This past Saturday Toronto FC held their last regular season match at home which is BMO Field against the Montreal Impact. It was the first time the Impact made the trip to Toronto for a MLS regular season match. It was a rainy fall day and the field was not in the best of shape and it looked like it needed a little rest after a long season just like Toronto FC. The first game played at BMO Field was on March 28th and even though is was shorter winter in Canada than usual the cold weather can still put a toll on Canada’s first large soccer-specific stadia
But enough groundskeeper talk. For Toronto the season has only gone down hill since their upset win over the LA Galaxy at Home Depot Centre on March 14th by a score of 2-1. For Montreal it was a interesting season as an expansion team. They added many Italian veterans like Marco Di Vaio and they discovered their young talent. They had a very respectable first season and managed to capture seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a total of 42 points and there is still a game remaining. Toronto FC only had 25 points in their expansion season but one could argue that Montreal has a much more talented team than Toronto FC did back in 2007.
This rivalry started long ago and it did not start with these two teams but it started with the sport of hockey with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. It is based on the battle between the English and the French, between the provinces of Québec and Ontario. The hatred between these two soccer teams is somewhat of an inherited hatred from another sport and another time but it still exists. This is why the Montreal Ultra’s made the six hour trip to Toronto to cheer on their team in French.
It even exists at a youth soccer level. The teams from Ontario always hate the teams from Québec and vice versa and I even have personal memories of games where we had to face French Canadian opposition and the words and the actions shown on the field were representative of this general hatred that exists between these two provinces.
Players coming from other countries who played in this game don’t understand the meaning of the rivalry but the Impact’s Patrice Bernier who is from Montreal and Toronto FC’s Terry Dunfield both have experienced this first hand in their youth careers.
The game was quite physical at the beginning but Montreal had the better chances and dominated at certain times but Toronto’s makeshift central defense which includes right back Richard Eckersley held on. It was a game with the future in mind as Montreal’s first round pick, Andrew Wenger, was showcased as an attacking winger in this 0-0 draw. Toronto will probably look very different next year but it was a chance for young players like Eric Avila to prove that they deserve to be on the roster next year. All in all, the game looked a little “scrappy” at times but that’s just the way we like our soccer here in Canada, very physical.