There’s one more spot left in the MLS Cup and it’s going to be either Toronto FC or the Montreal Impact. The two Canadian teams meet in the deciding leg of the Eastern Conference final today (7pm ET on FS1) in the final match before the MLS Cup. (The Seattle Sounders already booked their spot on Sunday.)
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Whose momentum is stronger?
Montreal and Toronto each come into the second leg with reason to believe momentum is on their side. For Montreal, three straight goals offered a blueprint for how they can take advantage of Toronto’s tactical setup with three central defenders and wingbacks along the flanks. For Toronto, they finished the leg strong, scoring twice and figuring out how to answer to Montreal’s aggression.
At a 3-2 aggregate going into the second leg, this series is wide open with both sides sitting close to the victory. The onus is on Toronto to make up a goal and score — and Toronto has arguably the most potent striker duos in all of MLS — but that could leave them exposed for Montreal’s deadly counterattack.
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Will Didier Drogba make one last stand?
When the Montreal Impact finished with a 3-2 edge over Toronto FC in the first leg of the Eastern Conference final, Drogba made an oddly-timed announcement: He will be leaving the Impact after this season. That he didn’t wait until the season finished to make his plans clear was a little unusual, but now it puts in very clear terms how much time he has left to seal his legacy in MLS.
Now Drogba has limited time to make an impact and, if he can help Montreal get into the MLS Cup, that will surely be a special way for him to go out. He stirred quite a bit of controversy by how upset he was to be demoted from a starting spot, but that’s not what the former Chelsea striker will want to be remembered for in his MLS days.
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Have Toronto FC figured the Impact out?
The Impact scored three times against Toronto FC in the first leg doing what they did to the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United before in this playoffs: They absorbed pressure, bossed the midfield to force turnovers and countered with breakneck pace.
But Toronto FC seemed to start to figure that how by the second half of the first leg, making a key tactical change so Michael Bradley wasn’t left all by his lonesome in the central midfield. The result was a TFC team that was much tougher for Montreal to break down, and Toronto managed to make up some ground for a 3-2 first leg finish.
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Can Montreal contain Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore?
Not many teams in MLS use a two-striker system, but it’s hard to imagine Toronto FC not putting their two star strikers up top together. Giovinco and Altidore have been unstoppable, based on their individual talent, their excellent recent form and on the chemistry the pair has built this season.
Toronto need to score at least one goal if they are going to advance to the MLS Cup, and Montreal is going to have to somehow stop the Giovinco-Altidore duo. Easier said than done.
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What will this match do to this deep rivalry?
The conditions are already there for a great rivalry. Montreal and Toronto are two of the only three Canadian teams in MLS, and they are right up the road from one another. Sprinkle in the very different cultures surrounding the teams, and there’s no reason why these two clubs should get along.
Montreal crushed Toronto’s playoff dreams last year in Toronto’s only playoff appearance to that point. Now, Montreal can either double down or Toronto can get some payback. Either way, anything that happens at BMO Field on Wednesday is ready to be etched into the rivalry’s lore.