The most familiar foe

Impact to face Revs for a fifth time this season

It seems like the Montreal Impact and the New England Revolution were destined to face off for one last time in 2020, this time in the most important matchup yet, as they get set to open the 2020 MLS Cup playoffs at Gillette Stadium, this Friday at 6:30pm (TVA Sports, TSN, 98.5fm, TSN 690).

Incredibly, it will be the FIFTH meeting between the two sides this year, and although the Revs may have won the regular season battle, one thing is certain: this will be a highly contested game, as it was every single time these two hit the pitch each year.

“We all know that this is a very difficult team to deal with, especially away from home,” said Impact head coach Thierry Henry. “This group suffered a lot this year, but now we’re in the playoffs and we’re very much looking forward to what’s coming. At least we have another game to play.”

If both teams will have a good idea of what to expect from the other side given their busy history in 2020, focusing solely on past matchups would be a mistake. As head coach Thierry Henry mentioned every single time before the Impact took on the Revs, the circumstances surrounding each game are very different, and in a sporting year that’s been absolutely transformed due to a pandemic, that has never been truer.

Thierry Henry’s men managed a win in the first meeting of the season, coming from behind thanks to a late Maxi Urruti winner at the Big O. The second game would take place months later at the MLS is Back tournament, where New England would edge Montreal 1-0. After Bruce Arena’s men took game three 3-1 at Gillette Stadium, the Impact would fall again 3-2 in a tightly contested match at Red Bull Arena about a month ago.

The reality is, there isn’t much to split these two teams. Of the four games played between these clubs this year, just one ended with more than a one-goal differential. Possession is split 50/50 after adding every game played thus far. Both clubs managed eight wins this season, although a little more defensive stability on behalf of the Revs saw them finish with more draws and fewer losses than the Impact, allowing them to rank eighth with 32 points, while the Impact finished ninth with 26 points.

With so many similarities between the sides, it’ll come to two things: desire and effort. With their backs against the wall, Thierry Henry’s men showed their character against D.C. United on Decision Day, coming back from behind and securing their qualification to the postseason. Can they keep the momentum going?