By Brian Maurer
Karol Świderski taking on CF Montréal earlier this season (Photo courtesy of Charlotte FC)
Running it back
Charlotte FC just played CF Montréal a couple of weeks ago. It ended in a disappointing 0-0 draw for Charlotte in front of their home supporters. Now they face off again, this time in Montréal. Since their draw, Montréal is yet to score having been shut out in four straight matches. They now sit in 10th place and are tied with Charlotte FC on points (26), making this rematch crucial for both teams at this point in the season.
The summer window has been open for over a week and CF Montréal made a splash. They traded for young attacker Kwadwo Opoku from LAFC. This blockbuster deal cost $1.75 million in GAM. He will likely continue slotting into one of Montréal’s striker positions, where he lined up in his debut on Wednesday.
OUT: Romell Quioto, Mathieu Choiniere, and Lassi Lappalainen
*Report update as of Tuesday, July 11th, 2023
Player’s to watch
Kwadwo Opoku - Opoku was just signed on a massive blockbuster deal. Because of this Montréal will be looking for him to make an immediate impact. He was unable to end their skid of shutouts on Wednesday, and he will no doubt be eyeing his debut goal against Charlotte this weekend. Limiting his impact on the game will be key as Montréal is likely hoping Opoku will be a signing that can help them push into one of the final playoff spots.
Bryce Duke - Duke is another young player Montréal acquired in a trade earlier this season. He has been playing in the 10 role sitting right behind Montréal’s two strikers. His responsibility has been to connect play with the forwards so shutting him down will be key for Charlotte to have success. Charlotte should see this assignment as possible as Duke is a young player with a lot of promise but has struggled with consistency.
Samuel Piette - Piette has been injured for most of this season. However, he looks like he is getting closer to full strength. He was subbed in at halftime getting a full 45 minutes against the Chicago Fire on Wednesday. This indicates that he could be getting his first start since April 1st against Charlotte FC. If he indeed starts his presence will be a key target for how this match could be one and lost. Piette and Victor Wanyama are a strong midfield pairing so Charlotte will need to be vigilant and clinical with their passing when attempting to break lines in possession. Charlotte will also need to try and make Piette uncomfortable by closing him down quickly as he looks to build up play.
CF Montreal’s starting XI
Montréal’s lineup against Chicago will likely be similar to how they set up against Charlotte. I expect there is a good chance Piette is added to the starting 11. There could also be some rotation in other spots, especially in the attack, as the team has failed to score in four straight.
CF Montréal's lineup on Wednesday (Graphic found at MLSsoccer.com)
Against Chicago, Montréal controlled possession for the majority of the game with Duke pushing forward giving them a central front three (passing network below). Their wingbacks pushed forward to provide attacking width. The majority of Montréal’s build-up play was started wide against Chicago. This is something Charlotte FC’s wingers and fullbacks will need to be mindful of.
CF Montréal's passing network (Graphic found at MLSsoccer.com)
While Montréal controlled lots of possession against Chicago they tend to be more direct and concede control more often than not, which is displayed in their zones of control map (below). Their right flank looks to be an area that Charlotte can use to try and gain a foothold in the attacking third. Christian Lattanzio’s lineup selection along the left wing could be a critical decision going into this game.
CF Montréal's zones of control (Graphic found at theanalyst.com). Blue areas represent 55% or more possession for CF Montréal while red areas represent 55%+ possession for their opposition.
Where things stand
This game should be viewed by Charlotte FC fans as a regular season playoff game. Both teams are tied on points and a loss for either could leave them six points out of a playoff spot by the end of the weekend. Losing is not an option for either team. This could lead to a chippy and intense affair, especially since Charlotte and Montréal are both on a bit of a form skid. This game will likely be viewed similarly by both teams. Which is that they will view their opponent as beatable and that this is a prime opportunity to end their winless streaks.