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The Montréal Preview

I've been a bit quiet here this week. If you don't follow me on Twitter, I got a new pup who has been taking up time/attention, which hasn't allowed me to write as much as I would like. I do have a few thoughts about the games versus Miami and Richmond. These are all gut reactions as I haven't had time to look at any numbers and I was at the Miami game (only so much you can see from the supporters' section):


  1. I thought there were periods in the Miami game where we looked our absolute best on the year. We didn't get the end product we needed but the process looked really good.

  2. I get more and more intrigued by Gaines. Yes, his end product was lacking against Miami, but it wasn't against Richmond. That's the crux of him: he's already 24, but by minutes, he's really a young player. I think he has to be viewed more as a 20-21 year old player (i.e., will lack consistency). Jóźwiak is fast, but Gaines might be our quickest player. If we can actually start to get some consistency out of him, he could be really valuable. I'm not sure he's ever a "MLS best" type of player, but he doesn't need to be. With the pace he has and his willingness to make (good) runs that stretch the defense, he's valuable. You put two pacy wingers outside a quick striker and you cause a lot of issues for teams.

  3. It was FANTASTIC to see us demolish a lesser team. I have nothing against Richmond, but it was enjoyable (after the first 25-ish minutes) to see us definitively be the better team. It was also great for all the guys (Reyna, Ríos, Gaines) to get on the scoresheet and get some confidence/momentum.

  4. Reyna was good! I'm of the opinion that the stat sheet slightly flatters his overall performance. He walked away from the game with a goal and 3 assists, which, on the surface, looks amazing! However, the first assist is definitely an accident. He's absolutely trying to volley that rebound and not cross it back across the box. He shanks it and a good thing happened (Ríos scoring!), but you can't convince me he meant that. The second assist is a good one: he gets into a good position and, two-v-one with a defender, makes the correct choice to play it to Gaines. Moreover, he gives him a good ball. His goal is also great: the one-two with Ríos is really slick. The third assist is a fine pass, but it's one from the middle of the pitch that Gaines gathers, dribbles 20 yards up the field by himself, goes past an opponent, and finishes well. Yes, if you're Reyna you take the assist, but Gaines had to do a lot with that pass. This sounds like I'm being harsh on Reyna (and maybe I am), but my bigger point is that I don't think he forced his way into a starting spot. He simply had a good game.

  5. My preferred front 3 at the weekend is going to be Jóźwiak, Świderski, and Shinyashiki. Man does Andre look like he came with something to prove. I think Gaines is making a case to be included in there, but with a full 90 on Wednesday, I don't think he starts. If we need something later in the game, though, I could see him being the first off the bench. As an aside: I think if we're chasing a game, Shinyashiki gives us so much versatility. His ability to play wide or as a striker means that if we're chasing, we could sacrifice a midfielder and go 4-4-2 with him and Świderski up top and a Jóźwiak/Gaines/Reyna winger pair. Ríos has been good for us and finally got on the scoresheet, but honestly, I think Shinyashiki has already surpassed him in importance to this team.

 

I keep coming back to my April schedule preview, in which I talked about how our April schedule was tough, but it looked like we would get some reprieve in May with home games against struggling teams. Well, Miami went on a run in April and so has Montréal.


Coming into April, Montréal had played 4 games and gotten 1 point. They lost to Orlando (2-0), Philadelphia (2-1), and NYCFC (4-1). They tied Atlanta 3-3. Well, it's been a different team since April started. They have wins against Cincinnati (4-3), RBNY (2-1), Vancouver (2-1), Atlanta (2-1), and Orlando (4-1) with a draw against Philadelphia (1-1) at Philadelphia. That's 16 points they racked up really quickly. Aside from the Cincy game (4/2/22), which was their first in April, they're also doing this with good defense (this may also be lucky defense - more on that later). They have no clean sheets during this time, but no one has scored more than 1 goal against them since that Cincy game. This is a team that hasn't finished higher than 9th in the East in the past 3 years (9th, 9th, and 10th over the previous 3); all of a sudden they are 3rd.

