Orlando City drew 1-1 with Nashville SC in a crucial Eastern Conference showdown with plenty on the line. It was the third draw between the two sides this year, but the first at Exploria Stadium as the Lions played their final home game of the regular season. Daryl Dike gave Orlando the lead in the first half after some great passes from Chris Mueller and Nani, but Hany Mukhtar equalized in the second half. It looked like Orlando would walk away as the victor after a late set piece, but the Lions only ended up with a point.
Here are my five takeaways from the match as Orlando is forced to wait on securing a place in the postseason.
Game Ends as a Nightmare for Orlando
Referee Allen Chapman overshadowed the game as Orlando City’s game-winner in stoppage time was reversed. Alexandre Pato’s late free kick hit the crossbar and Andres Perea pounced on the rebound to give Orlando a winner that also clinched a spot in the postseason. But the celebration was short lived as Chapman went to review the goal on the monitor and determined that Dike committed a foul in the build-up and the goal was disallowed. Here is the play in question that Chapman saw as a clear and obvious foul, which was clarified as Dike preventing Alistair Johnston from clearing the ball.
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) October 31, 2021
It’s a sickening result for Orlando, which managed to find a way to beat a team that’s only lost four times this year. For the fans who came out to Exploria Stadium on Halloween for the last home game of the regular season, a dream ending turned into frustration. The Lions must shake off the result and be ready to rebound before Decision Day.
Pato Can Lift the Lions Late in Games
It was only his third shot of the season, but Pato made it a good one late in the match as he nearly scored the winner himself directly from a free kick. Designated Players Nani and Mauricio Pereyra, who handled Orlando’s set pieces throughout the match, were both on the bench when Pato won a foul in a dangerous area. The Brazilian managed to deliver when the Lions needed a playmaker and was inches from putting the game away. Pato’s first season has been marred by injury, but this match proved that he can come into a match and make an impact.
Orlando’s Defense Holds Its Own
Although Orlando wasn’t able to get a clean sheet, the defense did fairly well against a Nashville offense that’s scored 54 goals this season. Collectively, the back line had three tackles, nine interceptions, six clearances, and two blocks. Pedro Gallese also came up with seven saves in the match, his most since the 5-0 loss to New York City FC in July. Mukhtar managed to beat Gallese and the defense to equalize, but it was still a good effort from the Lions. Left back Emmanuel Mas in particular had a great performance with 93 touches, 58 completed passes, and six interceptions. He wasn’t perfect, as he was unsuccessful on all three of his crosses, but it was still a solid outing and he’s become a great addition to the roster since joining this summer.
Mueller Bags Another Assist
In quite possibly his last game at Exploria Stadium, Chris Mueller had a game of ups and downs. The 25-year-old had his sixth assist of the season with a great cutback pass into the box after Nani sent him a good ball into space. However, both of his shots were sent high into the stands as he hunted for a goal. He wasn’t the only Lion to miss the mark in this match by any means, but his aim was off. Mueller has certainly been active in recent weeks, with 12 of his 36 shots this season coming from the past five games. Of those 12 shots, only three were on target.
While he hasn’t replicated his success from last season, Mueller’s done well in his last home games for Orlando as the season winds down. He came up with the dramatic assist on Orlando’s late winner against D.C. United, scored against Montreal, and his assist in this match helped the Lions take a lead early on. He’ll head to Scotland after this season, but Mueller’s magic isn’t over just yet for the Lions with a crucial game remaining on Decision Day and a possible postseason run.
The Iron Bear
One of the great underrated performances of the day came from Junior Urso. The Bear revealed after the match that he’s been bothered by a knee injury in recent weeks but you wouldn’t have known it from the Nashville match. Urso came within inches of a goal with his half-bike kick on a set piece that hit the right post. That was one of his two shots in the game, although he should have done better with his second attempt off a Nashville turnover (his reaction in the feature photo above says it all). Urso finished with a key pass, a dribble, a free kick won, and a 91.8% passing accuracy on 75 touches. Three of his four long balls were accurate, as well. He chipped in a tackle and two interceptions on defense. He also teamed up nicely with Sebas Mendez in central midfield to shore up the middle of the pitch that had been overrun the prior game during his absence last Wednesday against Columbus. He fought a fierce battle all day with Anibal Godoy and held his own against the Panamanian international. Nashville often had to work down the flanks rather than finding any joy up the middle. The Bear went the full 90 for the 13th consecutive appearance and hasn’t been subbed off since Aug. 8 at Cincinnati.
The ending of the match will dominate discussion, but what else did you gather from yet another draw with Nashville this season? Make sure to let me know in the comments below!
Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Five Takeaways
Here are five lessons learned from Orlando City’s 0-0 draw with Montreal.
Orlando City drew CF Montreal 0-0 in Inter&Co Stadium to start the MLS regular season. Heading into this match, the Lions had looked pretty good during the preseason and in the Concacaf Champions Cup match against Cavalry. Unfortunately, Orlando City wasn’t able to maintain its scoring form against Montreal, settling for a point at home.
Here are my five takeaways from Orlando’s draw with Montreal.
An Ugly First Half
Orlando city held 61% possession with four shots and only one on goal in the opening period. Add to that 10 fouls and a couple of yellow cards for Duncan McGuire and Wilder Cartagena and you end up with an ugly first half. Oscar Pareja put out a first-choice lineup, including many players who put in significant minutes in Wednesday’s Concacaf Champions Cup match against Cavalry in Canada. Despite having the best players on the field, Orlando City was not sharp and it showed in the stats and in the eye test.
El Pulpo Impresses
While the Lions were finding their footing to start the match, Pedro Gallese provided the cover the club needed with four saves in the first five minutes. After that, Orlando City settled down and kept more of the possession. Montreal didn’t get another shot on target the remainder of the half and so Gallese wasn’t called into service again. Fortunately, those first four saves were everything the Lions needed to start things off. He also made an incredible one-on-one save in stoppage to keep Montreal off the board.
Offside Ruins Chance, Part 1
Orlando City supporters thought the winning and only goal went in when Felipe put in the ball off a rebound from the bar. The initial shot came from Ramiro Enrique, who hit the crossbar. Both Martins and Facundo Torres were there and the ball went in but Felipe was in an offside position when Enrique took the shot. It was a frustrating call, even if it was ultimately the correct call.
A Game of Inches
Orlando City had 15 shots with four on target throughout the match. Of the 11 that weren’t on target, many were only inches from being so. Of the shots on target, all were either directly to Jonathan Sirois or without enough power to make him have to work to keep it out. There were also plenty of passes that were just off by a couple of inches that either gave the ball back to Montreal or stalled potential attacks.
Offside Ruins Chance, Part 2
In stoppage time, Torres drew a foul as he took a pass into the box. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and it looked like Orlando City would get the chance to score a winner on a penalty kick. Unfortunately, the offside flag had gone up again thanks to Jack Lynn being offside, as he strayed behind the last defender by a step in the buildup before the foul. Video review confirmed the call and Orlando City supporters were left wanting a second time.
That is what I saw in the match. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Final Score 0-0 as Lions Drop Points, Remain Unbeaten in Opener
The Lions were much better in the second half but couldn’t find the final bit of quality to finish against Montreal.
Orlando City (0-0-1, 1 point) looked like a team that played on the other side of the continent a few days ago in a sloppy 0-0 draw against CF Montreal (0-0-1, 1 point) at home in the first game of the MLS regular season for both clubs. Orlando did put the ball in the net off of Felipe but the flag came up and review upheld the call.
With the draw, the Lions remain unbeaten on opening day (3-0-7) but settle for a scoreless draw for the third time in three openers under Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja. The Lions have not conceded a goal on opening night in five seasons under Pareja.
“Very intense game for both teams,” Pareja said after the match. “In the first half I thought it was a little bit rough and rocky for us. Couldn’t find the sequences that we normally have found in the way that we play and our model. When we had the ball we couldn’t create the sequences that get us much closer to the goal.”
Pareja went with a strong lineup, with little rotation from Wednesday night’s win in British Columbia. Pedro Gallese was in goal behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, David Brekalo — making his Orlando City and MLS debut — and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena manned the central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Nicolas Lodeiro (his first OCSC start), and Facundo Torres with Duncan McGuire up top.
Orlando City was nowhere near as sharp in possession during its second game of the week. The passes were often offline and when they reached the target, a wayward touch often turned the ball over. Additionally, the Lions were slow to get the ball out of their feet, allowing the more energetic visitors to dispossess them in dangerous areas repeatedly.
A turnover led to a good chance by Matias Coccaro in just the third minute and Bryce Duke fired one in at Gallese seconds later as the visitors looked to jump on top early.
Torres tried an inside-out shot from a severe angle on the right in the fourth minute but sent it into the outside netting.
Gallese then had to be sharp to deny Coccaro and Ariel Lassiter in the fifth minute as Montreal stayed on the front foot early, helped out by wayward passes and bad touches by the Lions, who also were the slower players to react.
