Sports: Road weary CF Montréal returns from long break with tough schedule

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Following an international break of more than three weeks, CF Montréal manager Wilfried Nancy is eagerly anticipating the next stretch of MLS games — happy, if not necessarily satisfied, with what he’s seen to date.

a group of men playing a game of football: CF Montréal midfielder Victor Wanyama looks to settle the ball past Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Russell Teibert (31) in the first half at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, on May 8, 2021. © Provided by The Gazette CF Montréal midfielder Victor Wanyama looks to settle the ball past Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Russell Teibert (31) in the first half at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, on May 8, 2021.

“I’m pretty happy with what we’ve done so far (although), yes, it could have been better in terms of points and results,” Nancy said during a video conference.

CFM, which ended a two-game losing streak on May 29, defeating Chicago 1-0 on the road, returns to the pitch Wednesday (8 p.m., TVA Sports, TSN Radio 690, 91.9 FM) against D.C. United in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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Nancy’s club has a 3-3-2 record and sits eighth in the Eastern Conference, just below the playoff line, one of fours teams with 11 points. It holds a game in hand over D.C. United (4-5-0, 12 points) although the opponents are coming off consecutive shutout victories against Inter Miami — both clean sheets recorded by Bill Hamid since making his season debut.

CFM has had difficulties protecting leads, while conceding several late second-half goals. Defending against set pieces also remains a recurring problem.

“We need to improve on set pieces; we know that,” Nancy said, adding he’d like to see his team win individual battles higher and quicker on the pitch. “We need to improve the way we defend the box,” he said. “Also how we’re going to score goals.”

Nomadic CF Montréal on the move again next month

  Nomadic CF Montréal on the move again next month CF Montréal, a team without a Quebec home base for more than a year now because of COVID-19 , is on the move again next month. The Major League Soccer club announced Monday it would be forced to move two July “home” games from DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the facility it has been using this season, because of a conflict with the CONCACAF Gold Cup preliminary round. CFM will now face Inter Miami CF at Red Bull Arena, in Harrison, N.J., on July 3. Four nights later, the club will meet New York City FC at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

The players scattered throughout North America following their victory against the Fire, receiving a 10-day break before returning to their Florida base to resume training on June 9. While Nancy said the players needed the break, he also said it created potential problems for the coaches.

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“The players came back with a good spirit, and we know the brain controls everything,” Nancy said.

“You get to refresh your mind a bit away from football,” said midfielder Victor Wanyama, one of CFM’s captains this season. “Coming back isn’t easy. Hopefully we can get back to the momentum we had before the break, but we need to pick it up quickly.”

The respite comes with a price, as CFM travels to Nashville Friday for a game Saturday night. The club also learned Monday its next two matches — July 3 against Inter Miami and July 7 against New York City FC — will be played in Harrison, N.J., and Orlando, respectively, because its Fort Lauderdale home is unavailable due to the CONCACAF Gold Cup preliminary round.

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The team is growing weary of leading a nomadic soccer life because of COVID-19 border restrictions. Nancy said it was “absurd” that CFM can’t return home to Saputo Stadium, considering the Canadiens have been playing before 3,500 spectators at the Bell Centre in their NHL semifinal series against the Vegas Golden Knights.

“It’s simply illogical that we’re going through this, given that we’re vaccinated,” Nancy said, adding he hopes the club receives clearance to return to Montreal for a July 17 game against FC Cincinnati.

“I don’t see why it won’t be possible,” Nancy said.

“Everybody here wants to play in Montreal; wants to play in front of our fans,” said attacking midfielder Djordje Mihailovic . “We definitely want to go home and play, that’s for sure.”

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Chonière's first MLS goal paces CF Montréal to hard-fought win over Inter Miami .
Finally, CF Montréal didn’t squander a lead. Mathieu Choinière’s first career Major League Soccer goal proved to be the difference Saturday night as CFM edged Inter Miami CF 1-0 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. CF Montréal was the home team for the contest, but the venue had to be moved because DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is being used for preliminary-round games in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. CFM has been using the southern Florida site as its home base this season because of border restrictions caused by COVID-19.

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