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Montreal Impact hopes for sellout in showdown against Toronto FC

Montreal Impact captain Dominic Oduro is urging fans to come out for the first leg he reacts after missing a shot on goal during first half MLS soccer action against the LA Galaxy in Montreal, Saturday, May 28, 2016.

Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS

He's already lived the experience once and Dominic Oduro wants to see Olympic Stadium filled with screaming fans again.

The Montreal Impact sold more than 30,000 tickets over the first two days after reaching the MLS Eastern Conference final, where they will face Toronto FC on Nov. 22 in the first leg of the two-game, aggregate-goal showdown between the Canadian rivals. The club is gunning for a sellout crowd of 60,000-plus in the domed stadium.

Oduro played in front of 61,004 in the same building on April 29, 2015, when the Impact lost 4-2 to Mexico's Club America in the CONCACAF Champions League final. He wants to feed off that energy one more time.

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"We need 60," Oduro said Wednesday. "The fans should come out.

"I mean, we're playing against Toronto. It can't get any better. It would be like playing Club America in the Champions League but this time, it's going to be a very good game. I'm not trying to put words out there, but I think we have a very good team and our chances of beating Toronto are very high."

The Impact are still riding high from their upset of the first-place New York Red Bulls in the conference semi-final. Montreal won the first leg 1-0 outdoors at Saputo Stadium and then topped the Red Bulls 2-1 in the return leg last Sunday on a pair of goals from silky midfielder Ignacio Piatti.

TFC routed New York City FC 7-0 on aggregate in the other semi-final to put both Canadian teams into the conference final for the first time. The second leg is in Toronto on Nov. 30.

One will advance to the MLS Cup final on Dec. 10 against Seattle or Colorado.

While attendance is strong at the 20,801-seat Saputo Stadium, Montreal fans have turned out in large numbers a handful of times for special games at the Big O, such as their first home game in MLS in 2012 and for Champions League matches.

Impact captain Patrice Bernier says it makes a difference.

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"At this stage you need the 12th player," the midfielder from Brossard, Que., said. "The Big O is great when it's full, but there's still 20,000 left [to sell] and we expect the city to keep responding and make sure it's 60,000.

"Full, loud, vibrant, so we can get the result at home."

It helps that there is a break for international matches this week, which allows more time for sales.

It will also let players on both teams to heal bumps and bruises and be fit for the series, except those called away by their national sides such as Impact defenders Laurent Ciman (Belgium) and Ambroise Oyongo (Cameroon) and midfielder Johan Venegas (Costa Rica) and Toronto's American duo of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.

The Impact's rivalry with TFC has built slowly since they joined MLS five years ago, but it has heated up in the past year.

Toronto made the playoffs for the first time last October, but dropped a 3-0 decision in Montreal in the single-game opening round.

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