Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Final Score 4-1 as Lions Suffer First Road Loss of 2022



For the second time in three matches, Orlando City didn’t look like it belonged on an MLS pitch. The Lions were — well, the word awful comes to mind — in a deserved 4-1 road loss to CF Montreal at Stade Saputo. Orlando (5-4-2, 17 points) lost on the road for the first time in 2022 and never seemed likely to challenge Montreal (5-3-2, 17 points) once the hosts scored their first goal.

The Lions scored a set piece goal to cut a 2-0 deficit in half against the run of play in the second half but then handed two more goals to Montreal with the poor giveaways that plagued the team all game long. CF Montreal set a club record by extending its unbeaten run to seven games (5-0-2).

Joao Moutinho provided Orlando’s only goal on one of just two shot attempts. Joel Waterman, Djordje Mihailovic, Joaquin Torres, and Zachary Brault-Guillard all chipped in goals for Montreal.

“Certainly a difficult afternoon for us (against) a team that had a lot of initiative going forward,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “And we couldn’t, first get the ball back, and second create much. The mistakes that we did allowed them to score the goals. Very fair result for Montreal and we’re just going to push forward, just keep organizing things, and being back on results.”

Pareja’s lineup included Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Moutinho, Thomas Williams — in for the suspended Robin Jansson — Rodrigo Schlegel, and Ruan. Sebas Mendez joined Cesar Araujo in central midfield to try to provide more coverage for the back line. The attacking midfield line included Facundo Torres, Mauricio Pereyra, and Benji Michel, with Alexandre Pato as the main strike threat.

Earlier in the day, OCB sent center back Brandon Hackenberg to the senior side on a short-term loan to provide coverage in central defense in Jansson’s absence. Hackenberg was on the bench along with newly acquired winger Jake Mulraney.

The opening minutes were a bit sloppy on both sides but Montreal got the first good chance to score six minutes in. Just after Schlegel blocked a Joaquin Torres shot from the top of the box, the ball cycled out wide to Montreal’s right. A cross back into the area was met by Romell Quioto, who was hardly bothered by Williams or Schlegel but he sent his free header over Gallese’s crossbar.

Two minutes later, Ruan made a sliding attempt to deny a pass and clear the ball but instead he simply set the ball up nicely for Lassi Lappalainen to run onto in the box. Lappalainen fired from the left side of Montreal’s attacking side but Gallese made a big save.

Orlando’s first foray into the attacking end didn’t take place until the 10th minute. Moutinho sent in a cross but former Lion Kamal Miller cleared it away. The Lions tried to recycle down the left wing but Michel’s left-footed cross was right at goalkeeper Sebastian Breza.

Facu Torres fired Orlando’s first shot attempt in the 14th minute after Miller failed to properly deal with a ball over the top that was intended for Pato. His shot was well off target and since Pato was behind the defense there was no option for the winger to play a through ball for the Brazilian.

A minute later, Mihailovic was nearly in for a clear shot on target but Mendez did well to break up the play at the top of the box. Just after that, Ruan coughed up the ball in his own defensive end. Pereyra committed a foul, which handed a free kick to the hosts. Mihailovic played the free kick short and received the ball back quickly and fired a shot on target. The attempt was right at Gallese, who made the easy save in the 18th minute.

Montreal’s wingbacks were pushing higher and higher and it nearly put Mihailovic in behind in the 20th minute but Schlegel did well to get back and break up the play. However, he conceded a corner, which led to Montreal’s opener. The cross into the box hit Michel and bounced toward goal. Waterman was standing there all alone and scored. The initial ruling was that the play was offside, and Waterman was well behind the defense, but after video review, the referee saw that the ball wasn’t passed by a Montreal player and instead was knocked behind to the center back by Michel, so the goal was awarded, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead.

The hosts should have doubled the lead in the 36th minute. The Lions lost the ball in the attack and Montreal quickly countered. Quioto put in a good ball across for Lappalainen in front. Ruan overran the play, giving the wingback a 1-v-1 opportunity against Gallese but he sent his shot just wide of the right post.

Gallese had to make a key save in the 40th minute after Mendez tried to play too fancy in his own end and turned it over. The ball cycled left to right and was slipped into Mihailovic down the right. He’d gotten in behind Araujo and Williams was slow to react, giving the winger an open look at goal but Gallese did well to get down and make the save.

