovinco added an assist on August 29.
Altidore and Giovinco also scored in the second leg of the Canadian Championship semifinal, though it wasn’t enough as the Reds fell on aggregate.
The Reds will need their stars to replicate this form on Sunday. If they do the Reds should take care of business.
On The Road Again
It’s been a long time since TFC truly needed a result on the road. The game in Orlando on April 26 was probably the last time. The Reds managed a 2-0 result there and followed that up with a 1-0 win in Philadelphia. After a four game losing streak those wins were two massive results away from home.
The Reds will need another result on Sunday in Montreal. A win or a draw assures the Reds will host a knockout round match next week. Should D.C. United and the Columbus Crew draw in their matchup and the Reds win, TFC will finish second in the Eastern Conference and secure a first round bye.
TFC’s only trip to Montreal this season came in Voyageurs Cup action. Jack McInerney’s goal in the 68th minute was the difference in the first leg of the semifinal.
Beware Of Drogba
Since joining the impact the former Chelsea star has been exceptional.
In eight starts Drogba has recorded nine goals and one assist, helping Montreal win six games and secure a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs in the process.
Defending Drogba will be a group effort, as the hulking forward plays in all three phases of the game. He likes to help collect the ball in the midfield and assist his defenders on set pieces. When he gets the ball in front of goal he’s not just a scorer. Drogba’s vision set him apart during his sterling career and he’s shown those skills haven’t diminished during his brief time with the Impact.
“He’s a big, strong forward who can hold up the ball,” said Greg Vanney. “For us it’s key to minimize the amount of service he gets. It will be an interesting matchup for sure.”