Orlando City

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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