Welcome to your open thread for the third and final match-up of season between Orlando City (10-13-8, 38 points) and Montreal Impact (12-11-6, 42 points). The Lions are 0-1-1 in the season series after a 2-2 draw back on March 28 and a 2-0 loss on June 20—both in Montreal but in two different stadiums (Olympic Stadium, then Stade Saputo).
The last match-up came after a marathon mid-week U.S. Open Cup match at Charleston and was the lone blemish in the middle of a run that saw the Lions go 5-1-4 in all competitions from May 17 to July 4. Orlando couldn't muster much attack in that June loss, getting out-shot 18-12 (5-3 in SOG) and Donny Toia's headed goal off a corner kick was the lone tally of the match until Dominic Oduro added a 93rd-minute insurance goal off the counter. In retrospect, Brek Shea played that game hurt after returning injured from USMNT duty.
The first match saw an undermanned Orlando (due to injuries and international call-ups) battle back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2. It appeared the Lions were in line for much more than one point after scoring twice in two minutes, but Montreal adjusted well after halftime. City deployed a 5-4-1 lineup with Danny Mwanga up top, which sometimes morphed into a 3-4-3 with Kaká and Pedro Ribeiro joining Mwanga in the attack.
Ignacio Piatti scored from the spot after a handball in the box by Seb Hines and Jack McInerney beat Donovan Ricketts with a ridiculous chip to provide the Impact goals.
Orlando City is enjoying its best winning streak since joining MLS, capturing full points in the last three matches. Montreal is in by far its best run of the season, winning its last three and going unbeaten in six (4-0-2). It's probably not a coincidence that the run merges with Didier Drogba's arrival in Montreal.
Speaking of Drogba, the talented Ivorian has been a question mark all week as he mulls over playing on artificial turf for the first time in his career. This is not an insignificant question, as Montreal still has a game remaining at New England as well. I'm going to assume he's playing.
The key to beating a Drogba-led Impact side is to cut off his service, which is easier said than done. Piatti can be a magician with the ball and draws a lot of fouls around the 18. These free kicks fall can be deadly because Drogba can be insanely accurate from distance on a free kick. In addition, Dilly Duka and Dominic Oduro are tough to stop. Orlando City's Luke Boden has struggled at times to mark Oduro, which may necessitate moving Shea back to left back.
Orlando will want to get all three points to stay in the playoff fight.
Here's your mandatory content to prep for tonight:
- Austin Siegel's match preview and final score prediction
- This week's PawedCast has even more match analysis and predictions
- Wade Williams on what we learned the last time these teams met
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Tally Hall
Defenders: Luke Boden, Aurelien Collin, Seb Hines, Rafael Ramos
Defensive Midfielders: Servando Carrasco, Darwin Ceren
Attacking Midfielders: Brek Shea, Kaká, Lewis Neal
Forwards: Cyle Larin
Bench: Earl Edwards Jr., Seb Hines, Corey Ashe, Eric Avila, Adrian Winter, Carlos Rivas, Bryan Rochez
Montreal Impact (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Evan Bush
Defenders: Donny Toia, Wandrille Lefevre, Hassoun Camara, Ambroise Oyongo
Defensive Midfielders: Nigel Reo-Coker, Marco Donadel
Attacking Midfielders: Dilly Duka, Ignacio Piatti, Dominic Oduro
Forward: Didier Drogba
Bench: Eric Kronberg, Victor Cabrera, Patrice Bernier, Eric Alexander, Romario Williams, Kyle Bekker, Maxim Tissot
REF: Edvin Jurisevic
AR1: Kermit Quisenberry
AR2: Kyle Longville
4TH: Marcos De Oliveira
How to Watch:
Match time: 7:30 p.m. (ET)
Venue: Citrus Bowl - Orlando, FL
TV: My65 (locally) and Sun Sports (regionally)
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), La Grande 1030 (Spanish)
Streaming: FOX Sports GO app
Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City's official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).
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