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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Montreal Impact: Final Score 3-0 as Lions Still Can’t Finish

The Lions couldn’t overcome a slow start in Montreal.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City has now matched its six-game winning streak earlier this season with a six-game losing streak after falling on the road to the Montreal Impact, 3-0. The Lions (6-8-1) were unable to score, despite forward Dom Dwyer returning to the starting lineup for the first time since May 13. Meanwhile, the Impact improved to 5-11-0 and will try to begin to climb back up the Eastern Conference standings.

Impact forward Ignacio Piatti scored a brace in the match — including from the spot to set the tone early — continuing his dominance over Orlando with seven goals in eight appearances. Montreal’s second goal came off an own goal after left back Daniel Lovitz sent in a low cross that bounced off Amro Tarek and beat Joe Bendik.

Orlando had plenty of chances to answer, but poor finishing, bad passing, and dumb luck cost them yet another game.

Here’s the lineup Head Coach Jason Kreis fielded, with Jonathan Spector getting his first start in an MLS game since April 8:

Montreal started the game with its foot on the gas and Orlando City didn‘t look like it was ready for the match. Orlando City nemesis Piatti and Raheem Edwards spent the early minutes of the match causing mayhem and it didn’t take long for the pressure to cause Orlando City to crack. Montreal’s moment came after a corner caused by an Edwards’ shot that Joe Bendik had to deflect out of play.

In just the fifth minute, Cristian Higuita made a grave mistake while desperatley trying to stop Montreal’s Saphir Taider and clipped him inside the box. The referee took little time to give Montreal a penalty for the foul as Orlando City got off to perhaps its worst start of the season, which is saying something given how sluggish Orlando is to start games.

Piatti converted the penalty, with Bendik diving the opposite direction and Montreal taking an early 1-0 lead.

Down a goal, Orlando City began to see more and more of the ball as the team searched for an equalizer. But the Lions weren‘t able to make anything happen with the ball at their feet. Any time the Lions looked dangerous, the target was always Dwyer. The forward was chasing every long ball and cross sent his way and was close many times.

A chance came in the 11th minute when Justin Meram found Tony Rocha out wide and the left back delivered a pass that danced in front of Montreal’s net. Dwyer slid to try to get on the end of it but was inches away from making contact, possibly due to the wet field that caused the ball to quickly skid past the center of goal.

Frustration seemed to set in for Dwyer after the miss and he picked up a yellow card after a late, and frankly, unnecessary, tackle. Higuita then followed up Dwyer’s performance with one of his own, giving a signature hard foul and being issued a yellow card as well. But unlike Dwyer, Higuita’s yellow card will now have him sitting out of Orlando’s next MLS game thanks to accumulation.

Orlando City‘s first shot didn’t come until the 31st minute, when Dwyer got his head on the end of a cross by Oriol Rosell. Dwyer had to come back to the ball to make contact, sacrificing some power behind the attempt and Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush comfortably collected the shot.

Gaining some confidence on the pitch, the Lions had another opportunity in the 34th minute with a set of nifty passes between Meram and Sacha Kljestan that ended with an open shot outside of the box from Rosell that sailed just wide of the goal. It would‘ve been unexpected for Rosell to score from that far out, but it was a nice sign to see from the trailing Lions desperate to end their losing streak.

In the 42nd minute, the Lions were given a chance to level the game before the half after Dwyer was fouled just outside the box. After earning the foul, Dwyer fired a curving shot from the set piece that curled over the wall and beat Bush but wasn’t able to dip into the goal.

That was the last real chance the Lions had before the break, finishing the first half ahead in possession (51%) after finding a good amount of momentum and looking the better team outside of the first 15 or so minutes. Despite looking like the better team for the latter stages of the first half, the Lions finished with just three shots.

Orlando City started the second half right where it left off with a sense of urgency, but momentum came to a halt in the 49th minute when Rosell slid in for a ball and was issued a yellow card and the game was stopped by the referee and he went to video review to see if the challenge was worthy of more discipline. After probably taking the rainy conditions (and common sense) into account, the referee decided a yellow was enough and the game continued.

The break was apparently all Montreal needed to put itself back in the driver’s seat. Montreal started to see more of the ball and found the back of the net for the second time when Piatti found open space down the left side, cut toward the middle and sent Lovitz down the left. Orlando couldn’t close in on him before he whipped a ball into the box. Neither Bendik nor Montreal‘s Matteo Mancosu got on the end of the ball. Instead, it was Tarek who made the slightest bit of contact and caused an own goal, giving Montreal a 2-0 lead in the 55th minute and making the uphill climb for Orlando that much steeper.

