CF Montreal have used their recent MLS bye week to get some injured players back to fitness, says coach Laurent Courtois.

Montreal were not in action last weekend, but kick-start the second half of their 2024 campaign against Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

And Courtois revealed that the break enabled Montreal to get three strikers, who had all been injured, healthy.

Josef Martinez, Matias Coccaro and Kwadwo Opoku are now back in the fold after lay-offs, as are Mason Toye and Lassi Lappalainen.

“A big part of it was to get people healthy and to fix a little bit the morale of the troops,” Courtois said of the break. “In that sense, these past two weeks have been really beneficial.

"Having all the people together brings a whole different dynamic. Everybody wants to win his spot.”

Not that Montreal went into the break in poor form. They are unbeaten in three games, having drawn with the Philadelphia Union and Nashville SC either side of beating D.C. United 4-2.

They sit 12th in the Eastern Conference, though going up against RSL presents a stern test.

Salt Lake are top of the Western Conference with 33 points from their 17 matches. They are unbeaten in 13 games in MLS.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

CF Montreal – Sunusi Ibrahim

Sunusi Ibrahim’s goal after 49 seconds on June 1 was the sixth first-minute goal Montreal have scored in MLS play. No team have scored more goals in the opening minute of matches since Montreal joined the league in 2012.

Real Salt Lake – Cristian Arango

Arango’s 16 goals and 10 assists for the season leave him one goal away from equalling Alvaro Saborio’s single-season club goals record of 17 set in 2012 and one goal contribution away from equalling Jeff Cunningham’s single-season record of 27 set in 2006.

MATCH PREDICTION: RSL WIN

RSL are on the second-longest single-season unbeaten run in club history (after going 14 straight games without defeat in 2010). The last team to go more than 13 straight games without defeat in a single regular season was the Portland Timbers (15) in 2018.

Montreal, though, are unbeaten in three straight matches (W1 D2) following a four-match regular-season losing streak. Montreal have not gone unbeaten in four straight league matches in over a year, since winning four straight games in April-May last season.

RSL recorded a 2-1 win at Montreal in the last meeting between the sides in May 2022. It was the first away win in the nine all-time meetings between the sides.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Montreal – 30.1%

RSL – 45.1%

Draw – 24.9%

Laurent Courtois was pleased to see CF Montreal "stop the bleeding" with Saturday's goalless draw against Nashville SC, but he knows more is needed when they host D.C. United on Wednesday. 

Montreal are winless in their last nine matches across all competitions (four draws, five losses) and sit 13th of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference.

They did at least snap a four-game losing streak with that stalemate, and Courtois wants them to use that result as a platform.

"I heard a couple of guys talking about 'stopping the bleeding' and I hate it, but it's the reality of the moment," said Courtois.

"We're happy in the sense that we were able to get back to our standards of commitment and competitiveness, but we know that we need more at home, so we have to get back to work."

D.C. were also held to a draw last time out as their own winless run stretched to three matches, being pegged back in a 1-1 home tie with the Chicago Fire.

Coach Troy Lesesne was less than pleased with his team's performance in that match, saying: "In the end, we were fortunate to get a point out of that, and that's not good enough.

"Maybe there wasn't enough service. I think it was to do with how we went out. 

"In the first half you could see our identity by the way we went out, but you could not see that in the second half." 

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

CF Montreal – Josef Martinez

Martinez has scored eight regular-season goals against D.C. United, equalling the most he has scored against any opponent in his MLS career (also eight versus the New England Revolution and Orlando City).

D.C. United – Christian Benteke

D.C. have won 347 aerial duels this season, over 100 more than any other MLS team and almost three times as many as Montreal. 

Montreal have won 122 aerial duels this year, the second-fewest in MLS and 42 fewer than Benteke alone (164).

MATCH PREDICTION – CF MONTREAL WIN

D.C. have won two straight matches against Montreal in all competitions, but the only three-game winning streak achieved by either team against the other came in 2016-17 (three victories for Montreal).

Montreal's nine-match winless run is their joint-longest across all competitions since they joined MLS in 2012 (also nine in 2013-14).

However, D.C. have failed to win any of their last three matches (one draw, two losses) and have only won one of their last 13 on the road (seven draws, five defeats).

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

CF Montreal – 46.9%

D.C. United – 25.7%

Draw – 27.4% 

Fredy Montero and Raul Ruidiaz scored twice as Seattle Sounders crushed Portland Timbers 6-2 in another memorable MLS clash.

The Cascadia derby did not disappoint on Sunday, with the Sounders snapping a three-game winless streak behind Montero and Ruidiaz.

Entering the fixture, the slumping Sounders had won three of their last four away matches against the Timbers (L1) after winning just three of the first 14 MLS encounters in Portland (D3 L8, including play-offs).

Montero scored twice inside the opening 29 minutes to put the Sounders in control before Sebastian Blanco and George Fochive restored parity for the Timbers by the 52nd-minute mark at Providence Park.

Beginning with the 2018 playoffs, Ruidiaz had scored (eight) or assisted (two) on 10 of the Sounders' last 14 goals against the Timbers, including seven of eight goals in Portland (five goals and two assists) during that time.

Ruidiaz turned Sunday's match on its head with a stunning brace, including his memorable 55th-minute free-kick.

Jimmy Medranda's thunderous 77th-minute volley and Nicolas Benezet's stoppage-time effort completed the rout.

Seattle are second in the Western Conference, only a point behind Sporting Kansas City after 19 games, while Portland are eighth.

Elsewhere, Josef Martinez celebrated a long-awaited home goal as Atlanta United edged Los Angeles FC 1-0.

Martinez had not scored at Mercedes-Benz Stadium since October 2019, but the Venezuelan star ended his drought in the 47th minute.

Nashville are third in the Eastern Conference following their 5-2 drubbing of DC United – a victory inspired by CJ Sapong's brace, while snapping DC United's five-game unbeaten streak.

Chicago Fire topped defending champions Columbus Crew 1-0 via Luka Stojanovic's winner with 15 minutes remaining.

Josef Martinez scored a late penalty to rescue a point for Gabriel Heinze's Atlanta United, though Seattle Sounders remain unbeaten in MLS.

Martinez equalised via an 86th-minute spot-kick to earn Atlanta a 1-1 draw with the Sounders at Lumen Field in Seattle on Sunday.

The Sounders had taken a sixth-minute lead from Raul Ruidiaz, who headed home Joao Paulo's corner to make it six goals in seven games.

Last season's MLS Cup runners-up Seattle remain undefeated and top of the Western Conference through seven matches, but had their four-game winning run ended as Atlanta – led by former Manchester United and Real Madrid defender Heinze – sit fifth in the east.

Last season's Supporters' Shield winners Philadelphia Union moved up into third in the east with a 1-0 victory away to DC United.

Kacper Przybylko netted the winner on the stroke of half-time for the Union, who are now unbeaten in their past four games.

Jamiro Monteiro laid off a perfectly weighted pass into the box for the Polish attacker to control and convert.

Union goalkeeper Andre Blake made a spectacular second-half save to deny United's 18-year-old midfielder Kevin Paredes with a curled effort from the edge of the box.

Undefeated Nashville edged past newcomers Austin 1-0 courtesy of a 35th-minute volley from Randall Leal.

Jared Stroud thought he had scored a second-half equaliser but it was disallowed by VAR for offside.

Nashville, who drew four of their opening five games, have won two of their past three matches to move up to fourth in the Eastern Conference, while Austin have lost three in a row on the road.

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