CF Montreal shakes up defending champions, but settles for a 0-0 draw
MONTREAL — Assistant coach Jason Di Tullio was synonymous with passion, character and intensity, and from the top of his cloud, he surely enjoyed the show offered by CF Montreal on Saturday night.
The Montreal troupe jostled New York City FC for most of the game and went for a 0-0 draw in front of a full house at Saputo Stadium.
At first glance, the result may seem disappointing for CF Montreal, who allowed no shots on target during their dominance of the defending MLS champions, but given the circumstances and the palpable emotion all around the stadium Saputo, this point was won in the best possible way.
Di Tullio, who died Friday morning of brain cancer, left his mark on the Montreal team and the players paid him back against a club that had not suffered defeat in its last six outings.
« I told the guys before the game that a win would be good, but I think to honor Jason today you had to have that ‘grinta’. To be positive, to be passionate, to be brave and courageous, like Jason was, and I think we were tonight,” said midfielder Samuel Piette.
CF Montreal (11-8-3) could have had every excuse in the world to have their minds elsewhere, but they imposed a rhythm that put New York City FC (12-4-6) on their heels from the first seconds of the confrontation.
“I tried to find resources. Jason wouldn’t have liked me being shot. I was very happy with the game. The guys were very good, whether with the ball, with our scoring opportunities, and without the ball, in our availability and in respecting our way of playing,” observed the head coach of CF Montreal. , Wilfried Nancy, whose relationship with Di Tullio dates back to 2010.
Transported by a touching video paying homage to Di Tullio as well as an excited crowd, the Bleu-blanc-noir took advantage of this point to edge out the New York Red Bulls in third place in the Eastern Conference, with 36 points. He also went undefeated in his last three games (2-0-1).
“It was difficult for the whole group, especially because we knew how much Jason was loved by the players, the team and the city. Before the game, I tried to hold back my tears. When I signed my contract here, Jason was one of the first people to contact me. He wouldn’t have wanted me to cry or be negative. I’m sure he was smiling from up there,” defender Kamal Miller said.
The New York team leaves Montreal with a snatch point, but which allowed them to extend their unbeaten streak to seven games (4-0-3) and stay second in the East, with 42 points. Since entering MLS, she has never suffered a loss at Stade Saputo (4-0-2).
In 2021, CF Montreal won at home against New York City FC, but the game was played in Harrison, New Jersey.
New York City FC were deprived of the services of MLS top scorer Valentin Castellanos, who will now play for Girona FC in the Spanish Premier League on loan. Castellanos had scored 13 goals in 17 games this season.
In addition, defender Joel Waterman received a yellow card and will be suspended from CF Montreal’s next game, which will take place on Wednesday against the Crew in Columbus.
Champions bend, but don’t break
Wilfried Nancy’s men quickly got to work and they laid the foundations for a complicated evening for the defending champions.
Their first real opportunity to score came in the 12th minute, following a cross from Piette. Djordje Mihailovic was unable to head the ball and Miller was imprecise with his left foot, near the net.
The Montrealers continued to storm into New York City FC territory, but failed to find the back of the net. After accepting a pass from Mihailovic, Lassi Lappalainen fired a shot that hit Mason Toye but missed to the left of Sean Johnson.
Johnson had to signal in the 42nd minute to maintain the tie at 0-0. Mihailovic saw his first shot blocked by an opposing player, but his second hit the keeper’s leg before going out of bounds.
In the 55th minute, the Bleu-blanc-noir had a golden opportunity to open the scoring, but the opportunism was lacking. Miller played superb defensive play and launched Romell Quioto running down the left flank. Quioto passed the other side to Toye, who, despite the opening, sent the ball over the net.
“Again, this is the finishing touch. It’s the strike or the well-adjusted center to get that goal. It was a big missed opportunity for Mason. It’s unfortunate, but these are things that happen,” analyzed Piette.
CF Montreal continued to buzz in the second half, making several inroads into the enemy penalty area, but scoring opportunities went unfulfilled.
The home team dominated possession, nearly 59 percent, and outshot the shots on net 13-2.