Two bitter rivals. Two of Major League Soccer's most electrifying players. Two matches in five days. Nobody complaining.
The most entertaining game in the Eastern Conference on Decision Day has done neutrals and fans alike a favour, by ensuring there will be a repeat just four days later. After Drogba stole the show and led the Montreal
Impact to a massive 2-1 victory over their biggest rival Toronto FC on Sunday, the two teams will do it all over again on Thursday night in the most important 401 derby ever.
2015 marks the first time that both Toronto and Montreal have qualified for the postseason, and there is no other team that fans of the two clubs would like to see their team play against more. As for the players, they don't mind meeting each other again either.
“It's good because we’ve seen what they got now and they’ve seen us too," said Toronto midfielder Jonathan Osorio following his team's loss on Sunday.
"It goes both ways. We’re confident that we can come here and get a result.”
The Reds took the lead just before halftime on Decision Day, with Sebastian Giovinco setting up a lethal header from Jozy Altidore. Though the sold out crowd at Stade Saputo was discouraged, they were far from out of it as they cheered on an inspired Impact team in the second half.
Of course, it was Drogba coming to the rescue again for Montreal. Not only did he equalize the game with a stunning backheel, he did it again less than two minutes later to score his fourth game-winner since making the move across the pond in August. One can just imagine where the Impact would be sitting right now had he never arrived.
“It was another great performance by Didier," said interim head coach Mauro Biello.
"The two goals were exceptional and also the work, defending, the character, the encouraging; there’s a list of things that goes on with his performance.”
Although Toronto and Montreal have met five times in all competitions this season already, Sunday was Drogba's first taste of the derby and TFC's first experience defending the Ivorian.
“We gave up two soft goals when you look at them. That’s what happens when you have a player of that caliber in Drogba," Altidore said following the match at Stade Saputo.
"To his credit, they were great finishes, but it was far too easy for him," he continued.
“Tonight was an example of how playoff games are. It was a good dry run for us because we get the same opponent now on Thursday. We can’t switch off at this level. You have to make sure you’re on your toes.”
Thursday night's clash will mark the 20th time since the Impact began playing in Major League Soccer in 2012, that the two rivals will meet in either MLS or Canadian Championship play. While TFC hold the advantage with eight wins, six losses and five draws in that span, they have won just twice at Stade Saputo.
“It’s going to be huge," Impact defender Donny Toia said about securing home field advantage and getting to play Thursday's derby in Montreal.
"Obviously playing them for the sixth time this season is big. It’s a home game and we need to come out with a win.”
To make matters even worse for TFC fans, several supporters' groups may be barred from making the trek back to Montreal for their team's first ever playoff game. Stade Saputo was lit up with flairs and smoke bombs by the visiting fans on Decision Day, and as a result the league is investigating the situation. The Toronto Sun confirmed on Monday that refunds have already been issued to one of five TFC supporters' groups.
The buzz generated around the stadium was matched only by the hard tackles made on the pitch and the trash talking between fans on various social media outlets. Sunday's 401 derby proved to be much more than your typical MLS match.
However, compared to the dogfight we can expect to see on Thursday night, Sunday's clash will have felt like a charity match.