Soccer Sports

CF Montréal: New year, new coach, new hopes.

CF Montréal hopes to bounce back after a disappointing 2023 season.

In 2023, CF Montréal narrowly missed the Major League Soccer (MLS) playoffs on the last day of the season, and lost the Voyageurs Cup final—a cup competition between all professional and some semi-professional Canadian clubs—to the Vancouver Whitecaps. This disappointing season resulted in the club parting ways with head coach Hernán Losada after just one season, citing differing visions concerning the club’s future and style of play. 

On Jan. 9, CF Montréal president Gabriel Gervais unveiled Laurent Courtois as the team’s new head coach and clearly outlined the club’s sporting objectives. “We want to make the playoffs and have the opportunity to fight for the MLS Cup. We want to win the Canadian championship and return to the CONCACAF Champions League,” said Gervais when presenting Courtois.

Laurent Courtois: “It’s almost an adult dream.”

For the past two seasons, Courtois was the head coach of Colombus Crew’s reserve team. There, he led the team to two MLS NEXT Pro Cups, of which they won one. His experience coaching youth teams and developing players was an advantage compared to other candidates for his newly acquired position, considering that CF Montréal had the fourth youngest squad in MLS last season.

However, CF Montréal is a notoriously difficult place for managers, with Courtois being the team’s 10th head coach in 13 years since joining the MLS. Despite having signed a two-year contract, he hopes to stay with the team for a long time, although he knows about the team’s history of quickly firing coaches. “I have promised [the club] two things: an identity and energy. So [whether I stay for] six months, three years, 10 years, I hope, I want the players, the club, the people I work with to develop each other,” he said in his inaugural press conference.

Courtois has clear objectives in terms of what he wants to achieve in Montreal. “What I want to emphasize is individual player development […] especially with that pool of players,” he explained during his inaugural press conference. He also wants his team to have an attractive and recognizable style of play that can clearly be attached to Montreal.

Who’s in, who’s out?

CF Montréal’s squad has changed quite a bit since the end of last season, although it is not quite the exodus of talent as was seen last year. The team’s most significant loss is forward Romell Quioto, off to Tractor S.C. in Iran. Despite an injury-plagued 2023 season, he was still an important player, having scored 38 goals in 94 games for the club. Although he is yet to be numerically replaced, CF Montréal has presumably found their new forward. The club might be considering Uruguayan striker Matías Cóccaro, whom they are heavily linked with. Cóccaro has even already said his goodbyes to the fans of his previous club, Club Atlético Huracán, in Argentina, on social media.

However, CF Montréal’s main changes have come in the wingback positions. On the left, the club has spent US$400,000 in 2024 General Allocation Money (GAM) for former Canadian international Raheem Edwards, who is back in Montreal after a short spell in 2018. On the right, the team has traded Aarón Herrera to D.C. United in exchange for their right wingback, the Brazilian footballer Ruan and US$500,000 GAM in 2024. Both Edwards and Ruan are expected to be starters and improve what was one of CF Montréal’s weaknesses in 2023.


Thierry Henry: The living legend

Henry brings his talent on and off the field

Filling up trophy cabinets was common for former football player Thierry Henry. Unfortunately, Henry’s time as a head coach of CF Montreal did not reflect his career as a player, and had to come to a premature ending.

The all-time top goal scorer for France with 51 goals, he started his professional career in Monaco, where he spent five years. There, he won his first major trophy during the 1996–97 season, lifting up the Ligue 1 trophy and crowning Monaco as French champions.

Henry’s talents were not left unnoticed, and after an uneventful year playing for Italian giants Juventus for the 1998–99 season, he moved to London, where his career with Arsenal would engrave him forever in not only the history of the club, but also the sport.

While playing for Arsenal, Henry changed his play style and became a central offensive player rather than playing out on the left wing. This made a huge difference in Henry’s goal scoring record, where his mentality of quickly controlling the ball and shooting on net became evident and ruthless.

