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Montreal Silences The Rowdies...

Tampa Bay Rowdies .... 1 CF Montreal .... 5

Rowdies Performance Coach Pete Calabrese pulled double duty last night as linesman after the assistant ref went down with an injury at an empty Al Lang Stadium.

It matters little of course as did the 0-2 reverse four days ago against Tormenta FC, but it’s better winning a closed doors match 5-1 than not.

Of the current squad, only Samuel Piette and Ballou Tabla can claim to know the feeling of hitting five in a match in a Montreal shirt. Tabla was an unused sub and Piette in the midfield the last time it happened, at BMO Field in MLS in September 2017.

It may be a little significant too, in that generally these pre-season games against the Rowdies are always exceptionally tight affairs. Last year Tampa Bay won the game 2-1.

The Rowdies, who shared the USL Championship match with Phoenix Rising last season, had set their pre-season in motion with a 2-1 success over the same Tormenta FC as defeated Montreal last week, then followed up with a narrow 0-1 reverse against Nashville SC, but last night they were simply blown away in a 35 minute first-half spell.

The game suffered from a weather delay, starting just over an hour late in an empty Al Lang Stadium, but that didn’t take the edge off the Montreal side.

Djordje Mihailovic began the first-half rout on 10 minutes and a Rowdies defender completed it on the stroke of half-time. Mason Toye had looked certain to complete his hat-trick only for the defender to poke the ball away from him and into the net.

In between the former Minnesota United striker had piled on the agony for the USL side with strikes in the 12th minute, a powerful header from a Mihailovic right-wing cross (12 mins) and another from Brault-Guillard’s delivery in the 40th.

Montreal turned round at the break 4-0 to the good.

The Rowdies were better after the restart, enjoying more possession, but fell further behind when Amar Sejdic converted in the 64th minute.

Mexico v USA - 2020 Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying
Djordje Mihailovic opened the scoring last evening...
Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images

A Montreal player was red-carded in the 73rd minute for delivering a head butt to Rowdies’ Aaron Guillen, but no information was forthcoming as to the identity of the guilty party. Verifying facts from these clandestine pre-season warm-ups is difficult to say the least, with neither spectators nor media present.

Clement Diop was denied a clean-sheet seconds before the final whistle, Steeven Dos Santos heading a consolation goal for the Rowdies from Hilton’s free-kick.

Team line-ups were not published nor made available.

It’s now onto the big one, Saturday when CF Montreal take on rival Toronto FC in the season opener.

Toronto has a very important prior engagement, the second leg of their Champions League tie with CD Leon of LigaMX, taking place at Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee, Florida on Wednesday evening. One that Wilfried Nancy might just want to get a ticket for...

Check out the latest, The Ball Is Round Podcast (Episode 23). Recorded Wednesday evening (7 April), the TBIR team discusses CFM’s Florida rendezvous, the goalkeeping situation, the new MLS schedule, opening game v Toronto FC and the MLS pundits’ unflattering CF Montreal predictions... Plus all the usual favourite features... including, Eve’s Time Machine... Don’t miss it!

Also... great chat with CF Montreal’s new signing Kamal Miller recorded Fri 9 April (on a special episode 24) - well worth a listen...

Every Week - The Ball Is Round... @TBIRMontreal - please follow us for regular, weekly CF Montreal, Canadian, MLS and international content in English!