Scouting Report | Fire go for two in a row at Soldier Field against CF Montréal

scouting report vs MTL

Oh man, did that feel good on Saturday.

Sun was shining, Soldier was rocking, Sector Latino back in the fray and - the sprinkles on the ice cream nachos – THREE. POINTS.

Is it a little late in the season to be celebrating this occasion? Absolutely.

However, you have to get your first win to get your second, and the Fire will attempt to do just that as they play host to CF Montréal at Soldier Field on Saturday.


I think a lot of people are surprised by Montréal’s start after the shocking departure of former head coach Thierry Henry over the winter. The artist formally known as the Impact are currently 2-2-3, and sitting on eight points (four ahead of the Fire) in seventh place in the East.

Wilfried Nancy - who has never held a head coaching position at the professional level - has his boys playing some solid football in the attacking third. Montréal has made camp in Fort Lauderdale at DRV PINK Stadium, the home of Inter Miami, while they wait for the Canadian borders to open back up amid COVID-19 protocols.

Nancy sets his squad up in a 3-4-1-2 formation, which gives a lot of room for familiar face Djordje Mihailović to operate and manipulate the space in behind the strikers.

So far, Montréal has earned wins over Toronto and Miami, with draws against Nashville and Columbus thrown in. Defending seems to be their bugaboo at the moment, with nine goals for and nine against. They’ve conceded leads to both Nashville (2-0) and FC Cincinnati (1-0) late on.


Mihailović’s return to the Windy City for the first time since being traded for close to $1M this offseason will get the headlines. The 22-year-old has been deployed in a bit of a different role in his first season with Montréal, mainly playing as a No. 8 or 10 under Nancy. He has been lively and creative in the attacking third through the first several weeks of the season, having registered two goals and an assist.

Montréal have missed the services of Tottenham Academy product Luis Binks, who has yet to play in 2021 due to injury after making 17 out of a possible 23 appearances in 2020. Joel Waterman and Kamal Miller have been sharing duties along the backline trying to fill the void. Kiki Struna and Rudy Camacho are the two mainstays at the moment.

Mason Toye has also been sorely missed after getting off to a good start. The New Jersey native scored in the first two games of the season, but has missed the last five games with a nagging thigh injury. Bjørn Johnsen has been filling in as one of the members of the striker-by-committee task force. Johnsen had a brace against Miami in less than 12 minutes in what was just his second start for the club.

Romell Quioto would typically be paired with Mason Toye up top. The Honduran international is still trying to find his form, as he is now goalless in his last six outings after scoring in the team’s opener against Toronto. Quioto may have had the miss of the season against FC Cincinnati last weekend. Not just a miss, but a goal that probably would have earned them at least a point (if not all three) at home. Quioto bagged nine goals last year in 21 appearances.

Samuel Piette does a lot of the piano-lifting in the middle of the park, while Victor Wanyama sets the tempo. This is a side that very much likes to hit you on the counter and use the pace of Quioto, Mihailović et al.


This Montréal side is definitely talented going forward but equally vulnerable on the other side of the ball.

That pesky phrase “offensive defending” will be another talking point for Wicky’s group because of the pace and quality in the likes of Quioto, Mihailović and whoever else is paired up top with Quioto.

Montréal want to play in space and go quickly, so getting numbers back behind the ball, limiting their time on it, and taking fouls when necessary to prevent the counter will all be big keys to prevent them from scoring.

The Fire’s midfield was very good with their off-the-ball movement against Miami, and they’ll need a lot more of that to break down what can sometimes look like a five-back system for Nancy’s side.

Now that the very large monkey is off the Fire’s back, I expect to see a Chicago group that is playing with even more confidence and is maybe a bit looser than we’ve seen them in the past few weeks.

Can’t wait to be back on the mic with the Hall of Famer Tony Meola on WGN and CFFC Live at Noon CT this Saturday.