Welcome to your match thread for Sunday night’s match-up between Orlando City (9-3-8, 35 points) and the Montreal Impact (7-12-2, 23 points) at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. The teams are meeting for the second time in 2020 but the first time in league play (7:30 p.m., FOX 35 Plus). The Impact are calling Red Bull Arena “home” for the duration of the pandemic.
The teams met previously in the Round of 16 at the MLS is Back Tournament. More on that below.
The Lions are 4-6-2 against Montreal in the all-time league series (2-3-1 at home) since the club joined MLS and 5-6-2 in all competitions after beating the Impact 1-0 in the MLS is Back Tournament to advance to the quarterfinals. Tesho Akindele scored the game’s only goal on a Montreal defensive mistake. Orlando had controlled the game but was struggling to finish. Ultimately, the one goal was enough.
Orlando City snapped a six-game winless streak against Montreal (0-5-1) in MLS regular-season play dating back to 2016 when the teams last met in a league game, as the Lions put the Impact to the sword in a 3-0 drubbing at Stade Saputo on June 1, 2019. Nani (penalty), Akindele, and Will Johnson supplied the offense that day.
The main reason the Impact had such success against Orlando the previous few years was the play of its defense and of former talisman Ignacio Piatti. The Lions fell 3-1 at Exploria Stadium back on March 16 of last season, and Piatti was a big reason why, scoring his ninth and 10th career goals against Orlando, adding to a strike by Orji Okwonkwo. Dom Dwyer added a cosmetic goal late to spoil the clean sheet.
Montreal did not allow a goal against the Lions in 2018, sweeping the two-game set from Orlando and the Impact shut out Orlando City in three of the six meetings in that 5-0-1 run. The lone draw in that time frame was a 3-3 shootout in Orlando in 2017, in which the Impact led deep in stoppage time, only to see Jonathan Spector’s well-placed header steal the Lions a point.
The first match in the Impact’s successful run vs. Orlando occurred Oct. 2, 2016, when Montreal stole a 1-0 win in Orlando after bunkering down and hitting on a Dominic Oduro counter-attack goal. The Lions dominated the match, out-shooting the Impact, 22-4, and holding 66.8% of the possession (74.2% in the second half). Oduro’s goal was the only shot on target by Montreal and it eliminated the Lions from playoff contention that year.
Orlando won the first two meetings in 2016 by a combined score of 6-2. The teams split three meetings in 2015, with each going 1-1-1.
Orlando City got back in the win column Wednesday with a 4-1 drubbing of Atlanta United, snapping a four-game winless skid (0-1-3). The Lions have lost only once in the last 14 matches, going 7-1-6 over that span. Orlando has lost twice since the MLS is Back Tournament and both of those games were at Inter Miami. The Lions are 2-3-4 in true road matches in 2020 and 4-3-5 in all league games away from Exploria Stadium.
Montreal, meanwhile, has lost its last two games and four of the last five (1-4-0), coming off a 1-0 loss to Nashville in which the Impact conceded the only goal after getting caught by a quick restart on a free kick. The Impact are 1-3-1 in home matches at Red Bull Arena after going 2-2-0 at their usual home of Stade Saputo before that, for a total of 3-5-1 at home this year.
Orlando will have to be more clinical in front of goal than the last time these teams met, which should be no problem if the Lions can duplicate their conversion rate from Wednesday, when Orlando connected four times on six shots on target.
Montreal will have a much easier time winning if it can strike first and allow strong defensive players like Samuel Piette and Victor Wanyama to win the ball and get it forward to the likes of Bojan, Romell Quioto, and Mason Toye.
“Montreal, in the game that we played in the bubble four months ago, they started playing us in the 4-3-3, trying to congest the middle with the formation and just allow them to bring Quioto and Maxi (Urruti), or Bojan in there and just let the fullbacks go. That was the team we faced in the first half,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said in his press conference on Friday. But [in] the second half, Montreal changed to a five in the back formation with three in the middle, trying to put Wanyama in the core of the field. We experienced both systems against them in that one game.
“Has been something similar in the past six games, were they have played I think four of them with five [in the back] and in the last three games they changed the formation [to] the 4-3-3 again. So I’m talking about numbers to the formation that has changed since we faced them but with the same model or idea of playing. I think Montreal has this way of trying to neutralize the middle and they like to go outside and things that we saw in our first match. Teams evolve for sure...we’ll try to figure that out to see if our game plan works against them.”
Pareja said both Uri Rosell and Mauricio Pereyra are available for selection against Montreal but was going to use Saturday’s training session to determine the best decision for the match day lineup. Joao Moutinho (groin) and Dom Dwyer (knee surgery) remain out. For the Impact, midfielder Lassi Lappalainen (shoulder surgery) is out for the season and midfielder Matheiu Choiniere (ankle) is also out.
Mandatory Match #Content
- Our Intelligence Report dives deeper into Montreal with Paul Vance from Mount Royal Soccer.
- This week’s PawedCast features our key match-ups and score predictions, plus our chat with Paul Vance about the Impact and what we can expect from this game.
- Dave Rohe talked about how Orlando City’s midweek win was just what the Lions needed.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Kamal Miller, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Kyle Smith.
Midfielders: Andres Perea, Sebas Mendez, Mauricio Pereyra, Benji Michel.
Forwards: Tesho Akindele, Daryl Dike.
Bench: Brian Rowe, Alex De John, Ruan, Rodrigo Schlegel, Junior Urso, Robinho, Joey DeZart, Matheus Aias, Alexander Alvarado.
Montreal Impact (3-5-2)
Goalkeeper: Clément Diop.
Defenders: Victor Wanyama, Luis Binks, Rudy Camacho.
Wingbacks/Midfielders: Jorge Corrales, Zachary Brault-Guillard, Emanuel Maciel, Samuel Piette, Jukka Raitala.
Forwards: Bojan, Romell Quioto.
Bench: James Pantemis, Rod Fanni, Joel Waterman, Shamit Shome, Amar Sejdic, Steeven Saba, Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Mason Toye, Clement Bayiha.
Ref: Robert Sibiga.
AR1: Brian Dunn.
AR2: Chris Elliott.
4th: Luis Arroyo.
VAR: Jorge Gonzalez.
AVAR: Craig Lowry.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Red Bull Arena — Harrison, NJ.
TV: FOX 35 Plus (local only).
Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English), Acción 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+ (out of market only).
Enjoy the match! Go City!
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