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CF Montreal hoping to squash late-goal pattern against winless Seattle

Laurent Courtois is aware of the early-season pattern. CF Montreal’s coach hopes his squad can nip it in the bud as soon as Saturday night against Seattle Sounders FC in Major League Soccer play.

Laurent Courtois is aware of the early-season pattern.

CF Montreal’s coach hopes his squad can nip it in the bud as soon as Saturday night against Seattle Sounders FC in Major League Soccer play.

Montreal (2-2-1) has dropped two games in a row where they’ve conceded late winners. Courtois' side led 3-1 over Chicago Fire FC in the 84th minute on March 16 before their opponents mounted a spectacular comeback to win 4-3.

Last week, Montreal held D.C United to a standstill until the 84th minute when Pedro Santos beat goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois with a half-volley to give his side a 1-0 win.

"We believe we've targeted the behaviours and actions that lead us to these scenarios,” Courtois said Friday. "We had attitudes and actions that we specifically wanted to see in these precise moments, and we didn't manage to apply them this time.

“We lacked a bit of discernment, you could say.”

Despite that, the first-year head coach likes what he’s seeing from his players through five games — all on the road — and is putting the onus on himself to help his squad mesh.

"I've learned how capable they are and the heart that this roster has, the amount of people that genuinely desire to contribute to a cause,” Courtois said. 

“Now my job is to link it more together so we can produce the same message on the field and mentally to be able to respond in difficult (moments) like the last few minutes of the last two away games and have the appropriate response.”

Montreal’s next test is in Seattle, where they’ll wrap up a season-opening six-game road trip against a Sounders side that’s desperate for its first win this season.

The injury-riddled Sounders (0-3-2) are last in the 14-team Western Conference a season after placing second, but have received reinforcements of late with the return of midfielder Albert Rusnák.

Despite Seattle’s less-than-stellar record, Montreal expects a fight at Lumen Field.

“They haven’t gotten the results they’ve wanted, so they will come out strong,” midfielder Mathieu Choiniere said. “But it's also up to us to match their intensity and show that we are here to get a result and that we are ready for this game."

"We have a lot of respect for the potential of this team and the individuals they have,” Courtois added. “Playing at home … they want to showcase certain things in front of their fans.”


Matias Coccaro, Josef Martinez and Dominic Iankov — Montreal’s three marquee offensive signings last off-season — were held off the scoresheet in their first start together against D.C.

Individually the signings have been a success. Coccaro has three goals and one assist, Martinez has one goal and two assists, and Iankov has one goal in limited minutes.

However, the front trio only produced two shots on goal collectively against D.C.

“It takes time,” Courtois said. “I told them it's not easy with newcomers and the travelling. Everything will take a little time, but it's certainly a trio that is not too far behind for now and we've seen what they are capable of."


Starting the season with six straight games on the road isn’t ideal, but Montreal players will have to get used to it.

Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, where the club often starts its MLS season, is expected to be under renovation for four years and Stade Saputo is not winterized.

"It's the reality we'll have to live with,” club president and CEO Gabriel Gervais told reporters at a team event Tuesday. “We're handling it very well at the moment, we have very good results away from home."

Gervais added that the team doesn’t have plans to winterize Stade Saputo.

"Even if we wanted to implement the best possible system to warm up or winterize the stadium, the grass cannot grow in February, in March,” he said, a couple days before 30 centimetres of snow fell in downtown Montreal.

Choiniere says the team is embracing the challenge of building up points on the road.

"It's not easy to go on the road again and again and again, but it's something that we're used to,” he said. “We try to do our best to start the first games and to get the most points out of it.”

Montreal will finally take the pitch for its home opener April 13 against FC Cincinnati.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2024.

Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press