MLS Series: CF Montreal in the Eastern semi-finals after a win against Orlando


MONTREAL – There are packed houses, then there are packed houses like the one that set Stade Saputo on fire on Sunday night.

In an atmosphere worthy of its ambitions, CF Montreal began its playoff run with a 2-0 win over Orlando City SC.

It’s a goal from Ismaël Koné, scored in the 68e minute, which allowed the locals to offer the club a first victory in a playoff match since 2016 and thus honor their status as favorites. Arriving in support to the left of the penalty area, the 20-year-old rookie completed a skillful display by Kei Kamara and Djordje Mihailovic by slipping the ball between the legs of goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.

« I had cocked my shot and was ready to fire, but as I was going to shoot I saw Ishmael out of the corner of my eye and noticed that no one was covering him, » Mihailovic described after the shooting. meet. It’s a game we practiced this week in training. That’s why our coach is in the running for the title of coach of the year! What we do in training works in games. »

“That’s quality at Djordje. He is a great passer, a great creator, said Koné to return the courtesy to his accomplice. For us, he has been so helpful for the past two years. And then in training, we often work on exercises of ‘third man run’ and that’s what happened today. These are automatisms that we created between us and I think that we saw it today on the ground. »

Koné hit the mark on the first shot on target in a rough game in which his team took nearly 60% of possession.

Mihailovic ended the evening on an exclamation point by scoring from the penalty spot in the added time of the second half. It was one last chance to celebrate for a frenzied crowd that had started to noisily fill the space long before the initial whistle. From the warm-up period, chants and cheers well beyond the limits of the two main supporters’ stands undermined the theory evoked by captain Samuel Piette earlier this week that for the players, this great Sunday meeting was nothing but « the 35e game of the season. »

“It gave me and the guys goosebumps,” Mihailovic said. That’s why we dream of playing pro when we’re just a kid. A playoff game at home is special. It had happened to me only once before today and believe me it had nothing to do with what I experienced today. »

Still unbeaten in four playoff games in its history at Stade Saputo, the Impact is 12-1-3 in its last 16 games. His last defeat dates back to August 31.

The Montreal XI also managed to advance to the next round without the contribution of its star forward Romell Quioto, whose presence was uncertain due to a lower body injury. Quioto was in uniform, but was not used as a substitute.

“We were ready for their tactics”

Even if the visitors left empty-handed without having framed a single shot, this duel between the second and seventh seeds in the Eastern Conference was not necessarily a walk in nature for CF Montreal.

Heavily neglected, the Lions created a handful of chances that only a silly lack of precision in the final meters rendered vain. They also used all the little tricks of the trade to complicate the lives of their hosts and try to cause them to drop out which would be fatal. Gallese found the most sensitive chord by zealously delaying each of his throw-ins.

“We had worked on it during the week, calmly approached Wilfried Nancy. We had shown different situations to the players and they were ready. Whatever was going to happen, I wanted them to stay in control and they did well. »

“Even before the start of the match, we were ready for their tactics, we knew how they would try to waste time, confirmed Mihailovic. We knew that if we stayed true to the game plan and in control of our emotions, our chances would come. »

A few refereeing decisions have also tested the mental fortitude of Montrealers. At the 18e minute, Koné fell in the penalty area after contact with defender Ruan. At the 45e, Lassi Lappalainen was mowed down in the same spot by Cesar Araujo. Each time, the victims’ grievances were ignored by arbitrator Ismail Elfath.

“Of course it’s complicated to play football when the referee isn’t on both sides… it’s weird, huh! », Allowed himself to slip Koné.

Elfath had to receive the video referee’s signal to award Mihailovic the game-ending shot.

CF Montreal will know their opponent for Monday’s Eastern Conference semi-final as they face the winner of the duel between New York City FC and Inter Miami. The game will take place next Sunday at 1 p.m. at Saputo Stadium.

The other semi-final will oppose the Philadelphia Union and FC Cincinnati.

ContentId(3.1413464):MLS: Djordje Mihailovic drives the point home! The CFM is moving forward! (soccer)
ContentId(3.1413467):CF Montreal: « We wanted to be patient as a team » (MLS)
ContentId(3.1413468):CF Montreal: « I just play football, it’s amazing » (MLS)
ContentId(3.1413469):CF Montreal: “My players were ready no matter what” (soccer)
ContentId(3.1413471):MLS: CFM was patient and avoided the trap (soccer)

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