Toronto FC-Montreal Preview
Toronto FC are quickly moving on from their superb CONCACAF Champions League win over Club Leon to focus on their MLS opener against CF Montreal.
An undermanned Toronto team claimed a 2-1 second-leg triumph against Liga MX champions Leon at their temporary Florida home in midweek to advance to the quarter-finals.
They will face Cruz Azul, another dangerous Mexican opponent, in the last eight but must first get their domestic campaign under way.
"Now it's back to work. This is only the beginning of the season," Toronto coach Chris Armas said. "We're so proud that we were able to put Leon in a difficult two games, home and away. I'm really happy with the results. Now we have to quickly get back to work.
"There's more for this team. There's much more for TFC here, the young guys coming through, veterans. We're getting healthy, we're getting strong. It's an incredible victory for the players and I'm part of it. I'm really proud of the team. We have another game Saturday and (then) get ready for the next round of Champions League."
Montreal, whose coach Thierry Henry resigned this offseason, are expected to struggle this term. New boss Wilfried Nancy remains optimistic of his club's chances, however.
"Personally, I have no problem, but I don't believe in guesswork. Everyone is entitled to their opinion," he said of Montreal's low expectations from the outside. "If they put us last (in the East) or penultimate, I know what we want to do and we'll see how it goes by the end of the year.
"What are they based on to say that? Because we have young players and new players?"
CF Montreal – Djordje Mihailovic
Mihailovic was the next exciting young United States international less than two years ago, but he was traded by the Chicago Fire this offseason. The 22-year-old still had six assists last season, along with two goals, and will hope to have an impact for Montreal.
Toronto FC – Michael Bradley
With Alejandro Pozuelo and Jozy Altidore missing against Leon, captain Bradley stepped up. The midfielder played 83.5 passes and 76.1 successful passes per 90 minutes in MLS last season, leading the league among players to feature in 1,000 minutes or more. Even at 33, he remains a key man for Toronto.
- Toronto have won five of the past six meetings between the teams, including three of the four meetings last season. This will mark the first time the Canadian rivals meet on the opening day of the season.
- Montreal made the playoffs last season despite winning just three of their final 12 regular season matches after moving to the United States (D1 L9). In fact, Montreal have lost 19 of their past 25 games on US soil (W4 D2) dating back to May 2019.
- Toronto lost four of their last five matches (including an extra time playoff defeat to Nashville) to end last season, including the final two in a row. The Reds have not lost three straight matches (all MLS competitions) since October 2018, with the last of the three defeats coming at the hands of Montreal.
- Montreal goalkeeper Clement Diop led MLS in both saves per game (3.81) and minutes per save (23.6) in the 2020 MLS season.
- Pozuelo led MLS in direct goal contributions (18 – nine goals, nine assists) and total goal contributions (19 – nine goals, nine primary assists, one secondary assist). He is the third TFC player to lead the league in either category after Sebastian Giovinco (2015, 2016) and Dwayne DeRosario (2011) led the league in both.
Updated April 16, 2021