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CF Montreal preview: Notable additions, biggest question mark, season prediction

CF Montreal had a wild offseason with plenty of change. How will the club fare in the 2023 MLS season?

A healthy and motivated Romell Quioto is CF Montreal’s best chance at replicating the kind of success they enjoyed in 2022. (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
A healthy and motivated Romell Quioto is CF Montreal’s best chance at replicating the kind of success they enjoyed in 2022. (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

CF Montreal’s story this offseason has been nothing if not a roller coaster, with both good and bad news breaking faster than anybody could handle. It seems as though every week there’s something new, which ultimately distracts from a new head coach in Hernan Losada, who is still trying to implement his vision and become more comfortable with his new team.

Previewing what Montreal's season could look like is not an easy task, as both a new manager and the lack of his ability for preseason friendlies means a lot of people are going into the season opener on Feb. 25 against Inter Miami blind.

Overview of last season

Last year could not have gone any better for Montreal, as they took a huge step forward with their supporting project that revolves around developing and showcasing young talent in order to help them move on to the next stage of their career. It seemed as though nearly every player on the team elevated their game and head coach Wilfried Nancy had them playing an attractive brand of soccer that fans at Saputo Stadium genuinely enjoyed watching.

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Not only did they employ a philosophy that the team loved playing and sell out the stadium consistently, they found a great deal of success as well. Undoubtedly the biggest surprise in MLS last season, Montreal finished second in the Eastern Conference, just two points off Supporter’s Shield Winners Los Angeles FC. With the success of that season, they were able to make the first profitable sales of players in this new era. Djordje Mihailovic, Ismaël Koné, and Alistair Johnston were all brought to big European clubs with many more looking to move this year.

Alistair Johnston is one of several notable departures for CF Montreal.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Alistair Johnston is one of several notable departures for CF Montreal. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) (Minas Panagiotakis via Getty Images)

Offseason additions

In response to those three big departures, sporting director Olivier Renard began his search for replacements. Aaron Herrera was the club’s biggest offseason acquisition, being brought in from Real Salt Lake for Johnston at the right back position. His similar profile, versatility, and crossing ability make him a very capable replacement, and could end up being one of the best pieces of business any MLS team has made in the entire offseason.

Besides Herrera’s arrival, Montreal has brought in more young players to add to their depth. George Campbell was added from Atlanta United as a strong, confident ball-playing centre back. Ilias Iliadis was acquired from Greek Super League club Panathinaikos’s reserve team to bolster the midfield as a defensive-leaning option off the bench. Most recently, Jules-Anthony Vilsaint was brought back to his hometown after spending time in the Belgian lower divisions as a member of Royal Antwerp’s youth team.