Have you seen the MLS predictions for the CF Montreal season? It’s not glorious … None of the 11 experts sees Montreal exceed 13th in the East … out of 14 teams! Ah, and the CFMTL appears dead last in the Power Rankings across the league as he enters his 26th season.
My goal is not to put anyone on trial. All opinions are the same, and at this point in the history of the season, everything is subjective. Anyone has the right to think that Montreal is the worst team in the East. And maybe this will be confirmed! Or not.
CF Montreal is a bit like Jennifer Gray (Baby) in Dirty Dancing. Young, inexperienced, with an obvious thirst for life and, obviously, having to defy a certain class contempt. Nobody puts Baby in a corner, proclaimed Patrick Swayze (Johnny)!
Except that in MLS, it seems easy, if not far too easy, to put Montreal in a corner.
What did the Austin Expansion Club do to earn 6 ranks above Montreal in Power Rankings from MLS? Ah yes, they have two nominated players, that’s right – and regardless of the overall (very average) quality of the squad … I forgot that MLS was a gigantic contest of who has the biggest … designated player. Or is it the presence of co-owner Matthew McConaughey that blinds everyone? If that is the case, alright, alright, alright!
Another example: Chicago. Unlike Montreal, the Illinois club did not make the playoffs in 2020. Unlike Montreal, Chicago barely moved a finger during the offseason. Never mind, everyone is predicting that Chicago will finish ahead of Montreal in the standings! Normal…
So, I don’t mind. Perhaps this group, with a year of apprenticeship with Raphaël Wicky, will reveal itself. Chicago had still untied the strings of its purse during the winter of 2019-2020 to obtain the signature of three designated players (we always come back to it …). But I do not see very well on what elements is based this vision (this hope?).
Again: all of this is subjective. Predictions are sometimes made on non-tangible elements. And don’t get me wrong: I’m not telling you that Olivier Renard is as good at finding nuggets in the transfer market as Indiana Jones is at identifying the Grail on a shelf of golden cups.
But can Olivier Renard have had a hollow nose with his acquisitions? Could it be that there are some great MLS players in the making in this group? Can Montreal achieve success (however you define it) with a model that’s much different from the rest of MLS? All of this is intriguing and deserves our attention. In any case, we must avoid looking up at this club simply because the names are not bling-bling or because there are no labels attached to the reinforcements.
The benefit of the doubt?
Of course, we can not be against virtue: having high quality players, that helps – still we must not be wrong about the recruitment, because an error that costs 5 million, it spills 5 million times more than an error on a free player.
Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I still think the conversation around MLS clubs would benefit if it wasn’t always reduced to its lowest common denominator, which is how many players nominated do they have?
Here, it is not Europe. There have been 10 different champions over the past 15 seasons, and it wasn’t always the most spendthrift team that won, far from it. There are many tools available, which in themselves allow for a variety of different approaches.
The question that can arise, and which is legitimate, is the following: does Montreal deserve the benefit of the doubt given its erratic past? Maybe not, the answer is unique to everyone.
But then again: what did Chicago do to deserve the benefit of the doubt? They have only made the playoffs once in the last 8 seasons, in 2017, and they were then ejected in the first round!
What then is the basis for placing Montreal so low? As of this writing, the team doesn’t even have a week of leg training with the full roster. And no one has seen the content of the matches.
Precisely, is the lack of information the reason why the various American analysts have been so severe? If so, I find it hard to understand why Montreal did not make it to the list of the 5 most unpredictable teams of 2021, especially since many new players are question marks … (For the curious , the 5 unpredictable clubs in question happened to be: LA Galaxy, DC, Cincinnati, Colorado and Chicago, of course.)
It is important for me to clarify one thing: in the XI MTL podcast, where Frédéric Lord, Patrice Bernier and I portrayed the association Est, I was the most pessimistic, or rather the most zealous towards the situation. from CF Montreal, since I was the only one of us 3 to place the club in the last 5 in the East. Not because I guarantee a season of poverty, but quite simply because at this stage of things, I do not have much evidence to suggest that Montreal will finish much higher or much lower than in 2020 (the Impact finished 9th in the regular season). In short, I’m not really trying to sell you a dream season on TVA Sports (I see you, the cynics!).
Placing Montreal 10th or 13th in the predictions doesn’t make much of a difference, you might say. In my eyes, however, there is a difference: it is respect. Montreal deserves more respect.
The departure of Thierry Henry cannot explain on its own that a club that participated in the series is being downgraded in this way. It really has to be that the balance of arrivals and departures has been very bad in itself – and even worse than that of other clubs – to achieve such a result. And I just don’t see how that can be said today. -30