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Crew Coverage pres. by Medical Mutual | Nancy: Crew were ‘coherent’ in draw with CF Montreal

One key theme from the Columbus Crew’s scoreless draw against CF Montreal on Saturday night at Lower.com Field was taking advantage of opportunities. That extended to players and coaches alike.

Days removed from the historic 2-1 win against CF Monterrey in leg one of the Concacaf Champions Cup semifinals, head coach Wilfried Nancy rotated his team ahead of the return leg in Mexico. While that meant rest for some players, it meant new opportunities for others.

But despite the fluidness of the personnel changes, Nancy was pleased with the consistent play against Montreal.

“I’m really happy about the performance,” Nancy said. “Yes, we tied the game. Yes, we didn't score. Yes, they had a few opportunities. I really like the fact that we were coherent as a team. After that, this is all about details.

“The fact that I mixed the team and I put different players, they did what they had to do. It could have been better, but I'm pleased with the way we balance between the Champions [Cup] and also between MLS. Obviously, it's a tie again. The performance was coherent, but now we missed this goal that it could have been better to open up maybe more goals.”

Nancy deployed six changes to his starting XI from Wednesday night, including starts for Mohamed Farsi, Malte Amundsen, Derrick Jones Jr., Max Arfsten, Marino Hinestroza and Alexandru Mățan. Darlington Nagbe, Diego Rossi and Cucho Hernández were available from the bench, meaning someone new would wear the captain’s armband. The midfielder who’s here, there, and everywhere – Aidan Morris – wore it for the first time in his career.

“It was natural for me to give him the armband because yes, he's young, but I don't see it like that,” Nancy said of Morris. “He's been in the Club for a long time. He has also experience. It was a good challenge for him in terms of this is a new role, but at the same time, he has to do well on the pitch. He had really good moments. He had moments that he could have been better. Yeah, good for him.”

Morris said Nagbe joked with him about it earlier in the day and that’s when he knew he’d be leading Columbus for the first time.

“It’s an honor to come out here, wear this badge and represent you guys, and be the guy to lead you guys out there,” Morris said of his message to his teammates. “I said I’ve been here a good amount of time; I think it’s my seventh year in Columbus, which is crazy. To play a game with the armband, it means so much to me, a big honor.”

Of course, Saturday night was also the return of former Crew 2 head coach Laurent Courtois, who’s in his first season managing Montreal. Courtois led the Capybaras to the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro Cup title in 2022 before the team returned to the championship game last season.

“I'm really happy,” Nancy said of Courtois. “When I met him last year, obviously we discussed about his future because I wanted to know what he wants to do, and he was humble. He told me that the idea is to learn and also when the opportunity is going to come, he's going to be ready for that. I'm pleased because he did his homework. He coached the Academy and the reserve team, and now, he has the privilege to be head coach of an MLS team.”

All attention now turns to Wednesday night, when the Crew return to Mexico and face Monterrey for the second leg of the semifinals. Because Columbus won this past week, a win or draw would see the Black & Gold through to their first-ever Concacaf Championship Cup final in club history.

As for league play, the next home game in the Ohio capital is May 11. Get ready for some heat, as the Crew host FC Cincinnati in the Hell is Real Derby – and a 2023 MLS Eastern Conference Final rematch.

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