Orlando had better spells of possession after that early Montreal flurry but did little with them. Lodeiro won a corner in the 10th minute and then sent in a good near-post delivery for McGuire, but the forward’s shot was blocked behind for another corner. Five minutes later, off another corner, a ball fell for McGuire, who lost control and it popped loose in the box. He and Araujo got in each other’s way going for the loose ball and the chance evaporated.
Araujo had a go from outside the box in the 26th minute but sent his shot well off target on an attack in which it appeared he had better options.
Brekalo sent a header on goal in the 44th minute but it was no trouble for Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois.
There weren’t any clear-cut looks for either side the rest of the half and the game went to the break still scoreless.
Orlando City held more of the possession in the first half (59.2%-40.8%) but did little with it. The Lions also passed more accurately (86%-79.9%) and won more corners (5-1). Montreal had more shots (6-4), shots on target (4-1).
“We weren’t expecting them to be so compact,” Santos said through a club interpreter. “We were expecting them to play a little bit more open, and they were very compact. It was very difficult to find spaces and opportunities within the tight areas that they were creating. And that’s why we found it so difficult to score a goal.”
Pareja made one tweak to the lineup at the break, withdrawing Cartagena and replacing him with Martin Ojeda. With the visitors staying tightly compact, there was no need for a double pivot and the team played better after the change, with Araujo dropping between the defenders to start the attack and Lodeiro trying to pull the strings from a deeper position.
After the match, Pareja said he felt his team was spending too much time and energy getting the ball into dangerous positions. By dropping Araujo deeper to start the attack and having an extra playmaker on the field, his team was able to fix the problem, even if the Lions still weren’t sharp with the final ball.
The first chance of the second half came early, with Thorhallsson seeing his shot blocked in the box. The rebound fell to Ojeda, who shot from a tough angle on the left side but missed the target. Lodeiro had a shot blocked off a well-worked corner kick play in the 51st minute and Brekalo scuffed a shot wide.
Three minutes later, Angulo sent a weak shot easily into Sirois’ hands from a tough angle on the right with three teammates crashing the net. It was another example of the wrong decision at the end of a good sequence, which plagued the Lions all evening.
The Lions kept coming but nothing would go in. McGuire headed just inches over the bar in the 66th minute, and Thorhallsson sent a volley shot off the ground and similiarly just over the bar in the 74th. Two minutes later, Santos sent in a dangerous cross that was cut out at the last second by the defense for a corner. The ensuing set piece was knocked out of the box to Thorhallsson, who sent a shot well off target from distance.
The first of Montreal’s two golden opportunities in the second half came in the 79th minute, when former Lion Ruan sent in a cross that Josef Martinez fired wide on a first-time effort.
Orlando City scored in the 80th minute, but the flag came up. Substitute Ramiro Enrique sent a header toward goal and Sirois got a touch on it. The ball came off the crossbar, hit fellow second-half sub Felipe, and went into the goal. The flag came up for offside and it was a close call. After a review, the referee accepted the VAR decision to uphold the call.
Ojeda got a header opportunity in the 87th minute but didn’t get any power on it and Sirois was able to catch it easily. The flag again came up for offside in the 92nd minute and it was a costly one. Torres was fouled in the box and the referee immediately pointed to the spot for a penalty but the AR’s flag was in the air. Substitute striker Jack Lynn left too early in the buildup and it was a costly mistake, as the Lions were denied an opportunity to win the game from the spot in stoppage time.
Seconds later, disaster nearly struck. Montreal cut the defense open with one quick pass for Kwadwo Opoku, who sliced through with a well-timed run to get onto the pass. Beyond the last defender, the Montreal forward had only Gallese to beat, but the goalkeeper made a sensational play to come off his line aggressively and stuck out a leg to block the shot, preserving a point for his team.
It was the last opportunity for either side in the match and, despite a good effort, the performance was a little off as Orlando City dropped two points at home.
The Lions finished with more possession (60.1%-39.9%), shots (15-9), corners (9-1), and passing accuracy (86.2%-78.2%). Montreal managed more shots on target (5-4).
“We decided just to make a couple changes in the way we wanted to face the second half,” Pareja said. “Much better. Much better second half. So it looked more like us. We created the options to score, not being so clean, but we respect the job that Montreal did as well, because they put their team in a very low block in the second half. I think we dominated, not being that clear. We’ll take that point. I think we all had big expectations. I want to make sure that we all know that this is a long trip and we have to know how to navigate it.”
“The game did not turn out the way that we wanted. We wanted the win,” Santos said. “We unfortunately weren’t able to do that. We did get the draw, which is better than a loss, but we again wanted to win. We leave frustrated from this game because again, we wanted to win. We were always looking for the opportunity to make goals. We had our chances. But we’re going to continue to look ahead, because the tournament is long and we know that we’ll get opportunities moving ahead.”
