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HARRISON, N.J. — Mathieu Choiniere's smile said it all.
The homegrown CF Montreal player was grinning from ear to ear after scoring his first Major League Soccer goal in a 1-0 triumph over Inter Miami Saturday night at Red Bull Arena.
That smile carried over all the way to his post-game press conference.
"It's been a long time since I'm working on this goal," Choiniere told reporters. "Just a big relief. I'm feeling very great.
"I've been waiting for that goal for a long time. I worked hard and was rewarded."
The 22-year-old Choiniere, in his fourth MLS season, side-netted a one-touch shot off a feed from Djordje Mihailovic in the 41st minute.
It was only Choiniere's third game of the season and first since May 15.
"I work hard in training, I give 100 per cent," he said. "I know my chances will come. I just want to help this team, like I was able to do today. We got the three points, that's all that matters."
In the locker room after the game, the Saint-Alexandre, Que., native called his loved ones straight away.
"Mom, dad, my girlfriend, my brother, I called them all," said Choiniere. "They were all so happy for me. They all support me. It feels really good."
Montreal (4-3-4) is unbeaten in four straight games in a single season for the first time since winning four straight in June-July 2018.
James Pantemis had three saves for his second career shutout for Montreal.
"If we didn't kill the game, then we were going to protect our one-goal lead," said defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama. "And we did that very well. We were compact and we fought until the end.
"This is what we have been trying to improve, and today I think we got it right."
Miami (2-7-2), in its second MLS season, has lost five straight games, its longest losing streak since dropping the first five games in franchise history.
Though technically a home game, Montreal was playing at Red Bull Arena due to travel restrictions put in place by the Canadian government in an effort to control the COVID-19 pandemic.
Montreal has been playing home games in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this year, but the stadium was unavailable because of the Gold Cup.
Red Bull Arena served as Montreal's home field for the majority of last season after the start of the pandemic.
The team says it is working with MLS, Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps to find a solution to return to Canada.
"We're all impatient about going back home and playing at Saputo Stadium," said Choiniere. "We're coming back soon and want to see fans at the stadium. We want to do the same thing there, win for them."
With files from The Associated Press.
The Associated Press