CF Montreal: five newcomers to discover


CF Montreal sporting director Olivier Renard was busy during the last offseason.

In total, nine new players have been added to the roster since December, by transfer, loan or transaction with another MLS team. There are also ten who have left.

Counting the few players added in the fall of 2020, who have played little so far, that’s almost a dozen new names that fans of the squad will need to learn in the coming months.

To start sorting it out, here are five of them:

Kamal Miller (# 3), defenseman, acquired from Austin on the sidelines of the expansion draft

We hear only good from this Canadian central defender, who can also play on the left flank. The 24-year-old, who is left-handed, was acquired from Austin in December, immediately after the Texas club secured him in the expansion draft. The youngster, who has 28 MLS appearances with Orlando City, will strengthen and rejuvenate a defense that has often been at bay in 2020.

And he’s already a Canadian international! He is also very happy to have returned home and to defend the colors of a Canadian team. Obviously, his presence is already being felt within the group, since he has been appointed among the three captains of the team!

Photo credit: Courtesy MLS / CF Montreal

Aljaz « Kiki » Struna (# 24), center-back, acquired from Dynamo in a trade

The 30-year-old Slovenian arrives in Montreal in a deal that sent the spectacularly unproductive Maxi Urruti to Houston. Struna is coming off a good and a bad season in Houston and the Texan club, for obscure reasons, didn’t want him anymore.

The 6’2  » full-back, who also has a solid background in Italian soccer, will serve as a “big brother” to the relatively young group of defenders of the Montreal club. After the departure of Rod Fanni, it was necessary to find a player with the profile of Struna. Olivier Renard killed three birds with one stone: he saved money, he acquired a veteran and he got rid of Urruti and his appalling contract. Hoping the defender has some good soccer in his body for 2021!

Photo credit: Courtesy MLS / CF Montreal

Bjorn Johnsen (# 9), forward, transfer from Ulsan Hyundai (South Korea)

At 29, this slender Norwegian striker born in the United States has already walked a lot, having visited Portugal and the Netherlands before Korea and MLS.

Johnsen, a player Renard had been watching for some time now, has a powerful and technical attacking profile that has long been lacking at Club de Foot, with the exception of Didier Drogba’s passage in 2015 and 2016. One player that the Norwegian international particularly admires, moreover.

The club’s new number 9 scored his share of goals in the Netherlands a few years ago and has been doing very well lately with Ulsan Hyundai before coming to Montreal.

“I come here with everything to prove and a place to gain,” he explained, after being hired. I find it exciting. I am 29 years old, I am not old, but I have experience. I know there is pressure and I have no problem with it, I will never walk away. « 

Photo credit: AFP Photo

Winger Joaquin Torres (# 18) arrives on loan from Newell’s Old Boys (Argentina)

Torres’ career stalled a bit at Newell’s and Renard saw an opportunity to get his hands on the 24-year-old winger in February. The Argentinian, a fiery player, dribbler, who loves to cut in the axis, also has a rather rare profile within the workforce.

« My style of play suits MLS because I’m good at one on one and I’m comfortable cutting side to side, » he explained during his first Montreal press briefing.

Torres is coming back from a more or less successful loan in Greece and wants to revive. MLS now allows players of its profile to achieve this goal. Let’s see if it will reveal itself in Montreal.

CF Montreal

Photo credit: Martin Chevalier / JdeM

Mustafa Kizza, full back, arrived the last autonomous, transfer from Kampala CC (Uganda)

Kizza isn’t really a new player, but he arrived late in the season last fall and only has three appearances with the club. It is worth talking about because the 21-year-old full-back looks like a great find for the Montreal club.

The club liked to attack from the sides last season and young Zachary Brault-Guillard was already doing very well in this regard in the right lane. Kizza now offers the same option on the left side.

Bjorn Johnsen better get ready. The striker should receive a good number of quality centers this season from « ZBG » and Kizza.

Photo credit: Mitchell Layton-USA TODAY Sports

Honorable mentions

You had to choose only five, but that does not detract from the others.

Djordje Mihailovic, acquired from the Chicago Fire in return for large sums of allowances, is a very, very promising attacking midfielder.

Ahmed Hamdi, another attacking midfielder, arrives from Egypt on loan and no one knows him. It’s a real curiosity, but Renard probably did not identify it for nothing …

Sunusi Ibrahim, a Nigerian, is only 18 years old, but he showed great things in the camp. A stocky and combative winger, fast and powerful, Ibrahim already pleases and risks to be an interesting ace in the sleeve of the coach Wilfried Nancy.

Erik Hurtado (main photo), a sober acquisition, has a good background in MLS and adds a nice depth to the forward position. He also scored a fiery goal last season with the Kansas City Sporting.

Zorhan Bassong, a young Canadian international, comes from Belgium and can play as a full-back on both sides. A little competition for Brault-Guillard and Kizza, in particular.

Greetings also to the young academics such as Nathan Saliba, Sean Rea, Jean-Aniel Assi, Tomas Giraldo, Rida Zouhir and Keesean Ferdinand. They all signed their first professional contract in the last year and some, according to our colleague Patrice Bernier, are doing very well in training camp.

CF Montreal

Photo credit: Martin Chevalier / JdeM



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