Jaap Stam is a fan of Wilfried Nancy and the work he is doing at CF Montreal, but the FC Cincinnati boss is hoping for a different outcome in the latest battle between the sides.
Montreal are in possession of an Eastern Conference playoff spot after snatching a 98th-minute victory against New York Red Bulls at the weekend to end a five-game winless run.
The Canadian side’s trip to TQL Stadium will be their third and final regular-season encounter with Cincinnati, who they beat 5-4 in an incredible contest just a month ago.
That nine-goal thriller is still fresh in Stam’s memory as he aims to bring an end to Cincinnati’s eight-game wait for three points.
“We should have had more out of the Montreal game but we didn’t,” he said. “They have been doing very well from last season going into this one.
“They’ve brought in very good players. I think the depth of their roster is good as well. You can see that the last game that we played over there, they had to make changes as well.
“They play in a very interesting way, which I also like. I respect the team and the manager as well and the choices he’s made in everything he’s tried to do over there.”
Montreal’s win against RBNY could prove to be a season-defining result, with Nancy’s men finding themselves 1-0 down with 70 minutes played before their remarkable comeback.
“It was a crazy end to the game and it’s a textbook case of the players being calm and cool,” Nancy said. “I told the players at half-time that I knew we could win the game.
“In any game, but especially situations like that, it’s important to keep your cool and that’s something that we have worked on.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
FC Cincinnati – Brenner
Brazilian forward Brenner scored Cincinnati’s opener in the 1-1 draw with Orlando City last time out – their third draw in a row – netting from one of his four attempts on the day. He has now scored (three) or assisted (two) five of Cincinnati’s six goals over the past month. Prior to that run, he had been involved in one goal for the club.
CF Montreal – Sunusi Ibrahim
Teenage attacker Ibrahim helped turn the game in Montreal’s favour after being brought off the bench against the Red Bulls. He scored the equaliser for his first MLS goal and played a key part in the late push to find a second, which arrived from a Victor Wanyama penalty.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– CF Montreal earned their first MLS points against Cincinnati in a 5-4 victory on July 17 after losing the first three meetings between the sides.
– Cincinnati became the first team to score four goals in a losing effort in six years in that match, since Real Salt Lake lost 6-4 to D.C. United in August 2015.
– FC Cincinnati are winless in eight straight matches (D6 L2) following consecutive wins in late June. Cincinnati have gone nine straight games without a win twice in club history, in July-September 2019 and October 2020 to May 2021, though both of those streaks were ended with a win over Montreal.
– Montreal’s 2-1 win over the Red Bulls on Saturday was the 14th straight match that has been decided by one goal or fewer for Montreal (W5 D3 L6). The last team to have a longer such streak was Colorado Rapids, who had 15 straight games decided by one goal or fewer from September 2016 to March 2017.
– Wanyama’s match-winning penalty at 97:33 on Saturday was the latest match-winner in Montreal’s history and the latest in MLS since Shea Salinas scored for San Jose against Vancouver at 97:34 at MLS is Back in July 2020.