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Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Final Score 2-0 as Lions Remain Unbeaten in Season Openers



Second-half goals from Alexandre Pato and Benji Michel lifted Orlando City to a 2-0 opening day victory over CF Montreal (0-1-0, 0 points) at Exploria Stadium. The Lions (1-0-0, 3 points) improved to 2-0-6 on opening day since joining MLS, winning the season’s first match for the first time since a 1-0 stadium-christening victory over New York City FC in 2017. The Lions have not conceded a goal on opening day since Oscar Pareja became head coach.

“I like the game. I thought we played against a very good team. Montreal has been in competition earlier than everybody else and we find that as difficulty,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “But we matched that up and we ended up scoring goals and being precise when we had to.”

“It’s a good start of the season to get a first win, especially at home,” Michel said.

Pareja’s lineup featured goalkeeper Pedro Gallese behind the first-choice back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. U22 Initiative midfielder Cesar Araujo got his first MLS start as the No. 6 in place of Sebas Mendez, with Andres Perea in the box-to-box role. Mauricio Pereyra, Facu Torres, and Michel made up the attacking midfield with Pato as the starting striker.

Montreal started the game with more energy than the hosts, keeping the ball deep in Orlando’s end for most of the first five minutes and earning multiple set piece. Romell Quioto got the game’s first half-chance in the 16th minute when he got to the end line and eluded Gallese but flashed a sharp-angle shot across the front of goal.

Orlando’s first shot attempt came in the 20th minute. After Michel was fouled by Alistair Johnston on the left side, just outside the top of the box, Pato sent a shot that hit the wall and caromed back to Torres. The Young Designated Player fired a shot that took a deflection off a defender and went wide.

The Lions should have scored on the counter in the 29th minute. Montreal turned it over in their own half and a pass for Pato was just behind the forward, so he dropped it off for Pereyra to run onto. The captain fired a shot that sailed just over the bar.

Djordje Mihailovic was open at the top of the box for a shot in the 36th minute on a Montreal counter but he hit his shot right at Gallese.

Five minutes later, the Lions got their best look of the first half. A ball in for Pato was headed up in the air by the defense. Pato did well to follow it and send a strong header low toward the near post. Sebastian Breza did well to get down and make a good save to keep the game scoreless in the 41st.

Orlando then had numbers in transition in first-half stoppage time but Michel hesitated while wide open on the right side of the area, looking for a pass instead. The chance evaporated when the defense knocked the ball away.

Orlando out-shot the visitors 4-2 in the opening 45 minutes, with each getting one on target. Montreal had slightly more possession (51.6%-48.4%), was more accurate in passing (87.8%-84.3%), and won more corners (5-3).

Pareja sent Junior Urso in for Perea at the break and it helped solidify the midfield. Urso’s instinctive play helped Orlando turn Montreal over more in the second 45.

However, Montreal came out of the locker room with good energy and created a flurry of shots in the opening moments. Moutinho blocked the first effort and a second shot from distance was easy for Gallese to collect. Matko Miljevic tried a long shot from the left but again Gallese handled it easily.

The Lions opened the scoring moments later. Torres sent the ball to Pereyra on the right side and the captain sent Ruan in behind Kamal Miller down the flank. Ruan sent a low cross to the back post. Despite a defender getting a slight touch on it, the ball got through to Pato, who calmly fired home to make it 1-0 in the 49th minute. It was Pato’s first MLS goal.

After the goal, Pato ran over and celebrated with Pareja on the sideline.

“It has been a rocky journey for Alex the last year. An injury kept him out of the team for so long,” Pareja said. “He wants to help the team and I thought (the goal) was a joy that we wanted to share because I know how much he has worked for that.”

Pato’s goal snapped a 244-minute opening day scoring drought by the Lions that dates back to the 75th minute in 2019 against New York City FC.

The Lions stayed on the front foot after the goal. A good attacking possession in the 58th minute ended with Michel redirecting a Pato pass wide of the net. But a minute later, Benji got his goal. Urso intercepted a pass off a goal kick and fed the ball to Pereyra in the middle. The Uruguayan sent a ball in for Michel, who was slicing diagonally through the area. Michel beat his defender and slotted home to make it 2-0 in the 59th minute.

