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Struggles continue for reeling CF Montreal with 3-1 loss to Columbus Crew

MONTREAL — CF Montreal were no match for a dominant Columbus Crew side that left Stade Saputo with a 3-1 win on Wednesday evening.
CF Montreal defender Ruan (22) is tripped up as he battles against Columbus Crew midfielder Yaw Yeboah (14) during first half MLS soccer action in Montreal, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

MONTREAL — CF Montreal were no match for a dominant Columbus Crew side that left Stade Saputo with a 3-1 win on Wednesday evening.

Mathieu Choinière found the back of the net for Montreal (3-6-3), while Maximilian Arfsten, Diego Rossi, and Marino Hinestroza were the goal-scorers for Columbus(4-2-6) as the reigning MLS Cup champions extended their unbeaten run in this fixture to five games.

Montreal now has just one win in its last 10 games across all competitions.

“It just comes down to a lack of execution. The final cross, the final run, it’s just that last piece we’re missing,” said Montreal head coach Laurent Courtois who is intimately familiar with the Columbus Crew project, having coached their reserve team for two years.

“All the bad phases that we have and these difficult moments allowed me to clarify and understand my roster. I want to really get to know the players better.”

The hosts started the game on the front foot, generating the majority of the offence. At the 10-minute mark, a cross from Sunusi Ibrahim found Ariel Lassiter all alone in front of goal, but his first-time effort was put wide.

Columbus broke through just nine minutes later against the run of play. After finding a gap in the Montreal penalty area, a lapse in coverage left Arfsten with an open goal, giving the visitors the lead.

Christian Ramirez thought he had doubled his side’s lead just five minutes later, but the goal was called back due to offside.

As the game slowed down toward halftime, Montreal found an equalizer when Joaquin Sosa was brought down in the penalty area by Columbus goalkeeper Patrick Schulte. Choinière stepped up and fired the penalty shot into the top right corner in first-half stoppage time.

“I was feeling confident to take it so I wanted to,” said Choinière who has been in the news all week for an alleged trade request that would take him away from his boyhood club. “I do my talking on the pitch, and I’m just focusing on my soccer and giving my all for this club as long as I’m here.”

The second half began with the same cautious approach, with neither team pushing too hard for the go-ahead goal. It took 15 minutes for an opening to be created as Columbus took full advantage to score their second.

While hitting back on the counter, Ramirez found a cross into Rossi who slotted the ball into a wide-open net.

“We lost the ball in a rather silly way and it caught us out of position. One or two passes and they were in on us … I don’t know if there was missed coverage or who’s to blame, but lose possession in a way we shouldn’t that high up the field can hurt us,” said captain Samuel Piette.

“We were excited to come back home, but if we leave with no points (in two games) then it doesn’t really mean anything. We do some things well and some things less well and we’re paying for them.”

Montreal continued to look for chances, but struggled to penetrate the Crew’s defensive shape, resorting instead to shots from outside the penalty area and crosses that were comfortably handled.

Columbus — seemingly unfazed by Montreal’s search for a late equalizer — held onto the ball throughout the closing stages of the game, capping off the match with a lengthy stint of possession that was finished off by Hinestroza in the 89th minute.

“Of course, I think we can do better, this is a new style of play for us and we’re not getting the results we want right now but we’re working hard in training and putting the right things in place,” said Choinière. “The season has still just started and slowly but surely we’re growing into it, we just have to be more lethal in the final third.”

Montreal’s injury crisis has reached new depths as Sosa and Mason Toye both left the game with non-contact injuries — the former leaving the game after just five minutes. 

Montreal will now be heading into one of its busiest periods missing as many as 10 players due to injury.


Both teams will turn their attention to games on Saturday. Montreal travels Toronto for the first Canadian Classique of the season.

Meanwhile, Columbus continues its road trip against the Chicago Fire.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2024.

Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press