Henry played for Arsenal from 1999–2007, and saw his club lift the Premier League Cup twice. During the 2003–04 season, the London-based club won the Premier League without losing a single game, earning them the title of ‘The Invincibles’ and lifting up a golden trophy; the only team in the history of the Premier League to ever do so.

Henry’s time with Arsenal came to an end in 2007, as he joined famous Catalonian club F.C. Barcelona — the club he had lost to in the Champions League Final in 2006.

Henry’s time with Barcelona surpassed expectations. The striker became champion of Spain in his second year there, and created history once again as Barcelona won six trophies in a calendar year: the Supercopa de Espana, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup, La Liga, La Copa del Rey, and the most famous Champions League. Henry’s influential career with Barcelona came to an end in 2010, when he shockingly joined Major League Soccer (MLS) team the New York Red Bulls.

His player career in the MLS was different from his European past. Henry became a role model for all his teammates, and his influence was greater than ever, a source of discipline, confidence and rigour. Winning only the Supporters’ Shield with the Red Bulls in the 2012–13 season for having the best record in the league, Henry retired in 2014 and meddled in a managerial career soon after.

He became the head coach of CF Montreal in 2019, but unfortunately left his coaching duties this February 2021. During his time in Montreal, the Frenchman continued to elevate the standards of his team, leading CF Montreal to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, but was eliminated by the New England Revolution. Henry’s record for the Montreal-based club is nine wins, 16 losses and four draws for both the 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons. Although these statistics may not seem impressive, Henry’s goal was to build the team from the ground up; a plan which demands time and effort.

Henry had to leave his position last month for family reasons, but his coaching career is nowhere near finished. The Frenchman’s departure has made clubs such as AFC Bournemouth from the England second tier division keen on signing the legend into their coaching spot, whenever he’s ready.


Graphic by Sarah Alouani


The Club de Foot Montreal aims to change its image and find its identity

New branding, new head coach and eight new players bring hopes that the upcoming season will be better than the last one

The Club de Foot (CF) Montreal has signed eight players this off-season, the greatest number of contracts given by the club since 2015. That year, the team made it to the Concacaf Champions League final. So, what can fans, players, and coaches expect for the upcoming season?

Let’s start by remembering what happened in 2015: the club started its season with seven new players on the starting lineup, and made it to the Champions League final and the Major League Soccer (MLS) quarter-finals. This season was arguably the greatest campaign since the club joined the MLS in 2012.

Compared to 2015, last season is one to forget for CF Montreal fans. Their favourite club was eliminated from the Champions League, finished ninth in the MLS Eastern Conference. Fortunately, the club drastically changed over the winter, in all ways possible.

The club changed its name and logo, Head Coach Thierry Henry left his coaching duties for family reasons and has been replaced by Wilfred Nancy, and eight new players have been signed to the team.

The 2021 season starts on April 17, with the team facing a lot of uncertainty. The lineup that finished last year on the pitch is expected to be very different from the one that will start this season. From the eight new players, four came from free transfers (Zorhan Bassong, Erik Hurtado, Bjørn Johnsen, and Aljaž Struna), two came on loan (Ahmed Hamdi and Joaquín Torres) and two were bought in exchange for allocation sums (Djordje Mihailovic and Kamal Miller).

From all those athletes, two names drew a lot of attention from the media. Mihailovic and Johnsen are the two players raising the most hope for this upcoming season. Mihailovic is a 22-year-old offensive midfielder who played for the Chicago Fire last season. His success will depend on his capacity to work with Samuel Piette and Victor Wanyama to create a solid central midfield. Johnsen is a tall and muscular striker. Last season, he played for Ulsan Hyundai in South Korea. He has a game volume similar to Jozy Altidore.

