CF Montreal is preparing to hit the road again, but head coach Laurent Courtois sees this as an opportunity for the entire team to come together and continue working as a unit before the start of the season.
The Bleu-blanc-noir trained for the last time on Friday in Montreal, at the Cégep Marie-Victorin sports complex, before flying to Florida on Sunday.
Montrealers have had their noses in their bags in recent weeks. They started their camp in Arizona in mid-January, and they returned home for just one week, due to work at the Olympic stadium. In Florida, they will play three preparatory matches, which will lead them to their first game of the season against Orlando City SC on February 24.
Through the numerous trips, the drastic temperature changes and the adaptation to different terrains, CF Montreal will have a lot of time to solidify its style of play, its identity as well as its chemistry.
“All the little external obstacles, it’s an opportunity to learn to speak the same language and take note of what we need to work on. To see what adjustments I am willing to make to be closer to the message and what things are non-negotiable, Courtois said.
“All this time together, even if the players will get tired of me, it’s beneficial for everyone. I want them to be able to tolerate each other. Every day, we have to get a little closer to the things we agreed to do together. »
Little by little, Courtois puts his mark on the team and learns more and more about his players and their skills. The 45-year-old Frenchman has already left his mark as a teacher with the Columbus Crew reserve team and he now wants to extract the maximum potential from the young people of CF Montreal.
For him, it is above all a question of confidence, but also of not hesitating to express himself on the pitch and of having the freedom to try things.
“I’m sure some players didn’t know they were allowed to try things like that or didn’t dare try them for fear of what others might think. We are open to everything. We need to build trust and reinforce the idea that players have the right to do certain things. We have to trust our intentions and our way of reacting. Then you have to know how to synchronize all that and repeat it with high intensity,” observed Courtois.
Although team play had a place during the training week in Montreal, the physical condition of the players was also closely observed.
During the first day, the players underwent the traditional circular shuttle race, won by Mathieu Choinière and then Joel Waterman. During the second session, the coaches brought out the weights and asked their men to perform several quick runs between cones.
Courtois attaches great importance to these physical evaluations and they are an integral part of what he wants to build in Montreal.
“We hope to create an environment where guys understand that it’s in their own best interest to push themselves further. We want to build, not manage. I want to develop and risk. I want to see it in personal preparation and in the collective game project. It’s so much the better if the players understand that it’s a personal investment,” he stressed.
In this sense, the head coach of the Bleu-blanc-noir said he was very impressed with the Academy players still present with the club. And since the philosophy is also to develop young people, everyone seems on an equal footing.
With the arrival of attacking players like Matias Coccaro and Dominic Iankov – as well as Josef Martinez, potentially – Courtois will now have to find the balance between winning and developing. However, he made it known that previous achievements will not necessarily influence his decisions on the ground.
“What you’ve done in the past almost doesn’t interest me because what’s hard in football is repeating it. Now it’s knowing what you bring to the locker room and what energy you bring to the field. It’s whether you are capable of carrying out the actions and tasks that we have all decided to carry out together. These are the actions that I am looking for,” said Courtois.
CF Montreal will play its next preparatory match against Atlanta United on Wednesday afternoon at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg. He delivered a 1-1 draw at Minnesota United FC in Arizona on January 27.