Orlando City will be glad not to see the Montreal Impact anymore this season. The Impact got yet another goal from Ignacio Piatti and the second Orlando City own goal in 10 days to escape Orlando City Stadium with a 2-0 win over the Lions, who have now lost seven straight in MLS play.
The announced crowd of 23,498 had to wait a half hour due to a weather delay but there wasn’t much to cheer for over the course of the 90 minutes.
Orlando (6-9-1, 19 points) wasn’t threatening at all after falling behind Montreal (6-11-0) just 13 minutes in on the own goal by Lamine Sané and is now below the playoff line after results elsewhere.
Bobby Murphy stuck with the 3-4-3, despite using five players who went 120 minutes on Wednesday night in U.S. Open Cup play on the road — something he admitted after the match may have been a mistake. Dom Dwyer took over at striker in between Justin Meram and Josué Colmán in front of a midfield of Donny Toia, Uri Rosell, Sacha Kljestan, and Will Johnson. Amro Tarek, Sané, and Jonathan Spector manned the back line.
The first half may have been the most boring 45 minutes seen in Orlando City Stadium this season, overall. But it didn’t start out that way.
Dwyer earned a free kick in the game’s first minute but Will Johnson blasted the set piece over the bar.
Montreal got the first good chance when Ignacio Piatti fired on frame in the seventh minute but Joe Bendik parried the shot away. Spector headed wide on a corner kick in the 10th minute for Orlando.
Disaster struck in the 13th minute when Matteo Mancosu fizzed a cross into the area and Sané tried to nod it behind for a corner but instead he only got a glancing touch on it and it beat Bendik to the near post to make it 1-0 Montreal.
After the goal, the Impact sat back and were content to counter when possible. Montreal did well to gum up the pitch and allow very little space for the Lions to operate in. Orlando City never threatened goal for the rest of the first half.
Montreal got a couple of weak shots on target from outside the area but Bendik was called to action on a Mancosu header in the 35th minute that he did well to keep out.
Orlando City had more possession (56%-44%) in the first half and was the better passing team (88%-87%). Montreal led in shots (7-2), shots on goal (4-0). The Impact were quite content to sit behind the ball and wait for counter attacks after the own goal and the Lions were stagnant in the attack.
“I think the first half we had next to no energy and that might have been me thinking people could get through what they went through on Wednesday night, thinking we’d get a lift from some people we brought in, and none of it seemed to work,” Murphy said. “That’s on me.”
The Lions started the second half with a bit more energy but still struggled with quality in the attack. Meram put in an early back post cross but no one made the run. A few moments later, Meram made a nice turn in traffic at the top of the penalty area and tried to play Dwyer in alone but put a tad too much on the pass and Evan Bush collected it.
Mancosu had a go for Montreal in the 54th minute but missed the goal frame. Bendik then denied Alejandro Silva in the 62nd minute.
The Lions’ best opportunity came two minutes later. Dwyer laid a ball off for Kljestan who fired just a foot or so wide of the goal.
That chance came just after Chris Mueller subbed on for Amro Tarek and Orlando shifted into a 4-2-3-1. Moments after the miss, Scott Sutter made his return to the pitch for the first time since April 8 against Portland, replacing Will Johnson at right back.
“It was nice to get back out there, nice to be involved,” Sutter said after the game. “Obviously really, really disappointed that we lost again.”
Mueller got into the box in the 67th minute but took a heavy touch before going down after some contact, but there wasn’t enough in the challenge to warrant a penalty, especially after the rookie lost the ball. Colmán buzzed a cross into the box in the 69th that was cut out for a corner and Orlando finally got a shot on target out of it. Colmán’s cross found the foot of Sané, who fired it on goal but Bush stopped it right on the goal line.
Sutter put in a dangerous cross in the 75th minute that nearly connected with Dwyer, who either mishit it with his head or else he was perhaps trying to nod it back for Meram, but the chance fizzled out.
Piatti scored in the aftermath of a short corner in the 84th minute but the play was originally ruled offside. The play was reviewed and the goal counted, as Raheem Edwards was off but was judged not to have interfered with the play. Piatti was close to being off but Spector just kept him on.
Piatti now has eight goals in nine games against the Lions.
Orlando launched about four more shot attempts over the bar in the final moments plus six added minutes before the final whistle blew on an utterly forgettable match.
The Lions were out-shot, 12-8, but a whopping 6-1 on target. Going back to Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup match, the team has fired 29 shots while only directing four of those on frame.
“To get the chemistry in attack, it takes time. We’ve got to just be better at it, and that’s my job for right now,” Murphy said.
Orlando held 55% of the possession and out-passed Montreal (86%-84%) but it was mainly due to Montreal’s willingness to sit back and defend in numbers.
“I want to apologize to the fans who came out tonight,” Murphy said. “The team selection falls on me and I chose a group that went out there and we weren’t good enough tonight. So that’s my responsibility.”
Orlando City will not have an easy time of stopping the losing streak at seven games, as the Lions will next visit Atlanta United on Saturday, June 30 .