CHARLOTTE | With a win tonight, CF Montreal could climb to the top echelon of the MLS Eastern Conference.
• Read also: CF Montreal will not sit on its laurels
• Read also: A field of the Montreal Impact Foundation will be created in Laval
The Montrealers are third with 17 points. Ahead of them, the New York Red Bulls have 18 and the Philadelphia Union, 19.
By chance, these two teams are facing each other today and if they draw and the Bleu-blanc-noir wins against Charlotte FC, the Quebec club will climb to the top of the Association.
“I was not aware of this scenario. It shows that we are going one game at a time and that we are not looking too much at what the other teams are doing, ”said midfielder Samuel Piette.
"I don't think about that at all"
The same goes for head coach Wilfried Nancy, who said he didn't really pay attention to this kind of detail during his pre-game meeting with the media on Thursday.
“It doesn't mean anything because if we win all the matches, we are champions too. »
"I don't think about that at all. We have five games left before the break, we will try to bring back the most points and after that it will be another cycle. »
Nancy is a pragmatic man and this is one of his great strengths. He doesn't lose his temper when things are going well or when things are going badly.
The fact remains that his team has not lost for eight games when we take into account the draw against Cruz Azul in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
"I live in the moment and I like what's going on. This job is fabulous, but we get very excited. »
“We are good where we should be, but we are taking a lot of step back from that and I had even more demands this week because we want to stay on what we do well and try to ignore of all. »
He also stressed that the success of his team allows him to be more demanding with his men since they are receptive.
“When we lose, we try to find the right levers to use. When we win, it's even easier for me to be precise about certain things, ”added the head coach.
Sequence to improve
CF Montreal shows up in North Carolina intent on extending their unbeaten streak to eight, but Charlotte FC has everything it takes to cause them trouble.
Indeed, after stumbling in its first home game, Charlotte won its next four games at Bank of America Stadium where it allowed just two goals in five games.
“We play against a different style of play and on synthetics. It's also a trip and it's been a long time since we left, said Nancy.
“They are a team that is interesting to see, there is thought in the nuances of the game. I am not surprised that they have good results. »
This meeting marks the start of a segment of the calendar that will test the Montreal workforce. The team will play five matches over the next two weeks.
"It's a big physical challenge because we're playing this game, we'll be back in Montreal in the wee hours of the morning and we'll be back in training the next day," said Piette.
“We will then start preparing for the game against Nashville and move on Tuesday to play there. We then come back in the wee hours and we play again on Sunday. It's a nice big streak. »
At least during this period only the matches against Charlotte FC and Nashville SC will be played abroad.
In North Carolina, CF Montreal is held in very high regard and the club's recent successes are not believed to be a flash in the pan.
"I'll be honest with you, I think Montreal is one of the favorite teams to finish first in the East. Olivier [Renard, the sports director] and Wilfried [Nancy, the head coach] are doing a huge job. »
It is the sporting director of Charlotte FC who says so. Zoran Krneta gave his opinion unsolicited.
For the Serbian, everything suggests that Montreal's successes will last over time during the season.
The Work of the Recognized Coach
The flowers also came from the head coach, Miguel Angel Ramirez, who praised the work of his counterpart.
Above all, he highlighted all the preparation of the Montreal driver who, according to him, does a great job to ensure that everything is as controlled as possible in a match.
“I really like what they [the CF Montreal players] are trying to do. I don't see anything risky in their game, everything is calculated, ”he said during a videoconference.
"I see a lot of the work of the coach behind it and I like that a lot. »
Station in Djordje
Beyond the work done by Nancy, there is also the quality of Djordje Mihailovic's game that catches the eye.
Ramirez has every intention of giving no inch to the Montreal midfielder.
“The most important thing is not to give him space to turn around or to have access to the last line of defense because that is where he is dangerous. »
"We have to be close to him at all times and give him very little space so he doesn't have the time or the chance to hurt us."
In addition, Charlotte FC will probably have to play the match without its leader and big brother, Christian Fuchs.
The 36-year-old Austrian is slightly injured and his behavior during yesterday's morning training prompts Ramirez to be cautious.
“We will continue to monitor his situation, he may need more time. I'm not sure I want to take a chance with this game. »
This week will be Charlotte's second game visiting the USL's Richmond Kickers in a US Open Cup match. Charlotte secured a clear 5-1 victory thanks to a goal and three assists from Yordy Reyna.
Andre Shinyashiki was acquired from the Colorado Rapids earlier this month and he hit hard scoring in his first outing last Saturday. He did it again by moving the ropes again against Richmond on Wednesday.
We often talk about fortress in soccer to describe a state of mind when a team plays at home. the North Carolina club represents this mentality well with four wins and only one loss, as well as only two goals against at home.
Charlotte has been doing pretty well since the start of the season and is one point away from a playoff spot, but the offense is modest with just 10 goals in 11 games. In the East, only Miami (9) and Chicago (7) do worse.
Since the start of the season. Charlotte has allowed more than two goals only once and that was in the first game of the season, a 3-0 loss to D.C. United.