Well that is one hell of a way to end three matches in eight days! Orlando City took to the road to face off against bitter rivals from the south and walked away with three points in a resounding and gutsy 3-1 victory.
Here are my five takeaways from one of the Lions’ most complete performances on the season thus far.
Aggressive from the Jump
For the second match in a row, Orlando came out of the gate with aggression and purpose. While the first goal didn’t come right away, warning shots were sent multiple times in the first 15 minutes, as two crosses found the head of Designated Player Ercan Kara. He missed the target on the first one by inches, hitting the left post and was offside on the second, although Drake Callender made a good reaction save on it anyway. Regardless of the results of the first two attempts, the big Austrian made his presence known early and the attacking components for Orlando all seemed connected in their aggressive runs towards the Miami net.
Long Throw-in Strikes Again
Orlando City fans have not witnessed a successful long throw yet this season, but against a wall of hot pink, midfielder Cesar Araujo took his usual position on the sideline and rifled a pass towards the endline into a scrum. The slow motion replay truly shows the superb effort put in by Kara, who had defenders draped behind, in front, and literally on top of him before he redirected his third header of the match into the back of the net. Simply describing the goal does not do it justice, so have a look below.
If you happened to listen to the live broadcast, the announcers certainly felt that it was subpar defending and not a superior effort by Kara that resulted in the opening goal of the match. This writer could not disagree more.
Letting the Opponent Hang Around is Bad
Orlando failed to find a second goal before halftime, and the opposition tied the game after constant pressure. Again. Orlando was able to stave off continuous pressure that started after Miami’s tactical change 33 minutes into the match for the remainder of the first half. However, after the break, in the 57th minute, a poor giveaway from Rafael Santos ended up with DeAndre Yedlin, who sent it to Josef Martinez at the top of the 18-yard box. He sprayed the ball to the right to fellow striker Leo Campana, who took a quick touch to his left and struck a golazo that Pedro Gallese could do little to get a glove on. While luckily the goal did not matter at the end of the match, the giveaway was careless and should have been avoided, and if Orlando is able to continue to take early leads, the Lions have to do better at defending a one goal lead.
Injury Bug Bites Again
Orlando fans held their breath as winger Gaston Gonzalez went down near the sideline in the 63rd minute. While it is far too early to speculate on the severity of the injury, replay showed that the winger pulled up while running and grasped at his right hamstring. The timing could not be worse for Gonzalez, who had been playing himself into the best form thus far. Major League Soccer clubs are notoriously tight lipped when it comes to injury reports, so I don’t expect to hear much besides the dreaded “lower body injury” moving forward, but hopefully, for the sake of depth and the Orlando City attack, Gonzalez does not find himself stuck on the sidelines for an extended period of time.
Substitutes Make All the Difference
In the 64th minute, Designated Player Martin Ojeda came on for Gonzalez and four minutes of game time later was celebrating after slotting home a shot past Callender from a beautiful through ball from Kara.
It was Ojeda’s third goal of the season and gave the Lions hope that they might survive the night and bring three points back to the City Beautiful. In the 76th minute, Duncan McGuire came on for Kara and helped put the nail in the coffin 10 minutes later as he held up play inside the penalty area by shielding off a Miami defender. McGuire smartly realizes that he had no angle for a shot and laid it off for Santos, who had moments earlier sent a shot just wide to the right of the net. Making a quick correction on his second attempt from almost the exact same spot on the field, Santos sent a screaming ground level shot into the back of the net for Orlando’s third goal of the game.
These were the most important things that stood out to me from a fun game in South Florida. Orlando returns to the City Beautiful with all three points and another victory over the team from down south. The boys finally get a few days to recover from a grueling month and have to feel good about the efforts that they are starting to string together on the field.
What things stood out to you from an OCSC victory? Let us know in the comments below.
Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Player Grades and Man of the Match
How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando’s 3-0 home win over CF Montreal?
Orlando City returned to its winning ways with a convincing 3-0 victory at home against CF Montreal. An own goal by Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois got the scoring started in the first half. Facundo Torres and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson each scored nice team goals in the second half as the Lions cruised to victory against a Montreal side that hasn’t won since Aug. 26. The win set club records for both most points (54) and most wins (15) in a season since the Lions joined MLS in 2015.