“I saw Urso steal the ball and I was just very alert, like the ball could be coming to me, so I was just ready, making sure I was in a good position,” Michel said of the goal. “Before (Pereyra) got the ball, he looked at me, and as soon as he got the ball I knew was coming and I had to be ready and execute the play.” 

Joaquin Torres had a chance to cut the lead in half in the 62nd minute, as he found space just outside the area in the middle to turn and fire. His shot went over Gallese’s crossbar.

Four minutes later, Montreal’s situation got even worse. Quioto was bodied off the ball in the area and it went behind for a goal kick. Frustrated, the Montreal defender got up and threw a shoulder into Carlos’ chest. Jansson stepped between Quioto and his teammate and the Montreal striker struck the Swede with both fists in the chest. Referee Marcos de Oliveira showed Quioto a straight red. Importantly, Jansson was also given a yellow card, although he did very little other than get in between the two players.

Striker Ercan Kara made his MLS debut for Orlando in the 69th minute, coming on for Michel.

Down a man, Montreal continued to chase the game, but struggled to create clear-cut chances, settling for shots from long range and not doing much with a corner kick opportunity.

Jansson picked up a second yellow for a tactical foul in the 81st minute and will miss next weekend’s road match as a result. The game got a bit chaotic after that, with Rodrigo Schlegel coming on for Torres and the teams played 10-v-10.

“At the end the game became a bit messy. That we don’t want, but I thought we had the matureness to deal with it and just bring these three points to the people. We’re happy for this start,” said Pareja.

The Lions struggled to maintain control of the ball. Montreal’s best chance to get back in the game came in the 85th minute, when Johnston fizzed a ball through the six, but Carlos and Ruan did well at the back post to wall off defenders and prevent a scoring chance.

Schlegel conceded a dangerous free kick in the 89th minute but Joaquin Torres missed the mark badly on the set piece, sending his shot high into the stands.

Orlando saw out the six minutes of stoppage time without incident and took all three points.

Each team attempted eight shots in the match, with Orlando getting more on target (3-2). Montreal held a smidge more possession (50.7%-49.3%) and was more accurate in the passing department (89.9%-85.3%), winning more corners (7-3).

“We were more aggressive today. I thought we were pushing them,” Pareja said of his team’s performance against Montreal. “We were trying to force them into a mistake and that’s why the control of the game was coming to our side many times. They did a good job. They have good midfielders and they have a good model. And today we just matched up.”  

“I know (the team is) not as connected as it can be. It’s just going to get better from here,” Michel said.

The Lions improved to 7-7-3 in the all-time series against Montreal and 3-4-2 at home.

The Lions hit the road for the first time in 2022 this Saturday as they travel to Chicago to take on the Fire.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/29/23

Orlando City prepares for CF Montreal, learning more about Duncan McGuire, Jack Lynn named to MLS NEXT Pro Best XI, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

It’s Friday, which means we’re just one day away from a pretty busy weekend of Orlando soccer. It should be a pretty fun next few days, with Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Orlando City B all in action. I don’t have many weekend plans beyond working and getting some writing and reading done. Let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Prepares for CF Montreal

Orlando City hosts CF Montreal tomorrow night in a showdown between two Eastern Conference teams with just four games remaining this season. It’s the second match between the two teams this year, with Montreal beating the Lions 2-0 in Canada on May 6. In the time since that game, the Lions have only lost three games this season and have not been defeated at home since April 22. Orlando’s next win will be Head Coach Oscar Pareja’s 60th with the Lions, and tomorrow’s match could also break club records for most wins and points in a season. A win for the Lions would be massive to put some breathing room between them and the other top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Get to Know Duncan McGuire

Orlando forward Duncan McGuire was the latest to go under the microscope as part of the club’s video series to learn more about the players. The rookie spoke on his upbringing as a middle child, as well as how he turned to soccer after struggling in other sports. McGuire also talked about his acrobatic goal celebrations and a clip is included of a time he didn’t quite stick the landing after scoring for Creighton. It’s a pretty fun interview, as he gave some details on how Mason Stajduhar is a quick learner when it comes to golf and how he wants to go out to dinner with Ana de Armas.

