CF Montreal aim for franchise mark against Atlanta

Undefeated in five games, Montreal can tie the team record with a win or a tie when they host Five Stripes on Saturday at Stade Saputo.

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CF Montreal may be in the midst of their most successful streak of the MLS season, but balanced manager Wilfried Nancy is keeping everything in perspective.

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“It’s racing for now and the goal is to keep going,” he said after Thursday’s practice at Center Nutrilait.

The CFM (3-3-2), prepares to host Atlanta United on Saturday at Stade Saputo (4 p.m., TVA Sports, TSN Radio 690, 91.9 Sports). Montreal is undefeated in five games and would tie a franchise record with a win or a tie.

“If we win against Atlanta, it will be good,” Nancy said before adding, perhaps surprisingly: “If we lose but play well, it will be good too. The goal is to put the limits to the maximum, like one can.

Coincidentally, that streak began with a 3-3 draw against Team Georgia on March 19 at Mercedez-Benz Stadium – a contest that could have sent CFM on a downward spiral. The visitors this afternoon squandered a late two-goal lead. Atlanta United, reduced to 10 men following the ejection of Dom Dwyer in the 67th minute, rallied goals from Thiago Almada and Brooks Lennon for an unlikely finish. Lennon’s score, from a long free kick, came in stoppage time.

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“What we did well in that first game was how we kept the ball – at least when we played against 11,” Nancy said. “I felt my players were in control of the game. They were patient and calm with the ball, moving it side to side.

While ending that game was discussed this week by Nancy and the players, it could also have provided the tonic needed to start salvaging her season. Since then, CFM has collected 10 of a possible 12 points, moving to sixth place – and above the playoff line. Nancy’s message, in essence, was to keep attacking, rather than sit back and try to protect a lead.

While CFM had scored 14 goals in eight games, they also conceded 17. Nevertheless, they have limited their opponents to just one goal in each of the last three matches and could finally get back into shape.

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“We are a resilient team that is starting to grow,” Canadian international defender Kamal Miller said this week. “We’ve had a tough start to the season, but I think it’s getting better and better. The performance was still there; the results were not. Now that the results are known, everything is falling into place.

While Atlanta United is also 3-3-2 and is fourth in the conference, based on goal differential, this could be an opportune time to face the team. The visitors have gone three straight games without a win, while being held to just one goal. Atlanta has won just five of its last 26 road games. The Five Stripes have also not won in Montreal since 2018 and are missing several key players.

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Goalkeeper Brad Guzan and midfielder Ozzie Alonso were placed on the season-ending injured list. And striker Josef Martinez had knee surgery in early April.

Nonetheless, Nancy naturally takes a cautious approach.

“They have good players and have a clear game plan,” he said. “They are not going to change the way they play because they have injuries.”

The organization announced Friday that it will pay tribute during the game to Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur, who died on April 22.

hzurkowsky@postmedia.com

twitter.com/HerbZurkowsky1

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