CF Montreal vs Atlanta United: Match Preview
With rumors of potential managers and player signings swirling through the Atlanta United universe, it’s easy to focus on what will hopefully be a bright future for the Five Stripes. But Atlanta still has half the 2021 campaign to play and must start finding wins if there is any chance to save the season. The eight points between the Five Stripes and the playoff line are an intimidating hurdle but by no means impossible to cross. Atlanta will meet the five teams directly above it ten times over the next several months. After a seemingly endless stream of losses and draws, there is little room for error and if Atlanta is to make the playoffs, they will have to win it on the field. The Five Stripes’ next move to end an eleven-game winless streak is against currently 7th and last-ranked team in the playoffs, CF Montreal. A win and a very attainable five-point gap separates Atlanta from the playoffs, a loss and a playoff trip slips even further with one more chance to overthrow 2021 lost.
Montreal has the ignominious distinction of being one of only two teams to lose to Atlanta this season. In fact, the Canadian squad was the last team the Five Stripes had three points against since May 15 thanks to a Marcelino Moreno header in the 94th minute. But while Atlanta has sunk deep in the Eastern Conference since then, Montreal looks better than expected under new head coach Wilfried Nancy. The Frenchman was promoted to deputy manager when Thierry Henry unexpectedly resigned in February. Montreal has a respectable 22 points in 16 games and has the makings of a strong but unspectacular team. He hasn’t been able to hang on to the best in the East, but booking his first playoff trip since 2016 is more realistic than any preseason prediction claimed. Montreal is in the middle of the table of goals scored (21 goals / 5th in the East) and goals conceded (20 goals / 7th), with very similar numbers of goals expected for and against. Mason Toye and Djordje Mihailovic, both acquired in trading with other MLS teams, were Montreal’s stars in the final third. Toye’s six goals lead the team while Mihailovic has three goals and four assists. The Atlanta defense had one of its worst performances of the year against Orlando and Montreal has it all to enjoy a repeat.
The Canadian team will not approach Wednesday’s clash with full confidence, either. He fell 2-1 on the road to Inter Miami in a third straight loss. The top two, outside of NYCFC and New England, are understandable, but a loss to last place Miami is more concerning. Montreal will need a win over Atlanta almost as much as Atlanta, otherwise their grip on a playoff berth will start to look a little loose.
Planned starting XI
Prediction: CF Montreal 0-1 Atlanta United
The return of George Bello and Miles Robinson will stabilize a shaky Atlanta backline while an Amar Sejdic second-half goal against his former team will give the Five Stripes three vital points on the road.