MONTREAL — CF Montreal's 2-0 win Sunday over the visiting Chicago Fire FC was a tale of two halves.
Romell Quioto scored in a man-of-the-match performance for Montreal (10-8-7), with Chicago's Carlos Terán adding an own-goal to Montreal's second straight MLS victory.
Chicago (6-14-5) dictated the tempo early by testing Montreal's back line and pinning them in the defensive half of the pitch.
Montreal goalkeeper James Pantemis made two key saves at the 20-minute mark on a point-blank header by Mauricio Pineda and then a top-corner attempt from Fabian Herbers.
Chicago continued to dominate and attack an off-balance Montreal side, but the second half was an entirely different affair when the latter began to look like a playoff-contending team.
“They really like playing the long ball so we had to win a lot of our duels,” Montreal defender Rudy Camacho said. “They have some really big forwards so it’s always tricky, but we kept our shape and stayed solid.”
When Ahmad Hamdi replaced captain Samuel Piette to start the second half, Montreal had a more offensive edge and took advantage of their possession.
“We had to inject some pace into our game," Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy said. "They sat really deep so finding those gaps and playing in between their lines were crucial.
“[Piette] is our captain and he took coming off well. He does whatever he can to energize the group.
“In the second half we were able to gain more speed which let Romell thrive. With more players forward we could be more unpredictable and Romell got his goal.”
The game also showcased the blossoming on-field partnership between Djordje Mihailovic and Quioto who have routinely connected since Mihailovic's addition.
Montreal acquired the 22-year-old midfielder from the Fire in December, 2020.
Mihailovic slipped the ball to Quioto, who opened the scoring in the 60th minute.
“When I was asked who I most looked forward to playing with, the first guy I said was Romell,” said Mihailovic. “It was just anticipation (on the goal). I dropped into space and played the one-two.”
Quioto had another solid chance in the 74th, but his shot from close range was handled by Gabriel Slolina.
Just under five minutes later, a searching cross from Mathieu Choinière found the foot of Terán, who doubled Montreal’s lead through an own goal.
There was concern on the home bench in the 84th minute when Quioto went down in discomfort.
“I’m not worried,” said Nancy. “It’s most likely fatigue but we don’t have any news as of yet.”
Montreal's faces the Columbus Crew in an away game Sept. 25. Chicago takes on the New England Revolution at Soldier Field on Sept. 26.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2021.
The Canadian Press