CF Montreal – Match Report Vs Nashville SC (21/06/2023)

CF Montreal defeated Nashville 1-0 in MLS action. It was a tense game with few clear-cut chances for either team. But a goal by Bryce Duke was enough to lift Montreal to a 1-0 victory.


  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

​​Sunusi Ibrahim

  • Nationality: Nigerian
  • Age: 20
  • Date of Birth: 01/10/2002
  • Current club: CF Montreal
  • Career: Nasarawa United, FDC Vista, 36 Lion
  • Position: Striker
  • Preferred foot: Right

Sunusi Ibrahim played as a striker in this game. He registered an assist and turned in quite a strong performance overall. Ibrahim is a short but relatively stocky player with a low centre of gravity. This makes him hard to knock off the ball. On his assist, a 6’0+ Nashville centre-back was trying to rugby tackle him to the ground but Ibrahim was able to hold him off for a long time and then bounce right back up before laying the ball off to Duke.

Ibrahim was equally happy to have the ball played into his feet or to run into channels. Ibrahim’s off-the-ball movement is extremely good, he is great at slipping into defender’s blindspots and making runs in behind them. However, if he were just a tiny bit faster he would probably be even more effective at getting in behind defences. With the ball at his feet, he sometimes took a little bit too long to get the ball out of his feet but he also had some good touches and played one lovely through ball so he certainly has some creative ability. But more consistency in his technique and application could lead to him being quite a bit more effective. Ibrahim is surprisingly good in the air for a player who is so small.

As previously mentioned he is very strong, he has a good vertical leap, and he plays with a level of feistiness. All of these traits allowed him to win some long balls and complete flick-ons in the middle of the park. 

Rating – A2

In my opinion, this is a player that clubs in Europe should have an extremely close eye on. It took Ibrahim some time to adjust to MLS after playing in Nigerian domestic football as a teenager. But he seems to finally have nailed down a starting spot and is putting up some pretty impressive underlying numbers, despite Montreal not having a ton of creativity in their squad. There are areas where he can improve, as outlined here, but his performances and his age make him an enticing prospect. I think he would probably need to make a stepping-stone move to a Europa League Level team but in the long run, I think he just about has the potential to make it to a top-5 league. 

Mathieu Choiniere

  • Nationality: Canadian
  • Age: 24
  • Date of Birth: 07/02/1999
  • Current club: CF Montreal
  • Position: Midfielder
  • Preferred foot: Right 

Mathieu Choiniere played as a midfielder for Montreal in this match. He was primarily active in the final 3rd. Choiniere has also played wide frequently in his career so naturally he spent a lot of time in the right half-space or in wider areas. He had a couple of shots from range but nothing inside the penalty box. He slipped through Sanusi Ibrahim for a decent chance within the box and also found Ariel Lassiter in the box with a switched ball during a transition. So all told he created quite a few chances for a player deployed as a #8.

That said though, I thought his crossing left a lot to be desired and as I just alluded to, his shot locations were not great. In the build-up phases, Choiniere is much more of a ball carrier than a passer. He is good at carrying the ball into space. But he is not really a dribbler. When he was under pressure he usually just recycled possession. This was a bit frustrating at times as he could not really receive the ball under pressure and turn. His inability to do this stunted a lot of Montreal build-ups. Choiniere had one huge defensive moment where he ran back to make a last-ditch sliding tackle and deny Nashville a goal. In general, he did a reasonable job of harrying opponents and being a nuisance. But he is not really a great ball-winner. At 5’8 and 150 pounds he is not a very big physical force and I think this contributes to his struggles. 

Rating – B1

I think Choiniere might be able to make a small step up, like when Alistair Johnson went to Celtic, but I don’t think he’s capable of any bigger step up than that. 

Bryce Duke

  • Nationality: American
  • Age: 22
  • Date of Birth: 28/02/2001
  • Current club: CF Montreal
  • Career: Real Salt Lake (Y), Barca Academy, LAFC, Las Vegas Lights (Loan) Inter Miami
  • Position: Midfielder
  • Preferred foot: Right

Bryce Duke nominally lined up as a #10 but in practice, he was often playing alongside Choiniere. Duke was acquired in a trade by Montreal in part to replace Djordje Mihailovic. But so far Duke has not been able to replicate the production of the departed playmaker.

Duke is definitely more of a zone mover than he is a player who is going to provide direct production. He did score a goal in this game but it was from outside the box and it was his only shot of the game. Duke also struggled to set up his teammates with high-danger scoring chances. He struggled to break the last line of Nashville’s defence, mostly being limited to playing the ball to players in wide positions. Particularly he struggled to make the most of transition moments. There were several times when Duke was running into space, with runners in front of him and he just could not pick that killer ball. But from deeper positions, there is quite a lot to like about Duke. He did a good job of playing progressive passes in the centre of the field. He was always scanning, looking for options. He has a strong first touch and quite good technical skills.

He has good pivot strength so even though he is small he isn’t easy to knock over. This makes him good at keeping the ball under pressure. Duke does not do a ton of defensive work but what he does was pretty effective. His pivot strength helps him to make tackles and dig the ball out when it is contested. 

Rating – B1

Duke is a fine MLS player but lacks the cutting edge in the final 3rd to make the jump to a higher level. He’s 22 so there is still some time for him to improve but he would have to take significant strides very quickly.  

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