Orlando City’s struggles continued in Canada against the Montreal Impact (7-8-6, 27 points). The Lions took a lead in the 12th minute, gave up an equalizing penalty kick early in the second half, then conceded the go-ahead goal in the final 10 minutes to fall to the Impact, 2-1, extending their winless streak to four games (0-3-1).
It’s the third game in a row in which Orlando City (8-9-6, 30 points) has conceded in the 80th minute or later to give up a lead or to tie the game, having done so in each of the last two weeks against Atlanta United.
If there was one positive to report from the match, it was Cyle Larin (finally) ending his goal-scoring drought with a strike in the 12th minute. After winning possession deep in his own territory, Will Johnson launched a ball forward that bounced over Larin and a couple of Montreal defenders. Larin battled with Marco Donadel to get to the ball and eventually broke free before beating Evan Bush to the loose ball, knocking it past the goalkeeper for his ninth goal of the season and his first since May 31 against D.C. United.
Dom Dwyer was more involved in this one than in his debut game against Atlanta last weekend. Scott Sutter found Dwyer in the box on a cross in the 35th minute, but the ball hung in the air a tad too long and the unmarked Dwyer headed it over the crossbar. A few minutes later, he appeared on the other end of the field in Orlando’s defensive third and won a throw-in on a battle for possession.
In the end, with just three training sessions under his belt with Orlando, there are still plenty of things for him to work out with his new club, including his partnership with Larin, which is still in the very early stages.
Montreal’s top Designated Player, Ignacio Piatti, was a thorn in Orlando’s side throughout the entire night, winding in and out of traffic, drawing fouls, and creating chances for his side.
Joe Bendik, who had a handful of stops on the night, made a strong save against Piatti in the 36th minute from close range. But the Argentine playmaker got the best of Bendik a few minutes into the second half when he drew a penalty in the box on a questionable call against Jose Aja. Piatti hit the PK to the goalkeeper’s left and Bendik was able to get a hand on it, but not enough to stop the ball from crossing the line, leveling the score at 1-1.
Orlando City put up 10 shots on the night, which is an improvement over recent outings, but only two of those actually landed on frame. Larin flirted with a second goal when Dwyer floated a ball over the defense and into space for Larin, but he curled his shot from just outside of the box off target. About seven minutes later, in the 71st, Sutter won possession in the midfield then took a handful of steps forward before ripping a shot that sailed over the bar.
Possession for both sides finished fairly close to 50-50 (53%-47% in favor of Montreal), but the Lions struggled throughout the night to have any quality possession with the ball. Very few times did the team get enough players forward on attacks to make anything happen, and far too often there were no options in Montreal’s half to keep pushing forward — a problem the club has dealt with throughout the season.
The Impact’s go-ahead goal came from second-half sub Anthony Jackson-Hamel in the 84th minute. Blerim Dzemaili’s through pass from the midfield had enough on it for Jackson-Hamel to reach and he beat Aja before getting off a soft shot on his right foot that caught Bendik leaning the wrong way and rolled slowly into the net, putting his side ahead, 2-1.
Things won’t be getting any easier for the Lions moving forward. The club has one more game left on this three-game road swing, a stop at Red Bull Arena to take on the New York Red Bulls — one of the hottest teams in the league of late. Kickoff for that one is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 12.