Rocket Robin Report: Toronto FC vs Montreal Impact

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Result of the Sunday October 15, 2017 MLS game between Toronto FC and Montreal Impact played at BMO Field in Toronto at 5:00pm.

15 min…TFC Jozy Altidore GOAL…TFC Michael Bradley at 35 yards in middle rolls pass forward and right to TFC Marky Delgado at 25 yards who turns to goal and chips short pass forward that deflects off Imp Shaun Francis at 22 yards and ball bounces forward to Altidore charging forward and at 10 yard line while in-line with right post shoots roller past sliding Imp goalie Maxime Crepeau at 7 yards and into left corner of net.

Final Score:….Toronto FC…..1…..Montreal Impact….0….

Attendance was announced as 27866 which was not a sellout and breaks a long stretch. I was somewhat surprised as the weather wasn’t cold and it was Match Officials Appreciation Day and that added over 500 referees and their families to tickets that were sold. I can offer as reasons for the lower attendance the fact that this game didn’t matter in the standings and the treat of rain in forecasts through the day. There was a sudden rainstorm while I was huddled waiting to get in to the stadium and there were gusty winds and a bit of rain for a short stretch.

Man of the Match (who is always a TFC player) was announced as Jozy Altidore and with the only goal in the game was an easy choice. He stayed on until 85 minutes but was walking the last few minutes of his playing time. I would have given it to goalie Alex Bono who made some key saves and made some good runs forward to stop danger from developing although he had less to do than many of TFC’s usual games. He also made some poor clearances which caused trouble.  The lack of scoring an insurance goal meant that any slip up could have meant a late tying goal.

Referee Ted Unkel gave out six Yellow cards (two to TFC). Two of them were for dissent (Michael Bradley) and delaying a restart (Impact goalie Maxime Crepeau so the game wasn’t as rough as the card numbers indicated.

In first half injury time TFC was awarded a Penalty kick when Sebastian Giovinco was tripped up while cutting back in the Impact box by Victor Cabrera. Giovinco was chosen to take it rather than Victor Vazquez who has become the usual Penalty kick taker. Giovinco had lost his spot because of early season misses but I expect this so he would regain his confidence. He rolled his Penalty kick after stopping on his stutter step run up and hit the left post and a defender cleared the rebound behind the line. The referee ordered a retake as Crepeau had stepped forward off his line before the shot was taken. On the retake he struck the ball harder on a continuous run up but hit the outside of the left post and the ball deflected behind the line for a goalkick.  The whistle to end the half was blown right after. I can’t see that this will boost his confidence.  Last year’s MLS Final came down to Penalty kicks and it was Michael Bradley (saved) and Justin Morrow (off the bar) that meant TFC lost in the end despite Seattle not getting a shot on net in regulation and extra time.

Giovinco was returning to the lineup after an injury that had kept him out of action for almost a month. His timing on passing and accuracy of shots was just not there. TFC’s final game is next week away in Atlanta but it’s on artificial turf so I don’t know if he’ll play.  It was published that Giovinco, Altidore, Bradley, and Vazquez hadn’t started together since their September 9 game here against San Jose.

Best chances that didn’t result in goal was at 5 minutes when TFC Marky Delgado blasted a 22 yard shot up the middle which hit the bar. 14 minutes had Imp Matteo Mancosu get past TFC Chris Mavinga on a run down the middle to just outside the box and Mavinga hip-checked him over but play continued and TFC charged upfield for the Altidore goal. 19 minutes had Mancosu recover a failed header attempt and on breakaway took a low 15 yard shot that was stopped point blank by the sliding goalie at 8 yards. 22 minutes had TFC Victor Vazquez take a cornerkick from the right that had Delgado head forward and TFC Nicolas Hasler was not quite able to turn a header at 8 yards on the right post. 26 minutes had Valdez take a 35 yard freekick from the right sideline that TFC Justin Morrow was not quite able to turn a header at 8 yards on the left post. 50 minutes had Imp Victor Cabrera shoot a low shot from 22 yards on the left that hit the right post and the ball deflected over and hit the left post and Bono who had been standing in the middle of the box at 2 yards spun and dived back right to smother the ball with Mancosu having overran the ball into the net and turned back around too late. Laurent Ciman had been injured just inside the box earlier but the teams just played on. 90 minutes and Imp Blerim Dzemaili took a 28 yard freekick from the right that the goalie stopped on an overhead catch quickly stepping forward to prevent a possible header on the left post.

