FCC looks for bounce back against CF Montreal

Luciano Acosta dribbles against Toronto FC. Photo courtesy of Brian Mack.
Luciano Acosta dribbles against Toronto FC. Photo courtesy of Brian Mack.

After missing out on the playoffs in 2023 on the final day, F Montreal fired its head coach and set out on a search for a new leader. With 10 managers in 12 years, Montreal was hoping they could find someone who would be there for a long time and expand on the playing style that Wilfried Nancy established in 2020 and 2021.

So they went and got one in an understudy of his, that being Laurent Courtois, head coach of the Columbus Crew 2 side. After two successful seasons at the helm of the Columbus squad, there were high hopes that he could lead a return to the playoffs with a focus on getting results on the road. And his first three weeks in charge certainly showed what the team was capable of, getting seven points from three games, which included a surprising 3-0 victory over Inter Miami.

However, the reality of MLS and the difficulties of finding results on the road reared its head in the past three results as Montreal has lost three games in a row, accrued two red cards and was on the receiving end of a 5-0 thumping to the Seattle Sounders.

Lopsided results are not uncommon in MLS. In fact, there have been five games where a team won by four or more goals in the first six weeks. As such, the panic in the Montreal squad that many would have expected from a team under their new manager has been tempered, and they’ve been able to find some excitement leading up to their first home game of the year. 

Over the last ten years (excluding 2021 where they played in Florida for part of the season), Montreal has a 6-2-2 record in their home openers, and has only lost once in their last five home openers. They are also a traditionally very strong team at home, as they have averaged 1.75 points per game at home vs 0.9 points per game in away games over the last decade.

Despite the historical record that supports Montreal home openers, FCC leads the head-to-head results with a 4-3-2 record and should enter the match with optimism. Montreal has yet to be able to implement their desired possession system and has resorted to playing in a mostly low block looking for counterattacks.

They are certainly capable of executing that with an attacking trio of Mathias Coccaro, Mathieu Choiniere and Josef Martinez. While Martinez will grab the most attention due to his past success in the league and FCC, he has taken a step back after some injuries,. Choiniere is the one who makes the attack go. He became the focal point when he entered the squad in 2023 and garnered calls for an All-Star call-up midway through the season.

If the FCC defense can keep the attack under control, there is hope that they can break through the Montreal defense. That is because Montreal had a hard time communicating last week, seeing multiple runs from deeper in midfield lead to either goals or positive goal-scoring chances for Seattle. Montreal has also given up 10 goals over their last three games, a great opportunity for a misfiring Cincinnati attack.

Ultimately, this game is an opportunity for each team to establish a rhythm and declare what their intentions are for the season.

When: 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 13

Where: Stade Saputo, Montreal, Quebec

How to Watch: MLS Season Pass on AppleTV+ (link to sign up)

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