New York City FC ..... (2)4 ..... CF Montreal ..... (0)1
A cold, wet day in the Bronx. Not the most inspiring of prospects. Disappointingly on Saturday, CF Montreal produced a performance to match.
They did have a purple patch lasting about 15 minutes at the beginning of the second-half, but by then the game was already lost, affirmed by Talles Magno’s powerful header on 64, which obliterated two Montreal defenders and restored a two goal lead for the MLS Cup champions.
Montreal led to its own downfall. The last thing you want to do against a good team struggling for goals, is gift them a couple in the first twenty minutes. It eradicates any doubts they may be experiencing, at the same time increasing self-belief and confidence.
Teams have rapidly worked out Montreal frailty for playing out from the back this still young season. When Luis Binks was a mainstay in the team they were adept. But the former Tottenham starlet is now an Englishman in Italy, and Montreal not half as proficient at short passing their way out from defence.
You also need a goalkeeper comfortable with the ball at his feet. Breza has presence and performs as a shot-stopper, but a ball artist he ain’t.
A few years ago when Pep first arrived at Manchester City we all remember his disfavour for England’s #1 at the time, Joe Hart. Hart’s prowess at passing a football didn’t meet the coach’s high standards. He was summarily replaced, Chilean Claudio Bravo arriving from Barcelona, Guardiola’s old club.
Hart, a more reliable shot-stopper, than Bravo was soon declared surplus to requirements, Gaurdiola logic dictating ‘playing football’ a greater attribute than ‘stopping shots’. That’s to simplify things of course, but the City coach knew he needed a footballer in goal to enable his team’s ability to dominate possession and move the football around.
CF Montreal is miles away from Manchester City, but if its coaching staff remain adamant to pursue a short game from it’s own goal-line, you feel Breza may not be the ‘keeper with which to develop the concept. Technique is critical, but so too in equal measure is a cool, calm head and good decision-making.
The second goal on Saturday, eventually finished off by Santi Rodriguez’ delicate chip could easily have been avoided. The short ball to an already shackled Wanyama was never the choice. Sometimes there are no short options... so what’s wrong with clearing it long?
The first goal after only seven minutes resulted from a poor clearance from Miller, or was he too trying to find a team-mate?
Either way short-passing out from your own goal-line is a difficult and risky way to transition from defence to attack. You need to have the right players taking the right decisions to make it work. Rather than being an important weapon for Montreal, opponents are effectively using it against them.
On a brighter note, Djordje Mihailovic looks like carrying on were he left off last season, the American’s impressive, driving, determined run fashioning out his side’s solitary response from Brault-Guillard on 52.
Quebec optimism didn’t last long however and the home side’s victory was rubber-stamped by that Magno header and another short-pass giveaway, this time by Waterman, allowing Thiago Andrade to seal things at 4-1 on 83 minutes.
An error-strewn performance in a game in which Montreal needed to be foot perfect. Wilfried Nancy and his coaches have much work to do on the training ground and perhaps a re-think, at least short-term, against his dearly held footballing philosophies.
It’s now one win and five defeats. Failing to progress continentally on Wednesday evening will increase the sense of gloom, and make no mistake, despite some fine results by MLS clubs in this year’s Champions League, it’s the Mexicans of Cruz Azul who start favourites to reach the semi-finals.
It doesn’t get any easier either. Standing between the international break, which probably can’t come quickly enough, and now, is a visit to Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium, a venue where Montreal has never yet taken so much as a point.
Relative inactivity around recruitment in the off-season has hampered Nancy’s ability to strengthen. The squad has a fragility about it. Let’s hope its mentality proves to be more robust and they can eradicate the silly errors.
NYCFC: Johnson (c) - Jasson, Martins, Callens, Amundsen - Parks (Acevedo, 65), Morales (Zelalem, 86) - Rodriguez (Thiago Andrade, 65), Moralez (Heber, 82), Magno - Castellanos
Bench (not used): Barraza, Gloster, Latinovich, O’Toole, Chanot
CFM: Breza - Corbo, Waterman, Miller - Johnston (Brault-Guillard, 46), Zouhir (Mihailovic, 46), Wanyama (c) (Kone, 70), Miljevic (Torres, 82), Lappalainen (Thorkelsson, 46) - Kamara, Quioto
Bench (not used): Pantemis, Ferdinand, Bassong, Camacho
Match Officials -
Referee: Armando Villareal
Asst Refs: Ian Anderson, Logan Brown
4th Official: Thomas Snyder
VAR: Carole Anne Chenard
Asst VAR: Claudiu Badea