Team

Possession

Shots per game

Shots on target per game

Goals for (xG)

Goals against (xGA)

Points (standing)

WhoScored team rating (SofaScore team rating)

Charlotte FC

53.2%

11.00

4.45

10 (10.3)

13 (15.7)

13 (8th in the East)

6.55 (6.81)

CF Montréal

52.4%

12.20

4.80

20 (14.2)

19 (10.0)

17 (3rd in the East)

6.59 (6.83)

Well, yeah, Montréal can score. They are over-performing their xG, but the best teams in all leagues tend to do that. They are also underperforming in xGA. Again, a lot of those goals were from the first month of the year. They're not keeping clean sheets, but teams are still hard to beat if they only give up a goal a game. The worry for Charlotte this game is simple: can you keep up with Montréal's scoring? Montréal was shut out week 1 versus Orlando and it hasn't happened since.

 
Montréal vs. Philadelphia, 4/23, via MLS
Montréal vs. Philadelphia, 4/23, via MLS

Montréal has played with a back 3 all year long, but they've been making slight tweaks to the formation. They began the year in a 3-5-2 (Orlando on 2/27 through NYCFC on 3/12). Against Atlanta on 3/19, they tweaked it to a 3-4-2-1. They spent a couple matches in a 3-4-3 (against Cincinnati on 4/2 and RBNY on 4/9) before going back to the 3-4-2-1 over the past 3 games.


Now, the caveat with formation talk is always that it's kind of a guess. Moreover, in the modern game, teams often change formation in and out of possession. However, looking at how they set out can give us a sense of how they want to play. What I think we can tell from their tweaks is that they're attempting to push Djordje Mihailovic and another attacker a bit higher up the pitch.


Montréal vs. Atlanta, 4/30, via MLS
Montréal vs. Atlanta, 4/30, via MLS

Injury/Suspension

The only player listed as out on Montréal's official site is Keesean Ferdinand. He's only ever appeared in one game for them, which was last year in the Canadian Championship (the Canadian version of the U.S. Open Cup). On the MLS Availability Report, two forwards are listed as out: Bjørn Johnsen and Mason Toye. Both played quite a bit last year for Montréal, but have yet to make an appearance this year. Johnsen appeared in 26 games in 2021, but only scored 2 goals. Toye was more impactful, appearing in 14 games and scoring 7 goals. It was by far his best season, as he came into last year with a total of 7 goals to his name in his previous 4 seasons (48 appearances). According to transfermarkt, Toye tore his adductor

muscle on 2/21/22. He's the only player transfermarkt lists as out or in risk of suspension.


Attack

Montréal vs. Orlando, 5/7, via MLS
Montréal vs. Orlando, 5/7, via MLS

Of the 6 listed forwards on MLS's site, 2 are injured for Montréal (see above). That leaves them with Sunusi Ibrahim, Jojea Kwizera, Romell Quioto, and Kei Kamara. Ibrahim is only 19 and Kwizera is 23, while Quioto is 30 and Kamara is 37. FBref has Mihailovic, Joaquín Torres, Matko Miljevic, and Ahmed Hamdi all listed as "MF,FW," so they'll be included here as well.


Kwizera only has one career appearance for Montréal, for a total of 3 minutes. He's also listed as a midfielder on FBref (the position he played in college). He's a graduate of Utah Valley and was Montréal's first round pick this past draft.


Quioto and Kamara have both played quite a bit at striker. Of the 10 games Montréal has played, Quioto has appeared in 8 of them (7 starts), while Kamara has appeared in 9 (4 starts). Ibrahim has played in 3 games (3 starts).


