CF Montreal may rue not taking all three points in this one and but for a little more cohesion at the cutting end would surely have prevailed over an MLS Cup holder that continues to struggle on the road.
Columbus is now 0-5-6 in its last 11 MLS road games. For Montreal it’s a first clean sheet in 18 matches stretching back to September last year when Toronto FC were shut out at BMO Field.
In truth although they made most of the running, their final ball lacked precision in a performance short on clear cut opportunities.
Columbus had the look of a side which saw the game as one they could do without, given their Champions League commitments either side. It felt a case of get there, play, don’t lose and let’s get our minds back on Monterrey.
In fact it looked like focus was already south of the border down Mexico way, as Crew made six changes to the starting line-up which faced Monterrey last Wednesday evening.
Montreal, unquestionably the side displaying most initiative, in the end didn’t do enough to secure victory over a sterile opponent. And yet it could have been worse, for aging goal predator supreme Bradley Wright-Phillips had the ball in the net in the dying stages, only for an assistant’s flag to rightly define offside.
A goal would have been hugely more than the Cup holders deserved and cruel on Nancy’s men in 31 degree heat that reduced the first-half tempo.
It was an afternoon of half-chances, the first taking 17 minutes to arrive as Hurtado’s snap shot went over the bar. Less than a minute later young central defender Keita, getting too close, was easily rolled by Quioto whose low drive from 20 yards was smartly dealt with by Room in the Columbus goal.
In the only other incident of note from a first-half which rarely threatened to spring to life, Mihailovic, Quioto and Kizza combined well before the latter was thwarted by Room’s left foot from a narrow angle.
Another half-chance fell the way of Hurtado on 58 mins, after Sejdic intercepted Afful on half way, but Keita managed to deflect the striker’s final shot from 16 yards for a corner.
Montreal enjoyed fresh impetus from the double introduction of Lappalainen, his first action since facing Crew last October, and Ahmed Hamdy. The debutant Egyptian made an immediate impression, had the look of real quality about him and left Montreal fans gasping for more.
Nancy had long sensed Columbus was there for the taking and bided his time. This 64th minute change was impactful and altered the dynamic, yet despite looking stronger and fresher in the closing stages, Montreal was unable to find a route to goal.
Hamdy created possibly the best opportunity on 82 mins for Quioto, sending a neat chip into the area, but Quioto was unable to direct his header under the bar.
Despite seven minutes of added time, stalemate prevailed, a better result for Columbus, now scoreless after 180 MLS minutes, than for Montreal, who will consider this an opportunity lost.
Still, they remain unbeaten after three, something that’s only ever happened once previously in MLS, and given the significant influx of players and interrupted pre-season preparation, will take a certain amount of satisfaction from how much progress and cohesion is evident, even if today they failed to click in the final third.
CFM: Diop - Brault-Guillard (Bayiha, 55), Struna, Camacho, Miller, Kizza (Johnsen, 80) - Wanyama (c), Sejdic (Hamdy, 64), Mihailovic - Hurtado (Lappalainen, 64), Quioto.
Subs not used: Pantemis, Waterman, Piette, Torres, Maciel.
Crew - Room - Afful (Abdul-Salaam, 46), Wormgoor (Williams, 60), Keita, Francis - Parente (Luis Diaz, 61), Nagbe (Artur, 46) - Etienne (Matan, 77), Zelarayan, Santos - Wright-Phillips.
Subs not used: Bush, Lillard, Berry.
Match Officials -
Referee: Timothy Ford
Asst Refs: Corey Rockwell, Kevin Klinger
4th Official: Silviu Petrescu
VAR: Jose Carlos Rivero
Asst VAR: Jozef Batko
Check out the latest, The Ball Is Round Podcast (Episode 27). Recorded Wednesday evening, the TBIR team discusses the upcoming CFM v Columbus Crew clash (with special guest Darby Schnarfus, former anchorman of ACES Radio), looks back on the 2-2 draw with Nashville SC... and addresses names in the news; Zach Brault-Guillard, Chicharito, Jesse Marsch & Thierry Henry...
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!
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