Here’s how I saw each individual performance in Orlando’s dominant win at Exploria Stadium.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 6.5 — The Peruvian had one of his quietest nights of the season and didn’t have to make a save until the second half. That first save was a great one though, as he parried away a sudden shot from Mason Toye with little room to spare in the 76th minute. His only other save was an easy catch shortly after off of a Mathieu Choiniere from outside the area. Gallese completed 61.8% of his 34 passes and seven of his 20 long balls found their man. El Pulpo likely won’t have many complaints about a slow night at the office as he earned his ninth clean sheet of the season, which ties his high in an MLS season, set last year.
D, Rafael Santos, 7.5 — The Brazilian left back was dangerous from start to finish in one of his best games as a Lion. He notched his third assist of the campaign with a low cross that zipped through traffic and found fellow fullback Thorhallsson’s run. It was a chance he sparked himself by winning the ball in the midfield before booking it out wide. His cross on the first goal was just as good, as he was both patient and clinical to find Torres open in the box. Of his four crosses, two were successful and the misses had some venom on them as well. He also completed three of his five long balls and had 51 passes at an 82.4% success rate. Santos was defensively sound, leading the Lions with four tackles, making an interception as well, and winning two of his three aerial duels. Santos flourished once Orlando had its wingers switch sides, allowing him to work in tandem with Torres with overlapping runs and room to work.
D, Robin Jansson, 7 — The Beefy Swede was as strong as always in the center of Orlando’s defense, although he didn’t have to put out as many fires in this one thanks to his defensive midfielders. Jansson had a tackle, an interception, and a clearance as he broke up plays and kept Montreal’s offense in check. His only miscue was a worrying turnover in the second half that he promptly rectified with a surgical sliding tackle in the box. A few charges forward and connecting on four of his nine long balls kept Montreal’s defense on its toes as well. He completed 86% of his 50 passes and didn’t commit a single foul in an efficient outing.
D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 7 — Schlegel bounced back from a few underwhelming recent performances with a solid game in this shutout. His four clearances were the most on the team and he won both of his aerial duels. The center back also had a tackle and blocked a shot to make sure Montreal couldn’t get back in the match. His 62 passes were the second-most on the team and he completed 88.7% of them, while also succeeding on two of his four long balls. It was nice to see him calm, cool, and collected as he continues to fill in for Antonio Carlos.
D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 7.5 — Thorhallsson got the start again at right back and spent plenty of time in Orlando’s attack. That was more than evident shortly after halftime, when he made a superb run to bury a ball that skipped across the front of goal to double Orlando’s lead. He was credited with one shot (on target) but what must have been ruled a cross from a tight angle also appeared to be an on-target shot. The versatile player is improving with each match played at right back and completed all but one of his 33 passes for an excellent 97% success rate. Although neither of his two crosses were accurate, his lone long ball found its mark and he had a key pass as well. Defensively, he had just one interception, which is in part because of how much time he spent in the thick of things on offense. It was a great game from Thorhallsson, who was subbed out in the 82nd minute for Michael Halliday.
MF, Cesar Araujo, 7.5 — Araujo was a Swiss army knife of sorts for Orlando, doing a little bit of everything to give the Lions an edge all over the field. The 22-year-old directed traffic while on the ball, covered for his defenders as needed, and won a team-high four fouls. His lone shot was a headed effort that went wide, but he got involved on offense by succeeding on four of his nine long balls, with two of those marked as key passes. Araujo’s 76 touches were the most on the team and he was accurate on 88.1% of his 59 passes. He served the role of defensive midfielder well, helping out with two tackles, an interception, a clearance, and plenty of pressure to make life as difficult as possible for Montreal.
MF, Wilder Cartagena, 7.5 — Cartagena did well on both sides of the ball. The Peruvian was credited with an assist for springing Ivan Angulo forward on the third goal, and he had a key pass for setting Torres up for a chance on the volley soon after that with a quick ball out wide. He almost had a goal himself when a free kick found him open in the box, but his header went high for his only shot of the evening. Cartagena’s 63 passes were the most on the team and he completed 93.7% of them while also connecting on four of his five long balls. Defensively, Cartagena didn’t give Montreal’s players much breathing room and blocked a shot.
MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — The winger struggled when attacking for a majority of his time on the field before coming off in the 64th minute. A lack of vision and execution while on the ball, particularly in the first half, led to some squandered chances that Orlando didn’t end up regretting in the end. Both of his shots were in quick succession, the first saved in a chance he should have done better with and the second fired wide from outside the box with better options available. He scored an easy header on a play from an obviously offside Torres that was correctly flagged after the ball went in. It was far from horrendous from the Colombian though, as he often put himself in good positions to jump on errant passes, provide an outlet for teammates, or demand attention from Montreal’s defenders. His assist came in the second half after he made a nicely timed run and then unselfishly laid the ball off for Torres rather than going for goal himself. It salvaged a fairly forgettable performance that included 38 touches and 28 passes at a strong 89.3% success rate, and an inaccurate cross.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6.5 — The captain was often swarmed when on the ball and had little room to make some of the backbreaking passes he’s shown over the years. He completed four of his five long balls, one of his three crosses, and 83.7% of his 43 passes. Pereyra didn’t have any shots himself, but had two key passes and did well as a facilitator in tight areas to keep Orlando in possession. His free kick that found Cartagena’s head in the box was a good one and he was subbed off for fresher legs while leading.
MF, Facundo Torres, 8 (MotM) — Torres played like a man possessed, doing everything right and more in a dominant performance. Torres’ first of a team-high four shots (two on target) ended up with the ball in the back of the net, as his strike hit the post and then bounced off Sirois and in for an own goal. On his goal, he did well to control Angulo’s pass and slot it past Sirois for his 13th of the season. His movement in the buildup of Thorhallsson’s goal was also commendable, as he made a good run, quickly circled back onside, then slowed the pace of the play down for Santos to make his overlapping run before feeding him. Between those attacking moments and chasing down opponents while up three goals, it was easy to see why European teams are keeping an eye on him. He completed 82.8% of his 29 passes and connected on two of his four crosses, while both of his long ball attempts were unsuccessful. It’s hard to believe he only had 44 touches given the massive impact he had on the field.
F, Duncan McGuire, 7 — The rookie put in a strong performance up top and was credited with an assist for a subtle touch on Thorhallsson’s goal. McGuire made a cutting run to peel Gabriele Corbo towards the end line and then flicked Santos’s cross into the path of charging runs by Angulo and Thorhallsson. He also chested down a long ball from Gallese to Cartagena in transition to help set up Torres’ goal. His only shot of the match was flicked wide, but he had two key passes and showed some prowess in making small passes in the box for his teammates to have open looks. He had 19 touches and 12 passes at a 58.3% success rate, doing well enough in terms of hold-up. McGuire made great runs to keep defenders on their toes, applied pressure to pin Montreal in its own half, and helped out defensively by blocking a shot and clearing the ball on a corner kick.
MF, Martin Ojeda (64′), 6.5 — Ojeda came off the bench with Orlando up three goals and did his part in keeping Montreal’s defense honest, even if he didn’t wind up on the scoresheet. He completed all 15 of his passes and was accurate on both of his long balls. His only shot of the game was an attempt to get the better of Sirois from a tight angle in the box, but the goalkeeper came up with the save. All in all, it was an efficient outing from the Designated Player off the bench.
F, Ramiro Enrique (64′), 6.5 — Enrique came on alongside Ojeda and brought plenty of energy with him to keep the Lions in the driver’s seat. Both of Enrique’s shots were from outside the box, with one blocked and the other saved by Sirois. He completed four of his seven passes and finished the game with 13 touches. Despite his size, he won two of his three aerial duels as well. Enrique received a curious yellow card after beating Nathan Saliba to a sliding challenge and winning the ball.
MF, Gaston Gonzalez (75′), 6 — The winger received some more minutes and did well enough while on the field. He had eight touches and completed all three of his passes. Although he didn’t have any shots, crosses, or long balls, he did record a key pass for setting up a shot for Enrique. He didn’t make many runs forward, likely due to Orlando’s lead, but looked strong on the ball when he did and wasn’t afraid to take defenders on.
D, Michael Halliday (82′), N/A — The right back replaced Thorhallsson and did well on both sides of the ball. Halliday made a few sprints upfield to give Orlando’s attack another option, but was resolute on the defensive end, even though he didn’t record any stats for his efforts there. He was accurate on three of his four passes and finished with seven touches.
MF, Junior Urso (83′), N/A — The Bear made another cameo off the bench for Orlando. He had six touches and was successful on four of his six passes. Urso wasn’t on the field long enough to warrant a grade, but it was nice to see him get a run out at Explorias Stadium with just one home game remaining.
That’s how I saw the individual performances by the Lions. Let me know where you agree and disagree in the comments below and make sure to vote for your Man of the Match in our poll below.
Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Five Takeaways
Here’s what we learned from Orlando City’s 3-0 win at home against CF Montreal.
Orlando City defeated CF Montreal 3-0 on a beautiful night at Exploria Stadium. The win gave Orlando City the club record for wins and points scored with three matches still to be played. The Lions remain in second place in the Eastern Conference and are sitting on 15 wins with 54 points. Here are my five takeaways from the record setting win over the Club Foots.
