MLS Weekend Preview: Canadian Clash

Saturday afternoon at BMO Field, Toronto will play host for a late season Canadian derby when the Montreal Impact come to town. Just two spots in the table separate the two clubs in the Eastern Conference, with Toronto six points above the Impact. Saturday’s crowd will also see two of the biggest names in the league face off in attack as Sebastian Giovinco and Didier Drogba will face off for the first time in their new colors. Which of these stars will take the spoils in this late season derby?

Few foreign stars have been able to make as immediate impact as Toronto’s Italian marksman Sebastian Giovinco. This isn’t the first time I’ve heaped praise on the former Juventus striker, but it’s hard not to when he keeps scoring at this kind of rate. In his last five games, Giovinco has scored four goals including a magisterial hat trick performance against Orlando City. In his last matchup against the Impact in June, the 28-year-old was able to notch a goal and an assist, and was unlucky not to find the back of the net a couple more times that night. Look for Giovinco to lead the line upfront and possibly regain the league’s top scoring record Saturday afternoon.

In the second half of last week’s matchup against Orlando, Toronto had a complete performance from the backline to the forwards. Granted, they did play the majority of the match with a man advantage, but it still takes composure to finish off a match. For me, the most impressive part of that match was how Greg Vanney’s side kept their foot on the gas the entire 90 minutes. In some matches, you’ll see teams up by two or three goals become stagnant and lose intensity which allows the opposition to fight their way back into the match and claim points from a game they never should have been in. In the final ten minutes of their rout over Orlando, Toronto was able to fire away two more goals to put the result far beyond doubt, and keep their playoff hopes alive. This massive result should provide the hosts with some momentum going into this derby on Saturday, and it could help keep them in the playoff picture as the season draws to a close.

Drogba on Montreal Impact

On the visitors’ end, all eyes will be on the club’s newest signing Didier Drogba. The Chelsea legend made his debut for the Impact as a second half substitute during last week’s 1-0 defeat to the Philadelphia Union so he is still yet to play a full 90 minutes for his new employers. In his 30-minute cameo, the Ivorian was able to show flashes of his world-class talent, but the Union’s solo goal meant that he was usually forced to face all 11 Philadelphia players if he wanted a shot on goal. The weak Toronto defense should provide Drogba with more opportunities to find the back of the net and influence the match, but according to several reports up north the 37-year-old may sit out Saturday’s match due to a toe injury. The absence of the big man upfront will be a major disappointment to fans, but the Impact have played all season without him so it shouldn’t make too big of an impact (no pun intended) if he watches the match from the sidelines.

Away games haven’t really been a strong suit for Montreal this year. In their ten trips this season, the Impact has lost six times, and has won just twice. To make matters worse, the Canadian side has scored ten times, but have conceded twice that amount in the span. A trip to Yankee Stadium at the start of August showed that the Impact are capable of performing outside of BC Place as they pulled of a dramatic 3-2 win over NYCFC, but it’s unsure whether that was the start of a new run, or just a fluke in an otherwise disappointing road record. The Impact currently find themselves on the outskirts of the Eastern Conference playoff picture and anything less than a win will almost certainly end any late season push. Another strong road performance is an absolute must for Frank Klopas’ men, but I don’t know if we’ll see one.

Last weekend’s 5-0 thrashing of Kaká’s Orlando City makes me think that Toronto have the upper hand in this Canadian derby. Giovinco has just too many stars around him for Orlando to handle, and this depth will push them to a vital three points. Final score: Toronto 3-1 Montreal.

 

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About the author: Collin Carpio

 

I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.

 

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