The Montreal Impact and Toronto FC both disappointed in their opening matches at the MLS is Back Tournament.
Now they look to bounce back at the expense of the other Thursday night.
While ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex in the Orlando area is a neutral site and the stands will be empty, both coaches expect a full-on derby feel to the match.
"Both teams are going to see this as a really important three points," Toronto coach Greg Vanney told a virtual news conference Tuesday. "So with that, I think the intensity level will be there ... I don't think anyone's going to take a step back."
"At the end of the day it is a rivalry, whether you play it in your garden or Stade Saputo or another stadium," added Montreal coach Thierry Henry. "That's the one you don't want to lose. So for me, I don't even have to motivate the players because they already know what time it is. And I'm sure it's the same for Toronto."
Both teams have room for improvement.
Montreal looked disjointed in a 1-0 loss to New England last Thursday, leaving Henry to lament's his team's lack of desire on the night. The Impact managed just two shots on target.
Toronto conceded two late goals and had to settle for a 2-2 tie with 10-man D.C. United on Monday morning, with Vanney ruing the late collapse from his veteran side after a commanding opening 80 minutes.
With the top two teams from each of the six groups and the four best third-place finishers advancing to the knockout round of 16, both Toronto and Montreal need points.
New England, which leads Group C with three points, takes on D.C. United on Friday.
Asked where his team stands given each club in the group has played one game, Henry was brutally honest.
"Well right now, at the bottom of the group. That's where we stand," he told a virtual news conference Tuesday. "So we're going to try to make sure we don't stay there too long."
Henry also took pains to remind reporters that his criticism of the Impact's desire was related solely to the New England game and that he was not having a go at his players.
"I said at the end of the game that we have always been fighting. We didn't have that on the day ... It can happen. I hope it won't happen again. But I have been in teams, for example, where we had that some games, we were missing that. I was just stating a fact — on the day."
Asked what response he has since got from his players, a somewhat testy Henry replied said he already knows what his players give him.
Vanney, however, said he liked what he had seen from his players in the wake of the D.C. United result.
"The psychological response of our guys has been the right one — which is a little bit of anger, a little bit of embarrassment and a little bit of frustration for the way it finished up," he said.
The derby game was originally slated for Wednesday but was pushed back a day when Toronto's match with D.C. United was delayed 24 hours due to COVID-19 test issues.
The Impact will have had six days to prepare. Toronto just two.
Vanney said he should have a full complement to choose from despite the short turnaround.
"I was pleasantly surprised with how guys turned out today and where they're at," he said.
Vanney says Jozy Altidore will be assessed ahead of the match to see if he might be available to come off the bench Thursday. The star striker did not dress for the D.C. game.
Altidore is behind in his training after spending much of the lockdown at his Florida home, which necessitated a self-quarantine when he returned to Toronto.
Toronto midfielder Jonathan Osorio, dealing with a quad issue, may have to wait another game to see action.
One plus for Toronto is Thursday's game is an 8 p.m. ET kickoff. Its last group game against New England marks a second unwelcome 9 a.m. start.
Results from the three group games count in the regular-season standings. Toronto comes into the contest at 1-0-2 while Montreal is 1-1-1.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2020.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press