“Disrespected” CF Montréal sweep Canadian Classique with epic comeback
Entering Sunday’s match against Toronto FC, CF Montréal were second in the Eastern Conference table, approaching the best record in club history and riding the momentum of a four-match road winning streak.
And yet, leading into the latest chapter of the Canadian Classique, all of the talk seemed to be about facing a formidable TFC side featuring the likes of high-profile midseason additions Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi, among others.
After a 4-3 comeback victory over the club’s biggest rivals on road soil at BMO Field, Kamal Miller was happy to put some perspective on the match and its meaning in the Montréal locker room.
“We felt pretty disrespected that going into this game, all of the questions from media were asking how we were going to cope with TFC when they should have been asking how TFC is going to cope with us. We just wanted to come out here and make a statement and prove that no matter what they did in the transfer window, we are still a strong team,” Miller said. “We just wanted to fight for that respect tonight and we did that.”
It was a classic rivalry match from the start with Toronto FC racing out to a 2-0 lead in the first seven minutes of the match, getting a PK from Bernardeschi and a stellar strike from Insigne that seemed to put TFC in position to climb the ladder three points closer to playoff contention.
With that perceived disrespect in the back of their minds and a strong belief in the talent on the field, Montréal felt comfortable despite the early deficit and it was Miller who started the comeback in the 19th minute with a side volley to cut the lead in half.
“We knew what this means. Just ask Sammy [Piette]. He lives and breathes this rivalry. For myself and Kamal, coming home and playing in front a lot of family and friends, it’s a big game for us too,” said Montréal defender Alistair Johnston. “Kamal did a great job of kickstarting that. … You could see the energy and the passion he was putting into that game. That really inspired the team.”
Montréal stormed back with two more goals before halftime to claim the lead – first off a spectacular long-range blast from Djordje Mihailovic just two minutes after Miller’s goal, then courtesy of Kei Kamara defying his 38 years with his sixth goal of the season just before halftime. By the time the intermission arrived, the clubs had combined to tie the MLS record for goals in an individual half.
The theatrics continued into the second half, with Montréal earning a 4-2 lead off of a Johnston goal. Insigne made it interesting in stoppage time with his second goal of the night, but Montréal held off the late surge from the home side to climb to 16W-9L-4D on the season and five points clear of the New York Red Bulls for second in the Eastern Conference.
It was a milestone night for the club, with Montréal’s 52 points on the season surpassing a club record set in 2015, further cementing a top spot in the competitive Eastern Conference. CFM are second in the East, five points clear of the New York Red Bulls.
Sweeping the season series with TFC and keeping the Reds four points removed from the seventh and final playoff position with just four games to play made the result all the sweeter.
“It’s one of those (games) that you’re going to remember all your career. It’s a season-defining game. I think a lot of groups when you go down 2-nil to a team that has such firepower, it can easily get out of hand. We dug in and said it wasn’t going to happen,” Johnston said. “To get another result on the road, a result in Toronto to do the double over them in the MLS is really special. It’s something we don’t take for granted. … It just shows what this group is all about.”
WATCH: Montréal flip the script, rally past Toronto in wild Canadian Classique