Down two, Kreis made his first substution of the match by putting Jose Villarreal in for Higuita in the 57th minute. The midfielder had an immediate impact, his first touch of the game being a cross to Dwyer that was just behind the forward and making him unable to get enough power to drive the ball into the goal yet again.

Villarreal delivered another good ball, finding Rocha down the left side as the left back weaved his way towards the goal but the final pass just wasn’t good enough and the chance was lost. I bet you’re starting to see a theme here.

But Orlando City didn’t stop pressing forward. Meram was finally able to give Dwyer a cross he wanted in the 65th minute, but the shot went inches wide and the scoreline remained the same.

After having little impact on the match for the most part, Josué Colmán’s opportunity finally came in the 66th minute as the Young Designated Player chased down a long ball. The Paraguayan was able to fight past two defenders but he couldn’t hit his shot cleanly and sent it harmlessly wide and over the bar.

Seeing enough, Kreis took Colmán out immediately after the missed shot, electing to put rookie Chris Mueller into the game for an injection of energy. That move was followed by a similar one as Meram came off for Stefano Pinho.

In a night full of bad, there was at least something to smile about in the 70th minute when Piatti was in a one-on-one situation with Spector and the American center back was able to hold his own against the potent attacker. He may not have been able to stop the onslaught of three goals, but it’s nice to have Spector back in the lineup.

Like every chance it had in the game, Orlando City simply couldn’t catch a break in 78th minute when Rosell had a wide open shot that was sure to go in but was accidentally deflected by Pinho right into the belly of Bush, who was down on his side.

Orlando City’s assualt continued just minutes later when Dwyer got on the end of a cross for his best scoring chance of the night but the header went off target and Orlando remained scoreless.

Another chance came shortly after with Pinho making contact with the ball directly in front of the net, but the shot somehow went high and over the bar. It would be almost comical how close Orlando was to scoring if not for the frustration that comes from Orlando City squandering opportunities yet again.

Bendik was able to stop Montreal from extending its lead on two occasions late in the game, with two big saves where he had to come out and make the stop. However, third time was the charm for the Impact when Piatti caught the tired Orlando City defense sleeping. Alone behind the defense with the ball after a through ball, Piatti dribbled around Bendik and easily tucked the ball into the goal to secure his brace and put Montreal up 3-0.

A few late chances by Dwyer and Pinho were unsuccessful and the Lions were shut out for the third time this season.

The chances were there for Orlando City, but like so many games during this six-game losing streak, the Lions simply weren’t able to score. Orlando City ended the game with 57% possession and led Montreal in shots, 12-11. Both teams had four shots on target but the game obviously came down to finishing with Orlando City unable to score.

The Lions continue their five-game road trip with only a U.S. Open Cup victory to show for it so far. Orlando City will hope to keep its run in the tournament alive on the road against D.C. United next Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. The Lions will then look to end their MLS skid at home a week from Saturday in a rematch against Montreal on June 23.

Orlando City

Orlando City Can Build Valuable Momentum in April

The last two games of April present a good chance for the Lions to keep building momentum ahead of a challenging May.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City got back to winning ways last Saturday and started a mini-undefeated streak in the process, as the Lions have now gone three games on the bounce without tasting defeat. OCSC has two more games to play during the month of April, and the scheduling gods have given the men in purple a chance to keep building on the recent run of good form, as a tricky and packed May schedule looms on the horizon. The last two April fixtures won’t be easy by any stretch, but an opportunity has presented itself if the Lions can play well and take advantage of it.

First, let’s turn our attention to Saturday’s game against CF Montreal up in Canada. Montreal currently has a record of 3-3-1 which is good for 10 points and eighth place in the Eastern Conference. These two teams faced each other in the very first game of the season, and it ended as a 0-0 draw, thanks largely in part to some shaky finishing on Orlando’s part and a couple excellent Pedro Gallese saves. Since then, Montreal has defeated a struggling FC Dallas team, an Inter Miami team that has looked equal parts unbeatable and extremely vulnerable at the back, and an FC Cincinnati side that so far has struggled to replace the goals of Brandon Vazquez. In other words, the wins haven’t come over bad teams, (aside from maybe Dallas) but rather teams that have had flawed, uneven starts to the season.

To be fair, many of the same criticisms could be leveled at Orlando City’s record. OCSC’s wins have come against Austin FC and D.C. United — two teams with leaky defenses that have each had uneven starts to the season — and the Lions have suffered losses that have ranged from uninspiring against Atlanta, to abhorrent against Miami. Where the two teams differ is that Orlando started the year battling on two fronts and then had key players missing through a combination of injury and international call-ups afterward. The Lions now have a nearly clean bill of health and looked much more cohesive with Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo partnered in midfield once more — a welcome sight after some of the struggles that were endured when one or both were missing at various times.

