Coming off a big win over now first place NYCFC, Orlando City traveled to Montreal looking for a similarly large three points against the Impact. Thanks to another brace from Kaká and some inspirational contributions from Matías Pérez García and Carlos Rivas, among others, the Lions (7-7-13, 24 points) were able to take those three points emphatically, 4-1, to move ahead of D.C. United and above the red line in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. In winning at Montreal, the Lions win two straight for the second time all season and the first time since March 18-April 3.
The Lions and Impact didn't waste any time getting things going at Stade Saputo on this night.
Didier Drogba struck just over 60 seconds into the match, taking advantage of a free kick outside the left corner of the box to put Montreal (9-8-10, 37 points) up 1-0 in the second minute. Drogba struck the ball with force and put a little movement on it, but the shot was directly at City keeper Joe Bendik, who got two hands on it and should've stopped it with relative ease but instead deflected it into the corner of the net.
It was a fast start for the home side, but that would be all Montreal would get for the remainder of the evening.
The lead wouldn't last long, as Brek Shea equalized for Orlando two minutes later with a fourth-minute strike off an MPG feed. After being played in nicely by Kaká, MPG put a low cross toward the striker Rivas, but the Colombian whiffed, which actually turned out to help Shea, who was left alone behind him for an easy left-footed finish.
After starting the sequence that led to goal No. 1 for City, Kaká would put the Lions in the lead in the 36th minute with a smooth finish in the box past Evan Bush. MPG took advantage of a Laurent Ciman mistake and won possession in the attacking third before hitting Rivas, who tapped it left to the captain. Ricky used good close control to stop as Donny Toia flew by and then coolly used his right foot to make it 2-1 Orlando.
After his gaffe on Drogba's opener, Bendik returned to his normal form and made yet another Save of the Week worthy stop on the Ivorian in the 39th minute. Dominic Oduro got on the end of a long ball in the box and played it perfectly across the face of goal for Drogba, but Bendik made a diving save to his right to parry the ball out of bounds and stop an easy score to keep it 2-1 heading into the break.
After Bendik thwarted a possible momentum swing prior to half, things continued to go well for the Lions in the early stages of the second.
Matías Pérez García continued his excellent play on the night by sending Rivas into the box for a 1-on-1 opportunity, which set up Orlando's third goal by way of penalty when Bush game sliding in and clipped Rivas' right foot. Rivas tapped the ball out of the keeper's reach, and his hands caught the foot for what was a pretty obvious call. Bush was sent off for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity and, after Kaká slotted the resulting spot kick home, City was in possession of a 3-1 lead and a man advantage.
It was Ricky's second consecutive brace for City, and he's now on eight goals and eight assists for the season. He sent a penalty kick straight down Broadway for the second straight match -- it seems he's gone away from his stale left-side PKs -- and followed it up with some kind of fishing celebration. If he scores two every time out, he can do whatever he wants.
Rivas -- who had a solid evening in his first appearance under Kreis -- would find the net to make it 4-1 and cap off the scoring in minute 77 with a left-footed blast, but that was after Bendik came up with more heroics to stop a penalty kick from Drogba eight minutes before. Didier went low and to his left, but Bendik was able to reach and send it wide of the post.The man advantage and cushion on the scoreboard allowed Kreis to rotate a bit, and Kaká was able to retire for the night after 65 minutes, while Shea left at the hour mark, and David Mateos made way for Seb Hines at 80 minutes. With a trip to LA looming this weekend, you can't understate the benefit of a little extra rest, particularly for the captain.
The win puts Orlando City in the playoff picture in the East, as the Lions possess the sixth and final playoff spot with seven matches to play. The Lions are two points ahead of D.C. with a one-goal advantage in goal differential as it stands.
The win ended an 11-game road winless streak for Orlando, which will look to turn that into a two-game road win streak when it rolls into StubHub Center in LA this Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.