Kamara is a true MLS vet. He's has been in MLS since 2006 (with a couple short absences). He's bounced around a lot, having started out his career with Columbus. He signed with Houston in 2008, spent half the year there and then went to Sporting KC. He was there through 2013 before returning to Columbus in 2014 (although he didn't appear in a game for them until 2015). He split time between Columbus and NE in 2016, staying with NE through the 2017 season. He then moved onto Vancouver (2018), Colorado (2019 and part of 2020), Minnesota (2020), and now Montréal. In between these stops, he also played for Norwich City in the Premier League in 2012-13, Middlesbrough in the English Championship in 2013-14, and HIFK in the Finnish top division in 2021.


He can definitely chip in a goal, as he has 142 in 418 career appearances (340 career starts), however, I wouldn't call him prolific. His best season, by far, was in 2015 with Columbus when he scored 22 in 32 appearances, along with 8 assists. He's only been in double digits for goals 6 times in his 16 seasons: 2010 with Sporting KC (10 Gs/29 apps), 2012 with Sporting KC (11 Gs/33 apps), the aforementioned 2015 season with Columbus, 2017 with NE (12 Gs/31 apps), 2018 with Vancouver (14 Gs/28 apps), and 2019 with Colorado (14 Gs/29 apps). He does have 2 goals and an assist so far this year.


Romell is another MLS vet. He began his career in Honduras with Vida (20 Gs/77 apps). He had an unproductive loan spell with Wisła Kraków in the Polish league (only 9 appearances with no goals) during the 2012-13 season. He moved to Olimpia, also of the Honduran league (38 Gs/96 apps), before moving to Houston in 2017. He spent 3 seasons with Houston, scoring 15 goals and getting 14 assists in 72 appearances. He's been with Montréal the past 3 seasons, making 46 appearances and scoring 19 goals with 11 assists. He's only had 1 season in his career with double digit goals in the league (2014-15 with Olimpia when he had 17 goals in 35 appearances). He has 3 goals and an assist so far this year. Note: FBref has his brief time in Poland, but no information on the Honduran league. Therefore, much of these stats come from the most reliable of sources: Wikipedia. Hopefully the numbers are somewhat accurate.


Ibrahim has 29 total appearances for Montréal, including 26 appearances last year as an 18 year old. He had 4 goals last year and has yet to get on the scoresheet this year. The production isn't there yet, but any teenager who can get into this many games is someone to watch. He's also a man of mystery, as neither FBref, MLS, nor Montréal's website lists his height or weight.

Mihailovic heatmap, 2021, via SofaScore
Mihailovic heatmap, 2021, via SofaScore

Mihailovic is the name everyone knows. The 23 year old American is having a good year and calls for him to be on the USMNT are growing loud.


In his 2nd year with Montréal, he already has a career high in goals (5) in just 10 appearances (9 starts). He was an assist machine last year for Montréal, racking up 13 in 34 appearances. He has 3 already this year. The assists are no fluke, either. He had 7 in his final season for Chicago as a 21 year old. He has 27 career assists in 117 appearances, but over the past 3 years (including this one) he has 23 assists in 64 appearances. This is a bit higher than his xA of 15.9, but the fact is the man knows how to find a teammate in good positions. To state the obvious: this is the player Charlotte have to game plan for.

Mihailovic heatmap, 2022, via SofaScore
Mihailovic heatmap, 2022, via SofaScore

His deployment this year is very much a departure from his historical positioning. He's always had a left sided bias, but as his 2021 heatmap shows, he would drift all over the pitch. His maps from 2017-2021 all look like this (more or less). 2022 has brought a new role: wide forward. He's not a winger in the traditional sense, but he is obviously providing width (he did start as a winger when Montréal was playing in their 3-4-3). He is not confined to the left, but he's definitely not roaming as much as he used to.


In Montréal's system, he's starting behind the striker and next to an attack-mate (often one of Ibrahim, Torres, or Hamdi). This change is obviously working, at least from a goal-scoring perspective. His goals per 90 have exploded to 0.55/90 (his previous high was in 2019 at 0.19/90). He has doubled his goals when compared to his xG (2.4), so it is still to be seen if his scoring rate will continue. He doesn't have a history of prolific scoring, but he is also just 23, so he might just be starting to unlock another dimension to his game this season.