Since Ignacio Piatti left in January 2020, the club has been searching for a player who is able to regularly create goal opportunities. Mihailovic will probably play as a number 10 behind Johnsen. This offensive duo could become the best attack the club has had since Piatti and Didier Drogba.

So which Montreal FC players can expect to start the season on the field? Clément Diop will surely be the starting keeper, as there is very little competition for his spot. From left to right, the defensive line should be composed of Mustafa Kizza, Luis Binks, Struna, and Zachary Brault-Guillard. MFC should align two defensive midfielders, Piette and Wanyama. The two wingers should be Romell Quioto and Lassi Lappalainen. The offensive midfielder will surely be Mihailovic and the striker should be Johnsen. Whatever the lineup may be, fans can look forward to an exciting season like they haven’t seen in quite some time.


Sports in Quebec are controlled differently than elsewhere during the pandemic

Soccer is one sports where the province differs in its COVID-19 restrictions

With most of Quebec in the red zone, new regulations have been put in place by the Quebec government to curb the spread of COVID-19: restricting private gatherings, access to restaurants, recreational activities, organized sports, and much more.

With these restrictions put in place, the Montreal Impact soccer club had to cease all activities for 30 days starting Oct. 8, stating on their website that they will continue to monitor the situation and support the measures of protection given by the government.

Before these new rules came into play, the Impact was the first club in Major League Soccer (MLS) to have fans allowed inside their stadium ― the Saputo Stadium, which has a maximum capacity of 20,801 ― allowing 250 fans per game following the ease of Quebec public health restrictions in late August.

With COVID-19 cases increasing since the beginning of the fall, rising from roughly 150 new cases per day at the start of September to roughly 950 cases per day at the beginning of October, the Impact quickly followed health and safety guidelines, and shut down their facility for the 28-day semi-lockdown ordered by the Quebec government.

In contrast with Quebec, Germany has fewer restrictions for its first and second division soccer leagues ― the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2. With COVID-19 cases slowly increasing, Germany has had 15,580 new confirmed cases from Oct. 8 to 12.

The restrictions there have largely stayed the same since the beginning of the pandemic: entry restrictions for many countries, and if granted entry, self-isolation until a negative test is shown.

German government officials have allowed the Bundesliga to fill 20 per cent of their stadium capacity. Despite rising COVID-19 cases, the Borussia Dortmund stadium, the biggest stadium in Germany with a capacity of 81,365, allowed a sold-out crowd of 11,500 fans on Oct. 3.

The Bundesliga has posted on their website that the German Federal Ministry of Health has given them a basic structure to follow, stating that “the Ministry emphasized that systematic compliance with the highest standards of infection protection is a fundamental requirement for allowing live crowds for football matches again. Allowing fans back in should always depend on the regional trend of infections.”

Without revenue coming in, the Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) stated in mid-April that 13 out of 36 Bundesliga clubs were facing financial problems, with Borussia Dortmund alone losing an astounding $49 million.

In comparison to these numbers, the Bundesliga had an all-time high profitable gain from 28 of their 36 clubs last season, achieving $4.7 billion in revenue, 13 per cent of which came from ticket sales.

Financially, the MLS may be thinking correctly by letting a small percentage of their fans in their stadium, but with the current state of the pandemic, shutting down activities seems necessary.


Graphic by @ariannasivira


The Montreal Impact needs a new superstar

The team lacks offensive power since departure of soccer legend Didier Drogba

Every Montreal Impact fan remembers when the team acquired Didier Drogba in 2015. The international soccer star, who’s now retired, played in Europe and at the highest levels of the game, and had an immediate impact on the team during his debut in the Major League Soccer (MLS).

Soccer is one of those sports where just one goal is often enough to win the game. Drogba, who played the position of striker, scored 11 goals in his first 11 games in Montreal. He concluded his time with the team with 23 goals in 41 games, playing in 2015 and 2016 for the blue, white and black.

