The Thierry Henry era lasted just one season as the legend departed his post at Montréal due to family reasons. The club acted swiftly to name Wilfried Nancy head coach.
What will Nancy do with the collection of talent at his hands? A team in flux under Henry, Montréal scraped into the playoffs in 2020, but they welcomed a number of reinforcements this winter.
- MLS Reg. Season: 9th place in the Eastern Conference (26 pts - 1.13 PPG - 8-13-2, -10 GD)
- Audi MLS Cup Playoffs: Eliminated in Round One by New England Revolution 2-1
- Concacaf Champions League: Eliminated in quarterfinals by Olimpia, 2-2 (away goals tiebreaker)
Last season’s club leading scorer, Quioto was a revelation as a center forward. He’d primarily played as a winger during his career but was re-born through the center with eight goals and six assists, having a direct hand in nearly half of the club’s goals.
Mihailovic wasn’t cheap, as Montréal had to send $800,000 GAM to Chicago up front with another $200,000 GAM in incentives. And he’s expected to be Montréal's creative force, no longer a young homegrown with promise, now a young-20s US international.
The former Celtic, Southampton and Tottenham midfielder doesn’t quite cover ground like he did a few years ago, but is a calming, dictating presence at the base of midfield. Wanyama will be key to whatever tactical ethos Nancy implements on the team.
Young Player to Watch
A Canadian youth international left back, Bassong had been in Europe but didn’t quite break through before coming to Montréal. He played with the Canadian U-23s at Olympic qualifying and should have a good chance of regular minutes in Montréal.
- Djordje Mihailovic: Back to Djordje. His flexibility to play as a No. 10, an inverted left winger or even a bit deeper in central midfield will be an asset to the club, though, again, his price tag was no joke. He’ll be judged off his end product in Montréal.
- Bjorn Johnsen: Johnsen is a nomadic striker, but no matter where he’s played, he’s scored goals. Simple as. The big presence — listed at 6’5” — gives Montréal an aerial threat they haven’t had in a while, too. He’s a Norway international who last played in South Korea for Ulsan Hyundai.
- Kiki Struna: Montréal needed another starting-caliber center back and acquired Struna in a trade with the Houston Dynamo, sending Maxi Urruti the other way. Struna gets a change of scenery north of the border after two seasons in Houston.
- Bojan: The former Barcelona wonderkid had his moments in Montréal, though consistency proved elusive. He had seven goals and two assists in 25 appearances.
- Orji Okwonkwo: Okwonkwo was named Montréal's 2019 team MVP after a strong first season on loan from sister club Bologna, but struggled to recapture that form in 2020, with just a goal and an assist in five starts on the season. He’s currently on loan with Reggina in Italy’s Serie B.
- Jukka Raitala: The club’s captain and stalwart in defense, Raitala was out of contract and didn’t return. He signed with Minnesota United this winter while Montréal acquired defender Kamal Miller from Orlando City (via Austin FC).
Projected Starting XI
- Goalkeepers (3): Clement Diop, James Pantemis, Jonathan Sirois
- Defenders (10): Zorhan Bassong, Luis Binks, Zachary Brault-Guillard, Rudy Camacho, Keesean Ferdinand, Mustafa Kizza, Kamal Miller, Kiki Struna, Joel Waterman, Karifa Yao
- Midfielders (15): Jean-Aniel Assi, Clement Bahiya, Mathieu Choiniere, Tomas Giraldo, Ahmed Hamdi, Lassi Lappalainen, Emanuel Maciel, Djordje Mihailovic, Samuel Piette, Sean Rea, Nathan-Dylan Sailba, Amar Sejdic, Ballou Tabla, Joaquin Torres, Victor Wanyama, Ride Zouhir
- Forwards (5): Erik Hurtado, Sunusi Ibrahim, Bjorn Johnsen, Romell Quioto, Mason Toye
Armchair Analyst's Breakdown
- Strength: They have a lot of experience and depth in central defense, to the point where it’s fairly easy to imagine Nancy coming up with a scheme that maximizes the effects of Wanyama’s passing range while minimizing the effects of his lack of defensive range.
- Weakness: Their best player is a d-mid and we’re talking about minimizing the effects of his defensive shortcomings, so… As of now it’s hard to say there’s a lot to build on for Montréal, and given that this was another offseason of turnover, it’s not clear what this team is going to look like throughout the year.
- Charles Boehm: 14th in East
- Tom Bogert: 14th in East
- Susannah Collins: 14th in East
- Charlie Davies: 14th in East
- Matthew Doyle: 14th in East
- Sam Jones: 14th in East
- Michael Lahoud: 14th in East
- Joe Lowery: 14th in East
- Jillian Sakovits: 13th in East
- Greg Seltzer: 13th in East
- Steve Zakuani: 13th in East