clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

CF Montreal - Reality Check & Good Point Earned

Nashville’s power game unsettled Montreal and provides timely ‘work-in-progress’ reminder...

MLS: CF Montreal at Nashville SC
Romell Quioto tries to evade Walker Zimmerman’s challenge.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Wilfried Nancy will have learned more about his team’s capabilities from yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Nashville than in the victory over Toronto FC.

While you felt they had the measure of weakened opponents last weekend, it was hardly the case yesterday at Nissan Stadium.

Nashville’s olde English-style power football unsettled Montreal, whose composure and adherence to the game-plan was severely tested.

While Sam Piette’s post-match comments suggesting a feeling of two points lost rather than one gained are understandable, it’s difficult to agree with the Montreal captain on the balance of play and chances created.

If it takes the team in gold far too long to discover they’re in a game, once the realization dawns they certainly can be a powerful attacking unit, at least at home.

Their intensity and increasing cohesion began to trouble Montreal long before Zach Brault-Guillard’s first-ever MLS goal provided additional comfort to a slender lead. In short, Nancy’s men were struggling to grasp those pillars of composure, high-press and defending higher up the field.

Maybe it’s no bad thing. The result on opening day had been enough to get some minds racing ahead of themselves, and although the head coach would not have been one, what Nashville did yesterday was provide a chastening back-down-to-earth moment and yielded what could yet prove a very valuable point.

It’s a timely reminder that Nancy still has much to work out, although it must be remembered road games are tougher and you expect to face sustained periods of pressure from competent opposition. English coach Gary Smith has Nashville playing in a way that won first division championships in his native land in pre Premier League days.

Perhaps considered old fashioned in this millennium, NSC were a refreshing watch, a throwback, and it displays that room still exists in football for such a play pattern. It wasn’t ugly, it was quite exciting actually.

Montreal won’t face teams of similar style this season, or at least not often, but still there has to be concern at the failure to reduce the supply of crosses, the number of times Nashville engineered a way around Montreal’s wide men and the lack of pressure on the ball higher up the park. None of these was a factor against Toronto FC.

And yet yesterday Romell Quioto had a gilt-edged opportunity to increase a two-goal margin to three just after the restart. Had the Honduran scored the chances of winning immediately increase, but the feeling barely leaves you that had Nashville needed three in the second-half, they might well have managed it. We’ll never know of course, but then again, we don’t need to.

Nancy rightly, has been preaching the importance of composure in the face of aggression and intensity. And although the presence of Binks will eventually help, it’s not a quality that you can instil overnight.

Montreal fell into old habits yesterday as Nashville upped their game, particularly after the break, allowing the goal that gave the home side renewed belief, which of course only served to perpetuate the visitor’s struggle.

There were pleasing aspects for Montreal too of course. A second, carbon-copy goal for Mason Toye, despite an overall contribution that was like last week, goal apart, fairly anonymous. Although if he can provide a goal a game and not much else, such opportunism is to be welcomed.

Also, CFM started the game brightly and confidently, and in securing the point, displayed character and a dogged determination not to leave Music City empty-handed despite being “... cornered, cornered, cornered, cornered, cornered,” in the exact words of Wilfried Nancy.

Montreal will improve. It’s possibly even too early to expect the cohesion that already exists, never mind miracles beyond. There are obvious areas in need of addressing, most can be repaired working with the existing squad, but a few will require new pieces. Binks is yet to return, Lappalainen too, and in Ahmed Hamdy there could be a budding star awaiting to be unwrapped.

They looked less physical than Nashville yesterday and more fatigued. Tennessee intensity had Montreal chasing the game for lengthy periods and when that happens that’s what you get.

Another significant test arrives next week in the shape of MLS Cup Winners, Columbus Crew. Montreal will be happy to be back ‘home’ where again they will face a team coming off the back of a difficult Champions League tie with Mexican opposition.

Like the opening two rounds of MLS it won’t be easy either, but more familiar challenges will be presented than those set by Nashville. Montreal might just be getting Columbus, right time, right place, so comfortable did they look previously in the bright surroundings of DRV PNK Stadium.

A win would give them seven points from three, and there’s not a Montreal fan on the planet who wouldn’t consider that a buoyant start to the season and to Wil Nancy’s reign...

Check out the latest, The Ball Is Round Podcast (Episode 26). Recorded Wednesday evening (21 April), the TBIR team discusses the Nashville SC v CFM clash (with special guest Wes Boling of Nashville SC Radio and Club & County podcast), looks back on the #TORONTO WIN!!!! ... and addresses The Super League Fiasco - Greed, Greed, Greed...

They talk the Montreal football issues of the week and cover all the usual favourite features... including, Eve’s Time Machine Social Media & CHOICES... Don’t miss it!

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