Tuesday, November 10, 2015
FC Montreal took a sink-or-swim approach to its inaugural season in the USL, with a young squad that faced a steep learning curve under the leadership of Philippe Eullaffroy. That inexperience showed as the side took just five points in the opening half of the season, but then the side experienced a remarkable turnaround.
Thanks to a scoring resurgence led by Alessandro Riggi, Montreal reeled off six wins in its next eight games to push the side to the fringe of the playoff picture. That run of form, which saw the side score three or more goals four times, leaves optimism for what Montreal could achieve in its second season.
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2015 USL Season in Review:
Place: 10th in the Eastern Conference
Goals For: 32
Goals Against: 46
2015 leaders: Alessandro Riggi (9 goals), Frederic Lajoie-Gravelle, Victor Ndiaye (4 assists), Maxime Crepeau (45 saves, 4 shutouts)
Greatest moment of 2015: Montreal recorded a number of notable wins against playoff sides in 2015, but none was more impressive that its 4-0 victory on the road against Louisville City FC. Louisville had lost just once at home all season on August 5, and was on a six-game winning streak of its own, but Montreal stunned the hosts as Riggi opened the scoring in the fourth minute. Two goals in three minutes by Riggi and Jacques Haman made it 3-0 in the 21st minute, and that proved enough as Maxime Crepeau recorded a seven-save shutout to keep Louisville at bay before Fabio Morelli added a fourth with a minute to go.
Lowest moment of 2015: Montreal suffered its heaviest defeat of the season late in the year when it traveled to face the Harrisburg City Islanders on August 29. From the off, the City Islanders overran Montreal’s defense, and had a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Enric Valles and Jason Plumhoff within the opening 10 minutes. Montreal regained its footing a little following that, but a second goal by Plumhoff late in the half, and then a second half hat trick in the opening 20 minutes after the break by Craig Foster put paid to any hope Montreal had of a comeback.
What went right? Montreal wanted to find out which of its players could cut it at the next level, and in players like Alessandro Riggi, Janouk Charbonneau, Fabio Morelli and others, they appeared to do so. The players continued to battle throughout the season, and learned lessons from their early defeats that should make the side much more consistent in its second season.
What went wrong? The inexperience in the side that led to its poor opening half to the season meant that despite its second-half run of form, Montreal was never a serious contender for a playoff place, despite that being a stated goal before the season. After only six players made more than 20 appearances during the season, greater consistency in the lineup, and chemistry as a result, should be looked for in 2016.He said it: “It’s a mixed review. As a competitor, you can’t be happy with the results we saw on the field. The second part of the season was much better. If we only take that into consideration, we would have finished in fourth place, which is significant.” – Philippe Eullaffroy, FC Montreal Head Coach