TFC Dropped by Impact in 401 Derby Clash

Reds suffer defeat to rivals and go into bye week with much to think about
by Kamal Hylton   |   Monday, March 18, 2013

Red Dawn Rising - column on Toronto FC (TFC) & the Toronto Ontario soccer scene

Toronto FC dropped its Rivalry Week clash and the first “401 Derby” meeting of the year to the Montreal Impact, losing 2-1 to the host team.

The match came down to the Impact taking their chances and being aggressive after opening the scoring. TFC had major lapses in play, was penned in its own end and lacked finishing results in the final 3rd of the field.  

Toronto FC manager Ryan Nelsen went with an unchanged starting XI from his squad’s 2-1 home-opening victory over Sporting KC. Montreal Impact’s manager Marco Schällibaum opted to make one change from his team’s 2-1 win away to Portland Timbers, replacing Gambian winger Sanna Nyassi with newly-signed Argentine forward Andrés Romero.

The game was mostly decided from the penalty spot – the first penalty being granted to IMFC due to a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge from TFC fullback Ashtone Morgan on the aforementioned Romero, being judged as a foul in the box. The subsequent penalty was converted by Patrice Bernier in the 34th minute. This spurred the hosts  to get a second through Marco Di Vaio in first half injury time, as he latched on to a pass from Davy Arnaud before stepping past the keeper and firing the ball into the top corner.

The visitors managed to pull one back from the penalty spot as well. Toronto FC’s Terry Dunfield was hauled down in the box by fullback Dennis Iapichino, and Robert Earnshaw finished the resulting penalty in the 67th minute.

The Reds pushed for a late equalizer but it was to no avail as the Impact sealed the 2-1 victory, which continues their perfect record through 3 matches.

Tactics at play

Both sides began in solid formations with the same overall goal but chose to go about it in slightly different ways.

Schällibaum stuck with a favored 4-1-4-1 formation, the fulcrum and focal point of the side being Patrice Bernier, who had the dual responsibilities of sitting in front of the back 4, as well as playmaking from a deeper position. Nelsen played a base 4-4-1-1 formation with hopes of keeping 2 solid banks of 4, particularly down the middle through Dunfield and Jeremy Hall in an attempt to negate space for Felipe and Di Vaio to make runs.

Montreal added a slight wrinkle to its system, though, moving to a 3-5-1-1 formation. Alessandro Nesta went off with a thigh injury early on and was replaced by Dennis Iapichino, forcing a reshuffle of the back line, which moved Jeb Brovsky from left to right fullback and pushed Hassoun Camara into a central defensive partnership with Matteo Farrari.

The three-back system was utilized to add numbers in attack. Depending on what side the ball was being played on, the opposite fullback joined the midfield and had success in stretching TFC across the massive Olympic Stadium pitch.

Toronto FC looked to apply its high-pressure style but it didn’t have the desired impact until late in the match. The majority of play was a midfield battle that was equivalent to a fight in a phone booth, and the Reds ran out of time to get a share of the spoils.

End result and next week

While getting a victory would’ve been a nice treat for an MLS record-high 5,000 traveling supporters and losing in a derby match is never easy to take in the grand scheme of things, this is a good building moment.

Toronto was up against a Montreal side full of confidence, which was building off a solid preseason and has kept the majority of last year's side. With these two clubs set to face off on 4 other occasions in all competitions (MLS and Canadian Championship) the opportunity for revenge will certainly be available. 

TFC now goes on a bye week before taking on the defending champion Los Angeles Galaxy in the first match of the year at BMO Field. This break comes at an ideal time for the club and more specifically for Nelsen and President Kevin Payne, who will have a chance to reassess the club. Injured players Luis Silva and Julio Cesar will have an extra week to recover as well. But more importantly, the club can take the time to put the final touches on a few transfers and add some much needed depth.

Pat Onstad, chief scout & manager of football partnerships, has made several trips to Argentina, and a deal to sign forward Maximiliano Urruti from Newell's Old Boys as a potential Designated Player (DP) looks imminent.

The break in the schedule syncing up with an international break will also see the likes of Kyle Bekker, Morgan and Darren O’Dea represent their national teams without having too big of an effect on TFC. The two young Canucks will join the Canadian senior squad in Doha, Qatar, for friendlies matches against Japan and Belarus, while the Reds captain will play two FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for the Republic of Ireland against Sweden and Austria.

NEXT UP: March 9 –Toronto FC vs. LA Galaxy, BMO Field, Toronto, ON, Canada. 2 p.m. EST, TSN, RDS.


Humber College
Club Domestic:
Toronto FC
Club Foreign:
Specializes in CONCACAF region, Academy Soccer & Canadian Youth National Teams (U17, U20 & U23). Has covered TFC Academy extensively. Canadian born, Jamaican roots. Ultimate bucket list item is to see both nations qualify for the same World Cup.