MONTREAL — CF Montréal is looking to keep its strong run of form going as it returns from Major League Soccer's two week international break with a match Saturday against visiting Austin FC.
It will mark the first time Montreal has played to the second-year MLS side.
“(The players and the staff) are back and they feel fresh so that’s what is most important,” head coach Wilfried Nancy said. “We picked right back up and we’re getting up to speed for the rest of the season.”
Montreal (7-5-2) will face a similar side at Stade Saputo. Austin (7-4-3) has emerged as a Western Conference contender after a disappointing debut season.
The similarities the two sides, however, rises above their comparable records and identical goal tallies (28). Both teams enjoy playing with possession and breaking down oppositions.
Austin leads MLS with 32 assists and Montreal is season with 31, and both teams rank near the top of league in completed passes.
“It’s all about nullifying their strengths. We’re going to have to do our homework on their tendencies and what they like to do,” said defender Joel Waterman. “Our job doesn’t change (as defenders) and we just have to focus on putting some away on our end.”
Converting on chances has been something a strong point for Montreal season, but Austin has made a habit of frustrating opposing offences.
"One of the team’s biggest strengths is the ability to focus on thing we can control," said forward Joaquin Torres. "We don’t get caught up in stats or how well a team’s doing, we just look inward and try to get all three points. I haven’t played in three weeks so I’m really eager to get out there."
Montreal also has a few squad injuries to take care of with defender Kamal Miller injuring himself while on international duty with the Canadian national team. He’ll be joining Mason Toye, and Lassi Lappalainen who has entered COVID-19 protocols.
The biggest hit remains the ankle injury of talisman and MVP candidate Djordje Mihailovic, who missed his first international call-up at the senior level.
"We’re taking it slowly (with Djordje) and being careful," said Nancy. "It’s a long season and it’s doubtful that’s he’ll play (on Saturday)."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2022.
Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press