FC Montreal Reminisce on Four-Game Road Trip

Four-Point Tally Positive To Head Coach Eullaffroy

Using Montreal Impact first team strikers like Cameron Porter (middle) is top of FC Montreal’s plan for goal scoring. Photo Alexander Perez

Back from their longest road trip of the 2016 United Soccer League season, FC Montreal held a positive assessment to the stint that brought 4 points home.

“I think it helped us on the field and I think it really showed especially in the last game,” said right back Zachary Sukunda. “We had a lot of chemistry, everything was sort of coming back and it was more fluid.”

“It helps to bond the players and the common objectives because we live the same thing at the same place, at the same time,” said head coach Philippe Eullaffroy.

The trip started with a 2-1 loss to FC Cincinnati and its 15 000 fans. Then the team travelled up to Toronto where Montreal was minutes from a win but drew 1-1. The team then went south to Pittsburgh where they lost 2-1 to the Riverhounds, finally the trip came to an end with a 3-2 thriller win against the Harrisburg City Islanders.

One of the reasons Eullaffroy found this road trip positive was the fight his players showed despite the knocks the team suffered in the past two weeks.

The reaction and rage they had in the last game was very reassuring. – Philippe Eullaffroy

During the 1-1 draw against Toronto FC II, defender Simon Lemire picked up an injury that “looks like it’s important” and midfielder Marco Dominguez has been ruled out for four to six weeks.

Midfielder Jeremy Gagnon-Laparé also picked up a head knock which left him with stitches. Add to this a number of under-18 players that left to play with the Impact u18s in the United States Soccer Development Academy playoffs

“When you’re in the fourth game in 11 days, you have injuries, you have players that left so you didn’t rest a lot of players, and in the end you have two players on the bench,” Eullaffroy said. “The reaction and rage they had in the last game was very reassuring.”

The Jackson-Hamel Effect

For the first time this season, FC Montreal managed to score at least once in four consecutive games.

For Eullaffroy, Anthony Jackson-Hamel, an Impact first team player who played in three of the last four games, was the catalyst. The Québec City native came back to fitness at the right moment as no true strikers were available to Eullaffroy.

“Having a striker is a life saver. Last year we started to get going when Jacques Haman arrived,” said Eullaffroy. “Because from the start of the season we don’t play with a striker and in soccer, when we play with a striker it changes a lot of things, especially to score goals.”

Having played the beginning of the season without a striker has affected the team but Eullaffroy does not have a plan to acquire a striker for his team. Instead, they will rely the plan they had all along, playing some of the strikers on the first team.

“The pros had four strikers with Didier Drogba, Michael Salazar, Cameron Porter, and Anthony Jackson-Hamel with a system where Mauro [Biello] played with one striker,” said Eullaffroy. “That meant that there would have been at least two strikers available for the USL team. Unfortunately, with the injuries it didn’t happen this way.”

“Now we’re getting back in order with Jackson and Cameron coming back to fitness.”

FC Montreal’s modus operandi stays the same for Eullaffroy. The team is there to give playing time to players that are coming back from injury and lack fitness and it is working wonders with Jackson-Hamel.

FC Montreal head coach Philippe Eullaffroy. Photo Tristan D’Amours

Road Trip Springboard?

After his time on the road, Sukunda hopes that the team can bounce back and recreate last season’s winning streak that dubbed them one of the hottest teams in the USL.

I think after our last performances, we defended really well [in the last three halves of soccer] we’ve played,” said Sukunda. “I think that apart from the last 15 minutes in Harrisburg, we had a very good game and I really hope we’re going to shoot up from this and it’s going to be positive from there.”

The Ottawa native has had a rough start to 2016. After coming back from injury, Sukunda played on the left side of the defense and was eventually brought back to his preferred right side and managed to score his first professional goal in the 3-2 win against Harrisburg.

“I really think that getting back on my right foot helps me with my confidence to whip in crosses,” said Sukunda. “In Harrisburg I was getting forward and even with the goal I don’t think with my left foot I would have been able to have hit that as I wanted to.”

FC Montreal is now set to host Orlando City B on Sunday June 26 at Complexe Sportif Claude Robillard.