Sat, 08 Aug 2020

Canadian clubs set to clash in central Florida

Field Level Media
16 Jul 2020, 10:05 GMT+10

The 401 Derby moves from Canada to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando when Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact square off on Thursday night in the MLS is Back tournament.

Toronto is tied with D.C. United for second place in Group C after the teams played to a 2-2 draw on Monday. The Impact are in last place in the four-team group following a 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution on July 9.

The Impact (1-1-1, 4 points) hope to bounce back from a lackluster showing in the tournament opener. Montreal was outshot by a 19-7 margin against the Revolution.

Though it was Montreal's first competitive match in almost four months, head coach Thierry Henry felt the long layoff was "not an excuse" for his club's performance.

"If you don't fight, then you don't win battles and you lose balls. There's no need to even talk about tactics," Henry said after the game. "There was nothing to do about tactics today. It was about desire that we didn't have."

Toronto FC (1-0-2, 5 points) endured a different kind of disappointment in their first match in central Florida. Leading D.C. United 2-0 through the first 83 minutes Monday, and up a man after D.C. had a player sent off, Toronto surrendered two goals over a seven-minute span to settle for a 2-2 draw.

Since two postponements pushed the D.C. United match to Monday morning, Toronto has less than 80 hours of rest and preparation time before facing the Impact. Despite the short window, Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney felt Monday's game was "physically not highly demanding" on his club, and he was "pleasantly surprised" with how his players recovered for Tuesday's training session.

"I think, in terms of talking to our guys and where they're at physically, we have a full complement of players we can select from, by and large," Vanney said.

After leaving the D.C. game in the 64th minute due to cramping issues, Omar Gonzalez and Chris Mavinga are expected to be available for selection Thursday. Vanney said that star forward Jozy Altidore could possibly be available off the bench, as Altidore continues to work back to full fitness.

The top two teams in each of the six groups automatically advance to the tournament's knockout stage. Four of the six third-place teams will also qualify, based on tiebreakers.

--Field Level Media

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