A Rare Sighting
Orlando City did something that the club usually does not do. The Lions scored a goal in the first half. Orlando City controlled the match from the start with the lion’s share of the possession. It finally paid off in the 19th minute when Cesar Araujo played Rafael Santos up the left side. Santos took one touch and then put a cross into the box for a well-positioned Facundo Torres, who put it past Jonathan Sirois. Unfortunately for Torres, the ball bounced off the post and then off of Sirois and into the net for an Orlando City lead. It was rightly given as an own goal, though it will be a Torres goal in my heart.
Yes, Orlando City scored a first-half goal. However, there were so many more chances the club didn’t finish in the first 45 minutes. The Lions officially had four shots in the first half, though Ivan Angulo’s headed goal didn’t count because of an offside call. The first touch of several players wasn’t great, which stopped some nice build-up play from Orlando City. Fortunately, it didn’t come back to haunt the Lions in the end.
I’m a Dagur Dan Man
Dagur Dan Thorhallsson has taken the starting right back position and is not giving it back. He did well on the defensive side, but it’s his play up the wing that I think Oscar Pareja really likes. Thorhallsson is naturally a winger and he showed how effective he can be in the attack for Orlando City. He provided crosses, key passes, and of course the second Orlando City goal. Thorhallsson did what he was supposed to do on that goal. He was at the back post and just tapped it in when the ball found its way though everyone else.
Torres Makes Good
Torres may have not been credited with the first goal, but he made Orlando City’s third goal look easy. To be fair, it was easy. Unlike too many opportunities earlier in the match, Angulo followed the advice of Ted Lasso and made the extra pass. In this case, it was a perfect cross to Torres, who was so alone he had time to settle the ball and then take his time to put it past Sirois into the bottom left corner. Torres is getting hot when Orlando City needs him to do so, and he proved it again against CF Montreal.
Subs, Subs, Subs
With another match this coming Wednesday at Nashville and another next Saturday against the New England Revolution, getting the starters some rest was important. Scoring three goals before the 60th minute allowed Pareja to utilize all his substitutes to get Mauricio Pereyra, Duncan McGuire, Torres, Thorhallson, and Angulo some rest. As Orlando City fights for home field advantage in the playoffs, those minutes will be key to the Lions’ ability to have more performances like Saturday night.
That’s what I took away from Orlando City’s 3-0 win over CF Montreal. Let me know your thoughts on the match in the comments below.
Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Final Score 3-0 as Lions Dominate Canadian Visitors
The Lions were rarely threatened in a complete victory over CF Montreal.
Orlando City dominated playoff hopeful CF Montreal in a 3-0 win in front of an announced crowd of 19,637 at Exploria Stadium. The victory gave the Lions (15-7-9, 54 points) their most wins and most points in an MLS season and make things more difficult for Montreal (11-16-4, 37 points) as it tries to finish above the playoff line. A Jonathan Sirois own goal opened the scoring for the Lions in the first half, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson and Facundo Torres added second-half strikes to lift Orlando to the win.
“Important victory in front of our fans,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “A very well-played game against a rival that at different times has given us a lot of trouble to break their lines, and today we found our ways to impose our rhythm and score goals. I saw a very offensive team — ours — I saw a team with confidence. I think we’re gelling and preparing. Most important is that we keep our feet on the ground, understanding that we have to continue with consistency.”
Pareja’s lineup was the one he’s primarily been using, with Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo teamed up with Wilder Cartagena in central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, and Torres, with Duncan McGuire up top.
The opening stages of this match were very cagey, with neither team able to effectively get into the opposing penalty area. The Lions finally won the game’s first corner in the 17th minute through Angulo but Sirois did well to come off his line and punch away a dangerous-looking back-post ball.
The Lions then opened the scoring two minutes later off a nice buildup. Santos blazed down the left flank and pulled back a cross to Torres near the top of the area. The Uruguayan smashed a shot toward goal that crashed off the left post, hit the back of a prone Sirois, and trickled back over the line for the opening goal.
“We knew that they were playing with three in the back, and the goal was to keep me and Rafa high and in these spaces that we can create when they play with three and it worked today, so that was amazing,” Thorhallsson said.
Originally credited to Torres, the play was rightfully changed to an own goal, and an unfortunate one for Sirois, who knew nothing about it.
