Two of Canada’s premier soccer clubs go head to head as Montreal Impact play host to Toronto FC at Saputo Stadium (8pm ET Friday).
Montreal come into this fixture off the back of a confidence-boosting win against another of Canada’s MLS contingent in Vancouver Whitecaps. In front of a home crowd, Thierry Henry’s men registered just their second win of the campaign, winning by two goals to nil, thanks to first half goals from summer signing Romell Quioto and Finnish youngster Lassi Lappalainen. Toronto head to Saputo Stadium having also got the better of Vancouver last time out. The Reds scored just once en route to victory, though their performance was a dominant one.
In recent weeks, Montreal and Toronto have faced Vancouver three times between them, so there’s no lack of relevant form to go over. The Impact won by two goals to nil when taking on their Canadian rivals, though they weren’t overly convincing, despite coming out on top in terms of both shots and shots on target. Toronto, on the other hand, have now made light work of beating The Whitecaps on two occasions. Just under a fortnight ago, Greg Vanney’s side cruised to a 3-0 win, while they followed up with a dominant single-goal victory just three days later. Of the two, it’s probably fair to say that TFC created the more positive impression.
Impact growing in strength
It has not been the best campaign for Thierry Henry and his side so far, though they do appear to be growing in confidence. Not only did IMFC win last time out, but they have now won two of their last three and have conceded just one goal during that time. Offensively, it’s fair to say that they have not scaled the heights of late, scoring a modest three in three, though at the back, they’ve done a good job of keeping things tight. In addition to conceding just three times in their last 270 minutes of Major League Soccer, Montreal have restricted their opposition to just seven shots on target. That’s a rather pleasing average of 2.33, a figure which if maintained will surely see them continue to concede few goals.
Up and down on the road
TFCLive go to Montreal having won last time out, while they have also won two on the spin, but they have been anything but consistent when playing away from the comforts of BMO Field. They may have beaten Montreal in something of a whirlwind, end-to-end fixture at the MLS Is Back tournament, coming out on top by four goals to three, but it’s fair to say that they were somewhat fortunate on that occasion, while they went on to win none of their remaining two matches in Florida, scoring just one goal and conceding three in the process.
What do the numbers say?
We know what the pair have done in terms of wins, losses and draws since the resumption of MLS, but how do they hold up in terms of underlying numbers?
Since the beginning of the campaign in late February, Toronto have played eight matches. They are averaging a very solid 1.86 expected goals for per 90, which essentially means that they are creating the chances to score an average of 1.86 goals per game. At the other end, they’ve surrendered an average of just 1.1. Therefore, on average, TFC have a positive expected goals difference of +0.76. Such a number is not to be sneezed at. On top of this, Toronto have a healthy average shot supremacy of +5.87, which essentially tells us that, on average, they are registering 5.87 shots more than their opponents. They also have a shots-on-target supremacy of +2.24.
Montreal have played one game fewer than TFC since the start of MLS 2020. They currently average a slightly disappointing 1.14 expected goals for per 90, while they have given up an average of 1.51, leaving an average expected goals supremacy of -0.37. Not ideal. However, when the pair faced off in Florida, Montreal created 0.8 more expected goals than Toronto, while they also outshot them.
Toronto favorites with sportsbooks
Toronto FC come into this clash as strong favorites at no better than the +100 (evens) mark. The overall numbers above support the fact that TFC are likely winners, though are they as likely to win as the current odds suggest? Probably not.
Henry’s side boast better underlying numbers than Montreal, while they beat their Canadian rivals when the pair clashed in Florida last month. That said, this is a derby match, and we all know how form tends to go out of the window when rivals lock horns. What’s more, for all Montreal’s numbers don’t match Toronto’s, it was The Impact who had the better of the game in Florida, so much so that they were not only unlucky to lose but were unfortunate not to narrowly win. Combine this with the fact that they’ve improved defensively over the last few weeks and are coming off the back of a big home win, and it’s easy to start feeling that the hosts warrant more respect from the USA bookies in the betting.
So, coming to our Montreal Impact vs Toronto FC predictions and picks verdict, a small play on a Montreal victory appeals. They may not be favorites, but at the current odds, the home win certainly appears to offer important value for money.