The Impact qualified for the playoffs in both of Drogba’s seasons with the club. In 2016, it was the third time in five MLS seasons that the Impact qualified. However, the team hasn’t made the playoffs since. Last year, the Impact finished the season ranked 18th out of 26 MLS teams, winning only 12 of their 34 games and scoring just 47 goals.

Last year, the Impact added forward Bojan Krkić — known as Bojan to soccer fans — to the team, with hopes to get back what Drogba was bringing to the team: goals, offensive power, and the kind of starpower that puts the Impact on the map.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work as planned. Krkić didn’t perform as expected last season, scoring three goals in eight games. This year, he has only one goal in 10 games. Krkić clearly isn’t the Drogba replacement the Impact hoped he would be.

Montreal sports fans are passionate and want to see their teams win. It’s a sports city with a constant enthusiasm around the local teams. However, when things aren’t working, people can often be quick to ask for change.

It’s hard to acquire such talented superstars like the team did with Drogba in 2015. Yet, it really makes a difference to invest a bit more for a better player. At the end of the day, the team will be rewarded one way or another; even financially, as more fans will pay to come to live games with a superstar on the team.

Since Drogba’s departure, the future has been looking bleak for the Montreal Impact. Getting a new star on offence is a must.


Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion


Colour Commentary: Big four North American sports league suspend play due to COVID-19

Last Wednesday night, Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.

What ensued next was absolute chaos. The NBA swiftly announced that it would be suspending play after that night’s games were finished.

Around 1 p.m. on March 12, after a meeting among team owners and commissioner Gary Bettman, the NHL also suspended play until further notice. Bettman has teased a summer restart, but nothing is confirmed as of publication.

Then the news of leagues and competitions really started to pour in. Here is a summary of what happened next:

  • NCAA’s March Madness, the single biggest sports gambling event in the United States announced the cancellation of the tournament.
  • Major League Soccer suspended its season for 30 days.
  • The Association of Tennis Professionals suspended play for six weeks.
  • The Canadian Football League combine was cancelled.
  • The International Ice Hockey Federation’s under-18 world championships got cancelled.
  • Women’s World Curling Championships got cancelled.
  • Hockey Canada suspended all activities including all Canadian Hockey League games, the U-Sports National Championships and all unsanctioned minor hockey leagues.
  • The American Hockey League suspended play until further notice.

This was all on Thursday.

Since then, many major competitions would follow suit, including the English Premier League. The EPL was one of few competitions that were supposed to continue until Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for COVID-19.

With sports being suspended/cancelled, many 24-hour sports radio and TV stations are scrambling. However, one channel that has to be given credit is TSN.

Their coverage of all things sports that day was incredible—they ran commercial-free from the time the NHL made it’s announcement around 1 p.m. until their flagship show, SportsCentre was scheduled at 6 p.m.

Thursday was a grim day, but some positive news came out of it. A team of three Canadian doctors had managed to isolate the COVID-19 virus to further research towards a vaccine.

Rick Westhead of TSN was the first reporter to interview one of the doctors on SportsCentre about the impact of what the team’s findings mean for research.

I tip my hat to TSN for continuing live coverage and reporting during a time where the world probably needs sports the most to distract them from what is going on.

At The Concordian, we are committed to you and will still be bringing you sports pieces every week.

Stay safe, stay calm, and stay clean. And for Pete’s sake, wash your hands.


New head coach trying to make an impact

Montreal Impact set to kick off 2018 season with new management and many new players

After a disappointing 2017 season, the Montreal Impact is preparing to kick off the 2018 Major League Soccer (MLS) season. They missed the playoffs by 11 points with a 11-17-6 record last year. Based on a new coaching staff and new players, The Concordian is trying to figure out how the Impact can have a bounce-back season.

Changing of the Garde

After losing nine of the last 10 games in the 2017 season, the Impact fired head coach Mauro Biello. In comes Rémi Garde, who further changed the team around by hiring his own coaching staff. Garde previously coached at Lyon in France and Aston Villa in England.

