MONTREAL – Mathieu Choinière started his evening on the bench. He finished it with the winning goal.
The Quebec midfielder scored just two minutes into the game on Saturday, and CF Montreal capped off a tough week with a comforting 2-1 win over Charlotte FC.
Shut out in their last game at Saputo Stadium and humiliated midweek in Toronto, the Montrealers scored their first victory since May 28 to climb to second place in the tight Eastern Conference standings.
Choinière entered the match after the intermission. Ismaël Koné and him received the mandate to replace Lassi Lappalainen and Ahmed Hamdi. The first, who returns from a long absence related to COVID-19, had given what he had to give. The other had had a difficult first half.
Coach Wilfried Nancy’s message for his young substitutes? “He told us to liven up the corridor, to look for a little more depth. That’s exactly what we did,” summed up Choinière.
At the 47e minute, the left piston received a ball from Romell Quioto and scampered down his lane. After penetrating the opponent’s box without much resistance, he made a hook to the right before crossing a solid strike with the right foot.
The man of the match smiled when we made him realize that his gesture had made him look like Ignacio Piatti.
“I’ve seen him do so much, I could make a dedication to Nacho! I got so outwitted like that,” Choinière humbly confessed.
« He’s been at the club since he was 12, he’s certainly been able to observe Nacho. But he does it well there in training, noted Nancy. He did a lot too when he was with the Academy team. It’s good for him, it’s good for the team. »
An important victory for CF Montreal
The goal, which broke a 1-1 tie, did not appear on the board for several minutes. Referee Nima Saghafi had to go watch the replay after receiving the signal from the video official.
“I was stressed, admitted Choinière. I wondered what they had seen that we hadn’t already seen. When he pointed in the middle of the field I was really relieved. »
“From the moment it takes time and they go to see the video, most of the time, they come back to the decision, feared Nancy. Max, our video analyst, had told us that they could indeed whistle for offside. But we take it. We needed that right now. »
Romell Quioto was the other goalscorer for the winners, who thus managed to end a four-game MLS stay at home with a 2-2 record. His goal came in the sixth minute. Three minutes later, Charlotte tied the game through defender Guzman Corujo.
Charlotte was without ten players due to COVID-19 protocol restrictions. His number one goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina, midfielder Ben Bender and striker Andre Shinyashiki were among the notable absentees. His replacement goalkeeper, George Marks, was playing his first career game in MLS.
The meeting was marked by the return to play of Mason Toye, an injury had forced the role of spectator since the start of the season.
The striker, author of seven goals in 14 games last season, entered the 78e minute replacing Joaquin Torres. His appearance was warmly received by the crowd of 13,520, to whom he returned the applause as he took his place.
Toye almost opened his counter on his very first action, a few seconds after his comeback. Targeted by a cross from Quioto, the tall American put his head on the ball, but his deflection just missed the target.
« It’s a shame he didn’t score that goal, » Nancy said. Not for me, not for my stats, but really for him. I really wanted to give him a few minutes. It was planned that he would go play with the reserves, but we needed him. […] I’m happy he’s coming back because he worked a lot and was very brave because you guarantee that when he got his first injury he was close to coming back. »
There was something new at the stadium on this hot June evening. Section 132, silent since its reopening at the start of the season, was teeming as when it was recognized as the stronghold of the Ultras Montreal supporters group.
At the end of the warm-up period, about a hundred fans took their seats and unfurled a large banner that read “Impact Montreal”. In the second minute of the match, the band released a message that read, “Forever we will sing your name, Impact! » before getting up straight away to dance and sing.
In the second half, the noisy ghosts brandished an editorially flavored rhyme, “Local rebrand, international failure”. A little later, a cry from the heart: « Straight, proud and without regrets, our fight continues », followed by the release of smoke bombs which quickly covered the playing surface.
« I found out just before the game started, I didn’t know about it, » Nancy said. I heard them. There were twists between the two kops, there was noise. Now all the better if there’s an opportunity for the fans to come back, everybody. Whether it’s the Ultras, the 1642, for me they’re the same. »
“It was fun. It’s fun to see all the fans in the stadium, rejoiced Choinière. The more there are, the more noise we hear and that motivates us. They are welcome and it’s nice. »
Assumed opponents of the change of identity carried out by CF Montreal under the presidency of Kevin Gilmore, the Ultras Montreal had not been seen at Saputo Stadium since the club’s decision to condemn section 132 due in particular to « repeated acts of violence, verbal and physical aggression, intimidation and vandalism ». The team’s supporters’ association strongly decried this decision, which it deemed « arbitrary » and « abusive ».