Torres is another dangerous player, if he gets the start next to Mihailovic. He's another man of mystery when it comes to height and weight. MLS has him at 5'5" and 135 lbs; FBref has him at 5'9 (and a half!) and 148 lbs. For what it's worth, SofaScore also has him at 5'5", so I assume it's wrong on FBref, but I thought it was funny.


Torres started his career at Newell's Old Boys, the famous Argentinian club. He moved to Volos NFC in Greece in 2019-20 before moving to Montréal in 2021. He's found some scoring over the past 3 seasons. He only had 2 goals for Old Boys before his move to Greece, where he scored 5. He scored 4 in his first year with Montréal and has 3 already this year. He will also get an assist or two, as he had 5 last year and has 1 this year. His heatmap is basically the same as Mihailovic's, except on the right side. He's played in 7 games this year, starting 4.


Miljevic is a young American (21) who actually began his career in Argentina. He only appeared in 6 games (2 starts) for Argentinos Juniors (scoring 1 goal). He moved to Montréal in 2021 and has appeared in 12 games for them. He only has 1 career goal in MLS (last year).


Hamdi, the 23 year old Egyptian, got into a lot of games for Montréal last year (23 appearances, 9 starts). He only scored twice last year and has yet to get an assist or goal this year in 3 appearances (1 start).


Over the past 3 games, Ibrahim, Torres, and Hamdi have all started behind the striker with Mihailovic, so we'll have to see who gets the nod come Saturday. I personally hope it's not Torres, as he feels the most dangerous of that trio (at least in terms of where they are in their careers; Ibrahim is clearly very talented).


Midfield

Montréal only has one designated player on their roster, midfielder Victor Wanyama (Miljevic, Ibrahim, and defender Róbert Thorkelsson U22 Initiative players). Joining Wanyama in the midfield is a whole bunch of players: Samuel Piette, Mathieu Choinière, Lassi Lappalainen, Tomas Giraldo, Jean-Aniel Assi, Sean Rea, Nathan Saliba, Rida Zouhir, and Ismaël Koné.


Giraldo, Assi, Rea, Saliba, Zouhir, and Koné are all teenagers. Giraldo, Assi, Rea, and Saliba have never made an appearance for Montréal. Zouhir has made 6 appearances, including 4 this year (1 start). For his career, though, he only has 126 total game time minutes. In his one start, he was taken off at half. He's never scored a goal or had an assist.


Koné is a truly exciting player. At just 19, he has played in 9 games, starting 8. He already has 2 International caps for Canada. He could have played for Côte d'Ivoire, where he was born, but chose Canada where he grew up (he actually grew up in Montréal). If it weren't for COVID, Koné might be playing in Europe. At 6'2", 168 lbs, Koné already has the size of a professional. On the year, he has a goal and 2 assists.

Koné heatmap, 2022, via SofaScore
Koné heatmap, 2022, via SofaScore

Koné's passing will need some work, but he's pretty adept already. He's at 84.3% for his total passing, but I would argue his short passing (86.1%) and medium passing (87.3%) should be a bit better. With that said, he's at 81.6% (!!!) for long passing on 49 attempts. The man can pass and I would guess his short/medium percentages are more a reflection of inexperience than ability. He only has 12 shot-creating actions (SCAs) on the year and 19 progressive passes (2.75/90), but, again, he's only 19. His heatmap shows a player who is more of a deep lying midfielder, as he's not venturing into or around the opponent's box much.


Elsewhere in the midfield, Lappalainen and Choinière are also young (both 23), but have a number of years experience. Choinière had 26 appearances (24 starts) for Montéal last year, scoring 2 goals (his only of his career). In total, the 23 year old has 51 appearances across 6 seasons for Montréal, but has only appeared in 3 games (2 starts) so far this year. He can play on either wing, but has mostly been deployed on the right this year.


