It took the wins (6) and goal differential (+3) tiebreakers to get there, but CF Montréal are sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings through Week 11.
Saturday evening's 2-0 win at Charlotte FC was the difference, ending the expansion side’s four-game winning streak at Bank of America Stadium and extending their own unbeaten run to eight games (6W-0L-2D).
CFM are in immaculate form since exiting the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals to Liga MX’s Cruz Azul, making their season-opening three-game losing streak a distant memory.
“I'm very happy with what the guys did tonight,” manager Wilfried Nancy said. “It wasn't easy on an artificial field and in a stadium with a great atmosphere. We faced a good team with some interesting tactics. I'm happy because this clean sheet is good for the team.
“Today we continued to do good things. We are on a good run and the credit goes to the players. There is a confidence building since last year and the players are enjoying executing the game plans.”
The Landon Donovan MLS MVP case for midfielder Djordje Mihailovic only continues to grow, as his 45th-minute opener marked his sixth goal of the young campaign. The US men’s national team hopeful scored in back-to-back games for the first time in his MLS career, which began in 2017 as a Chicago Fire FC homegrown player.
The win was put on ice when defender Alistair Johnston picked out the far corner in the 67th minute, his first goal in CFM colors since an offseason trade from Nashville SC. It was Johnston’s 50th MLS start, reinforcing the Canadian international’s importance.
Those goals gave enough breathing room for goalkeeper Sebastian Breza to tally his first clean sheet of 2022, silencing the boisterous Queen City crowd.
“As a soccer player, you want to play in these kinds of games even if it’s an away game,” Mihailovic said. “When the crowd is there, 30,000 people in the stands, it gives us energy as well. We didn’t really change too many things. There were a couple tweaks in our shape, but we go into every game the same like we’ve been doing, with the same mentality. The things that have been changing, we don’t want to change that just because we’re playing away in front of a bunch of people.”
Keeping this perch atop the East won’t be easy, especially since four teams – Orlando City SC, Philadelphia Union, FC Cincinnati and New York Red Bulls – are all tied on points (20) or one point behind them. But at this rate, complete buy-in is proving mighty effective.
“They trust the process, they believe in the concept,” Nancy said. “That’s why we keep going and for me, the more they’re going to be like that, the more we’re going to be able to have success.”
CFM return to action midweek at Nashville SC, visiting brand-new GEODIS Park on Wednesday evening (8:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+). Keeping a level head will be key.
“I’ve always said this is a game of ups and downs,” Mihailovic said. “The season is going to go up and down, and it’s good to feel this right now. But we can’t get too high.”