This past Tuesday, for the first time ever, two Canadian teams faced off in a championship match. Both teams made it into the Eastern Conference Championship after sweeping the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC; respectively. There was a huge amount of momentum for teams in only the first match of the Eastern Conference Championship.

The Impact did not hesitate on starting off strong. At the 10 minute mark, Dominic Oduro broke free after receiving an excellent pass from the midfield. It was textbook defending gone wrong. Oduro didn’t have to add much power to his shot; as it was an easy goal.

Three minutes later the Toronto defense botched it again

Beitashour tried a horrible defensive header that might have been meant for Hagglund or Bradley. Regardless; Oduro was there to intercept the pass. An unmarked Piatti had no problem sneaking behind the defense. The defense shifted its focus to Piatti; but it was too late. Mancosu was left alone and was able to net Piatti’s low cross. That was another easy goal due to poor defending. During the 2nd half, the same defensive frailties slapped Toronto in the face. With oceans of space; Ambroise Oyongo nailed the Impact’s long distance goal that secured the victory.

Toronto almost made a big comeback; thanks a very determined offense. Jozy Altidore got the 1st goal for his time via a solid header.

At the 73rd minute, a very unorganized Impact defense somehow allowed Michael Bradley to score and bring the match to 3-2. Neither team managed to score again. It was pretty much an even battle till the end.

It’s an interesting scenario for both teams in the next match

Despite the fact that the Impact won the 1st match; Toronto’s two away goals evened the odds for the championship.

While Toronto did shock us with those two late goals, the defense is still raises many concerns. That backline nearly conceded another goal that would have tipped everything in favor of the Impact. Offensively; they are really good; we saw that in the last two goals. They were able to repair their unorganized midfield in order to become an offensive threat and it worked.

The fact of the matter is that the early sloppiness exposed their weaknesses. Yes; it’s easier said than done, but the team needs to find a way to make that defense more technical. Maybe a different formation might help. Instead of going with a 3-5-2; a 4-3-3 formation might do the trick. Morrow or Beitashour can be moved down from the midfield to the back. Osorio or Cooper can be moved up alongside Giovinco and Altidore for more attacking options. Overall, the key here is balance in the middle and the back; and 4-3-3 formation seems suitable. It’s true that the Impact used the same formation; but's the execution that counts.

Now; the Impact should be happy with the three goals and at the same time concerned with their own midfield and defense.

While the early attacking benefited them greatly; it cost them a lot at the end. The offense seemed drained of energy which explains why they were unable to prevent Toronto’s goals. The chemistry and attacking power is there and it’s much greater than that of their opponents. For the next match, the team doesn’t need to change their starting XI or formation. The strategy shouldn’t just be “attack”. With the back four and Donadel in the middle; Montreal can go on counter-attacks. Oyongo, Donadel, and Camara can act as slingshots and launch long or short passes to Piatti, Mancosu, and Oduro. The key here is to take advantage of Toronto’s sloppy midfield and defense, by balancing out their efforts and focusing on one single part of the team.

Based off the first match; it’s easy to picture Montreal winning the Eastern Conference Championship and the berth to the MLS Cup final. The performance the 1st half and early 2nd half showed us that their attacking is on point and always threat once they reach their opponent’s half. In the end; the victory will most likely go in favor of Montreal Impact by one goal.

Don't miss our page on Facebook!