The hero of the day, Mathieu Choinière, recorded his team’s second goal in the 47th minute in a 2-1 victory against FC Charlotte, deprived of a dozen players whose names had been registered in the COVID protocol of the MLS.
To quote the politicians of a well-known sovereigntist party, let’s say that the winning conditions were met for CF Montreal to raise the bar after two defeats without scoring a single goal.
This victory, which comes after two shutout losses, including a 4-0 correction in Toronto in the semi-finals of the Canadian Championship, propels CF Montreal to 2nd place in the East, a small unit behind New York City CF.
Entering the break in place of Lassi Lappalainen to reinvigorate a rather timid attack and left lane, Choinière proved his coach right in his first long run.
Well fueled by a cross pass from Romell Quioto at the entrance to enemy territory, the Quebecer kept the ball into the opposing area, where he mystified a rival with a hook, a gesture repeatedly succeeded to perfection by Nacho Piatti on that same lawn.
I saw him do this gesture so often that I should give him a dedication of this goal, said Choinière, particularly smiling after the match. I’ve seen him do it so much in training and outwit me like that. To score as soon as I enter, and to score the winning goal, that makes me really happy. Afterwards, I had juice for 120 minutes.
If Wilfried Nancy hid his pride just after the goal, he admitted that it made him a little velvet to see a player score barely entered the field.
I’m not the most expressive, moreover my wife criticizes it, but it is sure that I felt shivers, said Nancy in a press briefing. I know my team. My emotion was contained, but the chills were there.
Choinière’s cross shot beat goalkeeper George Marks, starting for the first time in MLS, to his left. This is Choinière’s first game-winning goal on the Garber circuit.
He celebrated the whole thing by putting his hand on his closed fist, a gesture of karate, a special request from his girlfriend’s younger brother, present in the stands.
I looked at my family and everyone had a big banana in their face, imagined the Quebecer. It’s sick to score the day after Saint-Jean.
The referee of the match, however, proceeded to the revision of the goal, since Zachary Brault-Guillard was in an offside position and seemed to have hindered the goalkeeper, without however touching the ball.
The decision was upheld after a few minutes of suspense to confirm Choinière’s second goal of the season.
It was not clear to me the goal, admitted head coach Wilfried Nancy. Most of the time, when they go to see the recovery, they reconsider their decision. They judged that the goalkeeper had no chance of touching the ball. We take it. We need it right now.
I was stressed and wondering what they had seen that we didn’t see, said the player of the match. I didn’t know what was going on. When he pointed in the middle of the field, I was relieved.
CF Montreal started their game on the right foot in the first period. From the 6th minute, a cross from Zachary Brault-Guillard found Quioto, forgotten in Charlotte’s six meters. With his flair, the Honduran instinctively crossed the ball to Marks’ left.
But the celebrations were short-lived. Three minutes later, Sebastian Breza dived to box a ball he could and should have pinned down.
In the process, Guzman Curojo was forgotten between Joel Waterman, Samuel Piette and Lassi Lappalainen and redirected without hesitation a center from a teammate in the opposing goal.
The rest of the first half was rather lackluster in attack for the hosts. The absence of Djordje Mihailovic is felt, although we are assured that the team has the depth to replace him.
Still, at the break, Nancy decided to replace Ahmed Hamdi with Ismaël Koné. Matko Miljevic, who started last week, was unused on Saturday night.
Beyond the offensive animation, the result took precedence after the bitter loss suffered in Toronto on Wednesday.
It was not an easy game in Toronto, admitted Romell Quioto. We are happy to have turned the page quickly. It was the kind of atmosphere that transports us.
The return of the ultras
We hadn’t seen them at Stade Saputo since last September. For the first time this season, a group of ultras took place in the west stands of the stadium.
First installed in section 131, they migrated just before the start of the meeting to section 132, which they occupied until last year. At odds with the club since the name change, the ultras had seen their section closed and some members banned from the stadium in 2021.
First silent for the first few minutes, an emoji of sleep on a banner, they then animated part of the evening with their songs, a little louder than those of the group of 1642 at the other end of the field.
I knew it just before starting the match that they would be there and I heard them, said Wilfried Nancy. There were twists and turns between supporters on both sides. It is so much the better if there is the occasion that the fans come back. We need everyone, the ultras and the 1642s.
It was nice to see all the fans, added Choinière. The more there is, the more noise we hear, the more it motivates us. They are welcome.
The ultras present also passed a few messages to the senior management of the club with some banners. We could read there:
Forever we will sing your name, the Impact,
Rebrand local, échec international or
Straight, proud and without regrets, our fight continues.
Present at the game, owner Joey Saputo and president Gabriel Gervais talked at some point while looking towards section 132 of their box.
How will this return of the ultras be perceived? New slingshot or outstretched hand?
The Return of Mason Toye
The return of striker Mason Toye was unanimous.
Absent from the field since August 2021, first injured in the shoulder and then in the adductors, the American finally entered an official match in the 78th minute.
From his first touch of the ball, a few seconds later, he just missed the target with his head, after a cross from Romell Quioto, again him.
I’m super happy, but also disappointed that he didn’t score, said Nancy. I wanted to give him minutes. He worked a lot and was very brave. We hope it will help us for the future.
A sequel that promises to be full-bodied for the Montreal eleven.
CF Montreal will play its next two games on the American West Coast. First in Seattle on Wednesday, then against the Los Angeles Galaxy next Monday – for the southern neighbors’ National Day, this time.