Newcomer Brekalo had a solid first MLS game in his Orlando City debut, but said afterward he’s been not only waiting for his international paperwork to come through — and as a result has spent time training as if to start and other days as if he wouldn’t be playing — but he’s also been nursing an injury that he is managing with the medical team.
“I just tried to keep it simple today honestly,” he said. “But still, like I was forcing (things) a few times, but it will come, I think, with more and more trainings and games with my teammates. I was taking many heavy touches. I’m usually better than this, but like I said, it’s going to come and it’s going to be okay.”
The Lions are back in action on Tuesday when Cavalry FC visits Orlando in the second leg of the teams’ Concacaf Champions Cup series. Orlando City will then visit Inter Miami next Saturday in the first Tropic Thunder rivalry match of 2024.
The Lions kick off their 10th MLS season at home with a match against CF Montreal.
Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday opening night matchup between Orlando City and CF Montreal at Inter&Co Stadium (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the first of the two scheduled meetings set for the 2024 regular season, with the Lions making the return trip to Stade Saputo on April 20.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
The Lions are 8-9-3 against Montreal in the all-time regular-season series and 9-10-3 in all competitions since the club joined MLS. Orlando is just 4-4-2 at home against Montreal and 5-4-2 in all competitions held in Central Florida.
The teams last met on Sept. 30, 2023, with the Lions winning 3-0 in dominant fashion. Jonathan Sirois’ own goal opened the scoring, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson and Facundo Torres added strikes for Orlando City. That was a good measure of revenge for OCSC, after Montreal defeated Orlando City 2-0 and handed the Lions their first road loss of the 2023 MLS season on May 6 at Stade Saputo. A Robin Jansson own goal got Montreal started in the second half and Romell Quioto added a second goal four minutes later.
These two sides met in the 2022 MLS playoffs, with CF Montreal knocking Orlando City out of the postseason by a 2-0 scoreline on Oct. 16, with goals by Ismael Kone and Djordje Mihailovic — the latter coming deep in stoppage time from the penalty spot.
Each team won at home in the two-game, regular-season series in 2022, with Montreal thumping Orlando 4-1 on May 7. Joel Waterman, Mihailovic, Joaquin Torres, and Zachary Brault-Guillard did the damage on the scoreboard and Orlando City managed just two shot attempts, with Joao Moutinho’s goal on a set piece helping the Lions avoid a shutout. Orlando City did not have either starting center back for that match, and it showed. The teams also met on opening day of the 2022 season, when Orlando City captured a 2-0 home win behind second-half goals from Alexandre Pato and Benji Michel.
In 2021, the teams met in Montreal on Decision Day, with the Lions earning a 2-0 road victory at Stade Saputo to clinch a playoff spot. Sebas Mendez and Daryl Dike provided the goals. That season’s matchup in Orlando came on Oct. 20, 2021, with the visitors managing a 1-1 draw. Chris Mueller struck for the Lions just before halftime, but Rudy Camacho answered on a corner kick header shortly after the restart. The first meeting of 2021 took place Sept. 15 in Orlando with the Lions falling 4-2 and finishing the game with just nine men after both Nani and Andres Perea were sent off. Quioto led Montreal with a goal and two assists. Mathieu Choiniere and Quioto put Montreal up 2-0, but despite already being down one man, Jansson and Ruan tied things up. The visitors got two more from Lassi Lappalainen and Sunusi Ibrahim.
The teams met at Red Bull Arena in late 2020 as the then-Montreal Impact played home games in New Jersey due to the pandemic. Orlando City got a Dike goal in the 39th minute to win 1-0 on Nov. 1, 2020. It was the second meeting of the 2020 season, with Orlando also beating Montreal 1-0 in the MLS is Back Tournament knockout rounds on July 25 to advance to the quarterfinals. Tesho Akindele scored the game’s only goal on a Montreal defensive mistake.
Orlando City snapped a six-game winless streak against Montreal (0-5-1) in MLS regular-season play dating back to 2016 when the Lions put the Impact to the sword in a 3-0 drubbing at Stade Saputo on June 1, 2019. Nani (penalty), Akindele, and Will Johnson supplied the offense that day. The Lions fell 3-1 at Exploria Stadium back on March 16, 2019, and Ignacio Piatti was a big reason why, scoring his ninth and 10th career goals against Orlando, adding to a strike by Orji Okwonkwo. Dom Dwyer added a cosmetic goal late for Orlando City to spoil the clean sheet.
