CF Montreal returned from a stay in the West with a rather unexpected success against the Seattle Sounders and a loss against the Los Angeles Galaxy when it was the team considered the most “ takeable” between the two.
The 4-0 loss to Los Angeles might have been a little “harsh” as coach Wilfried Nancy would say, but at the same time the defense has now conceded 33 goals this season in MLS, which is the second most the league’s top total at this point.
All that, with goals projected at 23.4, which means that there are eight or nine goals that could have been avoided since the start of the campaign. It shows that, even if the attack is doing very well with 33 goals scored, fourth in the league, the defense can’t maintain a certain consistency. Halfway through the season, the team has only had one shutout after having had eight in 2021. We are also already very close to last year’s defensive record, which was 44 goals conceded throughout the season.
There is still soccer to be played in 2022, of course, but we are very far from the defensive standards of last season.
Follow the ball, but not only
At the heart of the club’s defensive misfires is so-called ‘ball watching’, which has been implicated in four of the five goals conceded in the last two games. There is a lot of talk about “taking information” in soccer, first of all on the offensive level, where a player who has the ball will “scan” the field and understand what is happening before making a decision, but this aspect also affects the defensive side of the game.
Of these four goals conceded, what we notice a lot is that the Montreal players have their eyes riveted on the ball. What is normal: everyone wants to see the ball, what is happening, to stay on the lookout for the action, but it is also important to scan the field with your eyes in order to see what is happening around so as not to not be caught off guard by a dangerous player who gets overlooked. We could see it on the goal scored by Jordan Morris in Seattle and on the first net of “Chicharito” Hernandez in Los Angeles, even on the two nets of Rayan Raveloson thereafter.
The Montreal backs were always obsessed with the ball, paying no attention to the positioning of dangerous players who did not have it. This is an aspect of CF Montreal’s defensive game that needs a lot of improvement. We have to put some order in there, because the attack is not always going to score two goals per game. There is nothing alarming at this point, but if the defense does not adjust, CF Montreal will have other games like Monday’s.
We saw it against Seattle, a team that CF Montreal was probably more wary of: the players were more alert, focused and we didn’t give anything apart from Morris’ goal. But against the Galaxy, we were a little less alert, less on the lookout and even if we shouldn’t have conceded four goals, we still let the opponent play freely and efficiently.
Photo Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
The transfer window is agitated
As we have seen for some time, MLS has changed and teams now covet the services of younger players, although there are exceptions. In that sense, it’s interesting to watch the approach taken by the New England Revolution under coach Bruce Arena.
In the past, the team didn’t really sell players except for Clint Dempsey and that was over fifteen years ago. Buying players was not so much part of the club’s philosophy either. Since Arena’s existence, Tajon Buchanan, Matt Turner and Adam Buksa have been sold, bringing in $24 million to the organization’s coffers.
But we didn’t stop there: the club also bought a few players to relaunch the project and replace those who left, including Dylan Borrero, Giacomo Vrioni (from Juventus Turin) and goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic.
It really wasn’t the club’s way of doing things in the past, but they have adjusted to this new era in order to be competitive even though this season so far has been much worse than the last one, where the team had finished at the top of the general classification.
Before, the Revolution and its owner Robert Kraft did not represent an inviting choice for many players, because we did not feel that this club had real ambitions. Now the game has changed as the “Revs” develop, sell and buy players.
Photo credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto pulls out the checkbook
It is impossible to ignore the recent successes of Toronto FC, which has not had a good season so far. Last on the list is the departure of attacking midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo to Inter Miami, which should open the door to the arrival of Italian Federico Bernardeschi, also from Juventus.
Behind-the-scenes rumors also tell us that the club are looking to get Canadian midfielder from the Colorado Rapids Mark Anthony Kaye, a player whom TFC coach Bob Bradley managed in Los Angeles a few years ago, which has a lot of meaning. Let’s not forget either the arrivals of Lorenzo Insigne and Domenico Criscito, not to mention the rumors about Canadian international Junior Hoilett.
They don’t stop. Even if their season is not excellent, they push the note and are not afraid to take out the checkbook in order to revive this club which has been less well for two years. We initially believed in a certain youthful turn in Toronto, but it was above all a question of giving opportunities to young players while the club was going through a trough. Finally, we are again betting on veterans who are still at a good age to perform.