FC Cincinnati-CF Montreal Preview
Wilfried Nancy has vowed to drop any CF Montreal player that takes next opponents FC Cincinnati lightly, warning that MLS' bottom team are capable of beating any side.
Cincinnati have lost three games in a row since drawing with Nashville SC on the opening weekend to leave them at the foot of the Supporters' Shield standings.
Montreal have made a somewhat mixed start with two wins, two draws and two defeats, but Nancy insists the table counts for little at this early stage in the 2021 campaign.
"That is unimportant," he said. "If any one of my players gets a little lazy because he perceives he is facing a lower team, he will not play for me. Every game in MLS is difficult.
"I don't like hearing the word 'underdog'. I have never been an undergo. It's a game, not war. Anyone can win or lose."
Citing the Ligue 1 table, with Lille one win away from ousting heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain as champions, the Frenchman added: "They could be about to win the league.
"Are they an underdog? I prepare all games with same intensity and desire, not matter who the opponent."
After facing off against Phil Neville and Gabriel Heinze in Montreal's last two matches, another former Manchester United player awaits Nancy this weekend in Jaap Stam.
Despite losing three straight games, Stam is taking positives from the way Cincinnati recovered from two down against Inter Miami, only to lose 3-2 to a late Gonzalo Higuain goal.
"To go from two goals down to tying it up, there is a clear spark, but that's not the only thing," he said. "We could have and maybe should have scored more goals ourselves.
"That's what we're looking for - it tells you a lot about the team. They want to keep going for a result and that is why we were so disappointed after conceding a third goal.
"A little bit of positiveness can go a long way in soccer. Now we're back at it again and will work on getting a result against Montreal."
CF Montreal - Erik Hurtado
The 30-year-old forward joined on a short-term deal in February and has made the most of his limited playing time, creating a team-high 11 chances in 191 minutes on the pitch. In fact, Hurtado's 5.2 chances per 90 minutes are the most of any player in the division from those to have played a minimum of 150 minutes.
FC Cincinnati - Geoff Cameron
Cincinnati have conceded 13 goals in their first four matches, an average of 3.25 per game, which is something former defender Stam will be eager to put right. Cameron made his debut against Inter Miami last week and, even if his side did ship three goals, he will bring plenty of experience and knowhow to the back line.
- FC Cincinnati won the first two meetings between the sides, both in 2019. Montreal is the only team that Cincinnati has played more than once and never lost to.
- After scoring six goals in its first two matches this season, CF Montreal has managed just two goals in its last four games, including failing to score three times. Montreal failed to score just twice in its previous 19 matches (incl. playoffs) dating back to September 2020.
- Cincinnati has conceded 13 goals through four matches, the third-most at this stage of a season in MLS history. Only Minnesota United in 2017 (18) and San Jose in 2019 (14) have allowed more after four matches.
- Nick Hagglund scored his second goal with Cincinnati and his eighth career MLS goal (incl. playoffs) against Inter Miami. Seven of his eight goals have been scored via headers and seven of his eight goals have been scored on set pieces.
Updated May 21, 2021