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CF Montréal losing streak reaches three games after Inter Miami comeback

If CFM misses the playoffs, it might look back on Saturday night's game as a missed opportunity.

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What’s there to say after a lamentable performance such as the one CF Montréal produced Saturday night? Not much when the last-place team garnered all three points in a comeback victory.

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CFM manager Wilfried Nancy worried about what he termed a trap game. And he has repeatedly stated this season there are no weak teams in Major League Soccer; every side has some quality.

But this 2-1 loss to Inter Miami CF at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., can’t be deemed anything but unacceptable. And if CFM misses the playoffs this season, it might look back ruefully upon this evening and a squandered opportunity.

“Be careful with the words ‘worst team in the league’,” Nancy said on a video conference. “Yes, I understand that in terms of ranking. There’s no easy game in this league. The easy game doesn’t exist. We have to respect the game.”

But with a record of 3-8-3, if Inter Miami isn’t the worst team, it most certainly is last in the Eastern Conference. It had gone more than two months between victories, hadn’t won at home and had produced a league-low 10 goals, while being shut out five times in its last seven matches.

All it took was 90-plus minutes against CF Montréal for Inter Miami to end its seven-match winless streak.

“I’m frustrated with the loss,” said Canadian defender Zorhan Bassong. “For me, it’s a game we can’t lose. It’s a shame.”

Much of the goodwill CFM had produced during its six-game unbeaten streak has now evaporated with the club in the midst of a season-high three-game losing skid. And, while the Canadian side remains seventh, just above the playoff line, with a 6-6-4 record, it sits a mere point ahead of DC United.

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CFM would have moved into fifth place in the conference with a win, and it appeared headed for an easy victory after Joaquin Torres opened the scoring in the 20th minute. But then the visitors became too lackadaisical and nonchalant; almost too cute.

The match turned early in the second half, following a controversial penalty. Federico Higuain locked arms with defender Rudy Camacho in the box, fell to the pitch and was clipped on the ankle by Bassong. Gonzalo Higuain, his brother, converted from the spot.

“Maybe I touched him a little bit,” Bassong said. “He shouldn’t have dove like that. I didn’t touch him for him to drop like he did. I don’t know. This is how it is. The referee called a penalty. I don’t think it’s a penalty for me.”

CF Montréal might have escaped with the draw, and a valuable point in the standings, except for brutal defensive lapses. A Camacho turnover to Gonzalo Higuain resulted in the winning goal in the 69th — a shot that deflected off the palms of goalkeeper James Pantemis, over his head and into the net.

“I wanted us to play better with the lead,” Nancy said. “Sometimes, we don’t need to make these risky plays for nothing near our net when we can make a pass and eliminate many players. We could get out of danger and we don’t. It annoys me terribly.”

There continue to be some disturbing trends with this team, which lacks finish in the final third. In last Sunday’s loss at New England, it was Djordje Mihailovic who could have scored more than once. On Saturday, Mason Toye was the major culprit. While the American striker leads the team in scoring, with six goals, he nonetheless must do better.

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CFM has scored only twice in its last three games and, while it directed 11 shots at goalkeeper Nick Marsman on Saturday, only two hit the target.

“We created some chances and we could have scored to get a better lead earlier,” Nancy admitted. “I know Mason wants to do well, but sometimes he’s thinking too much. He has to face this moment. He has to return to what he was doing.”

It’s hard to get a sense of CFM’s strengths and competence level as it nears the halfway point of its schedule. Of the team’s six victories, only one has come against a winning side — New York City FC. That’s disturbing.

CFM appears to perform to the level of its competition, playing to draws against Nashville SC and Columbus, the defending MLS champs, yet losing to Vancouver and FC Cincinnati.

More On This Topic

  1. Inter Miami CF defender Kieran Gibbs (3) plays the ball in front of CF Montréal midfielder Joaquin Torres (18) during the first half at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday, July 31, 2021.

    CF Montréal squanders halftime lead in heartbreaking loss to lowly Inter Miami

  2. Inter Miami CF forward Julián Carranza, left, fights for the ball against CF Montréal defender Kamal Miller during an MLS soccer match on July 3 in Harrison, N.J.

    Inter Miami appreciate baby steps as they host CF Montréal

  3. CF Montréal forward Mason Toye (right) reacts after scoring a goal against the Chicago Fire during the second half at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday, May 29, 2021.

    MLS says Canadian clubs can host home games for rest of 2021

hzurkowsky@postmedia.com

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