"Best friends" Jonathan Osorio and Samuel Piette add a new twist to the Toronto-Montreal rivalry

Osorio Piette CanMNT

TORONTO – Whenever Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact collide, there are sure to be fireworks.

The latest edition of the 401 derby is set for Wednesday night when the Impact will travel to BMO Field desperate to keep their postseason dreams alive against the undisputed best team in the league.

TFC, on the other hand, will be looking to extend their winning and unbeaten streaks as they chase down an MLS season of historic proportions, rewriting the record books along the way. 

The two teams have been trending in opposition directions since their last encounter on August 27 when Toronto halted Montreal's four-game winning streak. The Impact have since spiralled to four-straight defeats that have seen them drop out of the playoff picture. TFC, conversely, have won both their matches since by 4-0 scorelines.

Such raised stakes will only increase the animosity on display from the two long-standing rivals, especially given the new heights the series has reached over the past two-plus seasons.

There is a kink to the tale, however, with both clubs, both cities, well represented in the Canadian national team.

Speaking after Canada's 2-0 win over Jamaica on September 2, Montreal's Anthony Jackson-Hamel joked: “It was fun to play here in Toronto. For me, it's different to call it home, but it was nice to see the fans supporting you.”

Jackson-Hamel couldn't resist a little jab: “It's hard for us to say we like Toronto.” 

Still in the end, “We're all together. Montreal, Toronto, all the cities. When we play for Canada it's one team,” said Jackson-Hamel, whose deft flick led to Jonathan Osorio's goal. “But when we play in MLS it's different.”

Together under the red and white of Canada, when the Reds go one way and the Bleu-Blanc-Noir the other, such affinities must dissolve; at least through the 90 minutes of action.

“Yeah it was [a little weird],” said Samuel Piette after the Canada match of he and Jackson-Hamel teaming up to set up Osorio. “I played against Osorio [and TFC] one week ago and now we're combining so he can score.”

But the two, lining up alongside each other in midfield, were excellent on the night. Piette revealed one of the reasons their on-field relationship flourished: “Oso is one of my best friends, even outside of football.”

Asked about this curious development a few days later, Osorio confirmed the details.

“We're really, really good friends,” said Osorio. “Best friends you could say; even off the pitch.”

“When I joined the national team, my first camp, we were talking,” explained Osorio. “He made the move to Spain, learned Spanish really quick. We'd speak Spanish a lot. He wanted to become more fluent, so he would practice with me. But he was already really good.” 

“From there, we clicked,” continued Osorio. “We have a good sense of humour together. He's a really funny guy, an enjoyable guy to be around. When he made the move back home I was so happy for him, even though it is to [Montreal] He's home; that's what matters.” 

The 22-year-old Piette signed with the Impact on August 3 after nearly a decade in Europe. His debut came in the first of the aforementioned winning streak, solidifying the midfield for the Impact.

That the two will likely clash in the middle of the park on Wednesday seems inevitable. There is something perfectly Canadian about the whole situation.

Still, it does make for some awkward moments, such as in the lead up to the 2017 Gold Cup.

“It happened after the Canadian Championship. And that was the final, that was for a trophy,” explained Osorio. “The next day we had to take a bus with the Montreal guys. There's no hard feelings. It's business. The day of the game we're rivals, after the final whistle we're teammates. That's how it is.”