Lappalainen is another really exciting young player for Montréal. He has 49 appearances over 4 seasons for Montréal, including 10 appearances (9 starts) this year. The Finn has 11 goals and 2 assists with Montréal, including one this year. His highest return in MLS was in 2019 when he first came (he had 5 that year). However, he also had 3 for HJK (his previous club in the Finnish top flight) during 2019, so he had a total of 8 for that entire season. He also had 8 goals in 2018 for RoPS in the Finnish league. His single goal last year (in 15 appearances, 7 starts) is really an outlier. With the amount of playing time he is getting so far this year for Montréal, I would expect his goal return to be closer to at least 5-7 this year.


Lappalainen a true wide player who hugs the touchline on the left. He likes to take people on and is good at it (61.9% dribble success rate on 21 attempts). He's already at a career high for crosses with 18, so he's going to try to get up the touchline and find the striker or Mihailovic. The left side of him and Mihailovic will be dangerous. I feel like a lot of teams we have faced so far have had their dangerous players on the right side, creating issues for Fuchs, Mora, and/or Makoun. Lindsey and Corujo will have their hands full on Saturday and we'll see them truly tested.


Piette has had a major role for Montréal over the past few seasons, but not so much this year. He only has 1 start and 3 appearances on the year for a total of 119 minutes. Excluding his first year, when he had 11 appearances (11 starts), he has averaged 26.5 appearances per year (25 starts per year) over the previous 4 seasons. He's never been much of a goal scorer (2 career goals in MLS) or an assist man (6 career assists with a season high of 3 back in 2018). His passing has been his calling card and it's still good. He's a career 77.9% long passer, including last year when he was 83% on 165 attempts. However, Montréal seem to be playing younger, more diverse players who can add a bit more to the team than just passing. He's still a really useful player to have on a team, but he's fighting for a spot.


Finally, we have Wanyama. The former Celtic, Southampton, and Tottenham (bleh) man has been a staple in the Montréal side since he came over in 2020. He's played and started 9 games on the year and has 1 assist. He's never been a goal scorer from the midfield, with his best season being 6 goals for Celtic in 2012-13 when he was 21. He has had 2 goals for Montréal in each of the past 2 seasons.


Scoring is not really why he's in the side, though. Wanyama is a big guy who is good with the ball at his feet. In fact, as far as midfielders go, he's in the 95th percentile for dribbles completed (1.84/90), the 93rd percentile for players dribbled past (1.87/90), and the 85th percentile for fouls drawn (2.13/90). He's a player who likes to carry the ball up the field and will join the attack from deep. Honestly, he's not the greatest passer in the world (62nd percentile) and doesn't contribute much in defense (38th percentile for tackles won, 29th percentile in dribblers tackled, and 31st percentile for successful pressures), but his ball carrying ability is just so valuable. He is also pretty good in the air (83rd percentile for aerials won). Whoever plays in the midfield with Bronico is going to need to be aware of his runs up the pitch.


Defense

Montréal have a huge squad. They have 10 players listed as a defender on MLS: Gabriele Corbo, Thorkelsson (sometimes seen spelled with the Icelandic thorn instead of a "th"; admittedly, I didn't try very hard, but I couldn't figure out how to get that letter on my keyboard), Zorhan Bassong, Joel Waterman, Alistair Johnston, Kara Yao, Zachary Brault-Guillard, Kamal Miller, and Rudy Camacho. Corbo, Thorkelsson, Waterman, Yao, and Camacho are all listed as CBs, while Bassong, Johnston, Brault-Guillard, and Miller are fullbacks. Of course, playing with a back 3 means that you can potentially play your fullbacks as wingbacks (as is the case with Johnston) or as center halves (as is the case with Miller).


Yao has yet to get into a game for Montréal and hasn't since 2020 when he made 2 appearances. Corbo has played and started in 2 games, while Thorkelsson has appeared in 3 for a total of 57 minutes.


Bassong has 5 appearances (1 start), but only 91 total minutes on the season. He played a decent amount for Montréal last year (26 appearances, 13 starts). He's never scored and only has one assist (last year) to his name.


