The new season beckons and with it comes the over-stated optimism and expectancy of fans who’ve seen their side finish a regular season 9th, 9th and 10th over the past three years.
There’s little to suggest improvement despite the more than useful acquisition of Alistair Johnston, the Canadian international.
Perhaps Wilfried Nancy can squeeze more from his squad and the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. We shall see, but I expect another season of struggle, with at best a last day showdown to determine post-season qualification or not.
CF Montreal - 2021 Record - Pld34, W12, L12, D10, GF46, GA44, 46 pts Conference standing - 10th in the East.
Head Coach - Wilfried Nancy
Key Additions - Alistair Johnston, Kei Kamara, Gabriele Corbo.
Key Losses - None really, although the following players have departed: Emanuel Maciel, Ballou Tabla, Clement Bayiha, Aljaz Struna, Mustafa Kizza.
Projected Best XI - (3-5-2): Breza - Camacho, Corbo, Miller - Johnston, Wanyama, Piette, Mihailovic, Choiniere - Toye, Quioto,
Best Off-season Move - The obvious one. Acquiring Canadian international Alastair Johnston from Nashville SC for $1m in allocation money is the most encouraging and significant signing of the off-season. He’s simply an upgrade on the right side; a resolute defender who also adds attacking prowess.
Will probably occupy the right wing-back role, but can also play right side of a back three.
Best reasons to pay attention - Despite finishing only 10th last season there is a feeling of progress. CFM is now 12 months into the Nancy blueprint and success will be determined by how much the young squad has developed. This includes Djordje Mihailovic. Many including USA head-coach, Greg Behalter, will be keen to see if Mihailovic kicks on after a promising first season in Montreal colours.
The arrival of Johnston strengthens the squad and bringing in veteran striker Kei Kamara is interesting, but it remains to be seen if, at 37, the Sierra Leonean can still consistently score at MLS level. He will certainly be needed. In Mason Toye and Romell Quioto, CFM has two strikers susceptible to injury.
One glaring weakness - The lack of options up front, which has stimulated the acquisition of Kei Kamara. Toye is the club’s best central striker however injury seems never far away. Quioto is proven although suffered injury problems last season too. Which leaves young Nigerian, Sunusi Ibrahim who’s all potential at this stage. Norwegian, Bjorn Johnsen has been at the club for one season now, yet there’s been little evidence so far he can be the man to deliver goals.
Interesting Fact - CF Montreal ended the 2021 season with a positive (+2) goal differential, only the third time in ten MLS seasons they have managed to do so. It was last achieved in 2015 (+4, 48-44, a club record in MLS).
The Marvel Cinematic Universe character who most personifies this team - Ant Man. Like CF Montreal fans he’s optimistic even in the darkest of times.