CF Montreal left a lot of goals to their opponents at the start of the season, but those defensive troubles seem to be a thing of the past.
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Since losing 4-0 to Toronto FC in the Canadian Championship semi-finals at the end of July, head coach Wilfried Nancy’s men have given their opponents 14 goals in 11 games, giving a goal or less on seven occasions, including three shutouts.
This is a contrast to the start of the season, when they allowed 27 goals in the first 15 matches of the Major League Soccer (MLS) campaign, recording just one shutout.
Still, the players on the team are the same, as are Nancy’s strategies and formations. The team’s defenders, however, easily explain this click: they had time to acclimatize to each other, as well as to the strategies.
“The coaches always told us that we were a good defensive team based on certain advanced statistics. They like to show us, for example, the estimated goals against”, launched Alistair Johnston, in an interview on Tuesday.
“When you see that, it puts some things into perspective. At the same time, we know we’re giving too many big chances [de marquer]. We are much more cohesive when one of us gets caught, which can happen when we play in such a system, where we leave central defenders in a one-on-one situation very often.
“It’s good to see that even without Rudy [Camacho]no matter who takes his place, whether [Gabriele Corbo] or myself, there is this form of chemistry and understanding of the system.”
The defensive group’s most recent success came Saturday at Stade Saputo, when they completely handcuffed the New England Revolution attack in a 4-0 win. At the end of the match, the visitors were never able to seriously attack goalkeeper James Pantemis’ cage.
“We wanted to solidify. We were giving away too easy goals, explained Joel Waterman. Against New England, we sacrificed our body continuously and we defended the penalty area well. That’s what it takes to get shutouts in this league. It just takes time.”
“I feel like everyone had a good 90 minute game and that’s something we were pushing for,” Johnston added. As much as the result is important, heading into the playoffs, I felt like we didn’t have a game where everyone played well for 90 minutes. That’s what we need to focus on for the playoffs. Of course, there will be mental errors, but we have to reduce them as much as possible.
CF Montreal will have the opportunity to play a second match without a hitch, or almost, on Saturday in Chicago, where they will visit the Fire.
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