FC Cincinnati-CF Montreal Preview

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Wilfried Nancy is excited to return to Saputo Stadium this weekend after CF Montreal were given the green light to stage Saturday’s clash with FC Cincinnati on home soil.

Montreal have been staging their ‘home’ games at Exploria Stadium in Florida this season due to public health restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, it was confirmed on Wednesday that the Canadian side can stage games in their own city again, with up to 5,000 fans allowed to attend the Cincinnati match.

It is a major boost for Nancy’s side, who are unbeaten in five matches overall and are fourth in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s a joy to be back,” Nancy said. “I was speaking to the players and we discussed that in life you can complicate a lot of things, but changing little things is good.

“We can sleep in our own beds, see our own friends, smell the good vibes. So of course we are pleased to come back.

“Cincinnati are a team we haven’t beaten yet. The last game we came close but didn’t take our opportunities. This is another opportunity to change that.”

That most recent match between the sides finished 1-0 to Cincinnati in May – their first win of the campaign, which they have since followed up with two defeats, two wins and two draws.

However, while excitement is building over the return of soccer in Quebec, Cincinnati head coach Jaap Stam does not share opposite number Nancy’s enthusiasm at the late switch of venue.

“I’ve got my opinion – a very strong one – but that’s not one to share,” he said. “But the thing is sometimes you have to deal with the situation and how it is.

“Is it always fair in how it goes and the decision being made and also the time frame, yeah, that’s debatable.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

CF Montreal – Bjorn Johnsen

Montreal are without some key players due to Gold Cup commitments, including Romell Quioto, who was on target in the 2-1 win against New York City FC last week.

Johnsen is in contention to return to the attack, but he has scored in just one of his 10 MLS appearances this season and will need to improve on that return.

FC Cincinnati – Edgar Castillo

Castillo opened the scoring for Cincinnati just 26 seconds into their 2-2 draw with Columbus Crew last time out, with that 18-yard screamer the defender’s first goal for the club.

The 34-year-old will be more concerned about keeping the opposition quiet, but defenders chipping in with goals and assists can only be a positive for former centre-back Stam.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– FC Cincinnati have won all three of their matches against CF Montreal, including a 2-1 victory in May. Montreal are the only team Cincinnati have a perfect record against among teams they have faced more than once.

– CF Montreal have won consecutive matches within a single season for the first time since June 2019. Montreal have not won three in a row since a four-match run in June-July 2018.

– FC Cincinnati are unbeaten in four straight league matches (W2 D2) for the first time in club history. The eight points from four matches is more than Cincinnati had from their previous 17 games dating back to September (seven points – W2 D1 L14).

– There has been an assist on all 13 of Montreal’s non-penalty goals this season, one of two teams to have all of its non-penalty goals assisted (Inter Miami – eight). Going back to the end of last season, Montreal’s last 16 non-penalty goals have been assisted.

– Castillo’s goal after 26 seconds against Columbus was the fastest goal in MLS since Kei Kamara scored 23 seconds in for New England Revolution against Montreal in 2016. Evan Bush was the goalkeeper on both occasions.

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