Brault-Guillard is another player who is a former starter for Montréal, but has had his place usurped. He only has 6 appearances (no starts) and 123 total minutes on the year. With that said, he does have 2 goals and an assist in that time, so he's making the most of it. In fact, the 2 goals already ties his career high from last year. His playing time really has dropped off though, as he had 30 appearances (23 starts) in 2021 and 21 appearances (19 starts) in 2020.


The main defenders for this team are Waterman, Johnston, Miller, and Camacho. Waterman, Camacho, and Miller make up the back three. Miller and Johnston have each started all 10 of Montréal's league games, while Waterman has appeared in 9 (9 starts) and Camacho has appeared in 8 (8 starts). Over the past 3 games it has been Camacho in the center of the CB trio, with Miller playing as a LCB and Waterman as a RCB. Johnston is playing as a wingback/wide midfielder on the right side.


Johnston is a young (23), attack-minded wingback who likes to get up the pitch, but also tracks back a lot. He provides good balance since Lappalainen, on the other wing, is more of a true winger. With that said, even though he will track back, he's not an overly adept defender (63rd percentile in tackles, 48th percentile in tackles won, 19th percentile in dribblers tackled). Johnston already has 3 assists on the year, which tripled his career high of 1 last year with Nashville. Jóźwiak--and Charlotte as a whole--should look to exploit his lack of defensive nous.

Waterman heatmap, 2022, via SofaScore
Waterman heatmap, 2022, via SofaScore

Waterman is the CB who helps cover Johnston's side of the pitch and I would say he's just okay at it. He did start the year as the center defender in the back 3, but has been deployed on the right side over the past month plus. He is in the 86th percentile for middle 3rd tackles and the 77th percentile for dribblers tackled, but only in the 18th percentile for defensive 3rd tackles and the 59th percentile for tackles plus interceptions. He also pretty error prone (78th percentile).


Where he excels is in his passing and ball carrying. He's in the 86th percentile for carries and the 90th percentile for progressive carries, including the 89th percentile for carries into the final third. For passing, he's in the 86th percentile for passes completed, the 90th percentile for passes into the final third, and the 89th percentile for passes into the penalty area. As his heatmap shows, he'll get up the pitch, especially for a CB.

Camacho defensive percentiles, via FBref
Camacho defensive percentiles past 365 days, via FBref

Camacho plays in the middle of their CB trio. The 31 year old is in his 5th season with Montréal. He wasn't really a starter until last year when he started 31 games. Before that, his starts were actually decreasing (18 in 2018, 16 in 2019, and 14 in 2020).


Camacho is an odd defender. Looking at the percentiles to the left, he appears to read the game decently well (89th percentile in shots saved, 84th percentile in interceptions), however, he can't or doesn't attempt tackles. If we could get him in one-on-one situations, you would have to favor the Charlotte player.


He's a fine passer, but not exceptional. Maybe his best quality is his scoring ability. He's in the 93rd percentile for goals and non-penalty goals. He had 3 goals last year, which for a CB is very good. He already has 1 this year.


Finally, Miller rounds out the CB trio. Again, on MLS he's listed as a fullback, but he's started all 10 of Montréal's games as a LCB. The 24 year old is in his 2nd season with Montréal, having come over from Orlando City. He has 2 career goals, including 1 this year (along with 2 assists on the year).

Miller heatmap, 2022, via SofaScore
Miller heatmap, 2022, via SofaScore

Miller, like Waterman, will venture into enemy territory often. It's not surprising that he would want to do this considering his fullback designation, but the fact that he actually does so often is interesting.


Miller also has interesting percentiles when compared with other CBs. With his passing, he is in the 88th percentile in completed passes, 96th percentile in progressive passing distance, 97th percentile in passes into the final 3rd. He's very good in possession (95th percentile for dribbles completed, 94th percentile for progressive carries). Again, his offensive abilities shouldn't come as a surprise considering his history as a fullback. I am very uncertain as to when his conversion to CB happened (if it's even officially happened). He's clearly playing that position this year, but I don't know if this change happened last year with Montréal or this year. It's not clear to me why Montréal still has him listed as fullback, not that it really matters.


