Toronto FC has long been eliminated from MLS playoff contention and sits in 13th place in the 14-team Eastern Conference, but the club still gives CF Montreal coach Wilfried Nancy pause.
No matter that Montreal (11-10-9, 42 points) is sixth in the East and has defeated Toronto (6-17-7, 25 points) twice already this season by a combined score of 7-3.
Saturday night's game in Toronto between the Canadian rivals still means a lot.
"When they control a game, they always have a chance," Nancy said. "They should have won more games, but when they conceded they let go a little bit. They're a team with really good players and we'll do everything to stop them from winning at home. They rested a lot of good players Wednesday (in a 3-0 loss at Inter Miami), and that's so they can play us."
Montreal, which is coming off a 1-1 draw Wednesday at Orlando City, is hardly assured of being one of the seven playoff teams in the East. It's just one point ahead of D.C. United and New York City FC and two clear of the New York Red Bulls.
Montreal has never swept Toronto in a season series, is 1-5-4 in its past 10 road games and will be without forward Romell Quioto, who has scored in each of the previous two matches against the Reds, because of injury.
"I do everything I can for this rivalry to exist. New players must understand what it means to take on Toronto," Nancy said. "On our end, it exists, and on their end as well. My job is to keep that culture going so that new players feel the difference when they're playing a derby."
Toronto not only has its rivalry game with Montreal ahead, but a semifinal match in the Canadian Championship next week.
"That's the good thing right now, that the games are coming quick and fast, so there's always a chance to rebound, to have a better performance pretty quickly," said Toronto defender Justin Morrow, who made his 250th appearance for the club Wednesday and has announced he plans to retire at season's end. "We need to show for our fans on Saturday. There's so much on the line, even though we're out of the playoffs. I'm looking forward to that, the team is looking forward to that."
--Field Level Media