Derby game with Montreal carries even more weight with Toronto FC down in standings | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Derby game with Montreal carries even more weight with Toronto FC down in standings

Toronto FC defender Chris Mavinga, top, heads the ball above Seattle Sounders defender Will Bruin during first half MLS Cup Final soccer action in Toronto on Saturday, December 9, 2017. Toronto FC will be without defender Chris Mavinga on Saturday when it hosts the Montreal Impact in a must-win game. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Frank Gunn
August 24, 2018 - 12:13 PM

TORONTO - Prior to meeting reporters after practice Friday, Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney took time out to mingle with pint-sized players attending a summer camp at the MLS team's training ground.

Other coaches in his position — looking up at the last playoff spot with time and games running out — might have skipped the niceties. But while keeping his eye firmly on what seems an elusive playoff prize, Vanney manages to keep things in perspective.

"They're future TFC fans or they're future TFC players," the father of four said of the kids happily clad in Toronto colours. "They're an important part of what we're doing here at the club."

"I was one of them at one point," he added.

The interaction was likely a welcome reprieve from the daily questions about just how slim the reigning MLS champions' playoff chances are. Vanney has not avoided the topic, cooly revising his estimate of wins needed as one opportunity after another is squandered.

Next up is a must-win home game Saturday with the Montreal Impact (10-13-3), who occupy the sixth and last playoff position in the East with 33 points. Ninth-place Toronto (6-12-6) is nine points in arrears but has two games in hand on the Impact.

"It's a derby. It's against our hated rivals," veteran defender Drew Moor said of facing Montreal. "We know how important it is to the players, the club, the fans, the entire organization. And we'll play like it's a Cup final. It's a good opportunity to get ourselves going."

To reach Montreal, TFC has to climb past D.C. United (7-9-6) and New England (7-9-8).

With Atlanta, the New York Red Bulls, New York City FC and Columbus firmly entrenched in the top four spots in the East, the chasers are trying to nail down fifth and sixth.

Vanney's team has 10 games remaining, with six of those at home. He says they will likely have to win out at BMO Field and pick up at least one victory on the road.

"We still have the ability to control our fate over those 10 games if we can get on a good run," Vanney said optimistically of what is a very tall order.

For some, the situation facing TFC is desperate. "The word I like is urgency," said Moor.

Toronto has lost just once in its last nine matches in all competitions (5-1-3) and that was against New York City FC when it played 79 minutes down a man after Jozy Altidore's red card. But in league play it has not beat a team other than Chicago since June 8 (2-5-4).

"Wins and losses come down to key moments, not making mistakes and finishing things when you get those opportunities ... We've talked for far too long about not having really room to make mistakes any more. That gap has essentially closed," Vanney added.

Both Vanney and Moor said they liked what they had seen on the practice field.

"Guys were buzzing this week," said Moor. "We're locked in and ready to go."

Montreal, under first-year coach Remi Garde, is looking to improve or at least consolidate its positions in the standings.

"I think if you would have told us a few months ago that we'd be in this position with eight games left we would have taken it," Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush told reporters this week.

Toronto FC will be without French defender Chris Mavinga on Saturday thanks to an ongoing hamstring issues that could keep him out for a couple of weeks. On the plus side, Toronto says Moor, who is coming back from a quad injury, should be able to go the full 90 minutes.

Spanish playmaker Victor Vazquez received treatment on his knee this week but could see action Saturday.

Midfielder Jonathan Osorio left practice early Friday, but Vanney said it was precautionary after receiving treatment on a sore hip Thursday.

Altidore is suspended for the game.

"Jozy always been a thorn in our side," said Bush. "We're certainly not upset that he can't play. But at the same time we need to be aware of the guys that are on the field because they still pose a lot of different threats and have a lot of qualities."

Argentine newcomer Lucas Janson is likely to fill in up front. Brazilian wingback Auro remains out with a hamstring problem.

Impact striker Matteo Mancosu is questionable after suffering an injury in training Wednesday. If he can't go, former TFC forward Quincy Amarikwa is a likely replacement.

Acquired by Montreal in an Aug. 8 trade with San Jose, Amarikwa is on his fifth MLS team. He made 12 appearances for Toronto in 2012.

The Impact are coming off a win over visiting Chicago and are unbeaten in their last three outings (1-0-2). Toronto tied league-worst San Jose 1-1 last time out, giving up another soft goal.



Saturday, BMO Field

MILESTONE GOAL: TFC goes into the game with 498 career regular-season goals (and 580 goals against).

DON'T LEAVE EARLY: Toronto has scored 11 goals in the final 15 minutes of games, tied for sixth-best in the league. Montreal has conceded 14 goals in the final 15 minutes, second only to Orlando's 22.

MISSING ACTION: The game is the first at TFC's home since the club closed its door to the Inebriatti supporters group in the wake of a fiery display at a Canadian Championship game in Ottawa July 18.

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News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
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