MLS: CF Montreal can set a team record against Atlanta United on Saturday

MONTREAL – There was a moment early in the season when you wondered if CF Montreal was destined to finish bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference. But now Wilfried Nancy’s formation can set a positive team record this weekend.

With a draw or win against Atlanta United on Saturday afternoon at Saputo Stadium, CF Montreal (3-3-2) will go on to a sixth straight game unbeaten.

It’s a feat that the Montreal organization has accomplished three more times in its history, in 2015 (4-0-2), 2016 (2-0-4) and 2021 (4-0-2). On Saturday, CF Montreal will perform in front of their fans after recording three wins and two draws since March 19.

“It shows that we are a resilient team, that we are starting to grow,” said Canadian defender Kamal Miller after the team’s training session at the Center Nutrilait on Tuesday.

“We’ve had a difficult start,” he said, referring to losses in the first three games of the calendar. But I think it keeps getting better. The performance was always there, but the results weren’t there. Now that the results are in, everything is coming together nicely. »

Curiously, this positive streak began with what could be described as a negative result against the same club who will be at the Stade Saputo this weekend.

With a 3-1 lead and another player on the pitch after Dom Dwyer was kicked out in the 67th minute, CF Montreal conceded two goals from the 85th minute, the second during the break, to end with a very disappointing draw to be satisfied in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“I think we had a bit of a downer in that game considering how well we played. We thought the game was over before it was over and those are things that are going to happen in MLS,” Miller said.

“If you don’t play 90 minutes, an opponent will come from behind and score a goal in stoppage time. If we strive to play a full 90 minutes, maybe we want to get a positive result,” he added.

That March 19 clash against Atlanta United, which left a bitter taste in the mouths of CF Montreal players, ended a busy five-game streak in 14 days, including two games in the Concacaf Champions League.

He also embarked on a two-week hiatus that seemed to do the team good.

“Our mentality is to learn from our mistakes, correct them and also ‘kill games’ and not open the door for the opposition to come back,” said midfielder Victor Wanyama on Tuesday.

“We have learned a lot from our mistakes and are always trying to improve. We showed that we can be better, defend together and protect our advantage. »

Since returning to the field, CF Montreal have conceded six goals in four games but only one in each of their last three meetings.

“The chemistry is there,” Miller said of CF Montreal’s defensive line, which is usually complemented by Joel Waterman and Rudy Camacho.

“We went through tough times early in the season, conceding a lot of goals and getting injured in those games,” Miller admitted. But as the season progressed, I feel like we’re playing better and showing better cohesion. The good results are showing and we are aiming for shutouts. »

The team’s recent successes can also be explained by the start of Djordje Mihailovic’s breakout, but also by Wanyama’s continued and solid presence in midfield.

In 12 games since the start of the 2022 season, including the team’s four games in the Concacaf Champions League, the 30-year-old Kenyan has missed just 20 minutes. It was on March 12 that CF Montreal lost 4-1 to New York City FC.

“He’s been very good to us this year, especially after Sam (Samuel Piette) was out, and he’s taken on a lot of responsibility in midfield,” Miller said of Wanyama.

“He shows his experience in every game and keeps getting better. He’s so strong on the ball. […] He’s had a fantastic start to the season. »

Asked about his own performance, Wanyama said he was satisfied with his performance. But he quickly diverts the conversation to the group.

“Whenever I’m on the field, I will always do everything in my power to help the team,” Wanyama said. I try to do that. We continue to work hard to maintain our record and our style of play. »

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