Jozy Altidore is looking like a prophet.
On Aug. 26, the Toronto FC striker mused that it would be “beautiful” to knock the rival Impact out of the Major League Soccer playoffs. The next day, TFC beat them 3-1 in Montreal.
The victory ended the Impact’s four-game winning streak and they haven’t won a match since, losing four in a row to drop six points out of the sixth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot with six games left in the regular season.
They are set to meet again Wednesday at BMO Field in Toronto, with TFC riding a six-game winning run in which they outscored their opponents 21-3. The Reds will be without Altidore for the match though, according to head coach Greg Vanney, and there are question marks surrounding the availability of Sebastian Giovinco and Victor Vazquez.
Toronto (18-3-8) is the league’s runaway leader with 62 points from 29 games, but now Montreal (10-12-6) has a chance to stall their bid for the Los Angeles Galaxy’s record for points in a season, which is either 67 points (under current rules) or 68 (from when there were no draws and games were settled by shootouts).
“When you play Toronto, it’s just that you want to beat them,” Impact captain Patrice Bernier said Monday. “Now Altidore, a DP [designated player] from Toronto said it, but I’ve said that and I think [Toronto midfielder] Jonathan Osorio has said it before.
“Now it’s just that the rivalry has scaled up. We’ll do everything possible to win and, yeah, if we can knock some points off them that would be great. But now we have to do everything possible to win. We’re not going to think of where they are because we have to continue to fight and keep ourselves alive to make the playoffs.”
Reds undefeated since Canada Day
It will be a tall order. Toronto hasn’t lost since a 3-1 setback in Dallas on July 1, going 8-0-3 since then. They are 11-0-3 at home this season. And they always seem to have a little extra energy when they play Montreal.
The teams played a wild Eastern Conference final last fall, with the Impact taking a 3-0 lead in the first leg at home only to give up two late goals. The two-game series was won by Toronto in overtime in the second leg. TFC also beat Montreal in the Canadian Cup final this season.
The match in Toronto starts a stretch of four games in 11 days which also takes the Impact to Atlanta on…