There wasn’t another decent chance until the 31st minute, when another good buildup was knocked behind for a corner before Angulo could get to it. Sirois again punched away the cross.
Montreal then won a corner at the other end and it was cleared but only to Zachary Brault-Guillard just outside the box. The Montreal fullback tried to smash a half-volley shot toward goal but he didn’t hit it cleanly and it squirted well off to the right in the 34th minute.
The Lions should have doubled their lead in the 37th minute when a good ball in from McGuire found Angulo. The speedy winger flicked it on target but left it too close to Sirois, who made a big save from close range. A minute later, Angulo was set up again but this time he blasted his shot wide of the right post.
Seconds later, Angulo did put the ball in the net off a cross from Torres, but the latter was well offside in the buildup and the flag came up immediately, nullifying the goal.
The last good chance of the half came on a ball over the top to Torres. His first touch was a bit heavy and by the time he tracked it down, the defense had closed and blocked his shot attempt.
Orlando City dominated possession (61.7%-38.3%) in the first half, and led in shots (4-3), shots on target (1-0), corners (2-1), and passing accuracy (87.4%-76.1%).
“The first half I saw how we took advantages of the spaces that they gave us on the wing,” Pareja said. “We were crafty in the middle, but most important, we kept our balance defensively.”
“Thankfully Facu found a great ball and was able to put it in the back of the net, and it gave us confidence for the rest of the game,” Cartagena said through a club interpreter. “And I think, like you saw, between the spaces and the runs that we were able to make, we really dominated, like you saw in that game.”
Montreal swapped forwards at halftime, bringing on Chinonso Offor and Mason Toye for Romell Quioto and Bryce Duke. The visitors had a spell of pressure in the opening minutes of the second half, winning an early corner when Cartagena blocked a Nathan Saliba shot, but then Orlando took control of the match.
Orlando’s first chance of the half came in the 48th minute with a nice ball forward by Araujo sending Thorhallsson down the right. The fullback sent in a good cross that McGuire tried to flick on target but he didn’t make good contact and it fizzed harmlessly across the six-yard box. However, Orlando doubled the lead two minutes later.
Torres sent Santos down the left flank and the Brazilian fullback sent a good cross through the six. McGuire flicked it on through and Thorhallsson beat his defender to the ball, tapping it into an empty net to make it 2-0 in the 50th minute.
“We’ve been talking a little bit about that the right and the left back come to that position on the far post, and that time it happened and the ball came and I scored,” Thorhallsson said.
“I think he’s been much better and is growing a lot,” Pareja said of Santos, who played well and was an integral part of the attack tonight.
Torres got on the scoresheet in the 54th minute. Cartagena sent Angulo in behind on the right. The Colombian sent the ball across to the left post for Torres, and he buried his shot just inside the left post to make it 3-0 with his 13th goal of the MLS season.
Torres went for goal in the 59th minute on the half volley but he beat the shot into the turf, which made for an easy bounce for Sirois to handle.
Cartagena got a free header off a free kick won by Araujo in the 62nd minute. The Peruvian midfielder got under the cross, however, and sent it well over the bar.
With his team up 3-0, Pareja sent on subs, withdrawing Pereyra and Angulo and sending Martin Ojeda and Ramiro Enrique into the fray.
Araujo headed wide off a corner kick in the 71st minut as Orlando continued to get forward in possession.
Gallese was forced into action in the 76th minute. Toye turned and fired from a sharp angle and got the shot on target. Gallese had to be sharp to make a diving save to keep it from crossing the line. A minute later, Gallese made another save, albeit a much easier one to deny a shot from outside the box by Mathieu Choiniere.
Thorhallsson went for a brace in the 80th minute from a tight angle but Sirois made the save. Moments after Toye tried a shot from distance that landed halfway up The Wall, Ojeda tried a shot from a similar spot as Thorhallsson’s just moments earlier Again Sirois made the save. Enrique fired a shot at Sirois in the 91st. That was the last decent chance and the Lions held on for the shutout victory.
Orlando City finished with more possession (57.4%-42.6%), shots (13-8), shots on target (6-1), and passing accuracy (85.2%-78.1%). Both teams won three corners.
“It was an important victory, especially at this point in the season,” Cartagena said through a club interpreter. “We came in against a good rival to be as intense as we possibly could and we dominated throughout the entire game.”
Unfortunately, FC Cincinnati’s win over Toronto FC allowed the Ohio-based team to win the Supporters’ Shield, so the best the Lions can finish is second.
Orlando City has a quick turnaround with a trip to Nashville coming up on Wednesday.
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