Shambolic Season: CF Montreal Endures Shocking Disappointment
It was not a year to remember for CF Montreal, who once again took a massive step back.
After a year filled with promise where the team shattered every team record imaginable, it was a season to forget for CF Montreal after not just missing playoffs by two points, but finding constant contention in both on and off the pitch.
After the debacle with Wilfried Nancy which involved a discord with ownership, he made his way out and was hired by the Columbus Crew, notably saying he was ‘moving on’. He would later be nominated for coach of the year.
Once again looking for a new coach – which was a yearly common occurrence for Montreal – they brought in former DC United coach Hernan Losada.
Once he was hired, the majority of the DC United players came out via local media to voice their opinions and concerns about their former coach. The situation wasn’t pretty: player claims of being overworked, players being weighed daily, and even an argument with the keeper about posting a picture of a burger on his Instagram.
When Losada met the media he pleaded to give him a chance, saying it was his first experience as a coach and that he was going to learn and grow.
The preseason drama quickly arrived as former player Kei Kamara, who was looking to stay long-term in Montreal, tried to negotiate a contract after only making 90k last season.
The negotiations didn’t go as planned as both sides mentioned there were deals on the table, but both sides said that deals were refused and it resulted in Kamara being traded to the Chicago Fire.
There was also an incident with Sandro Grande, was appointed to coach the team of the academy but was removed less than 24 hours later due to backlash from a political post regarding the assassination attempt on former Quebec premier Pauline Marois.
The team didn’t get off to a good start, losing their first three games of the season without scoring a goal. After edging out the Philadelphia Union in their home opener they went on another three-game losing streak and were outscored 10-0.
At the end of May, we had our first incident of the season involving Sean Rea, who was playing his first season in the MLS after two years in the CPL. He was subbed into the game around the 71st minute and literally 20 minutes later Losada decided to pull him out feeling he was not playing well.
Rea looked stunned and surprised when he saw his number and gave Losada a look that clearly asked ‘why are you taking me out?’. Despite some strong performances earlier, we never saw Rea on the pitch again, and when asked about him Losada mentioned he would never punish a young player which, in reality, was clearly a farce.
A couple of months later we had a situation with Matko Miljevic, who had just returned from injury and recovery time in Argentina. He was mentioned as the player to replace Djordje Mihailovic, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Losada told the media he was easing him in but he wasn’t even on the roster a month after coming back, so he decided to play in an amateur league under a fake name. It went downhill from there as he was kicked out of the league and banned for life when he got into a fight with another player and punched him.
Upon a league investigation, his contract was terminated and it remains to be seen if we will ever see him play in MLS ever again.
The fact is the team was not put in a position to succeed but rather a lack of ownership with the lowest team salary in the league a mere nine million dollars.
Joey Saputo also owns Bologna in Italy’s Serie A and with two months left in the MLS season he was already in Europe focusing on his other team.
Then out of nowhere he invited his CFO Salvatore Rivera to Italy for a week and decided to fire him after Rivera got back to Canada.
Arcado Marcuzzi, a former PR and Media relations staff member, decided to leave his job and weeks later divulged on social media he decided to leave due to a toxic work environment.
Another known issue was the fact that CF Montreal only had one designated player Victor Wanyama making 1.8 million dollars but around the mid-season starting playing less and less.
He eventually finished the season on the bench and his future at the club is another issue that needs to be resolved in the offseason.
The team didn’t finish strong and concluded a tight playoff race by losing their final game to the aforementioned Columbus Crew. They were officially knocked out when the New York Redbulls scored a last-minute penalty against Nashville SC, securing NYRB the last playoff spot and knocking CF Montreal out of the running.
The highest goalscorer on the team had five goals, a paltry number compared to the league leader who had 20 – and Montreal even had their star player and captain come out and say after losing a bad game they got destroyed tactically.
A source told me at the World Cup in Australia that the reason the team wasn’t doing well was that no player wanted to play for Losada. He has one more year guaranteed on his contract, but word is his future with the club is uncertain.
There are a lot of issues to be resolved if the team wants to turn things around and it starts from the top needing more support from ownership. If Saputo isn’t interested, there is a growing call that he might as well just sell the team.
Romell Quioto, who scored 15 goals last year, spent the majority of the season injured and it is more than likely he will leave the club. The only bright spot for the team seems to be Jonathan Sirois.
The Montreal native came in the first game of the season and stole the starting job from James Pantemis after he got injured separating his shoulder. Sirois finished the season with 11 clean sheets which once again was a record as the team only lost four games at home but only won two games on the road this season.
Mathieu Choiniere also had a strong season and was rewarded with a call-up to the Canadian men’s national team.
It remains to be seen what is going to happen, next but at this point it is all up in the air as the dust settles from a season filled with drama and disappointment.