MONTREAL — CF Montreal and the Chicago Fire couldn't generate any goals on Saturday evening at Stade Saputo.
Montreal (11-14-3) had several chances throughout the Major League Soccer match but could not solve Chicago (8-11-9) goalkeeper Chris Brady. The draw keeps both teams where they are in the Eastern Conference playoff picture and tightening the race for the final post-season spots.
This has been a constant problem from the very first game and could be the main reason Montreal may miss out on a playoff spot, having one of the worst goal ratios in Major League Soccer. However, that does not appear to bother head coach Hernan Losada, who instead is looking at the situation with more optimism.
“This isn’t frustrating for me, if anything it feels good. The hardest thing about football is creating opportunities and being dominant, which we were,” said Losada.
“We need to continuously work and improve; we just have to stick together. Unfortunately, it wasn’t there tonight, but I’m proud of the performance from start to finish.”
With the first chance 20 seconds into the game, Zachary Brault-Guillard's chip went wide after a perfect ball from Nathan Saliba.
The chances continued to pile on as George Campbell hit the crossbar after getting on the end of a Mathieu Choinière corner at the 23-minute mark.
As the half continued, Chicago showed composure and brought the game to a grinding halt, keeping possession and taking the air out of the Montreal attack for the remainder of the opening 45 minutes.
“It’s very hard to dominate a game for 96 minutes, in certain periods you just don’t have control of the game,” said Losada. “I still think this was one of our best performances. You see the score at 0-0 and think it’s a boring game … but the chances we had tonight were enough to win the game.”
Montreal began the second half with a similar energy to the first, immediately finding possession in the Chicago penalty area and putting pressure on the back line.
As the chances continued for Montreal, Chicago once again was successful in slowing the game down. With 20 minutes left, Montreal brought on forward Romell Quioto, who had missed 125 days with a hamstring injury.
“Coming into the game with 20 minutes left is never easy, you have to adjust to the pace of the game, especially with guys who have played 70 minutes. The main goal was to come in and create stuff up top and we did that,” said attacking midfielder Bryce Duke, who entered the game along with Quioto. “Being out for that long period of time is tough, but he played well.”
The return seemingly reinvigorated both the players and the crowd as Montreal once again found space deep in the offensive third. Montreal had two incredible opportunities in the 90th minute.
A mix-up from Chicago in its own penalty area left Duke with an open goal but the shot was deflected wide. Just a minute later, a cross from Duke fell right to Choinière’s feet, forcing another incredible stop from Brady again, his fourth and final as time ran out.
The draw was also Sirois’ 11th clean sheet, breaking the club record set by Evan Bush in the 2018 season.
“It’s not completely individual, it really is a group effort and I’m so proud of the guys for having this. We give it our all every game and it’s a great feeling,” said Sirois. “I think I’ve stayed pretty consistent all season long and just continued to improve different parts of my game gradually.”
Both teams will now turn their attention to mid-week games on Wednesday as Montreal hosts league-leader FC Cincinnati and Chicago travels to Columbus to face the Crew.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2023.
Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press