CF Montreal boss Wilfried Nancy feels his side have delivered performances if not results so far this term, as his side prepare to welcome distant countrymen Vancouver Whitecaps in the 2022 MLS campaign.
It’s east versus west in a Canadian clash over the Easter weekend at Saputo Stadium, as both sides look to snatch some early bragging rights against each other roughly half-a-dozen games into the current season.
Montreal have won their last two league games to move out of the Eastern Conference basement, but Nancy has been quick to temper expectations that his side have turned a definitive corner in their campaign.
“It’s interesting right now,” he stated. “The season is still long. We didn’t have the results, but the performances were interesting. Now, we have the results, but we are not going to ignite either.”
On the difficulties presented by the Whitecaps, themselves struggling with poor form, he added: “All the teams bother us. They have a way of defending that is really special. They can be low, but also very aggressive with outside players.
“Are they going to stick with that tactic against us? We’ll see. This is a team that tries to put physical impact with their players in attack.”
Opposite number Vanni Sartini meanwhile was open on his frustrations for Caio Alexandre, after the latter saw a broken hand waylay his return to action from a long-term injury layoff stretching back to August 2021.
“Caio has been very unlucky,” he added. “Even the way that he got the injury in training, it’s incredible. “Of course, the less injuries you have, the better it is. But if you think that you’re going to have a year without injury… that’s the reason why we have 25, 26 players in the roster.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Montreal – Sebastian Breza
The goalkeeper’s figures look worrying so far this season, but if not for him, his side could well be in more trouble than they are on the ladder. He’s second for clearances between the posts this campaign, showcasing his alertness to dangerous situations.
Vancouver – Ranko Veselinovic
The Serbian defender has had his work cut out at the back so far this term, but he has risen to the occasion when called upon. He’s made 16 interceptions already this campaign – only three other players in MLS have nabbed more than him.
KEY OPTA FACTS
CF Montréal and Vancouver have nearly split their all-time MLS head-to-head, with Vancouver winning six times and Montreal five (D1). The Whitecaps have won the last two meetings between the sides, including a 2-0 victory in Sandy, Utah last May.
Montreal came from a goal down to beat the Red Bulls, 2-1, on Saturday. It was the ninth comefrom-behind win for Montreal since the start of the 2020 season, more than any other MLS team in that time.
The Whitecaps have just four points from their first six games this season (W1 D1 L4). They’ve started slower just once before, taking two points from six games to begin the 2019 campaign that saw them finish last in the West.
Romell Quioto’s winning goal against the Red Bulls on Saturday was just the second goal from outside the box that CF Montréal has scored dating back to last May. The only one of their previous 50 goals that was scored outside the box was by Zachary Brault-Guillard against D.C. United last August.
The Whitecaps won two penalties (scoring one) and conceded one (allowing a goal) against Portland on Saturday. It was the second time in club history that there have been three penalties called in a single game in Vancouver’s MLS history, with the other also against the Timbers (1 won, 2 conceded) in May 2016.