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Match Preview: Caps head to Montreal for inter-Canadian derby

MLS: CF Montreal at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Match Information

Club de Foot Montreal vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

Location: Stade Saputo

Date and Time: April 16, 12 p.m. PST

Watching: CTV, TSN 4/5 (Canada) and ESPN+ (U.S.)

What to expect

The Caps will head back on the road, this time making the trek to Quebec to take on rivals CF Montreal, making for a matchup of two Canadian teams that have not exactly set the world on fire this season.

History will not be on the Caps’ side — the last time they won in Montreal was 2017, in the halcyon days of Andrew Jacobson and Cristian Techera. The Caps have won their last two meetings, both at BC Place, in 2021 and 2020 (when the two teams played what seems like a million times).

Montreal presents an intriguing foil for the Caps — they have scored the most goals of any team in the Eastern Conference but have conceded as many as any team in the entire league. After a run of four straight defeats in all competition, they have won their last two matches. Simply put, you aren’t sure what you will get.

There is little doubt that Montreal’s most dangerous player is Djordje Mihailovic, the team’s top scorer (only he and Romell Quioto have scored multiple goals this season).

Montreal generally favor a three centerback system, featuring Kamal Miller, Rudy Camacho and Joel Waterman, with Victor Wanyama and Ismael Kone doing a credible job in the central midfield role. Young keeper Sebastian Breza has oscillated between poor and excellent, though, like Thomas Hasal, his quality is dependent on if those in front of him can minimize mistakes.

Alistair Johnston and Lassi Lappalainen have tended to be slotted in out wide, with Mihailovic up top with old friend Kei Kamara, still going strong at 37-years-old.

Bad news for the Caps; Caio Alexandre, who could have otherwise been fit for this one, will be out for eight weeks with a hand injury (grrrr). Erik Godoy, however, could return to the lineup and one imagines Tristan Blackmon will be a shoo-in to join him, as he made a sub appearance after picking up a knock against Sporting KC. Lucas Cavallini appears to be fit as a fiddle after an illness and it will be interesting if he slides right back into the starting lineup.

The return of the team’s two best CB options should help keep the backline more organized than it was against Portland, when a leaky second half performance undid things. Another thing to watch is if Sebastian Berhalter returns to the lineup in light of Alexandre’s injury and, if so, if he forms a partnership with Russell Teibert or Pedro Vite.

The choice could dictate the team’s strategy to this one: go for the jugular or try and play it safe on the road against an Eastern Conference team.

Indeed, I expect Vanni Sartini to temper his team’s aggressiveness to try and tamp down the mistakes we saw against Portland. Montreal might be starting to figure out its defensive organization but it would be disappointing if the Caps didn’t manage to score in this one. This has all the makings of a deadlocked, 1-1 draw type of match.

Predictions

Andrew: 1-1 draw

Sam: 2-1 Montreal

Ian: 1-0 Montreal

Luis: 2-1 Montreal

Caleb: 2-1 Montreal