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  • Writer's pictureTristan Figueras

MLS Match Recap: Toronto FC vs CF Montreal (5/18/24)

Hello everyone and welcome to Early Doors Football! After a week off, we are back. The wild Toronto FC vs CF Montreal match is the focus today. It’s been a tumultuous couple of weeks for CF Montreal, and this match was no different. Let’s get straight in. 


Lineups-

Toronto’s most notable absence is midfielder Jonathan Osorio, who missed his second match in a row following a lower body injury. Coello has stepped in the previous two matches. Montreal has had a slew of injury issues this season, with Josef Martinez, Kwadwo Opoku, and Matias Coccaro all missing. Success up front had masked some defensive issues throughout the season, particularly thanks to Coccaro’s goal involvements and hold up play. Without this, they’ve struggled. 


Toronto FC in Possession-


Toronto’s 3-4-3 shape meant they built with a 3+2 in possession, with Montreal looking to match with their own 5-2-3. The shapes are evident below.

It does not take a rocket scientist to realize a team struggled defensively in a 5-1 loss, but the regularity that Toronto was able to bypass Montreal’s press or defensive line was absurd. 


The 3 center backs were often pulled across the width of the field, leaving huge gaps to be exploited by Insigne and Bernadeshi. This occurred in moments where Montreal turned the ball over, as well as failed high presses. 


As you can see in the video above, the spaces are huge. This is less about what happens out wide, and more about the HUGE spaces left in the center of the pitch. Gaps like these were not uncommon, and with Toronto happy to play quickly in transitions, they killed them. 


CF Montreal in Possession- 


Courtois uses a similar shape to Toronto, with a 3-4-3 being utilized. Wing backs pushed high up the field, combined with little cover from the midfield, meant the center backs spread wide and left themselves in dangerous positions when the ball was turned over (as mentioned in the previous section). 


I could go into more detail, but I want to take this in a different direction. They have far more problems than what is happening on the field; many of which have trickled down to impacted manager Laurent Courtois. Hailed as a clever signing, the 2022 MLS Next Coach of the Year was expected to build on Montreal’s strong 2023 season. It has not gone that way, but not due directly to him.


The squad has the lowest payroll in the league, with the continued lack of investment slowly catching up to them. When you combine low payroll with a minor injury crisis, it is a recipe for disaster. Owner Joey Saputo, who also owns Bologna FC in Italy, seems to have shifted his focus there.


The issues continue to the front office, with Oliver Renard, their Chief Sports Officer departing suddenly. Disagreements allegedly stemmed from “strategic differences” with CEO Gabriel Gervais (Canadian Soccer Daily). While part of his term was relatively mediocre, he was part of Montreal’s best season in recent history, under Wilfred Nancy. He also oversaw the academy that brought through talents Rida Zouhir and Nathan Saliba, so there are absolutely some positives to takeaway.


Overall, there are signs of concern for CF Montreal fans on the macro level. While Courtois is clearly a quality coach, the structure around him looks suspect, to say the least.


Closing Thoughts- 


With no wins since April 13th, it’s been a really poor run from Montreal. They will face managerless Nashville SC next, so one would hope this is the opportunity to right the ship. 


Toronto’s 4 wins from 6 leaves them in a far more favorable position, and with Bernadeshi scoring 6 in the last 4, it’s a great moment for the club. After a rocky start to the season, they’ve hit their stride.


That is all for today, thank you for reading. Appreciate the support as always and have a great day!


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