CF Montreal suffers a 3-1 loss to defending champion New York City FC in the MLS Cup playoffs
MONTREAL — Defending MLS Cup champion New York City FC have used experience and pressure to maintain their run for another title.
NYCFC used their initial momentum to end CF Montreal’s playoff series with a 3-1 win in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday. Maximiliano Moralez, Héber and Talles Magno all scored for the visitors, who took a 3-0 lead before the home side could enter the table.
Djordje Mihailovic scored Montreal’s only goal.
Montreal got off to a nervous start, unable to hold the ball for more than a few passes at a time. That would prove costly as Moralez was left alone in front of an open net after a series of defensive errors, putting the visitors up just six minutes away.
“They put a lot of pressure, but what I like is the attitude of the players. Yes, we conceded a goal, but we came back and attacked the box,” the head coach said. of Montreal Wilfried Nancy. “Their goalkeeper made a lot of those saves, but we have to make those kinds of moments count.”
The error seemed to wake Montreal up as the home side began to dominate the ball. Their first chance came just five minutes after conceding when Alistair Johnston found Kai Kamara’s header in the box, forcing a fine reaction from New York keeper Sean Johnson.
“Teams like this turn half chances into goals and they’ve done just that,” Johnston said. “Little mistakes that we let snowball and when you play against good teams with the best players, they punish us.”
Johnston and Kamara would reconnect later, with Kamara hitting the post as home team pressure on the New York backline continued to mount.
Shortly after 30 minutes, Johnson was again called upon to bail out the NYCFC defense when Ismaël Koné found himself on the end of a cross, prompting another incredible save.
As Montreal continued to press, New York found openings to counter just as the first half was winding down. After taking possession of his own half, Santiago Rodriguez spotted Héber’s late run to double his lead in stoppage time.
“Obviously we can do better in these situations, but I never look at individuals when we concede. It’s always done as a unit,” Nancy said. “We played well for the vast majority of the game and that’s what you have to focus on after games like this.”
The second half saw both teams maintain their style of play, with Montreal dominating possession for long stretches and New York sitting deep and soaking up the pressure.
“Scoring and then parking the bus is something a lot of teams have done against us, so it’s not something we weren’t used to,” Montreal midfielder Samuel Piette said. “It was a little harder to break that barrier they built, but we created chances and the ball just wouldn’t go in at the end of the day.”
Once again, NYCFC struck on the counterattack, taking a penalty kick after Montreal goalkeeper James Pantemis beat Gabriel Pereira in the penalty area. Magno, who came on in the 58th minute, stepped up and extended the lead to 3-0 three minutes later.
Montreal scored Mihailovic in the 85th minute – his last goal in front of the Stade Saputo crowd before leaving for the Dutch side AZ Alkmaar this winter.
New York will now begin preparations for the Eastern Conference Finals on October 30 at Subaru Park in Philadelphia to face the Union.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on October 23, 2022.
Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press