CF Montreal's hot streak: A run of luck, or a sign of what's to come in 2022?
The good times have just kept on rolling for CF Montreal as of late.
Unbeaten in eight consecutive games in all competitions – including a franchise-record seven straight in MLS play alone; five wins in their last six games, and now good for third in the Eastern Conference, seventh overall.
It's safe to say that CFMTL have left behind their tough start to the season, which saw them lose their first three games of the MLS season as they juggled CONCACAF Champions League action, too.
Indeed, things are really looking up in Montreal right now, both on and off the field, and for good reason.
After making several moves over the last few offseasons, Wilfriend Nancy has really started to build up a core group of players, one with a good mix of talent, depth, experience and youth, creating what some are already anointing as the best MLS-era Montreal team ever.
You throw in the play of potential MLS MVP candidate, Djordje Mihailovic, on top of that, and it's led to the belief that they won't just compete for a playoff spot this year in MLS, but be a contender for MLS Cup, as well as potentially complete a double with a Canadian Championship win.
Seeing all of this, however, the question has to be asked – is this latest run of form legit? Or is Montreal benefitting from a bit of luck?
The answer is ... not really, and here's why:
First, there's the schedule, which can always help determine if a team is doing well, or benefiting from good fortune. When looking at the seven games in which Montreal are undefeated, it's actually worth noting that they've had a pretty fair schedule, with a split of four games on the road and three games at home.
On top of that, six of those seven games have been against teams currently in a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference – so it's not as if Montreal has benefitted from playing struggling teams, either. You can scratch that excuse off the list, TFC fans.
Secondly, there's player availability, which can always help or hurt a team, especially based on depth. In that category, Montreal has actually been a bit unlucky, because while most of their main pieces have remained healthy, they've been without Mason Toye and Bjorn Johnsen for the whole run, missed regulars Samuel Piette and Mathieu Choiniere for most of it, and dealt with short-term absences to midfielders Ismael Kone and Victor Wanyama along the way.
But despite that, they've kept on rolling with the punches, remaining consistent no matter who they've put out there, showing great buy-in as a team to head coach Nancy's system, who in his second season, has to be happy with how his players have bought into his ideas.
Lastly, there are the stats, which always help you determine if Montreal has been getting by the skin of their teeth, or if they've been full value for their results.
There, things also look to be in their favour, as in those seven games, they have actually out-possessed their opponents in five of those matches, and have also won the shot battle in five games.
Not only that, but they've also won the Expected Goals (xG) battle in four out of seven games, too, and in the three instances that they did lose the battle, just one of them was by a margin of more than 0.5 xG.
They have gotten a bit lucky offensively, to be fair, as they have scored 18 goals on just under 12 xG in these seven games, which suggests a regression to the mean could be in order there, but they have also been unlucky defensively, too, conceding 10 goals on 6.31 xG, evening out the scores there.
So overall, when considering all of that, it's safe to say that Montreal's hot streak is perfectly sustainable, as none of the factors scream 'Danger!' – and even if there is some regression to the mean statistically, in that case, a supposed drop-off in offence would *theoretically* be offset by a defensive improvement, too, offering some solace to the lone potential red flag on this run.
Because of that, it feels like this could just be the start of what's to come for Montreal this year. As they showed in flashes last year and at the beginning of this season, progress has been building for a while now, but this latest run has shown that maybe this team is here to stay and dominate.
And as they just cross the quarter-mark of their campaign, that's exciting, giving them hope that they can potentially do some damage in both MLS and Canadian Championship play going forward, making them arguably the team to watch in Canada right now.