CF Montréal returned to winning ways on Saturday as they defeated the Chicago Fire 1-0 at Soldier Field.
Despite being second-best for most of the contest, the Canadian side would score the only goal of the game late on after substitute Mason Toye headed home from close range. That would prove to be enough, though, as a quality performance from goalkeeper Clément Diop meant that they were able to hold to the clean sheet and all three points.
Story of the match
The start of the contest was relatively open, and the first genuine chance fell to Montréal. A tackle in midfield led to the ball going right to Bjørn Johnsen in the area, and he went for a first-time shot. The effort seemed destined for the bottom corner, but Bobby Shuttleworth managed to make an excellent save.
Chicago had a huge opportunity of their own near the half hour mark. A low cross eventually made its way to Brian Gutiérrez at the back post, who took a touch to settle himself before going for goal. He couldn’t convert from close range, though, as Clément Diop was able to deny him.
The Montréal goalkeeper had to step up once again with about 15 minutes to go. A clinical counter attack from the Fire led to Fabian Herbers being played through, but his shot was blocked by an onrushing Diop.
A clever corner led to another chance for Chicago, as a cross toward the back post picked out an open Álvaro Medrán. He went for placement on the volley attempt, but he couldn’t beat Diop, and the rebound was eventually cleared away from danger.
The hosts would be made to rue their missed chances late on, as Montréal took the lead against the run of play. A wonderful cross from Zorhan Bassong found substitute Mason Toye in the area, and he was able to do the rest, heading home to grab a winning goal for his side.
Chicago thought they had equalized in the final moments of the contest after Wyatt Omsberg headed the ball into the back of the net. However, following a VAR review, the goal would be called off since Chinonso Offor was offside in the buildup. It was a brutal call, but it was the right one.
The final whistle blew soon after, which meant that Montréal had secured the clean sheet and the win.
Better performance, worse result
Soccer is a strange sport sometimes.
All things considered, the Fire were much better than they were last week when they beat Inter Miami. Their movement was more fluid, and their passing was sharper. However, the result was worse, as they lost this time around.
What was the same as before was Chicago’s inability to finish chances. They only scored versus Miami because of a goalkeeping error, and they were kept scoreless on this occasion. They just couldn’t pick out the corner with any of their attempts, which allowed the goalkeeper to make a number of saves. The only person who could finish was defender Wyatt Omsberg, but his excellent header was eventually called back.
At the very least, the Fire know what they need to do in order to improve their results. If they can start converting all the opportunities they are creating for themselves, then they might be in a good position going forward. However, until that happens, they’ll continue to flounder near the bottom of the league standings.
Man of the match - Clément Diop
Mason Toye might grab most of the headlines since he scored the winner, but Montréal would not have been in the contest at all if not for Clément Diop.
The goalkeeper hasn’t had the best time in MLS, and he was even benched earlier this season for a game. He returned to the starting lineup the following week, though, which led to him featuring again versus the Fire. For Montréal’s sake, it’s a good thing he did.
Diop was excellent throughout, stepping up to make a save whenever his team needed him to. He also made sure to not give up any juicy rebounds, and he was solid on the ball when passing it around the back. It was a superb performance all around, and his heroics were what allowed his team to leave Soldier Field with all three points.