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CF Montreal: Three games, seven points and the importance of depth

CF Montreal: Three games, seven points and the importance of depth

MONTREAL – Since the start of the season, Laurent Courtois has not missed an opportunity to include the players he leaves on the bench, those not in uniform and even members of his assistant group, into the conversation. This gesture may seem trivial, but not all of his predecessors had the same level of consideration for the options available to them.

It is clear that for the head coach of FC Montreal, it is essential that everyone feels valued and appreciated. After three matches, the shadow workers returned his money.

In Miami, Sanusi Ibrahim scored the winning goal before he had time to paint his shoes. The young Nigerian headed in a header from Joseph Martinez, who came on as a substitute at the end of the first half. We can add that the action started from the right foot of Dominik Iankov, who came on in the 70th minute, and who also caused the foul that led to the goal from a free kick taken by Matias Coccaro three minutes earlier.

Victor Wanyama and Raheem Edwards, the other substitutes used by Courtois, did a solid defensive job in getting valuable three points against former Barcelona players. Not to mention the performance of young centre-back Fernando Alvarez, who brilliantly replaced George Campbell in the starting lineup.

This true teamwork was a continuation of what had been seen in recent weeks when Martinez, Kwadwo Opoku and Jules Anthony Vilicent, each in their own way, managed to stand out after their number appeared on the fourth official's table.

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Defender Joel Waterman, who was at the heart of the game for all 270 minutes his team played, breathed a sigh of relief when asked about the importance of this integration between the main players and substitutes. “There is nothing more important (it's everything),” he repeats.

“We have quality players who deserve to be on the field. Everyone approaches each day with a rookie-conscious approach. For us, the guys who have had the majority of the minutes so far, it's a huge source of confidence. We know they'll be able to get the job done and make a difference when they're given the opportunity.” “They were called up. That's what we saw against Miami. Everyone gave their opinions in the game. It's great to see that. That's the sign of champion teams.”

Courtois, whose signing was announced a month and a half before the start of the season, is still getting to know the players he has available. “We all get to know each other,” he says. In this sense, the context is appropriate for him: everyone wants to show himself at his best in front of a new coach.

But to reduce the production of such a large number of individuals to the mere effect of novelty would imply ignoring an important chapter of Courtois's book.

“For me, the priority has always been to involve as many people as possible,” Courtois explained on Thursday. Unfortunately, we can't get everyone playing and give everyone opportunities, but at least we try to make sure we give them enough attention and give them enough tools to perform well when that happens. It's their turn. »

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The idea that Courtois wants his players to take into account is reminiscent of the famous speech of a former American president: “It is not a question of ‘How many times will you play?’, but ‘What will you do with the ball?’” He adds: “How much time will you be given?”

“We are trying to educate them, make them accountable because ultimately they are the ones who determine the mentality of the group. I have not yet been able to give some people the opportunities that I would like to. I just want them to be ready when it is their turn.”

“Then, it's up to me and the crew to bring it together so they feel like this is right.”

Martinez: “We have to give him time”

Combined with the fact that its first six games are on the road, Montreal benefits from a somewhat lenient schedule to start the season. After his game in Chicago on Sunday, he will take a week off and will not play again until March 30 in Washington. Its first midweek game isn't scheduled until mid-May.

In these circumstances, and assuming his team remains relatively healthy, it will be interesting to see how Courtois integrates veteran players like Wanyama and Edwards, who have so far been preferred over Samuel Peat and Ariel Lassiter. It's also difficult to predict his next options in the back line between George Campbell, Joaquin Sosa and Alvarez.

Rotation in the offensive sector also carries its share of intrigue. Josef Martinez was acquired to much fanfare midway through training camp, and has yet to play more than 46 minutes in a game. His impact was not trivial: a goal and an assist in 114 minutes.

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When asked whether his management of his star striker was related to his physical fitness or was it based on purely sporting considerations, the coach replied: “A little bit of all that.” »

“We know he does things differently than others. You also have to give him time. He's had a long period of downtime and he's getting the workload and the mental side and the movement. There's a lot of stuff and a little bit of personnel as well. So you have to give him time. But of course we can't all Waiting to get the version of Joseph we know. »

Courtois was more succinct in his update on Campbell and Nathan Saliba's health, offering a simple “I'm feeling better” before moving on to the next question.