CF Montreal last night walked into a New England blizzard of the type club marketeers would covet themselves.
Within half an hour the Revs, unflattered by the scoreline, were three in front. It all happened against a backdrop of apathy and sparsity in the stands. Stade Saputo was like a library. There was little to encourage or regenerate a side which looked like conceding each time the whites crossed halfway.
I’d watched Manchester United squeeze home over Villareal earlier in the evening. Old Trafford, so often derided for its timid atmosphere throughout the club’s ‘taken for granted’ glory days was a raucous cauldron on the night. In subsequent years a less imperious United has brought the best from loyal fans.
Not so in Montreal with the chips down.... Whether it was weather, rebrand, provincial regulations or the closure of a stadium section, Stade Saputo was pitiful in sight and sound last night; possibly half the battle for a purring New England side which let’s be honest, probably would have won anyway, had the atmosphere been more partisan.
Not long after the game’s first opportunity fell to Romell Quioto on 7 minutes, Brandon Bye found himself in territory vacated by Bassong, who had another difficult night. Bye’s cross was met by Miller and despite Waterman’s block on Carles Gil’s shot, DeJuan Jones profited from being in the right place to swiftly return a ball which nestled in James Pantemis’ net.
Camacho, another whose night would become worse, wasn’t long in letting the young defender know his thoughts.
It got worse seven minutes later when Waterman found himself on the wrong side of Buksa, the Pole easily heading home Bou’s cross, after Bye again had laid claim to territory left missing by Montreal’s defensive left.
Goal number three arrived courtesy of a poor Bassong clearance, gifting possession back to New England who worked the ball out to Bou. The Argentinian’s cross should have been dealt with by Camacho, but the Frenchman succeeded only in diverting past Pantemis at the near post.
Torres became the second Montreal player to find the scoresheet two mins later. This time the destination was right. Tricking his way beyond McNamara the forward placed a neat finish beyond Turner.
The Montreal goal had a fortuitous escape on 38 mins as New England’s hot knife through butter routine continued. Buksa’s attempt rebounded from the far upright ricocheting goal wards again off Buchanan. Between Waterman and the post a second time however, the situation was retrieved.
Montreal upped their game, helped by a less ambitious New England, after the break, but it took 81 mins for Torres to go closest to halving the arrears. Turner, just named to the latest US MNT squad was equal to the task.
Nancy in his post-match comments took positives from Montreal’s second-half performance...
” I really liked the way we came out in the second half, we put ourselves in a bad position in the first and it didn’t make things easy for us and now we focus our attention on our next game on Saturday against Atlanta”.
On CFM’s slow start to the game, Sam Piette had this to say...
” It was honestly a shock that I didn’t see coming but I honestly liked our chances in the second half and I felt like we dominated most of that second half”.
Gustavo Bou with his first goal since August and his 13th of the season, extinguished any lingering Montreal hope in the 86th minute. Latching onto a ball from Kaptoum who wriggled free in midfield, Bou easily cut inside Waterman and slotted beyond Pantemis’ left.
There was still time for Mihailovic to clip a post from Johnsen’s pass, but even had the outcome been successful it was still much too little, much too late.
Montreal, as is their wont as a mid table outfit, has now dropped below the play-off line. Certainly all hope is not lost, but as in most seasons of Montreal’s MLS existence, any post-season aspirations will inevitably go down to the wire.
New England on the other hand are purring along. This was their 20th MLS win this season - a club record (for perspective, Montreal’s best ever win tally for a complete season is... 15).
Bruce Arena has his team rolling along very nicely. Unbeaten with a 5-0-1 record in September, the main worry can only be one around peaking too soon; the best team over a season often does not become MLS Cup champions.
Montreal still has room for error. All the borderline teams will drop points between now and the end of the regular season, but they must aim for a greater than .500 record over the remaining seven MLS games, four of which are on home soil.
CFM: Pantemis - Waterman, Camacho, Miller - Choiniere (Tabla, 75), Piette (Johnsen, 68), Wanyama, Bassong (Brault-Guillard, 55) - Torres, Mihailovic - Quioto
Bench: Breza, Kizza;M, Brault-Guillard, Ibrahim, Maciel, Miljevic, Johnsen, Zouhir, Tabla
NERevs: Turner - Bye, Farrell, Kessler, Jones - Buchanan (Caicedo, 80), Polster (Caldwell, 88), McNamara (Kaptoum, 80) - Gil - Bou, Buksa
Bench: Knighton, Kaptoum, Mafla, Kizza; E, Caicedo, Caldwell, Bell, Bunbury, Delagarza
Match Officials -
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Asst Refs: Eric Weisbrod, Jason White
4th Official: David Barrie
VAR: Carol Anne Chenard
Asst VAR: Gianni Facchini