Revenge is best served cold. For CF Montreal, the dish has been cooling for almost a year and the time has come to taste it.
To understand, you need to put it into context. So we go back to November 7, 2021. It's the last game of the season at Stade Saputo and the Bleu-blanc-noir needs a victory over Orlando City SC to advance to the playoffs.
Floridians are also fighting for survival because a loss could cost them a ticket to the season-ending tournament.
They come to spoil the party and escape with a 2-0 victory to end the season for CF Montreal, which must finally settle for tenth place in the Eastern Conference with 46 points, two points from seventh position, the last one that gives access to the playoffs.
It's personal for Miller
We come back to the present: these same Lions will be visiting Stade Saputo tomorrow night to face CF Montreal in the first round of the playoffs. And Montreal will be looking to win a first playoff game since 2016.
For Kamal Miller, who started his career with Orlando before being exposed to the 2020 expansion draft, this is a matter that goes beyond sports.
“ C' is very personal, I'm not going to lie, he said on Friday. I didn't leave Orlando in the best way and came here where I had to end up. So I'm all for Montreal.
“It would be nice to see them go home the same way we did last year. This is a big rematch for all of us, not just me.”
Samuel Piette is in solidarity with his teammate, but he still brings a little nuance.
“We definitely think back to that moment. It's time to get our revenge.
“On the other hand, we're a different team, the motivation and the goals are different and we just want to win in order to keep writing history for the club. »
It is undoubtedly a way for Piette to limit the tension and above all to manage the emotions well.
A Match like any other, says Piette
The rest of the co-captain's speech also suggests a certain intention to remain very down to earth.
“ It's a game like any other. I know it's a game without a future and that if we lose, it's over, but I haven't changed anything in my week to prepare for this game. »
In the eyes of the Quebec community, we must keep the same mentality and perceive this match exactly like all the other games of the season, even if it is special.
“ Honestly, we see it as the 35th game of the season and not like the first game of the playoffs. It's just a continuation of the things we've been doing since the beginning of the year. »
In the Montreal camp, we respect Orlando and we remain cautious.
“They know how to manage the game when they take the lead, they did it last year against us losing a lot of time,” said Kamal Miller.
Still, the Lions needed to come back from behind to beat the Columbus Crew 2-1 last Sunday to clinch the last available playoff berth.
Oscar Pareja's squad has been very uneven this season, often alternating victories and setbacks.
The Floridians were a little more consistent at the end of the season, but so little. We are talking about six wins in the last ten games, but four losses in the last six games of this sequence.
The opponent in 5 points
LACK OF CONSTANCE
Orlando qualified for the playoffs somewhat through the back door. This can be explained by the team's lack of consistency, which only had two winning streaks, one of two games and another of four games.
The two teams shared the honors of the two games that opposed them this season. Orlando won 2-0 in the first game of the season, but Montreal came out on top in a 4-1 victory at Stade Saputo in early May.
TWO BIG ABSENTS
Orlando is missing two important pieces to approach this game. Alexandre Pato (right knee) and Robin Jansson (right leg) are out of action. Jansson is a particularly important piece of the Florida defense.
The least we can say is that Orlando's attack is discreet abroad with 18 goals scored, barely more than one goal per game on average. The Lions have scored more than one goal only three times on the road.
We love seeing CF Montreal start the matches in lion, but against Orlando you have to be patient. The Lions allowed 70 % of their 53 goals against in the second half, for a total of 37, so we should not worry too quickly.
With or without Romell Quioto?
If we have one question to ask ourselves before this first round match between CF Montreal and Orlando City SC, it's whether Romell Quioto will be there.
The striker suffered a thigh injury during a game with Honduras last international window and hasn't played the last two games of the season regular.
However, he was in training on Friday and he seemed comfortable, although a decision will probably only be made tomorrow.
Whoever was named the club's most valuable player on Thursday is obviously an important cog in the team's attack with 15 goals and 6 assists in 30 games this season.
Wilfried Nancy chose his words well when talking about his striker on Friday, after training.
“We'll see how he feels because he knows his body well and that's the advantage we have. And after that, it will be a joint decision. Are we taking a small risk or are we taking a big risk and I will take it with Romell.
Nancy reminded that it was not in her habits of giving minutes to a player who couldn't give everything on the pitch.
“When a player can't be available, I usually don't spend too much time on that and look at the other possibilities.
“But this is a very special match and Romell's injury is a bit weird in the sense that it's not something very serious, at the same time you have to be careful. But I won't take him if he can't help us.”
Without Quioto last week against Miami, Nancy has opted for four midfielders and a single striker, Kei Kamara, and things worked out well in a 3-1 win.
“I liked the tactical approach we took had against Miami and I think it's something that we can clearly use against Orlando “, advanced Samuel Piette on Friday.
The midfielder also underlined the ability of the team to transform as needed.
“The beauty of our team is that we have several ways to play tactically. We have this ability to adjust and adapt to what we want to do in the first place, but also to what the opponent offers us. »
Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-268-7128