Jack Lynn Makes MLS NEXT Pro Best XI

Orlando City B forward Jack Lynn was named to the MLS NEXT Pro’s Best XI for the second straight year. Lynn fueled OCB’s offense this season, scoring 19 goals to help the Young Lions claim a spot in the playoffs. No MLS NEXT Pro player has scored more goals since the league’s inaugural season last year than Lynn, who has 34 goals under his belt. The 23-year-old is joined on the front line of this year’s Best XI with the two players he tied with for the Golden Boot, New York City FC II’s Matt Myers and Colorado Rapids 2 forward Remi Cabral.

Orlando City B Takes On Columbus Crew 2 This Sunday

The Young Lions will play their first MLS NEXT Pro playoff game this Sunday when they face Columbus Crew 2 on the road at 5:30 p.m. It will be the third and final match between the two sides this year, with each claiming a big win over the other earlier in the season. No team that qualified for the playoffs has lost more road games than OCB this season, which may be why Columbus elected to face Orlando. However, Orlando’s offense has been electric at times this year thanks to Lynn, Shak Mohammed, Wilfredo Rivera, and others. Sunday may be another wild game with the Young Lions involved and you can check it out on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Tahir Reid-Brown Called Up for Training Camp

United States U-17 Men’s National Team Head Coach Gonzalo Segares called up 20 players for a training camp in Brazil to prepare for the U-17 World Cup in November. OCB defender Tahir Reid-Brown was the lone Orlando representative called up for this camp. The 17-year-old was called up to the U-17 team earlier this April for a training camp in Florida. He’s had an impressive year, earning a spot in the MLS NEXT All-Star Game and making 10 appearances for OCB. The U.S. will take on Brazil on Oct. 4 and Oct. 6 in a pair of friendlies during this camp.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City center back Rodrigo Schlegel unveiled the meaning behind his tattoos, including the ones for his parents and his biggest moments as a Lion.

That’s all I have for you today. Hopefully the weather plays nice this weekend and you’re able to do everything you have planned. Have a great Friday!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points against CF Montreal this Saturday in Exploria Stadium?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City hosts CF Montreal in the second-to-last home match of the 2023 MLS regular season at Exploria Stadium this Saturday night. The Lions have already secured a spot in the playoffs but are now fighting for home field advantage. Montreal is currently sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and is fighting for a playoff spot.

What does Orlando City need to do to secure three important points against the Canadian Club Foots?

Time to Make the Donuts

It had been a minute since Duncan McGuire scored a goal for Orlando City — and by a minute I mean since July 29. McGuire had a few opportunities against Inter Miami and managed to get one to equalize for the Lions and ensure a point at home. I do think he might have scored on another of those chances if he was fully back in form after his injury time, but I’ll take the goal. 

My hope is that getting that goal will remind him that he can score goals when given the opportunity, and he will be better about finishing the chances he gets against Montreal. Sometimes it just takes getting that first goal to open up the muscle memory and to unlock the confidence needed in a striker. It’s time for Duncan to score more goals, and the match against Montreal is the first and best opportunity to do so since Montreal starting center back Joel Waterman will be serving a red card suspension.

Switch up the Lineup

I propose a change to the starting lineup — something Oscar Pareja does not do very often. Due to injuries and other factors such a move wasn’t possible earlier in the season, but I think it could work now. I have a ton of respect for Mauricio Pereyra, but he could probably use a rest to be fresh for the playoffs as the regular season winds down. 

I suggest letting Martin Ojeda get the start in the 10 spot, moving Dagur Dan Thorhallsson up the wing, and having Michael Halliday take over at right back. Ojeda’s play as of late has been much improved, and with Halliday healthy again, why not take advantage of Dagur Dan’s versatility along the wing. I think this move provides energy, a surprise for opposing defenses, and allows Facundo Torres more freedom. 