Each side wasted a set piece late and the hosts took their deserved 1-0 lead into the break. Montreal dominated the opening half, leading in possession (56.4%43.6%), shots (8-1), shots on target (4-0), corners (2-1), and passing accuracy (89.7%-87.1%). The Lions were fortunate to be within one, offering nothing in the attack and getting bossed around by a Montreal central midfield that was missing Victor Wanyama and Ismael Kone.

Montreal picked up where it left off after the restart. Orlando turned Montreal over at midfield but poor awareness by Michel allowed the hosts to easily dispossess the winger and go the other way, where they won a corner. Miller had a free header but didn’t get all of it and Gallese collected.

Montreal doubled the lead anyway shortly afterwards. Mendez took the ball away in midfield but instead of getting forward in transition, Pato played the ball backward. Orlando worked it around but again turned it over and Montreal bombed forward in transition. Alistair Johnston got to the end line and cut the ball back across the front of goal for Mihailovic to tap in, building the lead to 2-0 in the 52nd minute.

Down two goals, Pareja made three substitutions, sending on Mulraney, Ercan Kara, and Junior Urso for Michel, Pato, and Mendez. Mulraney’s first touch nearly produced something as his dangerous cross into the box required Breza to be quick off his line to prevent a scoring chance in the 58th minute.

Moments later, Mathieu Choiniere sent a shot just inches wide of Gallese’s goal off a slight deflection. The ensuing corner kick again rattled around the area but this time Orlando cleared.

A poor header attempt by Schlegel allowed Montreal to bomb forward again and Quioto ended up on the left side. Williams did well to keep him from getting into better position and he fired a tough-angle shot that Gallese blocked in the 67th minute. Three minutes later, Gallese made another vital save.

The Lions pulled a goal back two minutes after that, when pressure from Mulraney won a corner. Pereyra’s service picked out Moutinho in the area and the left back nodded home to make it 2-1 in the 72nd minute.

With the lead cut in half and everything to play for, Orlando…didn’t. The Lions couldn’t maintain possession, string together multiple passes, deliver a single accurate ball when trying to break lines, and simply didn’t make Montreal work very hard on defense. Orlando failed to even get another shot attempt off in the final 18 minutes plus five minutes of injury time.

Instead, the Lions conceded two more goals and both were off turnovers.

In the 81st minute, Joaquin Torres restored the two-goal advantage on a play that Orlando should have dealt with. Williams did well against substitute Kei Kamara but stopped playing when he thought the ball went over the end line for a goal kick. But Kamara’s hustle allowed him to get a foot around the ball and keep it in play. Williams was standing still, looking at the assistant referee when Kamara ran back onto the field past him and kept the play going. Montreal cycled it around and it ended up on the right, where it was crossed by Brault-Guillard to Torres, who spun off of Williams and put the game away with a cannon shot past Gallese.

Three minutes later, substitute Andres Perea gave the ball away with a horrible first touch to hand Montreal another transition. Brault-Guillard had little angle to shoot at from the right side, but he made an inch-perfect back-post shot count, beating Gallese to make it 4-1.

Kamara came with inches of making it five goals for Montreal in stoppage time but that was as bad as it got. Montreal dominated the stat sheet at the end of the game, leading in possession (59%-41%), shots (20-2), shots on target (10-1), corners (7-2), and passing accuracy (88.3%-83.6%).

As comprehensive as the loss to the New York Red Bulls was two weeks ago, this one was worse. Pareja didn’t have an answer for the continued stagnation of the offense but accepted responsibilty for it after the match.

“I am responsible,” he said, “just helping out to create the sequences, helping out to be the team that we want to be. And offensively when we are not being that team that is threatening, that is creating and all those things, obviously somebody needs to give some explanation. What happened is that we need to execute. It’s easy to say, but today we looked controllable and we did not threaten much behind, but that is something I need to help them out with.”

“I have to say, they were decent,” Mulraney said of Montreal, getting on the field after just arriving with his new team a couple of days ago. “It’s hard to come on the road in this league. I’m excited about this group. I feel there’s a real togetherness. So, we’ll see.”

The Lions have just 12 shot attempts and five shots on target over the last three MLS matches, and there’s not much time between now and the U.S. Open Cup match this midweek to get the offense figured out.

“This is a short turnaround. We have to focus on the next game and see how can we grow up with a team,” Pareja said. “It’s the task to do.”

The Lions return home for a Tuesday night fourth-round match-up with the Philadelphia Union in U.S. Open Cup play before heading back to Canada to face Toronto FC next Saturday.


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