Montreal did not allow a goal against the Lions in 2018, sweeping the two-game set from Orlando, and the Impact shut out Orlando City in three of the six meetings in that 5-0-1 run. The lone draw in that time frame was a 3-3 shootout in Orlando in 2017, in which the Impact led deep in stoppage time, only to see Jonathan Spector’s well-placed header steal the Lions a point.
Orlando won the first two meetings in 2016 by a combined score of 6-2. The teams split three meetings in 2015, with each going 1-1-1.
The Lions went 4-0-1 in preseason and enter this match fresh off a 3-0 win over Cavalry FC in Concacaf Champions Cup play on Wednesday night in British Columbia. Torres provided a brace after Duncan McGuire’s opening goal. As the Lions played during the midweek with mostly a first-choice lineup, it’s logical to expect some rotation for this match, including a change in defense as Rodrigo Schlegel serves his suspension for the red card he picked up in the playoff match against Columbus at the end of the 2023 season.
Orlando City comes off a 2023 campaign that saw the club go 9-3-5 in league play, 0-0-1 in Concacaf Champions League, 1-0-1 in Leagues Cup, and 1-1-0 in the playoffs at home. The Lions are 3-0-6 all-time in league openers (all at home), are 2-0-2 under Head Coach Oscar Pareja in openers, have won their last two straight, and are 1-0-0 in MLS openers against Montreal.
Tonight’s visitors have yet to play a competitive match in 2024 under their new head coach, Laurent Courtois, and went 0-3-1 in the preseason, which doesn’t usually mean much. The club was dreadful on the road in 2023, finishing 2-13-2 away from home. That terrible road record largely prevented the Canadian side from making the postseason. Montreal finished just two points out of the playoff places, ending up 12-17-5 and in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
Looking to improve from scoring just 36 goals during the 2023 season — tied for third worst in the Eastern Conference — Montreal has added former Inter Miami and Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez. He’s always a handful, and Orlando City will not only be without Schlegel, but as of Friday the club was still waiting for the international paperwork for new center back David Brekalo, who has been training with the Lions. Likewise, the paperwork had not yet arrived as of training on Friday for new striker Luis Muriel, so either McGuire will need to play on short rest or Ramiro Enrique could get the start.
The visitors tonight will feature a familiar face as former Lion Ruan is now with CF Montreal after spending last season with D.C. United. Other new faces for Montreal include Uruguayan striker Matias Coccaro, midfielder Dominic Iankov, and fullback Raheem Edwards.
“We’re feeling good. The boys have approached the match in a very professional manner this time when we have been busy, but we were missing the competition, so it’s good,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “After the result in Canada, we came up with big expectations of ourselves. The opener, being in front of our fans, and having a good start. So, we’ll get optimistic and it’s going to be a long journey, like always, but we’re ready to do it.”
The Lions have no one listed on their availability report. Schlegel will miss the match with his suspension, and it remains to be seen if Brekalo and/or Muriel will be cleared to play. Montreal will be without Róbert Thorkelsson (adductor) and Lappalainen (ankle), while Nathan Saliba (bone bruise) and Joaquín Sosa (lower leg) are day-to-day.
- Our most recent episode of The Mane Land PawedCast features our key match-ups and score predictions for tonight’s game.
- Our David Rohe provided his three keys to an Orlando City victory over Montreal.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, David Brekalo, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.
Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.
Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Nico Lodeio, Facundo Torres.
Forward: Duncan McGuire.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Kyle Smith, Michael Halliday, Abdi Salim, Felipe, Jeorgio Kocevski, Martin Ojeda, Ramiro Enrique, Jack Lynn.
CF Montreal (3-4-3)
Goalkeeper: Jonathan Sirois.
Defenders: Gabriele Corbo, Joel Waterman, George Campbell.
Midfielders: Ariel Lassiter, Mathieu Choiniere, Samuel Piette, Ruan.
Forwards: Bryce Duke, Matias Coccaro, Dominik Iankov.
Bench: Sebastian Breza, Raheem Edwards, Fernando Alvarez, Ousman Jabang, Victor Wanyama, Rida Zouhir, Kwadwo Opoku, Sunusi Ibrahim, Josef Martinez.
REF: Rafael Santos.
AR1: Andrew Hanks.
AR2: Albert Kyei-Mensah.
4TH: Amin Hadzic.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Inter&Co Stadium — Orlando.
TV/Live Stream: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.
Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English), Acción 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Enjoy the match. Go City!
Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Five Takeaways
Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Final Score 0-0 as Lions Drop Points, Remain Unbeaten in Opener
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