MONTREAL — Three days removed from qualifying for the Canadian Championship final, CF Montreal channelled its mid-week passion to snap a two-game Major League Soccer losing streak.
Chinonso Offor scored his third goal of the season in the second half to lift CF Montreal over Inter Miami 1-0 on Saturday.
With a stretch of three road games, including the Canadian Championship final on June 7, winning on Saturday was “very important” to coach Hernan Losada.
“It was kind of a final for us to be honest with you,” Losada said. “A home game against a straight opponent, who had before tonight the exact same amount of games played, victories and defeats as us. It was very important to keep the three points at home.”
Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois shined between the pipes, making five saves. The native of LaSalle, Que., in his first MLS season, recorded a fifth clean sheet and set a new club record for minutes without conceding at home.
“He hasn’t stopped improving, he has a really good mentality,” said Losada about Sirois, who also thanked goalkeeper coaches Romuald Peiser and Luca Bucci.
“Tip of the hat for all that Jonathan has shown. We haven’t forgotten that this is his first season and he plays with a lot of confidence, with experience and I’m very happy for him.”
On his end, Sirois remains level-headed and is aware that despite his recent performances this is his first MLS campaign.
"I actually think about it all the time,” Sirois said of his rookie MLS season. “Whenever I approach a game, I approach it like it's my first game because it's always the first time that you face an opponent.
“Every game for me is new, I always learn new stuff. It's a very rich experience every time that I step on the field and that's how I approach it. It is my first year and right now I'm very pleased with how it's gone.”
Under the watchful eyes of former player Ismael Kone, who visited his hometown following the conclusion of his EFL Championship season with Watford, Montreal (6-8-1) snapped its MLS losing streak. Miami's record slipped to 5-9-1.
Starting in Miami’s back line, Kamal Miller made his return to Stade Saputo to play against his former team. The Canadian international was traded to Miami on April 12 along with $1.3 million of general allocation money in return for midfielder Bryce Duke and forward Ariel Lassiter.
“It was definitely a good experience to be back,” Miller said. “It was really good to see all the guys, my former teammates. It was tough to play against them but overall it was a good game and I couldn’t be happier to be back.”
Montreal applied the pressure in the fifth minute. Montreal forward Sunusi Ibrahim, guarded by three Miami defenders, managed to take a strike from outside the box that shaved the left goalpost.
Scoreless at halftime, Losada called on Lassiter and Ahmed Hamdi to substitute in and create a spark.
Instead, Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois was forced to help his team in the 51st minute with a save on Corentin Jean’s heavy shot from outside the box.
Lifted by Sirois’ save, Montreal instantly broke the deadlock. Offor slid inside the six-yard box to get his foot on Lassiter’s low cross and opened the scoring in the 53rd minute.
“The idea to make a change at halftime was already in my mind, to add fresh players to make a difference,” Losada. “I know that Ariel has a good left foot and when you play with a striker like Offor, he needs crosses and we cross with an idea in mind.”
Sirois denied Miami once again in the 78th minute, punching Franco Negri’s free kick away to safety.
Miami striker Nicolas Stefanelli was millimetres away from shocking Stade Saputo in the 87th minute, striking the crossbar with a shot from outside the box.
CF Montreal returns to action on Wednesday for a mid-week clash against D.C. United.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2023.
Tristan D'Amours, The Canadian Press