Sober Second Thoughts: numbers don't lie
But they sometimes take a rest
Sometimes you just need a bounce to go your way
CF Montreal is still the worst team in the league, statistically speaking. They rank 29th in xG, 28th in XGa and 29th in xGD.
There is no way to spin those performance numbers. They are dreadful. They can’t attack and they struggle to defend. Nothing that Hernán Losada has done looks to be working. The eyeball test is as bad as the numbers.
They now have two wins, after a 2-0 home win against the Red Bulls this weekend. It was a baffling game where Montreal struggled to create much of anything, saw Ilias Iliadis take a truly boneheaded second yellow and the Red Bulls…well, the Red Bulls have some problems of their own. If this was a New York-focused blog we would go into depth there, but suffice to say that having your DP forward suspended for six games for using a racist slur is problematic on all kinds of levels, including the scoreboard.
The Red Bulls dictated most of the play in the first half, forcing Montreal to turn the ball over time and time again in bad places. Then they’d do nothing with it. If you haven’t watched the highlights of this one yet, don’t bother. Neither team was doing much interesting with the ball.
In fact, the most interesting thing that the Red Bulls did with the ball was out it in their own net. A truly fortunate deflection off of Andrés Reyes in the 25th minute game the Team That Used To Be Known As The Impact an unexpected, but welcome, lead.
To their credit, they did bunker down well after getting the lead. It was a nice bit of spark and effort from the team and the sparse but energetic crowd at Stade Saputo appreciated it. The rush of blood to Iliadis’ head notwithstanding, the team seemed to recognize that New York has zero ideas when they are taken out of their game plan -- Red Bulls football looks to take space, force turnovers about 40 yards from goal and pounce on the attack (Editorializing: It’s dreadful, anti-football and I can’t wait for it to go out of favour in the sport).Montreal stopped forcing the ball into those spaces with the lead and New York couldn’t produce anything on their own.
Even on 10 men, I don’t think New York was going to create much of anything on the weekend.
So, three points it was for the home team. A result that likely takes some pressure off Losada. They still only have six points, but wins make everything feel better – even when the underlining numbers are terrible. They won’t face teams as lost as New York was on Saturday very often.
The thing about xG and similar numbers are hat they are terrible at predicting individual results from week to week, but wonderful at telling you what to expect over an extended period of time. So, Montreal fans should enjoy the small joys when they happen.
The big question all year with this team isn’t if they are going to be in contention for a playoff spot. They won’t be. It’s whether there is a plan there to compete in 2024 and 2025, or if they are just bad.
Sober Second Thoughts is your weekly look back on the Canadian MLS results. Each week, one of the three teams is featured for free, while the other two columns are for paid subscribers, or supporters on Patreon.
The natives are getting restless
There was a certain purgatory to TFC’s season prior to last week. The team was neither bad, or good, really. They weren’t winning, but they also weren’t losing. Instead, they were just grinding along getting draw after draw.