The Canadian side also hasn’t kept a clean sheet since that opening game of the season against the Lions, a fact that could bode well for an Orlando side which has scored six goals in its last three games. As long as the defense can tighten up and not make the sorts of mental errors that led to goals against D.C. and the New York Red Bulls, there will be opportunities at the other end of the field for an attacking corps that has done a better job at putting the ball in the net than we saw during the first game of the season. In short, the game is a winnable one, and while getting road results in MLS is never easy, OCSC should feel reasonably confident about its chances to get points on its trip north of the border.

That leaves Toronto FC’s visit to the Purple Palace on Saturday, April 27. The Reds currently sit one spot below CF Montreal, in ninth place, with a record of 3-4-1 and 10 points. TFC’s victories have been over a New England team that has been struggling mightily, a Charlotte FC side that has had a decent but slightly inconsistent start to the year, and an Atlanta United outfit that can have the same said of it as Charlotte. The wins have all been solid ones, and the team looked pretty good in those three games.

On the flip side of things, the last of those wins came on March 23, with Toronto dropping its last three games in a row and conceding 10 goals in the process. They’ve got the second leakiest defense of any of the nine teams in the playoff places, while being tied with Cincinnati for scoring the fewest goals.

Then there’s the issue of player availability. The Reds’ injury list is a long one, with six players currently listed as out and an additional one as questionable. Among those listed out are Lorenzo Insigne, Richie Laryea, Brandon Servania, and Shane O’Neill. In other words, they’re likely to be missing guys that are key contributors for the team when healthy, and part of the recent losing streak can be attributed to dealing with the injury bug that’s bit the team with a vengeance. Playing on the road without a number of important key players is rarely a recipe for success, and Orlando City should have another good chance to pick up three points.

Now, this isn’t to say that taking all six points from these games is a foregone conclusion. MLS is a tricky league to get results in, and we have no way of knowing how the fortunes of Orlando, Montreal, and Toronto will change in the next eight days. But given the leaky defenses of the two Canadian sides, TFC’s injury situation, and Orlando City seemingly starting to find a better patch of form, the Lions have an opportunity to keep picking up points and climbing the Eastern Conference standings. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/19/24

Orlando Pride host the San Diego Wave, Orlando City B faces Crown Legacy FC, Europa League action, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Happy Friday! Make sure to get your night plans in order as both the Orlando Pride and Orlando City B have games tonight. Figure out your drink of choice, charge those devices if you don’t plan on heading to the stadium for the Pride game, and knock out any chores before things get rolling. It should be a fun day, so let’s get it started with some links!

Orlando Pride Host the San Diego Wave Tonight

After earning their first win last week in Utah, the Orlando Pride are back in the City Beautiful for tonight’s game against the San Diego Wave at 8 p.m. The Pride’s four-game unbeaten run is on the line and will be put to the test against a Wave team that has four points from three games. San Diego has only scored two goals this season, but it has also secured a pair of clean sheets so far. The biggest storyline heading into the match is whether or not Barbra Banda will make her Pride debut. Hopefully Orlando can light it up at home and keep former Pride forward Alex Morgan and the rest of the Wave’s offense in check.

Orlando City B Takes On Crown Legacy FC

The Young Lions are also in action tonight at 7:30 p.m., with a match against Crown Legacy FC in North Carolina. Crown Legacy is only a point behind OCB, but is still searching for its first win of this MLS NEXT Pro season. OCB has played every game away from the Orlando area so far and ground out a 1-1 draw against Philadelphia Union II last weekend. Orlando hasn’t won a game since its season opener on March 16, but has been proven capable of getting points on the road. Wilfredo Rivera and Yutaro Tsukada linked up for the equalizer in that match, so hopefully they can keep that momentum rolling into tonight’s game.

Americans to Watch This Weekend

European soccer seasons and tournaments are nearing their ends and there are many Americans in important games this weekend. Haji Wright’s heroics put Coventry City into the FA Cup semifinals, and he will have a chance to impress again on Sunday against Manchester United. Elsewhere in England, Fulham duo Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream could put a dent in Liverpool’s title hopes, while Nottingham Forest’s Matt Turner and Giovanni Reyna will square off against Everton, as both sides aim to avoid relegation. Over in Italy, AC Milan duo Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah will try to stop Inter Milan from claiming the Serie A title in a rivalry match at San Siro. There’s also a showdown between Americans in the Scottish Cup semifinals, with Celtic’s Cameron Carter-Vickers going up against Aberdeen and Dante Polvara.

