The reigning Major League Soccer champions are through to the next round. 

New York City FC triumphed 3-1 over CF Montreal on Sunday at Saputo Stadium, as goals from Heber, Talles Magno and Maximiliano Moralez secured their ticket to the Eastern Conference final. 

It only took NYCFC six minutes to earn the lead, opening up the scoring with a header by Maxi Moralez into an empty net. A collective offensive effort by NYCFC inspired the goal, as Heber and Gabriel Pereira worked together to push forward and drag Montreal defenders to the right, leaving Moralez completely open to find the back of the net. 

In the 14th minute, Maxime Chanot left the pitch with an injury, leaving NYCFC vulnerable and shifting the tide. Montreal began to gain momentum, channeling their frustrations into offensive efforts. The Canadian side managed two striking shots on target, but Sean Johnson was there for the saves. 

Though Montreal dominated, New York City should not have been underestimated on the breakaway. A clever run from Maxi Moralez from the midfield inspired players to push forward, enabling Santiago Rodriguez to find possession on the right and set up Heber for the second goal. 

The intensity continued through to the second half, as both sides returned to the pitch eager to find the back of the net. But a foul from Montreal goalkeeper James Pantemis on inside the box gave way for NYCFC’s third. Talles Magno stepped up to the penalty spot, and rocketed the ball into the bottom left corner to seal the victory. 

Montreal pulled one back in the 85th minute, as Đorđe Mihailović headed the ball past Johnson, but it was too late for the Canadian side to come back. 

NYCFC will now face the Philadelphia Union.

CF Montreal v Inter Miami CF

CF Montreal’s Ismaël Koné starts vs. NYCFC. / Lauren Sopourn/GettyImages

GK: James Pantemis – 0/10 – Problematic. Left the goal exposed for NYCFC’s first, sloppy mistake on the second and conceded the penalty for the third.

RB: Alistair Johnston – 7.5/10 –
Strong on the attack, provided at least three great balls into the box that could’ve resulted in a goal.

CB: Joel Waterman – 6/10 – Mediocre defending, let Heber breakaway for that second goal.

CB: Rudy Camacho – 7/10 – Solid performance, nothing special.

CB: Kamal Miller – 6/10 – Mediocre defending.

LB: Lassi Lappalainen – 6/10 – Constantly lost, no great offensive or defensive contributions.

CM: Samuel Piette – 6/10 – Minimal impact, often disappearing into the midfield.

CM: Victor Wanyama – 6/10 – Sloppy overall that resulted in a lack of possession and two interceptions.

CM: Đorđe Mihailović – 7.5/10 – Expected so much more, given his potential and previous performances in MLS, but got a goal at least.

ST: Kei Kamara – 7.5/10 – One of the strongest on the field for Montreal, with three close shots on goal but still underperformed given his abilities.

ST: Ismaël Koné – 7/10 – Inconsistent. Decent efforts at time, but could have been greater on the attack.

SUB: Romell Quioto (’54, for Piette) – 7/10 – Decent involvement, but nothing resulted from his contributions.

SUB: Mason Toye (’71, for Waterman) – 7/10 – A close header in the final couple minutes.

SUB: Jojea Kwizera (’71, for Lappalainen) – 7.5/10 – Delivered as a sub.

SUB: Joaquin Torres (’80, for Camacho) – 6/10 – Didn’t help, didn’t hinder.

SUB: Zachary Brault Guillard (’80, for Kone) – 7/10 – Pushed forward on the right, but no great impact.

Gabriel Pereira dos Santos, Sean Johnson

New York City FC’s Sean Johnson starts vs. CF Montreal. / Ira L. Black – Corbis/GettyImages

GK: Sean Johnson – 9/10 – Two excellent saves in the first half but let his guard down in the last couple minutes to let a goal in.

RB: Anton Tinnerholm – 8/10 – Solid defensive performance, with two important clearances.

CB: Thiago Martins – 7/10 – Adapted well given the sudden formation changes following Chanot’s departure, but could’ve done more to avoid Montreal’s goal.

CB: Maxime Chanot – N/A – Subbed out in the 14th minute with an injury.

LB: Alexander Callens – 8/10 – A constant in the backline, provided the necessary leadership in the defense.

RW: Gabriel Pereira – 9/10 – Got the assist on the team’s first goal, and pressed forward throughout to propel Heber, Moralez and Rodriguez forward.

CM: Nicolás Acevedo – 7.5/10 – Weakest link in an otherwise strong group. Lost in the midfield at times.

CAM: Santiago Rodríguez – 9/10 – Constantly inspiring offensive opportunities, assist in the second goal.

CM: Maximiliano Moralez – 9/10 – Scored the first goal, and played a key role in pushing forward for the second.

LW: Kevin O’Toole – 7/10 – Overshadowed by those around him. Not a great help, but did not hinder.

ST: Héber – 9/10 –
Constant offensive effort. Played an integral role in the first goal, before scoring his own to double the score 

SUB: Keaton Parks (’14, for Chanot) – 7.5/10 – Delivered well given the sudden defensive changes.

SUB: Justin Haak (’45, for Moralez) – 7/10 –
Decent, didn’t help but didn’t hinder.

SUB: Talles Magno (’57, for Heber) – 9/10 – Immediate offensive impact. Scored the penalty to seal the 3-0 score.

SUB: Matías Pellegrini (’80, for Rodriguez) – N/A


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