Michel Lamarche, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL – Wednesday will be a bit of a homecoming for Alistair Johnston. It’s appropriate to say “sort of,” because instead of at Nissan Stadium, the Canadian defender will instead step into the garden of the brand new home of Nashville, the club with which he spent his first two seasons in MLS before being traded to CF Montreal in December.
Four days after playing their eighth game in a row without losing Saturday night in front of more than 33,000 spectators in the hostile environment of the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, Johnston and his teammates will discover Geodes Park.
It’s a 30,000-seat container and might not be more welcoming than the one CF Montreal (6-3-2) visited on Saturday.
Never mind, Johnston can’t wait to set foot there.
“I’m excited,” Johnston admitted during his interview with the media in Montreal Monday afternoon.
“It will be fun to see the crowd again. I am excited to see this new stadium. It looks handsome. It is well deserved. The fans have been great from day one. I know this is exciting for the whole city.”
Johnston says he maintains good relations with several of his former teammates, and makes no secret that he would be happy to see them again. On top of that, he also mentioned a key element: CF Montreal has a mission to get done.
“We’re going there on a business trip, and we’re going to want to leave with more points in the rankings and keep fighting for first place in the East.”
Now a member of the MLS Western Conference, a move that followed Charlotte FC’s inclusion in the Eastern Conference, Nashville SC (4-4-3) tied for sixth with three other teams with 15 points.
It’s a record for saying the least respectful when you know the Tennessee formation should have played its first eight meetings overseas, which time Geodis Park can accommodate.
Since then, the team has played two games in front of its home crowd (1-0-1) before returning to the road last weekend, losing 2-0 to the Houston Dynamo.
After their long away streak to start their season, the Nashville club was 3-3-2, a performance that Johnston considers impressive.
“People don’t realize that Nashville is in Tennessee, which is adjacent to North Carolina, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. When playing in the Western Conference, most trips feel like a flight between Montreal and Vancouver,” Johnston said.
“That this team played so far and collected all those points, it gives you an idea of how difficult it is to beat it. It is something we know. It is his identity. It has been like that since he came to the league. They are a really dangerous team.”
If any group of athletes can confirm this, they are Johnston’s current teammates.
To hope to extend their winning streak overall (6-0-2) and on the road (3-0-2) – two team records – CF Montreal will have to find a way to collect points against an opponent he has never defeated in four attempts (0-2-2). ).
Oddly enough, Montreal did better in Nashville, scoring a draw during their two layoffs last season.
Furthermore, according to MLS statistics, CF Montreal is the only MLS team to have played two or more games in Nashville without suffering at least one defeat.
But either way, Montreal squandered a 2-0 and 1-0 lead by conceding second-half goals only to earn an equaliser.
If he says he is happy on Monday to go and play a game at a “Super Stadium”, Wilfried Nancy knows full well that the task will not be easy on Wednesday night against a club that has not lost at home in his last 21 attempts. (11-0-10) including playoffs since November 2020.
“We played against Charlotte and it’s a possession team. There, we’re going to play against Nashville, a physical team, that’s also able to hold the ball, of course, but it’s more direct, with deep passes, with players that are more athletic, even more athletic. It’s a different style of play. We’ll put something on. In his place to try to play a good game there.”
Moreover, when Charlotte returned, the Montreal club received some good news because the injury that Rommel Koyoto suffered at the end of the first half on Saturday was not very serious.
“How’s it going. It’s more fear than harm actually. She’ll be ready for action,” said Nancy.