It was one of the biggest reprimands from sports management towards Hernán Losada: the style of play that CF Montreal deployed in 2023 “did not at all” fit with what was heard during the interviews that took place. led to his hiring. At this precise moment, we will not pretend to have studied the matches of the Columbus Crew reserve team to understand the playing philosophy of Laurent Courtois. One thing is certain: his ideas have been productive in MLS Next Pro, with a championship in 2022 and a final in 2023. There is no doubt that one of his first mandates will be to establish clear theories and a defined style of play, to be applied consistently… and which correspond to the wishes of the sports management.
When Olivier Renard speaks, he rarely does so without wanting to convey a message, verbalized or underlying. In the press release announcing the arrival of Courtois at the helm of the team, the sporting director indicated that he hoped that the new head coach would “rekindle a desire to win both at home and on the road throughout the season”. Montreal’s away record in 2023: 2 wins, 13 losses, 2 draws. The CFM completely showed two faces last year, it was so unrecognizable abroad. Success in MLS depends on the points you are able to achieve on the road. This will be one of the main factors that will allow the CFM to return to the series in 2024.
Here is another one of these factors. Without Romell Quioto for the majority of the 2023 season, none of the Honduran’s replacements in attack have been able to thread the needle with regularity. Quioto is now gone for good. The sports management has made no secret of it: it wants to find an experienced number 9 to support the young attackers who are Jules-Anthony Vilsaint, Sunusi Ibrahim, Chinonso Offor and Kwadwo Opoku. Under Courtois, these gunners will have to experience great development in 2024…
…because its mandate is also to develop young people. We won’t go so far as to say that this aspect was completely lacking in Losada last year, with the rise of Nathan Saliba in particular. But the reason Courtois was such an interesting candidate is that he had success in this regard in the Crew organization. Renard confirms: “Laurent has accumulated coaching experience which demonstrates his ability to deploy our sporting project with young players in MLS.” For the moment, Courtois seems in tune with this idea, he who says he wants to “continue the development work started with [the] young players”.
There was the explosive exit of Samuel Piette after the 4-1 thaw in Atlanta. There were harsh words from Victor Wanyama on the record. There was this certainly nostalgic desire to play like in 2022, under Wilfried Nancy. CF Montreal veterans are starting to see some coaches come and go, and they are certainly looking forward to being able to build something in the long term. Within a young team, the elders are a bit like the transmission belt for the head coach’s instructions on the field. Since they set an example, their contribution is essential to the success of the club. Courtois will have to restore its identity to CF Montreal, have it accepted by its leaders and base its foundations on it. No small task for a rookie coach in MLS.