As you might expect from a converted fullback, Miller's defensive numbers are horrible when compared with CBs. He's in the 85th percentile for pressures in the attacking 3rd and that's his only positive. He's in the 7th percentile for tackles, 7th percentile for blocks, 35th percentile for interceptions, and 14th percentile for aerials won.


In the end, Montréal have their defense set up to attack. It almost feels like their primary defensive game plan is to outscore the opponent. It explains why they haven't had a clean sheet all year. It's a strategy that is risky, but works if you can consistently score (they've shown they can). None of these defenders are great at, well, defending, so you would hope that would lead to some good chances for Charlotte. I think a front 3 of Jóźwiak, Świderski, and Shinyashiki could really cause them some problems.


Goalkeeping

In goal, Sebastian Breza has started all 10 games for them. The 24 year old Canadian is in his 2nd year with Montréal, having previously played at Potenza (club in the lower levels of Italy). In 2020, he joined Serie A club Bologna, but has never made an appearance. He was loaned to Montréal last year and, while they had an option to buy, didn't. He's back with them on another season long loan.


Last year he started 8 games for Montréal. He only allowed 8 goals in those starts, had a 75.0% save percentage, and a 25% clean sheet percentage. This year has been a lot rougher. He's allowed 19 goals (1.90 per 90), only has a 54.1% save percentage, and has yet to keep a clean sheet.


When looking at the advanced stats, his PSxG is 15.1, leading to a -2.9 PSxG+/-. A negative PSxG+/- is never something you want to see from your goalkeeper, as it means they're either really unlucky or not very good at making the saves they should. He allowed 8 goals last year on an 8.0 PSxG, so maybe he has been unlucky this year. With his inexperience it's hard to make a definitive statement on it. It appears that Montréal will try to pass out from the back a bit. He's only at 25% for his launch percentage (non-goal kicks).


Breza is young, especially for a goalkeeper. It's hard to say what his real level is (probably why Montréal didn't buy him). Before this year, he really only played for a Serie D side. Coupled with Montréal playing some (at best) average defenders in front of him, his poor save percentage and goals allowed are probably not entirely his fault. There's so little data on him that I think the best we can say is there is a good chance we can get some by him if we create chances, whether that's due to his poor ability or Montréal's overall poor defense.


Conclusion

Montréal is playing really well right now. They also have a lot of young, exciting players (Mihailovic, Koné, Lappalainen, Johnston) who are starting to come into their own. This will not be an easy game and Charlotte are probably going to have to score multiple goals if they want to keep their home winning streak alive.


With that said, this is the same team that had 1 point after 4 games. Maybe they were just figuring things out. Maybe their young players were just getting comfortable. Or maybe they're a young team who is on a hot streak right now, which might end at any time. I've said it about Charlotte often, but a young team is going to have highs and lows. Montréal has an average age of 25.9, which is actually younger than Charlotte's average age of 26.5. These average ages also include a 36 year old (Fuchs) and a 35 year old (Afful) for Charlotte and a 37 year old (Kamara) for Montréal. Without these players, both teams' averages would drop pretty significantly.


As a Charlotte fan, Montréal's success with a young squad really excites me. It shows you can have some short-term--and maybe season-long--success with inexperienced players who have talent. If I'm a Montréal fan I would expect really good things to be happening over the next few years. However, that doesn't meant they'll have consistent success this year, although they definitely might. The way they have leaned into the idea of being a young team who has to outscore their opponent rather than defend well (something they might not really be able to do right now) might be the correct call, but also brings risk. Always having to score multiple goals and being unable to keep any clean sheets isn't going to consistently get you the results you want. It does make for some exciting football though.


Prediction: Charlotte 2 - Montréal 2







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