A gusty wind picked up from the north at around the 22 minute mark. I figured if TFC could survive until the end of the half they’d do better in the second with the wind at their back.

Impact didn’t have Canadian international Anthony Jackson-Hamel on the bench as he was injured in the international Canada had against El Salvador last week. Ignatio Piatti was also not on the bench even after signing an extension to his contract last week. Impact head coach Mauro Biello was informed recently that he will not be returning to that position next year so he had the freedom to experiment with tonight’s lineup. Only starting goalie Maxime Crepeau who had played against TFC in the Canadian Championship was his experimentation.

The Impact are known as a counterattack team but there were patches in this game where TFC were getting their only chances on quick transition counterattacks. There were some times when Impact had success pressing and that brought reminders of their quick start in their 5-3 visit here on September 20 that ended TFC’s home unbeaten run.

TFC started the game without any Canadians. Impact had only midfielder Samuel Piette and goalie Maxime Crepeau as their Canadian starters. Eventually TFC brought in subs Jonathan Osorio at 69 minutes and Impact brought on Patrice Bernier one minute after that.  This will be the retiring Bernier’s last game in Toronto. Starting Impact forward Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla has not declared his international status yet but an effort is being made for to him to declare for Canada.

We were encouraged to arrive half hour early to watch the presentation of the Supporters’ Shield but the gates weren’t opened any earlier for us (one hour before game time is the norm). The warm ups took place at the normal time of 45 minutes before kick off time and lasted 30 minutes. There was no early ceremony. The television schedule had allotted a two and half hour time period before switching to the start of the Vancouver game. (two hours is the usual allowance). The sun actually came out during the warm ups.

The Shield was presented by a member of an FC Dallas supporter’s group (they had won it last year). It was given to members of representatives of the various TFC supporters groups. I heard six groups mentioned. They passed it among themselves before the national anthem was played (only O Canada today as they were both Canadian teams). From my side of the field this was hard to see. We were encouraged to stay after the game when captain Michael Bradley would be presented with the Shield by supporters.

We were reminded that Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow both made their 200th MLS appearance in the last game (it was mentioned back then too). They both had MLS careers before being picked up by TFC. There was also a presentation of Invictis Game participants which ended in Toronto a few weeks ago. We had been shown a video of Jordan Hamilton’s growing up in Toronto. (he wasn’t even on the bench today).

The southside supporters had a great oversized banner that read “Started from the bottom now we’re here” which is the title of a Drake song from 2013. Drake is from Toronto and although aligned with team owners MLSE he spends his time at Raptor basketball games.  TFC were the worst team many of the years from their start in 2007.

After the game the Supporters’ Shield was presented in the south end (where all the supporters groups stand). The first part of the ceremony was blocked until the players held the Shield overhead.

Now the players walked the complete circumference of the field including my Section 108 on the East side which by this time had rows of empty seats. It was a nice touch that we weren’t ignored like we are every other game. A lot of fans I didn’t recognize in my section and the exodus started at 80 minutes with the game still in doubt. Eleven years of waiting for this moment and fans in my section could be bothered to stay! Just as the players finally were marching by my section the south side was almost emptied out. Players on the march around the field kicked or threw undersized red coloured soccer balls into the stands. On my way out players were still on the field on the West side with fans from the prime $ seats that had been let through the barriers onto the field.

Good news for me as the early departing fans hadn’t taken all the streetcars.

The playoff qualifying race had ended last weekend in the East when New York Red Bulls who were one of the few teams to play over the international break won their home game against Vancouver and that one result ended the slim hopes of Montreal, Philadelphia, New England, and Orlando City with two weekends to go. Placement doesn’t matter to TFC who by winning the Shield guarantee they will hold home field advantage in the rounds that they have to play.

TFC’s record improves to 20 wins, 5 losses, 8 ties for 68 points. They had already clinched first place in the Eastern Conference. Their 72 goals for is the best in the league and their goal difference of +37 (72-35) is also the best. Sporting Kansas City with 27 goals against has that best record.

Montreal’s record drops to 11 wins, 16 losses, 6 ties for 39 points. They will finish somewhere under the sixth place final playoff position in the East.

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Robin Glover

Robin Glover

Robin has been writing about soccer in the Toronto area for message boards and his own website since the early 1990s in the days of 2400 baud modems to USENET sites. In the 2014 season he attended 76 games in various leagues that played in the GTA area. Follow Robin on Twitter and on his website

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