Besides keeping assistant coach Wilfried Nancy, Garde has brought in assistant coach Maxence Flachez, a former youth coach at Lyon; goalie coach Joël Bats, Lyon’s goalie coach for the past 17 seasons; and fitness coach Robert Duverne, who was Garde’s fitness coach when he coached Lyon and Aston Villa.

Garde is making a huge statement, and is clearly trying to run the club the way he did at Lyon. Will a European management style work in North America? Many past MLS coaches have tried with little success.

In order for Garde’s French style to be successful, he will need to adapt his tactics to a North American game. That’s not to say he needs to play the North American way, but rather change his French style to conform to a more physical, less-skilled MLS game.

Fresh faces on the field

The Impact has a new-look roster this season, with 10 new players replacing the 12 departed ones.

The biggest change came at defence, where the team needed it. Last season, they allowed 58 goals in 34 games, the seventh-worst mark out of 22 teams in the league. The Impact traded away leader and 2015 MLS Defender of the Year Laurent Ciman for full-backs Raheem Edwards and Jukka Raitala, while right-back Ambroise Oyongo signed in France and veteran Hassoun Camara retired. Garde signed six-foot-three defender Zakaria Diallo, and Canadian international full-back Michael Petrasso joined the team. The Impact hopes the new defence will solve their issues.

The midfield is also younger and more dynamic. Ignacio Piatti, 33, and Marco Donadel, 34, are the only midfielders over the age of 25. When attacking midfielder Blerim Džemaili returned to Italy to play for his former team, Bologna F.C.—which is part-owned by Impact owner Joey Saputo—the Impact acquired Algerian midfielder Saphir Taïder from Bologna. The Impact will miss Džemaili’s offensive skills and chemistry with Piatti, but Taïder is younger and more skilled, so it will be exciting to see what attack he can bring.

O Captain! My Captain!

With former captain Patrice Bernier retired, the Impact needs a player, or multiple players, to take over and become a leader. Goalie Evan Bush has been with the club since 2011, while Piatti is entering his fifth season with the Impact. Donadel, defender Víctor Cabrera and forward Dominic Oduro are the only other players who have been with the Impact since before the 2016 season. Each of them will need to step up their roles as leaders to integrate everyone into a unified team.

With an inexperienced group, the Impact needs maturity from their young stars. Samuel Piette, the 23-year-old Repentigny native, could be considered one of those leaders. The same goes for forward Anthony Jackson-Hamel, who scored the second-most goals last season, with nine.

With so many changes to the Montreal Impact, fans will see how they perform together starting March 4 in Vancouver against the Whitecaps.

Main graphic by Zeze Le Lin.


Summing up the highlights 2012

The year 2012 is coming to a close my dear friends, and what a year it’s been. From American politics to Montreal soccer, we’ve summed up some of the most interesting events of the past year here.

Image via Flickr.

Robin Della Corte
Assistant news editor

In a province that is so often identified by it’s language issues, having an English mayor elected in office is a very symbolic moment for many people around the Montreal area.

Michael Applebaum’s election not only shows diversity, but a change in the right direction. After Pauline’s Marois’ election, I was terrified to live in a province where language mattered more than economic and social issues and where putting money towards ‘language police’ was a priority. After Applebaum’s victory against a French-speaking candidate I felt as if, politically and socially, things had changed slightly. Applebaum, being both English and Jewish, was elected, and it seemed as though most of the people in power didn’t care so much as to what language he spoke, but actually what he was going to do to improve our city and have the job done right.

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Stephanie La Leggia
Life editor

Image via Flickr.

Even with all the warnings and evacuation calls, Hurricane Sandy came as kind of a shock to me. Many underestimated its power and potential level of deconstruction, destroying homes and diminishing people’s lives and belongings to a suitcase.

