Despite dominating for most of the game, Orlando City settled for a 3-3 draw with the Montreal Impact Saturday night. Given how strong the Lions have been at home and the fact that the home side had far more possession and attempts on goal, it will be seen more as two points lost than a point gained.
Here are five takeaways from Saturday night’s draw.
Tommy Redding, You’re Up
Tommy Redding saw significant playing time early in the season alongside the always dependable Jonathan Spector but missed time while with the U.S. U-20 national team for the CONCACAF Championships and FIFA U-20 World Cup. In his absence, and even since his return, Jason Kreis has had trouble finding the right center back to partner with Spector. Both Jose Aja and Leo Pereira have been suspect to say the least. Both have had multiple performances that have left a lot to be desired.
On this night, two bad Aja giveaways resulted in two of the three Montreal goals. Already on a yellow and clearly frustrated, Aja then became overly aggressive with a tackle that could’ve resulted in a sending off. Kreis immediately took the Uruguayan off and brought on Redding who performed very well over the final 20 minutes. He looked very confident and strong winning multiple balls in the back, including a key tackle that prevented a potential breakaway on goalkeeper Joe Bendik, who was not at his best. After multiple poor performances by both Aja and Pereira, and a solid shift by the 20-year-old Redding, it’s hard to see Kreis not giving him the nod with Spector going forward.
With 58.5% possession and 17 shots to 11, Orlando City dominated the game in almost every way, other than a brief two-minute period where Ignacio Piatti scored twice. While it was this short period that stole two points from the home side, the game should’ve been put away. And it’s not the first time. Even when Cyle Larin is in the lineup, the Lions have made a habit of missing some golden opportunities to extend leads. This has resulted in some close encounters that didn’t need to be that way. The home side led 2-1 at the half Saturday night but probably could’ve scored four. However, missed opportunities around goal once again made the game too close for comfort.
Giles Barnes Will Attack Anyone
Giles Barnes hasn’t seen a tremendous amount of time for the Lions, coming on as a substitute more often than not. However, with Cyle Larin unavailable due to his DUI arrest, Barnes received a start up top with Carlos Rivas. When Barnes feels strong, as he clearly did Saturday night, he’s willing to take anyone on and that continued against Montreal. Regardless of whether it’s a good or bad idea, Barnes continues to take on defenders in an attempt to reach the end line and get in a cross. At times, this aggressiveness has been beneficial, like in the 23rd minute when his run helped set up Rivas’ goal. But at other times, this aggressiveness resulted in loss of possession and a counter attack for the opposition.
Hit the Open Man
Orlando City has proven time and time again this season that it can build an attack. However, finding that last ball has been troublesome. Several times this season, and again Saturday night, there were attacks where the team failed to play the ball to a wide-open man at the top of the box that could’ve resulted in a goal. If Orlando City would play the open man, it may be able to close out some of these games with more ease.
The Lions Always Show Fight
In its first two seasons in MLS, Orlando City had gained a reputation for failing to show enough fight when things went badly. That’s certainly not the case this year. Against the Chicago Fire when two Lions were controversially sent off, the nine-man Lions refused to let the circumstances determine the result and earned a hard-fought draw. A poor two minutes Saturday night saw a 2-1 Orlando City lead turn into a 3-2 deficit. But the Lions never gave up, continuing to fight to come back. Their efforts were rewarded when Jonathan Spector converted in injury time. It showed once again that these Lions will never give up.
These are my five takeaways from Saturday night’s game against the Montreal Impact. What stood out to you? Let us know in the comments below.