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MONTREAL — Defence dominated in a battle of two high-powered offences on Saturday as CF Montreal and New York City FC played to a scoreless draw at Stade Saputo.
For two higher scoring teams in Major League Soccer, the first half was remarkably prudent.
Montreal (11-8-3) enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession with New York (12-4-6) seemingly more than happy to sit in a low block and wait for a counterattack.
The first chance went Montreal’s way just after the 10-minute mark. A dangerous ball from Samuel Piette floated across the goal and met Kamal Miller’s foot who put it wide.
“It’s a difficult ball to defend when you’re running towards your own net,” said Piette, who’s offensive game has evolved as he moved from defensive midfielder to a box-to-box player.
“Today’s game just asked me to be more on that right side and I’m happy that I get to perform well in both roles.”
It took another 30 minutes for a second chance to manifest. Lassi Lappalainen found himself in open space and cut the ball back to Djordje Mihailovic who forced a great leg save from New York goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
Montreal started the second half with the same ball dominance, controlling the pace and looking to get Romell Quioto in behind the New York backline.
At the 55th minute, the finally got their chance. Quioto was played in and squared it for Mason Toye who couldn’t convert, skying the point-blank shot.
“It was just one of those nights, unfortunately,” said Miller “It felt like in the final third the ball wasn’t really bouncing our way. I don’t really think anything’s missing; I think we threw everything at them.”
New York was perfectly content to see out the rest of the game by shutting the door defensively and letting Montreal pass around the defence, doing little to threaten the stalemate.
Despite the lack of finish, head coach Wilfried Nancy was pleased with Montreal's performance, having kept the reigning MLS Cup Champions and second highest-scoring team in the league to zero shots on target.
“We showed today that we are capable of playing at that top level,” said Nancy. “We had a lot of possession, so we didn’t have to defend as much. The whole team was really good defensively and we deserved this [result].”
The crowd also observed a moment of silence before the start of the game, honouring former player and assistant coach Jason Di Tullio who died on Friday.
Both Montreal and New York will now travel to Lower.com Field and take on the Columbus Crew on Aug. 3 and Aug. 6, respectively.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2022.
Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press