In 2021, CF Montréal replaced the team’s head coach and, like the Columbus Crew, was just a few points away from landing a spot in the 2021 MLS Cup playoffs. Finishing in 10th place last year, it was uncertain what to expect from the Canadian side entering the 2022 Major League Soccer season.
After three losses to start the year, Montréal shot up to third place in the Eastern Conference and is one of the toughest sides in 2022. To learn more about the team ahead of its first match against the Black & Gold in 2022, Massive Report spoke with Saul Garcia, editor and writer on Mount Royal Soccer.
Massive Report: Last year, CF Montréal went through a number of changes, including introducing a new coach and turnover of the roster. After finishing in 10th place, folks that follow the league, like MLS writers, expected Montréal to finish anywhere from fourth to 12th in the East in 2022. What’s been clicking for Montréal that sees the team sitting in third place in the final stretch of the season?
Mount Royal Soccer: It all comes down to Wilfried Nancy. He’s been making a legit Coach of the Year charge and under him players like Victor Wanyama, Romell Quioto and once MVP candidate, Djordje Mihailovic, have hit new heights. It also helps that the resurgence of Mason Toye has helped this season as he is back from injury. With Nancy the team has a real identity and plays with conviction, something Nancy has had to work on, but has now arrived. Full credit to him and the coaching staff.
MR: In 2022, Montréal only has three clean sheets in 22 matches. While the team has been able to outscore opponents in half of its matches, Montréal has been susceptible on defense. What’s been the team’s Achilles heel and how do you think the group will adjust for an offense led by new signing Cucho Hernández?
MRS: It’d be a draw between lackadaisical defense and just bad goalkeeping. Between Sebastian Breza and James Pantemis, the goalkeeper play has been subpar, but in the last three weeks after several really good performances, Pantemis has laid his claim on the spot and CFM have performed better.
On the back three dealing with Hernández will be tough and add that we will have Joel Waterman likely suspended and it becomes harder. In terms of adjustments, we could see a simplified backline with Wanyama and Samuel Piette playing much closer to the backline in order to double and even triple team Hernández.
MR: A name on the Montréal roster that’s quite familiar to Crew supporters is Kei Kamara. Montréal added the former Black & Gold striker this year and he has done well in a role off the bench. What has he done to help Montréal this season and do you think a return to Columbus, where he didn’t leave on the best of terms, motivates him and Montréal a little more than a normal midweek match?
MRS: Kamara is a great glue guy. He’s a motivator for the team as he is an electric personality. Add that he’s scored this season more than some thought and he’s contributing in more ways than one. So, versus Columbus we could see him again as that super sub for CFM. A role he’s fit into with great success. That means he should be more than ready to play an ex-team, where he has had some good results.
To read Massive Report’s answers to Mount Royal Soccer’s questions, click here.