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Will Impact face a tired or determined Toronto FC in next MLS is Back game?

The Impact knew it likely would be meeting a tired Toronto FC side this week. But now, it might also be facing one that’s beleaguered and, like Montreal, one that has its own issues.

The Reds, Monday morning, squandered a late two-goal lead against D.C. United — down a man following the ejection of Junior Moreno — and settled for a 2-2 draw after surrendering goals in the 84th minute and the equalizer seven minutes later in added time.

“I think Toronto’s disappointed. It’s very hard to (allow) two goals like that at the end of the game when you think you can win this game,” Impact defender Rod Fanni said Monday afternoon, during a video conference call. “I think they could have won this game easily. Sometimes football’s like that.

“It’s a good thing for us, for the confidence,” he added. “But it’s a bad thing because they’re going to be clear about that. They’ll pay attention about the end of the game. For me, it’s a good result. The two teams stay close to us. We have the future in our hands.”

The Impactlost its opening game of Group C play, 1-0, to New England last Thursday night in the MLS is Back tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Bay Lake, Fla. The Revolution leads the bracket, with three points. Both Toronto and D.C. have one point. The three group-stage games that each team is guaranteed count in the MLS standings.

Toronto and D.C. were to have originally met Friday night. Then the game was postponed until Sunday and finally pushed back to Monday morning after a D.C. player tested positive for COVID-19 and a Toronto player had a test that was inconclusive. Neither player was identified and both later tested negative.

When that game was moved to Monday, the match between the Impact and Toronto, originally scheduled for Wednesday night, was delayed 24 hours. Montreal will now have a full week’s rest, while Toronto, its Canadian rival, will be playing for the second time in four days.

“Toronto only has three days between games. We feel good about that,” Fanni said. “I think it’s better for us than them. We have more rest than Toronto. It’s to our advantage for the moment, but we never know. Sometimes we think we have an advantage and we’re surprised.”

But the Impact shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security simply because its players might experience less of a fatigue factor come Thursday. Games between these two rivals always are intense and physical. Plus, there were few aspects surrounding Montreal’s performance last week that would lead to overconfidence.

“There’s slight things we need to work on,” 18-year-old English defender Luis Binks told the team’s website over the weekend. “We didn’t create enough chances. We weren’t good enough on the ball. We didn’t keep it well enough as we would have liked.”

The Impact was disoriented against New England, its will and desire seemingly lacking. Montreal directed but seven shots at goalkeeper Matt Turner, only two of which were on target.

Bojan, counted on to contribute offensively, was ineffective on the left side of the pitch. He wasn’t dangerous, nor did he challenge defenders. Maxi Urruti, who scored three goals in the Impact’s first two games, ran miles, as usual, but seemed to defend more than he attacked.

Urruti had the Impact’s first legitimate scoring opportunity, early in the second half, but couldn’t convert the original shot or the rebound. Six minutes later, New England scored the only goal.

“This is (bad) luck,” Urruti said Monday. “It’s difficult. After four months staying at home to play again. The situation in the game isn’t too easy. We need to stay focused for the next two games. We need the six points.

“The first game was difficult for the players,” he added. “But (Thursday) it’s a different game.”

With Toronto and D.C. United now having generated points, it seems likely the Impact must win or tie its next game should it hope to advance to the knockout round. Otherwise, the team will be in a tenuous state.

“We need to be professional. We need to get everybody to work very hard to help our teammates. It’s not going to be easy,” Orji Okwonkwo told the team’s website over the weekend.

hzurkowsky@postmedia.com

twitter.com/HerbZurkowsky1

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