Although I may live in Montreal, I’m a New Yorker at heart, travelling down at least three times year. With family and friends to worry about, I constantly checked CNN for updates. Although the video footages and article were quite alarming, it wasn’t until I saw photos of the aftermath that the horror of it really hit me; photos of people line-up to get their fill of gas, giant trees in the middle of the street, the diminished Jersey shore boardwalk, and people’s belonging scattered about like they were insignificant pieces of junk.

While some simply lost power in their skyscraper apartment building, others were not so lucky. When people think of New York, they narrow their focus to Manhattan, forgetting about the other burrows that were so badly hit, like Staten Island. Not to mention the damages the hurricane caused in Haiti. The photos of the aftermath and the personal stories of those without a home and insurance really put things in perspective for me. While my biggest concern may have been an assignment due by the end of the week, these survivors had to worry about basic needs like heating and food, needs that we take for granted on a daily basis.

You ask me what affected me most this year as 2012 comes to an end, it’s Hurricane Sandy, a hurricane so powerful it stood up against the Big Apple.

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Image via Flickr.

Kevin Duarte
Sports editor

The event that affected me the most in 2012 was the Montreal Impact’s inaugural season in Major League Soccer. To start, I am a diehard football fan… the real one, played with a round ball on the floor. Football, or to make it less confusing, soccer, is an integral part of my life. Right up there with breathing and eating, I’d say. The Impact expansion into the MLS finally gave me a chance to watch some decent soccer in my hometown. Prior to this year, Montreal was playing in the second tier of North American Soccer, a league that never really meant much at all. This past year, they just finished their first season in North America’s top flight. Fans got a chance to see some world-class players visit Saputo Stadium. More importantly for me, someone who studies the game as a coach, it was the higher quality of the sport that I enjoyed the most.

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Image via Flickr.

Casandra De Masi
Staff writer

Thousands watched, as did I, as Pauline Marois gave her acceptance speech in September. She had just become the first female premier of Quebec, and in the same night lived through an alleged assassination attempt. It all happened so quickly and it almost overshadowed the election itself. Throughout the election campaign, the wedge between the Francophone and the Anglophone community became larger and sharper. There were arguments and all-around ignorant behavior from both sides. This was the icing on the spoiled cake. As someone who lives and works in a French community, but was raised in a primarily English household, it just puzzled me as to why so much emphasis was being put on language, with so many other issues plaguing our province.

As horrible as the shooter’s actions were, especially because he killed an innocent man, he led people to a realization. People realized that, ‘Hey, maybe we should band together and focus on things that affect all of us, no matter what language we speak.’

That week, people came together, condemning this man’s actions. Just to see people agreeing that we should learn to coexist, that this silly war needs to end, was refreshing. It was hopeful. It didn’t last long, but knowing it is possible is what counts.

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Image via Flickr.

Paula Rivas
Managing editor

An event that kept me on the edge of my seat, as odd as it may sound to many people my age, was Obama’s victory in the American elections. The buildup from the presidential debates left my head spinning and I was looking forward to the elections like a child waiting for Christmas Eve.

The day of this historic event, I turned off my phone, avoided plans with any of my friends, and watched the CNN coverage like a hawk while Wolf Blitzer and other A-team reporters announced the advancement of the polls. My heart jumped with excitement as the state I spent 10 years of my life in, Maryland, turned blue in support for Obama. The blue wave that followed as the hours passed made me swell with pride to again see a glimpse of the United States that I love — not the ugly, homophobic and closed-minded side, but the side that many Canadians unfortunately don’t get to see. I’m talking about a United States that stands up to defend women’s rights when archaic restrictions were being suggested to govern women’s bodies and also to defend Hispanics when immigration laws were threatening to throw out hard-working citizens.

My own family was once living illegally as Hispanics in the States and we felt the harsh reality of being treated like second-class citizens. But most of all, to defend an America devoted to the idea that coming together as one is stronger than the idea that every man is out there for themselves. Thanks Obama, you made my year.

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