CF Montréal coach Nancy credits Decision Day heartbreak for Canadian Championship title 

After starting their season 10 months ago in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida due to COVID-19 restrictions, CF Montréal capped off a rollercoaster 2021 by lifting an 11th Voyageurs Cup on Sunday at Stade Saputo.

Romell Quioto scored the winning goal at the 72nd minute to clinch a 1-0 victory over Toronto FC in the Canadian Championship final.

While CFM failed in their efforts to qualify for the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs, they ended their season with silverware and a ticket to the 2022 Concacaf Champions League. And head coach Wilfried Nancy credited his team’s performance in the final to their 2-0 Decision Day loss to Orlando City that eliminated them from playoff contention.

“We need failures like this to improve,” Nancy said. “I’m pretty sure that we won this game because we also had the opportunity to play a game two weeks ago against Orlando and that’s why we managed the game a little bit better.”

In his first season as head coach, Nancy said he takes major positives from how his team stuck to his style of play and were “embracing the adversity” of the 2021 campaign.

“I’m really, really proud because I tried to instill a culture of growth but also with a desire to win,” Nancy said. “I know that it’s a process but today I am really happy because we won and we played the way I want to see my team play.”

However, the man who took over from Thierry Henry shortly before the season started made clear that there's still plenty of disappointment felt by him and his players after failing to make the MLS postseason. The Frenchman admitted that he didn’t watch the first playoff games on Saturday with his players.

“The players deserved to make the playoffs,” Nancy said. “We were close but a little bit far because we didn’t manage the moment of the game well [against Orlando] and we need to learn about that. Hopefully next year is going to be better.”

Montréal's Sebastian Breza was named Canadian Championship MVP. The on-loan goalkeeper (from Serie A's Bologna) admitted that he was surprised to receive the honor but jokingly added that it would be “a nice flower pot.”

“You want to play these games, you want to play the final and you want to be up front during those last five minutes, so it was a treat to play it," Breza said. "Obviously there is pressure but the game of soccer didn’t change in the last five minutes. It’s still the same and we have to approach it in that way.”

Toronto homegrown forward Jordan Perruzza came inches away from forcing a penalty shootout in stoppage time, but instead could only hit the right woodwork. Breza took the time to thank his posts and give a nod to legendary Montréal Canadiens hockey goaltender Patrick Roy.

“You need to talk to your goal posts, like Patrick Roy. They help us out,” Breza said.

Having outshot their Canadian Classique rivals 23-4, Quioto finally delivered the game-winning goal as he so often did this year. For Nancy, the game was a microcosm of CF Montréal's entire season.

“We should have scored earlier but we didn't,” he said. “I told my players during halftime that we have to stay positive and we knew that if we played like that we'd have a chance to score. It’s funny in football because the goal that we score is not the easiest goal but the easiest situation we had, we didn’t score.”