Wilfried Nancy was clearly heartened by the performance last evening at Al Lang Stadium in St-Petersburg.
“Yesterday we were good defensively, had the desire to move forward & press the opponent. Good spirit in difficult conditions. With the ball, we were cohesive. Yesterday I told the guys I was happy with what I’ve seen so far.”
It’s a good news story and some positivity as his charges head into a difficult opening day encounter with traditional rival, Toronto FC.
Again Sunday evening’s game was played in a clandestine environment, but we understand Nancy decided to go with something close to his starting line-up for the first hour, and only then make changes to take a look at other options and give players game time.
“The players played 60 to 65 minutes. The idea was to see other players in different animations.“
“What interested me was seeing the connections between players on the sides and also in the middle, and they were able to respect the concepts even if we changed the animation.“
This is a good sign. After the defeat by Tormenta FC the coach was critical of his team for not recognizing the right moments to get in behind the opponent.
Nancy had a vote of confidence for playmaker Djordje Mihailovic, scorer of the first goal against the Rowdies. “He’s a very interesting player how he reads the game. He’s able to organize the moment to slow down the tempo. My objective was to find a good position for him to express his quality. We feel we found something interesting for him yesterday.”
And on Bjorn Johnsen... “He was quarantining so yesterday played only a couple of minutes to get some rhythm back. Big and tall yes, but good technically and will help disrupt the backline and on crosses he will be good for us also, to score.”
But it was another, Mason Toye, who caught the eye with a two-goal performance which was effectively three, as he forced his opponent to put through his own goal on the stroke of half-time. The American striker’s performances have been less than lukewarm since arriving in Montreal, however Nancy had this to say...
“Since coming back, Mason has felt a lot better in the group. He always had qualities and needed to express himself.
“In order for that to happen, we may need to help him lower his expectations of himself.
“I had a good discussion with him trying to figure out what kind of person he is.
“You have to make him feel confident and we’ve seen that sometimes he puts too much pressure on himself, so you have to talk to him. In recent weeks he has been able to free himself, he is more joyful. He is very demanding of himself, which slows him down.“
Although the head coach says he hasn’t yet made his mind up about who takes the captain’s role, it’s almost inconceivable with five days left to the big opener he’s not already made his decision.
At the end of the day, effectively he’ll want leadership displayed throughout the team, so although there is only one who wears the armband, ideally he’ll want to see half a dozen captains out on the pitch.
Nancy almost has a full bill of health heading into Saturday’s derby clash, but doubts remain over Lappalainen and Ballou Tabla.
“We’re still waiting on Lassi. He’s good to go but we must await the doctor’s clearance.
“Ballou felt a problem in his groin. We’ll see how he responds in the rest of the week. But we will take time with him and he will see the doctor. He’s had injuries over the past couple of years, so we won’t rush things.”
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...
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