MLS Eastern Conference Finals preview: Montreal Impact v Toronto FC

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Toronto FC

Toronto FC and Montreal Impact go head-to-head in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference final.

MLS: LA Galaxy at Toronto FC

Montreal Impact v Toronto FC

2016 Eastern Conference Final – Leg 1

Olympic Stadium, Montreal, Quebec

Tuesday 22nd November (US)/ Wednesday 23rd November (UK)

8pm US ET/ 1pm GMT 

The first leg of Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference Final takes place this week, with two Canadian clubs facing each other, in what will be both side's first Conference Final.

Toronto FC could be considered the favourites to beat Montreal over the two games - and progress to MLS Cup - having experienced a better regular season record (W14 D9 L11) and finishing 3rd in the Eastern Conference, accruing 53 points in the process. 

Montreal's 45 regular season points (W11 D11 L12) was enough to secure 5th spot in the East - despite their Didier Drogba dramas towards the end of the season. Impact coach Mauro Biello should be able to call on the former Chelsea striker from the bench if needed against Toronto. 

Picture Supplied by Action ImagesDidier Drogba has experienced an eventful time with Montreal

Home advantage could be vital for Montreal, with their fans' role not to be underestimated. The home side's supporters group, 1642MTL, have a fantastic ritual with the ringing of a 1,500 pound cast iron bell after every Impact goal. 

Key Players 

Montreal's attacking midfielder, Ignacio Piatti, scored 17 regular season goals and made six assists before the play-offs - in which he has scored three goals during the wins against DC United and the New York Red Bulls.

MLS: Sporting KC at Montreal Impact

The 31-year-old Argentine will certainly be their main danger man, alongside MLS stalwart forward Dominic Oduro. With over 50 goals in MLS, Oduro's pace is a constant threat for Montreal and an important part of their counter-attacks. Oduro faces his former club in this Conference final, having been traded from Toronto in January 2015.

In Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto have one of the most talented and in-form players in the entire league. After joining MLS from Juventus in January 2015, the Italian has scored 39 goals in 60 regular season games and four goals in as many post-season play-off matches. 

MLS: New England Revolution at Toronto FCSebastian Giovinco - MLS' best?

Giovinco's first season in MLS saw the diminutive playmaker win the MLS Golden Boot, Newcomer of the year and MVP. Whilst Giovinco scored 16 goals and made 14 assists in 2016, he is not the only Toronto attacking force. Captain Michael Bradley and striker Jozy Altidore complete a formidable trio that have the potential to cause Montreal huge problems over both legs. 

MLS: Chicago Fire at Toronto FC

Predicted line-ups

Montreal Impact: (4-3-3) Evan Bush, Hassoun Camara, Laurent Ciman, Victor Cabrera, Ambroise Oyongo, Hernan Bernardello, Patrice Bernier, Marco Donadel, Dominic Oduro, Matteo Mancosu, Ignacio Piatti

Toronto FC: (3-5-1-1) Clint Irwin, Nick Hagglund, Drew Moor, Eriq Zavaleta, Justin Morrow, Jonathan Osorio, Michael Bradley, Armando Cooper, Steven Beitashour, Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore

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