Fans will see CF Montreal for one last time this season and they will no doubt hope that their favorites have saved the best for last.
Seeking to participate in the playoffs for a second consecutive year, the Bleu-blanc-noir will host the Portland Timbers at Saputo Stadium on Saturday evening, with the hope of returning to their fans a few weeks later.
These are two teams in similar situations who will cross swords on the Montreal lawn, while they fight for the last places giving access to the playoffs, but they have been going in opposite directions for more than a month.
Despite a streak of seven games without a win (0-4-3), CF Montreal unexpectedly waltzes between the eighth and ninth levels of the Eastern Association. Wednesday evening, against the Houston Dynamo, a goal from Lassi Lappalainen in stoppage time in the second half allowed Hernan Losada’s men to obtain a draw with the flavor of victory, even if that was not the result desired at the start.
“I was on the bench and I was starting to think that a defeat would not be good for the playoff race, the locker room and the atmosphere in general. To get this point and not lose this match at home, you have to take it. We are not satisfied, but this is perhaps the point that will make the difference and this draw means that morale is not low,” mentioned captain Samuel Piette.
Montreal is still in the race due to the lack of killer instinct of the teams fighting with them for the last two available positions in the East.
The Chicago Fire managed to rise slightly above the fray by defeating Inter Miami CF on Wednesday night, and New York City FC have not lost in their last six outings, but DC United , the New York Red Bulls and Charlotte FC squandered several opportunities to advance in the standings. Just like CF Montreal (11-16-5).
Losada will not need to make big, inspired speeches to motivate his troops before the duel on Saturday evening. A quick glance at the rankings should be enough.
“You don’t need to say a lot of things to your players. You look at the rankings and you know that everything is still possible, said the head coach of the Bleu-blanc-noir. It will be another very important game on Saturday and we will give it our all. We will still play to win and I hope our efforts will be rewarded in the end.”
The Timbers (11-11-10) managed to make the most of their last matches. They have not suffered a defeat in their last seven games (5-0-2) and they have scored at least two goals in their last eight outings.
The Portland team is in seventh position in the Western Conference and a victory on Saturday would confirm its return to the playoffs, after coming up short last year.
“There’s a lot of individual quality in Portland. It’s a team that is physically aggressive, noted Losada. They are in the middle of the playoff race like us. They also need points so we know it will be a tough duel. There are no easy ones in MLS.”
CF Montreal will be able to regain the services of defender Gabriele Corbo, who completed his one-match suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards. Striker Romell Quioto played the entire clash against Dynamo and should once again be used extensively on Saturday, although he is not fully recovered from a hamstring injury.
“It’s been a long time since he played a full match. I’m happy he was able to play until the end. We even took a risk with him by leaving him on the field for the entire game. Now I hope that he and all the other players can recover because on Saturday it will be the same,” Losada maintained.
After getting two starts in a row, in Atlanta and Orlando, Ahmed Hamdi was not in the lineup Wednesday evening. He trained alone at the Nutrilait Center on Thursday, and the head coach confirmed that he would not be available against the Timbers.