“I want to prove myself as a second this year,” said a young Jonathan Sirois who was going to crush all his goals in the months to come. He not only created a debate for the position of starting goaltender, which he then ended thanks to his excellent performances, but also was one of the key cogs for the Montrealers so far.
If we ignore his two brilliant performances before writing this report to move away from a seniority bias, Sirois remains one of the most consistent players in his position. He made his debut in the first game of the campaign after an injury to James Pantemis and hasn’t stopped wowing the gallery ever since.
Despite a few humiliating defeats at the start of the season where he was dropped by the defense, the Quebec jailer collected six shutouts in MLS and still stopped more goals than expected according to FBref. Proactive and combative, he ranks among the top 5 of the Garber circuit for the number of defensive actions in his area. The pattern of its surface.
If the second half of the season is up to the first, a call up to the national team should not be long in coming.
Besides Sirois, central defenders Rudy Camacho and Gabriele Corbo were particularly good at allowing the Montrealers to triumph with their greatest strength, the defense. Midfielder Mathieu Choinière was also one of the pillars of the formation, especially at the start of the season. The Quebecer has been less influential in recent weeks, mainly after having chained almost all of his team’s games, but deserves his share of praise.
When CFM traded Kamal Miller and a general allocation sum to Inter Miami for Bryce Duke and Ariel Lassiter, hardly anyone was talking about the latter. The Costa Rican arrived in Montreal in predispositions that were not a guarantee of success. The club was going nowhere and his favorite position, that of winger, is not used in the tactical scheme of Hernán Losada.
However, for the first time in his career, Lassiter took on the role of left-back and saw success on the spot. The Montreal offense has experienced several failures since the start of the season, but its emergence in the left lane has allowed the CFM to be dangerous on both flanks and to take advantage of the offensive talent of its side to score. Lassiter, who usurped the position of Lassi Lappalainen, was decisive in the first half of the season.
Forward Sunusi Ibrahim, who had not scored in MLS since November 2021, experienced something of a renaissance thanks to the Canadian Championship. He again finished as the top scorer in the competition this year and used that push to shake up the hierarchy of attackers. His game needs to be fine-tuned, but when he’s on the pitch, things move.
At this point in his career in Montreal, Zachary Brault-Guillard’s playing style is well known. He still managed to hold his own in his entries and starts, providing healthy competition for the coveted right-back position.
Joel Waterman had a colorful first half of the season. He first lost his partner on the right in Alistair Johnston, then was asked to fill needs in the center and left of the center hinge, where he was less confident.
He did not receive a call for the Canadian team given the average performances. Now that the position on the left is assumed by Corbo, Waterman will be able to restore his image for the rest of the campaign in his natural position.
Bryce Duke has been very interesting and entertaining in its first outings, but has had a bumpy performance in recent weeks. A more reasonable rhythm of matches should help him take his place.
Aaron Herrera, Johnston’s replacement, has been fairly stable, but has seen his minutes count drop given Brault-Guillard’s recent wins. Whoever goes to defend the colors of Guatemala in the coming days will have to prove why the management has invested in him now that he is at the height of this fight.
It would be harsh to criticize Romell Quioto, still the club’s top scorer in MLS despite missing 10 games through injury. However, in his last year of contract, it is a very bad time to be on the sidelines.
Eventually, Mason Toye returns from knee surgery. He scored twice against his former club, but caution and health will prevail in his case.
The club’s only designated player, Victor Wanyama has to carry a lot on his shoulders this season. He is also in second place for the number of minutes on the counter. However, the Kenyan defensive midfielder is not exactly hitting his own standards in 2023.
Statistically, according to FBref, this is Wanyama’s worst season in Montreal for several key indices. Note that Losada’s game system is less focused around the former Tottenham player and that he plays with a more attacking partner in Choinière, but ultimately the assistant captain is certainly less influential. Per 90 minutes, he is at his lowest for progressive possessions, progressive passes, number of passes attempted and completed, and pass completion percentage. It was only a few statistics in possession of the ball.
He is also experiencing misfires for his defensive actions, landing fewer tackles than before and missing far more. It is therefore not necessarily a decrease in volume, but rather an inefficiency in duels.
Is it a disastrous season? Absolutely not. Wanyama belongs to the category of players who can provide more during the second part of the calendar, because we know he is capable of it.
Attacking midfielders Ahmed Hamdi and Matko Miljevic are also among the players who could perform more tasks. One of these two players often left in the stands, respectively sixth and seventh employees of the club, will have to get up and win the key position of number 10.
When it comes to a first half of the season to put behind you, the name of new captain Samuel Piette surfaces. Limited to 172 minutes of play due to two injuries, the Repentignois did not have the start of the reign he wanted.
It is also given his absence that Mathieu Choinière obtained a real audition as a midfielder, something that would not have happened if Piette had remained healthy. Still on the sidelines, we don’t yet know what his role will be when he returns.
Lassi Lappalainen and James Pantemis are also logical candidates since they were beaten as starters. The name of George Campbell could be added to this list, he who failed to seize the opportunity of the streak of 10 games in 33 days to confirm his place in the central hinge.
Here is the group of young players who have been thrown, rightly or wrongly, into the mouth of the wolf. Chinonso Offor is the most striking example. Acquired as a “project”, according to Olivier Renard, vice-president and chief sports officer of CF Montreal, the attacker has some interesting tools in his trunk. His ardor and his size specifically are strong points, but at mid-season, certain aspects of his game are still too deficient for him to be in an MLS starting XI.
The Nigerian striker is the player who has missed the most checks in the circuit, confirming what our eyes see, ball-to-foot trouble. He has nevertheless proven that he has his role to play for the team, but he is not yet ready to be at the center of the attacking animation.
That conclusion goes for Nathan Saliba, Sean Rea and Ilias Illiadis, who all contributed some quality but will need to be patient before they get minutes consistently.