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CF Montreal hit with injuries ahead of meeting against Orlando City SC

CF Montreal's Matias Coccaro Cóccaro holds his lower leg during the first half of the team's MLS soccer match against the Seattle Sounders, Saturday, April 6, 2024, in Seattle. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Lindsey Wasson) CF Montreal's Matias Coccaro Cóccaro holds his lower leg during the first half of the team's MLS soccer match against the Seattle Sounders, Saturday, April 6, 2024, in Seattle. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Lindsey Wasson)
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CF Montreal will have to put their depth to the test this weekend.

Strikers Matias Coccaro, Josef Martinez, Kwadwo Opoku and Jules-Anthony Vilsaint are all out as Montreal (3-3-1) hosts Orlando City SC in Major League Soccer play Saturday night.

"Obviously we're sad about the injuries," wingback Raheem Edwards said Friday. "But I think this team is really, really deep. So it's the next man up mentality."

Coccaro -- the team's leading goal scorer with three this season -- will miss eight to 10 weeks with an undisclosed injury sustained in last Saturday's 2-1 win over FC Cincinnati. The off-season signing exited in the 26th minute after appearing to hurt his right leg earlier in the match.

Martinez, who had a goal and an assist after replacing Coccaro in the match, then limped out of training Wednesday. Head coach Laurent Courtois said his injury is less serious but the team is being cautious with the 30-year-old veteran.

"He told me he's ready to come back, I said calm down a bit," Courtois said. "We want to remain cautious. We took a hit, but Josef already feels much better, he's already talking about when he'll come. I'd like us to remain cautious, not to panic."

Courtois said Opoku (ankle) is nearing a return from his injury sustained March 2 against Dallas.

Meanwhile, Vilsaint has recovered from a knee injury that kept him out since March 10 but hasn't reached the match fitness to feature Saturday, Courtois said.

The next men up, as Edwards put it, are Sunusi Ibrahim and Mason Toye, who have played a combined 117 minutes and through seven games this season. Ibrahim has one goal.

Despite the necessary changes to his starting lineup, Courtois said his game plan won't change against Orlando (2-3-2) -- and he's comfortable with his options.

"I'm fortunate to have a roster with a lot to offer and people who have already shown me things, and others who can show me a little more," Courtois said. "It's up to me to help them so that we speak the same language and maintain the same performance as last week."

Edwards, a well-travelled, 10-season MLS veteran who's played for six different teams, believes finding depth is the key to success in the league.

"What makes a team good in MLS is your depth. I've been a part of some really good teams and that was the main thing," he said. "There's guys that can step up and do a good job. So in the striker position it's the next man up and I have full confidence in our strikers."

Montreal visited Orlando to open the season on Feb. 24, surprising the home side by holding it to a 0-0 draw.

Orlando, which placed second in the Eastern Conference last season, then lost three straight for a disastrous start, but has since turned things around by winning seven of their last nine available points.

"It's a team that impresses me," Courtois said. "But I also know that we can do our best and fear no one. From our end, I expect what the same performance as last week, but there's a very good team coming against us and they want a little revenge for the last match.

"We have no excuse, we're aware that they will go very hard against us."

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2024.

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