CF Montreal 2023 MLS season preview: Tactics, predicted XI, predictions

CF Montreal enjoyed an excellent 2022 campaign but will do well to maintain those standards this year after a winter of change.

The Canadian side finished second in the Eastern Conference – their best return as an MLS side yet – going on to reach the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

However, over the winter period, Montreal have lost head coach Wilfried Nancy to the Columbus Crew, while key players such as Djordje Mihailovic and Alistair Johnston have departed to test themselves in Europe.

New head coach Hernan Losada has his work cut out, but also has a point to prove following his difficult time with DC United.

So, here’s everything you need to know about CF Montreal ahead of the new MLS season, including tactics, key players, and predictions.

Transfers in


Former Club


George Campbell

Atlanta United


Aaron Herrera

Real Salt Lake


Ilias Iliadis


Free transfer

Jules-Anthony Vilsaint

Young Reds


Transfers out


Club Joined


Ismael Kone



Djordje Mihailovic

AZ Alkmaar


Alistair Johnston



Joaquin Torres

Philadelphia Union


Zorhan Bassong

FC Arges

Free transfer

Bjorn Johnsen

SC Cambuur

Free transfer

Karifa Yao

Vancouver Whitecaps


Jean-Aniel Assi

Atletico Ottawa


Keesean Ferdinand


Tomas Giraldo


Gabriele Corbo


End of loan

Sebastian Breza


End of loan

The appointment of Hernan Losada definitely seems to have been made with the plan of continuing the work done by Wilfried Nancy in mind.

Losada lines up in a 3-4-2-1 system that isn’t a million miles away from Nancy’s preferred setup. However, where things differ is in just how much Losada expects from his team.

Expect CF Montreal to have their foot to the floor for the entire season, pressing high and intensely, aiming to win the ball back within seconds before slicing through the opposition on the counter.

Whether or not Montreal can maintain the standards and output required of Losada’s teams over the course of a full season remains to be seen, especially with how many key players they’ve lost during the winter. Either way, it’s going to be fun finding out.

CF Montreal predicted XI (3-4-2-1): Pantemis; Miller, Waterman, Campbell; Herrera, Wanyama, Piette, Lappalainen; Hamdi, Quioto; Toye.

Wanyama's leadership will be vital to CF Montreal.

Wanyama’s leadership will be vital to CF Montreal. / David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

Victor Wanyama

For Hernan Losada’s teams, success is often dictated by how much energy and output he can extract from his attacking players but while that’ll remain the same here, he’s likely going to lean on Victor Wanyama, too.

The Kenyan will be expected to sit at the base of midfield and hold down the fort while those around him go for a full-on offensive.

If an attack breaks down, it’ll be up to Wanyama to break up the counter. If Montreal pick up the ball deep inside their own half, he’ll be expected to play the big pass forward to start a break of their own.

What’s more, with so many players leaving this offseason, Wanyama’s experience is going to be crucial in molding this group together.

Being realistic, CF Montreal’s best chances of success will come in the cups, with Concacaf Champions League coming early in the season and the Canadian Championship often pitting them against weaker Canadian Premier League opposition.

During the slog of an MLS season, Losada’s system has the potential to completely burn his players out. That’s not to mention the head coach himself having a lot of critics to answer in Major League Soccer.

A hard bump down to earth.

Will CF Montreal qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs? No