MONTREAL — CF Montréal's form on the road battle is a major reason why the Major League Soccer club is battling for top spot in the Eastern Conference.
With identical 7-4-2 records both at home and away, Montreal has established itself a consistent performer regardless of where it plays.
That kind of consistency will be crucial as Montreal (14-8-4) heads to Soldier Field to take on Chicago Fire (8-12-6) Saturday evening. Montreal heads to Chicago on a seven-game unbeaten run (5-0-2) and a three-game road winning streak.
In-form Montreal forward Romell Quioto enters the match with five goals in his last three matches, but Chicago has turned its home ground into a veritable defensive fortress that stifles even the strongest offences. The Fire have allowed only 10 goals in 13 home games, keeping seven clean sheets in the process.
Montreal's ability to impose its style on the game rather than adapting to their opponents while on the road has been one the team's greatest strengths this season. Head coach Wilfried Nancy’s possession-based approach with positional fluidity means that his side is in constant evolution and creates more opportunities to break down defences.
“The style of (Nancy) is a tactician. We love how we play and how we execute these games,” said Montreal defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama. "Playing away at Chicago is always tough, but we just have to play our game and create our chances."
Montreal will be looking to apply more pressure on the first-placed Philadelphia Union. Currently five points behind and with a game in hand, the final run of eight games is of vital importance if Montreal wants to top the Eastern Conference.
Along with a favourable matchup, the first-place team in each conference is granted a bye to the second round, allowing them to rest players and have more time to prepare.
“The last eight games are all going to be very difficult and it’s something that we’ve very aware of,” said Nancy. “Chicago haven’t won at home in a while so they’re going to come out very aggressively and our objective is to put together a performance that disrupts that.”
Montreal’s scintillating form comes down to its defence making an impact on both sides of the ball. The back five has scored important goals — Joel Waterman scored the winner in a 2-1 win over Columbus on Aug. 3 and Alistair Johnston had a goal in a 3-2 win at Houston on Aug. 13 — and has held some of the most in-form attackers in MLS at bay.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 26, 2022.
Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press