Preview: CF Montréal vs Nashville SC

After a hectic week with three games and a coaching change, things aren’t slowing down for the Boys in Gold. Interim head coach Rumba Munthali and his squad kick off another three game week starting Saturday in Montreal.

Match info

Teams: CF Montréal vs Nashville SC
Referees: Tim Ford (Ref), Brian Dunn (AR1), Gianni Facchini (AR2), Pierre-Luc Lauziere (Fourth), Edvin Jurisevic (VAR), Tom Supple (AVAR)
Odds: MTL (+145), Draw (+240), NSH (+165)
Date: Saturday, May 25, 2024
Time: 6:30 pm CT, Stade Saputo, Montréal, Quebec, Canada
TV: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
TV Commentary: Joe Tolleson & Greg Sutton (English), Jesus Acosta & Carlos Suarez (Spanish), Frederic Lord & Vincent Destouches (French)
Radio: 104.5 The Zone
Radio Commentary: Will Boling & Eddie Carvacho
Forecast: 71°/49°. 67º at kickoff. Partly cloudy. 20% chance of rain. 60% humidity. 3-5 mph wind.

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CF Montreal

13th (East) | 12 points | 3W-3D-7L | -14 GD |
Last match: 2-1 loss vs. Forge FC (Canadian Championship)
Power Rankings: 28th
Goal leaders: Matías Cóccaro (3), Ariel Lassiter & Josef Martínez (2)
Assist leaders: Mathieu Choinière, Ariel Lassiter & Josef Martínez (3)

Availability Report

After what seemingly looked like a great start to Montreal’s season, things have not gone according to plan in Québec. They have one win in their last 12 matches and three wins total this season in all competitions. If that wasn’t enough, they are also on a four-game losing streak.

In addition to troubles on the pitch, Montreal are also struggling off of it. Homegrown player and star midfielder Mathieu Choinière recently requested a trade according to the Athletic.

Earlier this month Montreal announced that the club and chief sporting officer Olivier Renard have mutually parted ways after almost five years in his role. CEO and current interim CSO Gabriel Gervais stated “strategic differences” as the reason.

So if you thought things can’t get any worse than they are in Nashville, think again.

Despite the media buzz around him, Montreal’s manager Laurent Courtois hasn’t had the best of starts as a head coach in MLS. The former Columbus Crew 2 manager and Wilfred Nancy disciple was seen as someone who can lead Montreal back to success. 

While he still has time to right the ship and implement his philosophy, he’s under pressure to start producing results. Montreal’s exit in the Canadian Championship was the last blow in a series of recent losses. Montreal were knocked out in the quarterfinal against Canadian Premier League side Forge FC.

Courtois’ style is similar to Nancy, though not exactly the same. While he still implements the 3-4-2-1 formation, Montreal are a bit less expansive and more pragmatic in their approach. That hasn’t seemed to exactly work as they have conceded the second most goals (31) in MLS this season.

It would be unfair to talk about Courtois or Montreal without mentioning their injury crisis. A number of key players have missed or are still missing time because of injury. Star forward signings Matías Cóccaro and Josef Martínez are on top of the list. Important players like Raheem Edwards, Nathan Saliba and Kwadwo Opku have all spent time on the injury list.

Injuries and a lack of quality depth have made it hard for Courtois to have a consistent backline or line up in general. They are also the only MLS team with only one designated player in the squad. That slot is filled by former Tottenham Hotspur stalwart Victor Wanyama, who has fallen out of favor and has played just 201 minutes this season.

With all that being said, Nashville SC will have to be mentally and physically ready to battle for the three points. Going away in MLS is never easy, especially when traveling to Stade Saputo. 

Montreal still have quality players like Ariel Lassiter who leads the team in goal contributions and the aforementioned Choinière, whose versatility plays a huge part on both ends of the pitch.

Nashville SC

11th (East) | 15 points | 3W-6D-4L | -3 GD |
Last match: 1-1 draw vs. Atlanta United
Power Rankings: 21st
Goal leaders: Sam Surridge (5), Teal Bunbury & Hany Mukhtar (3)
Assist leaders: Hany Mukhtar (4), Jacob Shaffelburg & Dru Yearwood (3)

Availability Report

Nashville have officially turned the page and started a new era without seven-year head coach Gary Smith. Caretaker Rumba Munthali has taken over on an interim basis. His first outing was a 1-1 draw at home to southern rival Atlanta United. It’s hard, however, to draw too many conclusions from that match, especially considering he only had two days to work with the squad.

Other than reverting to a back four, Munthali hasn’t changed much of how Nashville looks. With limited time to work with the players and his coaching staff, making a huge change might cause confusion and unnecessary tension for the players.

While Nashville have not eliminated their defensive problems, they have at least slowed them down. In the previous three games, the Boys in Gold only conceded twice, which is remarkably better than the five they conceded in the three previous matches. They also kept their first clean sheet in 13 games against Toronto in the midweek.

Nashville remain to be lacking on the attacking front. The last Montreal match was the exception. Nashville scored four goals, three of which came from their star striker, Sam Surridge. In the following three matches, Nashville scored three goals total.

Like many teams in the league and previous years, Nashville have struggled on the road. They are still searching for their first road win and have only collected one point in four games.

When going away from home, Nashville often relied on their stellar defense to limit or completely shut down the opposition. That allowed them to often get a result even with only scoring once. That hasn’t been the case lately, Nashville have given up multiple leads and have found it difficult to get results with their low attacking numbers.

One positive for Nashville is that Hany Mukhtar seemed to be close to his league MVP level against Atlanta. He earned and scored a penalty to put Nashville ahead and hit the post from an incredible long range effort. He also led Nashville in shots (four) and progressive carries (five), all while contributing three shot-created actions. Needless to say, in order for Nashville to succeed, they’ll need the ninth-highest paid player in MLS to be in his best form.

It will be interesting to see if Nashville continues with a back four in Montreal considering how the Impact line up. Smith often changed his side’s formation to match the opponent’s. However, in this new era, Munthali says that he is more focused on his team than anything Montreal do.

Pod Picks

Chris Ivey

Score: Montréal 0 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Walker Zimmerman, Tyler Boyd
MOTM: Walker Zimmerman
Bold Prediction: With yours truly in the house, Nashville is inspired scoring an early set piece goal adding an insurance goal late as Montreal throws numbers forward.

Ben Wright

Score: Montréal 2 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Sam Surridge
MOTM: Sam Surridge
Bold Prediction: Nashville concede twice in the final 20 minutes after taking a first-half lead.

Jeff Remlinger

Score: Montréal 1 – 3 Nashville
Scorers: Sam Surridge (x2), Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Tyler Boyd
Bold Prediction: Boyd gets a hat trick of assists.

Valair Shabilla

Score: Montréal 2 – 2 Nashville
Scorers: Sam Surridge (x2)
MOTM: Sam Surridge
Bold Prediction: Nashville SC make a late comeback.

Ronan Briscoe

Score: Montréal 1 – 1 Nashville
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Walker Zimmerman
Bold Prediction: Nashville get the goal, but winning on the road is incredibly difficult. Nashville has never done it in Montreal, a trend that unfortunately continues on Saturday..

Fan Forecast

Author: Valair Shabillamoved to Nashville as a refugee from Iraq at the age of 14. A fan of soccer from a young age, he used soccer to connect with a larger community in Nashville and adapt to life abroad. He's covered Nashville SC since 2019, co-hosting Pharmaceutical Soccer, and analyzing soccer from an audio/video perspective.

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