MONTREAL — CF Montréal's playoff position is far more solid entering the final third of the Major League Soccer season than it was at this point last year.
The club was on the bubble of the playoff race and in good form in 2021 before only claiming two wins in its last 10 games and missing the post-season.
Montreal is in a much more favourable position this year, 10 points away from danger and in sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference.
The club has an excellent opportunity to further cement its place in the playoffs when it faces the struggling Houston Dynamo on the road Saturday night.
Montreal enters the match still looking for its first win in Houston.
"I’m really excited for this game because I love a challenge," said head coach Wilfried Nancy. "It’s a big field and it has its own unique characteristics and every time we start off well there, we fall apart later in the game, but this is a great chance to get some points against a really tough team."
Houston’s run in its last eight games has been nothing short of catastrophic, claiming on four points in that span and being outscored 19-9.
Despite Houston's poor form, Nancy's philosophy of "there are no games in MLS" has resonated with his squad.
"Heading into Houston, it’s tough to predict how they’ll approach the game we don’t really know what’s waiting for us,” said forward Joaquin Torres. “No matter what though, we have our way of playing and we’re going to keep playing with those principles and won’t back off them."
Montreal is on a strong run of form, having gone unbeaten in its last five games (3-0-2). But a lack of finishing showed in draws against New York City FC and inter Miami. Nancy feels the club could have collected three points in those matches had it not let opposing defences off the hook.
“I spoke with (attacking midfielder Djordje Mihailovic) about certain situations where he could’ve shot and didn’t. We know that there’s an infinitely small chance of scoring from outside the box, but if the play unfolds in a way that requires a shot, then you have to shoot,” Nancy said
“There’s been a lot of moments in games when we don’t finish our movements so that’s something we’ve been working on.”
The game will be Montreal's last against a Western Conference opponent before a string of nine games against Eastern Conference teams in the hunt for a playoff spot.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2022.
Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press