Reds look to crash party
TFC, Impact set to meet for cup after playo classic
Emotions run deep when Toronto FC plays in Montreal, so perhaps it’s not surprising that midfielder Jonathan Osorio was a little unsettled when he found himself in the Impact dressing room last week.
Osorio was with Canada for an international friendly against Curacao and the home side got the Montreal locker-room.
“It was weird for me, personally,” said Osorio.
The 25-year-old midfielder from Brampton will be back at Saputo Stadium, this time in the visitors’ room, on Wednesday when Toronto meets Montreal in the first leg of the Canadian Championship final.
Toronto is 3-8-3 all-time in Montreal in MLS regular-season, playoff and Canadian Championship play since the Impact entered the league in 2012.
“It’s not a place that I myself or my team feels welcome at all,” said Osorio.
“It’s a nice stadium,” he added. “And they definitely have fans that support their team.”
But there is no love lost between the two, a rivalry that has been ratcheted up of late thanks to the playoffs.
“I always think rivalries grow whenever the importance of the games grow,” said Toronto coach Greg Vanney, who doesn’t mind entering hostile ground.
“I like that it’s a little bit unfriendly,” he added. “It becomes you and your team, and us against them. That’s what it should be about. That’s why those rivalries are so special.” In 2015, Montreal humiliated visiting Toronto 3-0 to spoil TFC’s first ever post-season appearance. That same year, the Impact bundled Toronto out of the Canadian Championship in the semifinals on the away-goals rule thanks to an 84th-minute strike by former TFC forward Dominic Oduro.
Toronto got its revenge in 2016, dispatching Montreal 7-5 on aggregate in a wild and woolly Eastern Conference final that saw the Impact win 3-2 at Olympic Stadium before Toronto rallied for a 5-2 victory at BMO Field.
The two teams have not played since, with three regular-season games to follow the Canadian final.
“I imagine we’ll pick up right where we left off,” said veteran defender Drew Moor.
MLS-leading Toronto (9-2-5) arrives on a roll. Since mid-July last season, it is 22-7-10 in all competitions — two of those losses came in playoff series Toronto ultimately won while another was in the MLS Cup final that ended in a penalty shootout.
On the other side of the coin, two of the losses were to Montreal.
“The form right now is pretty good,” said Moor.
Toronto has hoisted the Voyageurs Cup trophy five times, defeating Vancouver every time in the final. Montreal has won three times, beating Toronto twice in the final.