Europa League Quarterfinals Come to a Close

The Europa League quarterfinals are done and dusted and only four teams remain in contention for some silverware. West Ham United took the lead against Bayer Leverkusen, but couldn’t overcome the aggregate deficit and the German club advanced. Leverkusen also scored a late equalizer to make it a 1-1 draw and extend its unbeaten streak to 44 games. Marseille scored at home against Benfica to send the game to extra time and then won the eventual penalty shootout. Atalanta did enough in a 1-0 loss to Liverpool to advance on aggregate, with Liverpool’s lone goal coming from an early Mohamed Salah penalty kick. AS Roma is also through to the semifinals after a 2-1 win against AC Milan, despite a red card in the first half. In the semifinals, Marseille will face Atalanta and Leverkusen will take on Roma.

Free Kicks

  • Houston Dynamo Head Coach Ben Olsen has agreed to a new contract that will keep him with the club through 2026. Olsen has quietly dragged the Dynamo out of the Western Conference’s basement and won last year’s U.S. Open Cup as well.
  • New York Red Bulls defender Andres Reyes was suspended an additional match for violent conduct in the team’s match against the Chicago Fire. This means Reyes will miss tomorrow’s match against LAFC and the home game against the Vancouver Whitecaps on April 27.
  • American left back Jorge Villafana is hanging up his cleats. He won the MLS Cup with the Portland Timbers back in 2015 and the Concacaf Gold Cup with the U.S. in 2017.
  • Replays won’t be a part of the FA Cup for the next six years. This will ease some of the schedule congestion for English Premier League teams, but it denies lower-division sides the chance at more revenue.
  • The folks over at Stars and Stripes FC shined a spotlight on forward Jubilo Iwata, who currently leads Japan’s J1 League in scoring after eight games. It’s always cool to learn more about some of the lesser-known players in the U.S. player pool.
  • An NFL game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers will be played in Brazil at Corinthians Arena. However, there’s an unofficial rule at the stadium that green can’t be worn, as it is the color of Corinthians rival, so we’ll see if that’s adhered to come September.
  • Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird’s production company will adapt Cleat Cute, a romance novel by Meryl Wilsner about love between teammates on a women’s soccer team. As someone who’s read it and loved it, I’m pretty excited for the show to say the least.

That’s all I have for you today. Stay hydrated and enjoy the games today. Go Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City at CF Montreal: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do on the road against CF Montreal to take home all three points ?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City opened the season against CF Montreal, playing to a 0-0 draw at Inter&Co Stadium back in February. Now, the Lions head to the Great White North to play the pesky Canadian club again. There’s no Concacaf Champions Cup competition to worry about this time, so hopefully Orlando City can get a victory.

What does Orlando City need to do to follow up the D.C. United victory with another win?

Just Say No

Outscoring your opponents while giving up two goals is all well and good, but outscoring your opponents while also keeping a clean sheet is much better. Orlando City has given up 13 goals over seven matches. It’s actually worse than that considering that the club has two clean sheets meaning those 13 goals came in just five matches. The Lions need to do better at not conceding goals.

Of course, one of those clean sheets came against Montreal to start the season, and the entire defense is seemingly healthy and ready to go. Our old foe Josef Martinez is always a threat and Matias Coccaro has three goals for Montreal so far this season. Stopping them is crucial. If Orlando City can maintain the same defensive discipline it showed in the previous match against Montreal, it will make earning points on the road much easier.

Designated Player Goals

Orlando City has scored seven goals so far this season. Duncan McGuire leads the team with three goals, thanks to his goal last week. Do you know who hasn’t scored yet? If you said any of Orlando City’s Designated Players, you would be correct. I’m not going to ring any emergency bells just yet, but it’d be a lot cooler if Luis Muriel, Martin Ojeda, or Facundo Torres scored a goal this week.

I think they are all close to breaking out. Torres has scored this year, just not in the MLS regular season. Muriel has been getting closer each match, and is still contributing in other ways. The same can be said of Ojeda. My point is that the goals are coming. Perhaps a trip to another country is exactly what they need to get off the mark.

The Battle on the Wings

Orlando City will be playing against former Lion Ruan. He lines up on the right for Montreal and will be a challenge for either Rafael Santos or Kyle Smith, depending on who gets the start. Of course, if Ivan Angulo is playing in his usual role on the left side of Orlando City’s attack, there could be some interesting races between the two speedy players.

I think that the other side of the field is where the match might be won or lost. Since Orlando City fell out of the Concacaf Champions Cup, the team has been on a more regular schedule. That has allowed Dagur Dan Thorhallsson to regain his form in the right fullback position for the Lions. He scored a goal last week, has an assist on the season, four crosses, and 10 key passes. He is an integral part of Orlando City’s attack and if he can win the battles against Raheem Edwards and Joaquin Sosa on the right side of Montreal’s lineup, he could have another big night.

That is what I will be looking for Saturday night. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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