MLS playoffs: New York City FC will be CF Montreal’s toughest test yet


Advertise with us

MONTREAL - Wilfried Nancy and CF Montreal find themselves in uncharted territory.

Read this article for free:


Already have an account? Log in here »

We need your support!
Local journalism needs your support!

As we navigate through unprecedented times, our journalists are working harder than ever to bring you the latest local updates to keep you safe and informed.

Now, more than ever, we need your support.

Starting at $4.99/month you can access your Brandon Sun online and full access to all content as it appears on our website.

Subscribe Now

or call circulation directly at (204) 727-0527.

Your pledge helps to ensure we provide the news that matters most to your community!

MONTREAL – Wilfried Nancy and CF Montreal find themselves in uncharted territory.

For the first time since 2016, the Major League Soccer team is riding real playoff momentum and find themselves favourites to reach the Eastern Conference Final.

Montreal has won six of its last seven games — including a 2-0 decision over Orlando City in the playoff opener last Sunday — and is playing some of its best soccer of the season on both sides of the ball.

CF Montreal’s head coach Wilfried Nancy looks on from the sideline against Santos Laguna during the second half of the second leg of their 2022 CONCACAF Champions League soccer game in Montreal, Wednesday, February 23, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

On Sunday, the club hosts New York City FC, the defending MLS Cup champions, in the Eastern Conference semifinal. This is a moment the club has been preparing for since Nancy took over the head coaching job in 2021.

“The bigger the challenge, the more I like it because it allows me to push the limits of my players,” said Nancy.

Most of the core group has stayed together throughout Nancy’s nearly two years at the helm and are familiar with this kind of mentality. There will also be the added motivation for revenge after NYCFC handed Montreal a rare road loss in a 4-1 drumming at Yankee Stadium on March 12.

Having won five straight, including a dominant 3-0 dismantling of Inter Miami in the first round, New York will be Montreal’s stiffest test in weeks.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game and we’ll have to be careful, but we can’t let doubt affect our confidence,” said captain Samuel Piette. “I was watching the game and New York was definitely the superior team, so there’s no surprise we were playing them.”

New York looks to have fully recovered from the midseason woes that saw the club drop out contention for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Following the departure of star forward Valentín Castellanos, who signed on with La Liga side Girona in July, the team struggled for long stretches before somehow righting ship in September and looking nearly unstoppable in the buildup to the playoffs.

The two clubs last met on July 30 when they played to 0-0 draw at Saputo Stadium

“We’re two teams that are in different places now. They’re on a pretty good hot streak coming into this game and finding their stride,” said Canadian right-back Alistair Johnston. “When you take out Tatí [Castellanos] it takes a couple weeks to figure out what it’s going to look like without him up there and now they’re in a good spot.”

Besides, the Saputo crowd, home-field advantage will manifest itself in another crucial way — the pitch. NYCFC play at in the cosy confines of Yankee Stadium, the smallest pitch in MLS, whereas Stade Saputo boasts the largest field in the league, something that should advantage Nancy’s possession-heavy style.

“They’re still a very good team with the ball and in possession just like us so matchup with be pretty tight,” said Piette. “It can go either way especially when both teams are so familiar but the atmosphere, especially if it was like last game, will be key.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2022.

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us