Same Old Effective Defense

Orlando City’s defense has only allowed 37 goals this season — which is good enough to tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. On the flip side, Montreal has only scored 30 goals so far — which is only better than Toronto at 24 goals. Montreal has a goal differential of -15.If the Lions play their normally solid defense in front of the outstanding goalkeeping of Pedro Gallese, Montreal should not get too many opportunities to score. There’s no doubt that we will see Robin Jansson and Rodrigo Schlegel paired together with Rafael Santos on the left and either Dagur Dan — or Michael Halliday as I suggested — on the right. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena can stop most attacks before they get to the back line. If Orlando City plays defense as well as the club did against Miami, things should be fine.

That is what I will be looking for this Saturday as the Lions take on the boys from North of the border. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/28/23

Ajax is reportedly scouting Facundo Torres, Orlando Pride focus on upcoming matches, Houston Dynamo win U.S. Open Cup, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this work week has gone smoothly for you as we get ready to bid farewell to September. It’s been a hectic week for me, but I started and then promptly devoured all of Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. It was a nice read, albeit a bit intense at times. I’m not sure what I’ll read next as most of my reading list is packed up for a move, but if you have any recommendations then let me know in the comments below. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Ajax Reportedly Interested in Facundo Torres

Orlando City forward Facundo Torres has reportedly garnered the interest of Dutch club Ajax according to Fabrizio Romano.

It’s not too surprising that Ajax, which currently sits in 14th in the Eredivisie with just seven goals from five games, has scouts keeping tabs on Torres. The 23-year-old has scored 12 goals this season, powering Orlando to second in the Eastern Conference. It wouldn’t be the first time Torres has received attention from European clubs and likely won’t be the last as he continues to impress with the Lions

Orlando Pride Focus During Playoff Push

The Orlando Pride are back in action on Monday for a crucial road match with Angel City FC. Both teams have 25 points this season, one point from the sixth and final playoff spot currently held by the Washington Spirit. It will be the first of three remaining games for the Pride this season, with matches against fellow playoff hopefuls Racing Louisville and the Houston Dash set for later in October. As a result, there’s not much margin for error if the Pride wish to make the playoffs and Kylie Strom talked about how the team is focused for these games.

MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs Begin This Weekend

The first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs kicks off this weekend with six matches that can all be watched on MLS Season Pass. Unlike last year, Orlando City B will be taking part and is set to face off with Columbus Crew 2 on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Although the Young Lions have struggled on the road against Columbus, Jack Lynn and Shak Mohammed can make things difficult for the hosts. Hopefully we’ll see OCB make Columbus regret its choice of opponent in the postseason. I like the wrinkle and mind games to the playoffs the new rule gave and am interested to see which of the lower seeds plays with a chip on their shoulder. The playoffs begin on Friday when Sporting Kansas City II hosts Austin FC II in a battle between the third and fourth seeds of the Western Conference.

Houston Dynamo Win U.S. Open Cup

The Houston Dynamo have lifted the U.S. Open Cup trophy after winning 2-1 on the road against Inter Miami. A pair of goals in the first half were enough for Houston to win its second U.S. Open Cup title after also winning in 2018. A goal in stoppage time from Josef Martinez made things interesting, but the Dynamo defense did well to secure the win and deny Miami its second tournament title this year. It was a strong end to a solid tournament campaign from the Dynamo, as they beat four MLS sides before taking down Miami in the final.

Albertin Montoya Hired as Bay FC Head Coach

Ahead of its inaugural NWSL season next year, Bay FC named Albertin Montoya as the club’s first head coach. Montoya, who has lived in California for most of his life, served as the interim coach for the Washington Spirit in 2022 and also coached the U.S. U-17 women’s national team in 2011. Bay FC General Manager Lucy Rushton spoke on how Montoya’s name came up often while the club searched for a head coach, as well as how his skill at developing players will help build the club’s foundation.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja called for the supporters to continue filling Exploria Stadium and pushing the Lions forward for the team’s remaining home games this season.
  • St. Louis City midfielder Njabulo Blom won MLS Goal of the Week for his winner against Minnesota United. It was also the 23-year-old’s first professional goal.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

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