Toronto FC host the Montreal Impact in the first leg of the Final Amway Canadian Championship Final on Wednesday night. Toronto FC advanced to the final after defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps in penalty kicks, while a late penalty in the second leg, helped Montreal get past NASL side, FC Edmonton. It has been a rough season for the Impact in league play thus far, however, an early trophy could help change things around.
Toronto FC will be coming into the game against Montreal, fresh off a draw against Sporting KC at Sporting Park on Friday night. Although it was a rather poor performance from Ryan Nelsen's side, a late Bradley Orr header, earned the team a big point in a traditionally tough place to go. Despite Sporting KC missing several key players, they managed to take the game to Toronto. However, much credit needs to be given to the spirit of the Reds, who managed to come back twice in the second half, after going down a man, and conceding a PK.
Montreal are in the opposite situation of Toronto, after they were handed an embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. The Impact currently sit in dead last in the East, with only 7 points from 11 matches. Frank Klopas may have had one eye on the match against Toronto, as Marco Di Vaio did not get the start against Colorado, and could feature from the kickoff in midweek action. This would be very different than Vancouver, who came into the Semi Final at BMO Field, with a very youthful looking squad.
Toronto and Montreal, recently completed the first ever deal between the two Canadian rivals, when Issey Nakajima Farran was sent to the Impact, in exchange, for Collen Warner. Both teams felt the deal was necessary for their clubs to make, but neither player will be available to compete against his former team, as they both featured in the Amway Canadian Championship Semi Final, and are cup tied.
The Reds have made it a goal to once again compete among the continent's best, and the only way for a Canadian side to do that, is to win the Amway Canadian Championship in order to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League. They will come into the first leg at BMO Field with a what may resemble a full strength lineup, as they won't have to travel on the weekend, because they play Columbus at home.
Expect Toronto FC captain, Steven Caldwell, to play from the first minute, as he was handed a red card on Friday against Sporting KC, and won't be available for Nelsen on Saturday. It is also likely that newcomer, Luke Moore, gets the start up top for the Reds, as he has two goals from substitute appearances in the league, and played a full 120 minutes in the 2nd leg of the Semi Final against Vancouver.
The second leg of the Final goes next Wednesday night at Stade Saputo in Montreal. Toronto would like to have a healthy lead going into the second leg, but with Montreal struggling in the league, they will want to win this tournament to help appease a frustrated fan base and ease pressure off of the organization. Toronto and Montreal are the only two clubs to have ever won the Voyageurs Cup, and it should be an intense Final between the two Eastern Canadian rivals.