Match Preview: Montreal vs. TFC

22,000 people collectively letting out a celebratory scream is quite the sound. Usually the word ‘celebratory’ can be dropped from that sentence when it comes to Toronto FC’s exploits late in games, but it’s a new year. A new, glorious year.

Doneil Henry’s thundering header in the second minute of stoppage time powered TFC to a 3-2, come from behind victory over Columbus. For the second time since 2008 the Reds are holders of Trillium Cup. Kyle Bekker jumped into stands to celebrate with the fans. Henry was mobbed by his teammates. In terms of days, with the sun out and the house full, you would be hard pressed to do better than that.

The biggest highlight of all came with TFC down 2-1 and hopes of securing points dying. Jermain Defoe’s second goal of the game was worth the price of admission alone.

“I don’t even know, it happened so quick,” Defoe said after the game. “When it was 2-1, I thought I just needed to try and get in behind their defence and get a chance. Gilberto came on and he was brilliant. It broke down and as soon as it came to him, I knew he was going to head it on so I could turn. As soon as I turned, I thought, ‘right, this is the chance and I have to just hit it as quick as I can.’
With the win Toronto find themselves well positioned in the Eastern Conference. Through 10 games they sit on 16 points, and have a considerable of number of matches in hand compared to the teams above them.

Next up is the battle for the Voyageurs Cup in Montreal. One trophy is nice, but two? That’s a good week.

Montreal riding a high

The last two months and change have been awful for the Montreal Impact. Frank Klopas watched his team stumble to the worst record in the league with calls for his head getting louder among a disgruntled fanbase.

The Impact showed up for their beleaguered manager against the best team in the Eastern Conference on Saturday.

Few expected the Impact to walk away with a 2-0 win over New England but that’s what they did, thanks to first-half goals from Andres Romero and Jack McInerney. Though the win failed to lift Montreal from the Eastern Conference’s basement, it was a massive result. Hernan Bernardello, Issey Nakajima-Farran and Felipe Martins had impressive games in the midfield.

McInerney thinks his team is ready for the second leg of the Canadian Cup final based on their current form.

“The work we’ve put in the last couple of weeks is really starting to show,” he said to reporters following the game. “We have a chance on Wednesday to win the Canadian Cup, and after a few good games, things are definitely going in the right direction.”

Old enemies

Another collective sigh of relief emitted from the city of Toronto last week, but for non-soccer related reasons. The Montreal Canadiens saw their Stanley Cup run come to an end in New York at the hands of Rangers.

We’ve mastered schadenfreude in Toronto. It reaches its peak when Montreal sports teams suffer a crippling blow. If we can’t win then neither should they goes the petty, childlike sentiment.

Obviously there is history here. Toronto, needing to win by four goals or more to capture the Voyageurs Cup in 2009, blitzed Montreal 6-1. Prior to that result the Reds had never scored five or more goals in a game.

Montreal repaid the favour last year, brutalizing TFC 6-0 in the second leg of their semi-final to advance to the final on an aggregate score of 6-2.

A lot about fandom is petty. We gain satisfaction from the failure of our rivals. On Wednesday night one group of fans will be able to celebrate a Voyageurs Cup triumph while the other hastily runs for the shadows, choosing not to be seen during two days of mourning.

That’s what being a fan is about. We wouldn’t have it any other way.