MONTREAL — On Sunday evening, CF Montreal put together a momentous first-half comeback in the Canadian Classique on the way to a 4-3 win over Toronto FC.
On top of severely damaging their archrivals' playoff chances, Montreal also set a franchise record for most points in a regular season.
“It’s something that we’ve done all season, we just didn't stop fighting, even at half time they wanted to keep pushing and I support that obviously,” said Montreal coach Wilfried Nancy. “We had the heart to show what kind of team we are. A team that enjoys the way they play and a team that plays with passion.”
Nancy's club sits second in the MLS Eastern Conference at 52 points with five games still to play. Philadelphia leads the east with 60 points.
Montreal (16-9-4) now turns its attention toward clinching a playoff spot for the first time since 2016. The team can accomplish that Friday when they host the Columbus Crew (9-6-13).
Columbus has lost just one game in their last 16 — and that happened at home against Montreal a month ago. The Crew are once again in a playoff spot and could even face off against Montreal in the first round.
“Normally we’re the ones fighting for a playoff spot and playing teams that can knock us out so it’s a really nice feeling to have the shoe on the other foot,” said captain Samuel Piette. “So if we do face them in the playoffs, we want to show them that we’re dangerous on the road as well as at home.”
Cucho Hernandez and Lucas Zelarayàn have emerged as one of MLS’ premier offensive duos, driving Columbus’ offence and combining for 12 goals and six assists since Hernadez’s arrival from Watford in June.
During their last meeting, Montreal managed to keep Hernandez off the scoresheet — one of only four teams to do so.
While Montreal has dominated away from home, their recent play in front of the Stade Saputo crowd has been less than impressive.
Four of the team’s last five last losses have come at home, with the offence struggling to impose themselves consistently. That should prove even more challenging as the post-season nears and the intensity of the games increase.
“We’ve been in these situations before and that experience is crucial,” said Nancy. “Suffering and losing the games we lost last year and at the beginning of this year are necessary for us to learn and grow.”
Kickoff at Saputo Stadium is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2022.
Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press