Ryan Nelsen

MLS Rivalry Week backstories: Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact

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If we examine the back stories on how rivalries achieve their deliciously acrimonious state – real rivalries, that is, and not the manufactured ones fans tend to sniff out and disregard with extreme prejudice – they usually check the box on one or more of the elements you see in the box below.

Here we look at the Montreal Impact-Toronto FC rivalry, and which boxes get checked on this clash between Canada’s two largest cities:

The teams meet at 4 p.m. ET Saturday at Stade Olympique.


The backstory:

The sporting animosity extends beyond just soccer in this bit of MLS bitterness. When it comes to Toronto and Montreal, Canada’s two largest cities, Impact vs. TFC is but one slice of this piping hot rivalry pie.

A lot of this is about hockey, of course; the Canadiens–Maple Leafs rivalry is the stuff of skating legend. It’s also about cultural conflict, the tension between primarily English-speaking Toronto and primarily French-speaking Montreal, with all the rancorous undertow that accompanies it. That hot mess has been on the boil for more than 200 years.

Since Toronto has been part of MLS since only 2007, and since Montreal is just a sophomore MLS side, this one will need some time steep. (Just don’t try telling that to former Impact coach Jesse Marsch of former Toronto assistant Bob De Klerk, who had to be separated after one emotionally charged meeting a year back.)

As for soccer, as with some other MLS rivalries, this one pre-dates MLS involvement.

Back in the 2009 Canada Cup, Toronto came into Montreal in need of a four-goal victory. Only that less-than-likely result would spare the Reds the ignominy of being an MLS side eliminated from the country’s cup competition by a lower-tier outfit. And against the odds, TFC kicked up a historic 6-1 win at Stade Saputo. The habitually rebuilding Reds, still without an MLS playoff appearance, haven’t any many nights to celebrate like that one.

The hockey teams have met more than 700 times through the years.  So, a little patience please; I’m sure someone will twist off soon enough and get this Impact-Reds clash where it needs to be.


Saturday’s match:

Montreal is a pleasant surprise of the young 2013 season, as new manager Marco Schallibaum has won two on the road to launch his MLS account (and the team’s second MLS season). Watch for holding midfielder Patrice Bernier, one of the better players too many MLS fans still know little about.

No one around Toronto is too displeased with the Reds first two matches under yet another newbie MLS manager. (In fact, Ryan Nelsen (pictured) is spanking new to the coaching business in general; he was still playing for Queens Park Rangers just two months ago.)

This one will take place at Montreal’s Stade Olympique rather than the club’s usual home ground, the smaller and more weather exposed Stade Saputo.

MLS on NBC makes its 2013 debut when Arlo White and Kyle Martino call New York Red Bulls against D.C. United at 12:30 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Network carries two contests after that (Sporting KC vs. Chicago Fire, then Seattle vs. Portland). In between, “The Breakaway” will show goals from foursome of matches NBC is not carrying.

ProSoccerTalk’s series of Rivalry Week backstories:

  • FC Dallas-Houston Dynamo
  • LA Galaxy-Chivas USA

EURO 2016: Who’s headed to France?

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - OCTOBER 10: Volkan Sen of Turkey in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group A Qualifier match between Czech Republic and Turkey at Letna Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)
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The group stage of qualification is complete, as 20 teams have clinched a berth at EURO 2016, which kicks off next summer in France.

The top-two finishers in each group automatically qualified, as did the best third-place side out of all the groups (Turkey). France qualified automatically as the host nation.

[ MORE: EURO 2016 roundup ]

That leaves eight third-place teams to battle for the final four spots through a play-off. The draw for the matchups will take place on October 18, and those matches will be held from November 12-17 as a home-and-home play-off.

Group A

  1. Czech Republic
  2. Iceland
  3. Turkey (automatically qualified as best third-place side)

Group B

  1. Belgium
  2. Wales
  3. Bosnia and Herzegovina (qualified for play-off)

Group C

  1. Spain
  2. Slovakia
  3. Ukraine (qualified for play-off)

Group D

  1. Germany
  2. Poland
  3. Republic of Ireland (qualified for play-off)

Group E

  1. England
  2. Switzerland
  3. Slovenia (qualified for play-off)

Group F

  1. Northern Ireland
  2. Romania
  3. Hungary (qualified for play-off)

Group G

  1. Austria
  2. Russia
  3. Sweden (qualified for play-off)

Group H

  1. Italy
  2. Croatia
  3. Norway (qualified for play-off)

Group I

  1. Portugal
  2. Albania
  3. Denmark (qualified for play-off)

EURO 2016: Dutch disaster as Netherlands fail to qualify

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 13:  Robin van Persie of the Netherlands (19) reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group A match between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic at Amsterdam Arena on October 13, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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The group stage of qualifying for the 2016 European Championship has come to a close, and one of the top teams in the world will not be playing in France next summer.

Netherlands 2-3 Czech Republic

The Netherlands finished second at the 2010 World Cup and third at the 2014 World Cup, but have failed to qualify for EURO 2016. Playing in front of a home crowd in a must-win match against the Czech Republic, the Dutch got off to a dreadful start, falling behind 2-0 as manager Danny Blind was forced to make a substitution within the opening 40 minutes. The Czech Republic was sent to ten men before the break, but an own-goal from Robin Van Persie made it 3-0 as the Dutch couldn’t recover. A disastrous result for the Netherlands, as big changes will surely come from the top down.

[ RELATED: David de Gea fighting for starting goalkeeper position with Spain ]

Italy 2-1 Norway

Italy finishes atop Group H without a loss after defeating Norway 2-1 today. Norway took the lead through Norwich City’s Alexander Tettey, but late goals from Alessandro Florenzi and Southampton’s Graziano Pelle gave the Italians all three points.

Malta 0-1 Croatia

With Norway’s loss, Croatia jumped into second place in Group H and secured qualification to EURO 2016 with a 1-0 win away at Malta. Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic scored the game’s only goal, as Croatia advances despite having one point deducted due to inappropriate actions from their fans.

Elsewhere in EURO qualifying

Group A

Turkey 1-0 Iceland
Latvia 0-1 Kazakhstan

Group B

Belgium 3-1 Israel
Wales 2-0 Andorra
Cyprus 2-3 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Group H

Bulgaria 2-0 Azerbaijan