MONTREAL — CF Montreal’s heavily rotated lineup fell 1-0 to a short-handed Austin FC at Stade Saputo on Saturday night.
This continues Montreal’s (7-6-2) poor form while up a man, having been outscored 3-0 this season with a numerical advantage.
Former Montreal striker Maxi Urruti was Austin’s (8-4-3) lone goal scorer.
“I would’ve like to see us get on the front foot and attack their box more, we need to pick up the pace and we just didn’t do that enough,” said head coach Wilfried Nancy.
“At the end of the day we didn’t create enough chances to score. This is a good game to learn from and as a team we know how to grow from it.”
The best word to describe the first half of this Major Soccer League match is prudent. Despite being among the most offensively minded teams in the league, both sides just traded short, meaningless stints of possession, hoping the other would slip up.
The best and only chance of the first half came right before the half hour mark through a Montreal corner. After a flick-on from Rudy Camacho, the ball fall to Kei Kamara who was all alone in front but wasn’t ready for it as the ball fell harmlessly into the hands of Austin keeper Brad Stuver.
“It was a really complicated first half. Austin are a team that like to press hard and keep a very high line and we didn’t play in behind them enough,” said Montreal captain Samuel Piette. “I think we just ultimately lacked that bit of cohesion and that killer instinct to get us those points."
It was more of the same following that chance with neither team making much headway until the end of the half. A sloppy and unnecessary tackle in the offensive third saw Daniel Perreira sent off for a second yellow, reducing Austin to 10 men.
Montreal came out in the second half looking to press that advantage, getting in behind the visitors’ back line. Another golden opportunity presented itself to Kamara after a low cross from Zachary Brault-Guillard left him with the simplest of tap-ins. However, once again he couldn’t seem to put it away, letting Austin off the hook.
“If we score either of those goals, obviously it’s an entirely different game,” said Nancy. “At the end of the day we just need more precision in our final effort. It’s tricky when you’re playing a team with 10 men, and they showed that again tonight.”
That miss would come back to haunt them only 15 minutes later when a perfect cross in from John Gallagher found Urruti, putting Austin up 1-0.
Montreal’s final chance at a late equalizer came with five minutes left during a mad scramble in the box, but a desperate Romell Quioto was unable to finish.
“There was a bit of a lack of urgency. We need to get at their backline and exploit our advantage,” said defender Mathieu Choiniere about the team’s frustration in looking for an equalizer. “We know that teams down a man are very motivated to defend their lead and they defended it like dogs.”
The bad news kept coming for Montreal as MVP candidate Djordje Mihailovic’s return to the team will have to be delayed as a knee injury will keep him out of the lineup for two to four more weeks.
Montreal will now turn their attention to Toronto as they prepare for the semifinals of the Canadian Championship on June 22 while Austin returns home to host FC Dallas on June 25.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2022
Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press