A season at the top for CF Montreal
William Shakespeare asked the question « to be or not to be? » “, but for CF Montreal, it is rather:” Finish in first place or settle for second place? »
For head coach Wilfried Nancy, the answer is pretty clear. « What would you do in my place? » Finish in first place. After, the circumstances and everything that happens, I’m not fan of that, he said before training his troop on Thursday. If we have the pleasure of finishing first, why deprive ourselves of it? Imagine me saying to the guys “finish second, and then we’ll see how it goes”. No, that’s not possible. »
The question is nonetheless legitimate. Recent history has not favored teams that finished the season at the top of both MLS associations. By the same token, they got a week off to start the playoffs. In 2021, the Eastern champions New England Revolution and the Western champions Colorado Rapids were both eliminated in their first playoff game.
The pandemic forced a format change in 2020, but looking back to 2019, only Los Angeles FC made it on the scene, while New York City FC were quickly shown the way out. .
A few days before their last clash of the campaign, Sunday against Inter Miami CF at the DRV PNK Stadium, the Bleu-Blanc-Noir still have their eyes on the top of the East. The Philadelphia Union only holds a two-point lead, and it will play its last match, against Toronto FC, at the same time as the Montreal team.
From start to finish, Wilfried Nancy and his men shared the same vision: to aim as high as possible and break records. They intend to approach the game against Inter Miami CF the same way, regardless of the outcome of the duel involving the Union.
“Some teams struggled after the bye week, but we’re going to try to get the three points and finish the season with the highest point total possible. It was part of our objectives, mentioned defender Kamal Miller. Whether we have the week off or not, we are adequately prepared. We are keeping our focus with the aim of having another good performance. »
Aim high without mortgaging
Nancy said he wouldn’t take a look at what happens in Pennsylvania on Sunday, but would continue his observations for the playoffs. In Miami, however, he will have to find a balance between the desire to seek this other victory and caution to avoid one or more injuries.
The Montrealers, who have not lost in their last five outings (4-0-1), want to continue this momentum and finish the season strong, without however adding players to the infirmary. They are also already deprived of the services of their best scorer, the Honduran Romell Quioto, who could return to play during the playoffs.
“We think about injuries 100%, admitted midfielder Ismaël Koné. We are lucky to work with staff and a physical trainer who know what they are doing. There haven’t been many injuries during the year, so we’re lucky. The coach knows how to ensure that everyone plays a minimum and so that there are no injuries. »
CF Montreal could wrap up the season by adding two MLS records to their long list of team marks set in 2022. Triumph in Miami would sign an 11e win away and a seventh in a row on home soil.
» It would be good. It definitely gives a little more motivation, to write your name in the book of records, expressed Miller. It was a very good year, and we broke several records. Why not beat others? »
This season, the team has already rewritten its history by breaking, among other things, its records for the most wins, the most goals scored, the most points amassed and the longest streak of unbeaten games.
In addition, Mr. Nancy did not dwell very long on the comments of midfielder Victor Wanyama, who hinted earlier this week that he would not be returning to CF Montreal next year. He called the 31-year-old Kenyan « an example » while adding of him « that he was enjoying playing at the moment ».
The head coach also announced that defender Joel Waterman, slightly injured last week against DC United, would be in his position, jokingly saying « he would be captain ». Midfielder Djordje Mihailovic will also be back after serving a one-game suspension.
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