Welcome to your match thread for tonight’s MLS is Back Round of 16 match-up between Orlando City (2-1-2, 8 points in league play, 2-0-1 in MLS is Back) and the Montreal Impact (2-2-1, 7 points, 1-2-0) at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World. The teams are meeting for the first time in 2020 (8 p.m. ESPN2, ESPN Deportes).
The winner of tonight’s match will have the honor of facing the winner of the Seattle Sounders vs. LAFC. That sounds like a terrible reward for winning a soccer match, but those teams play at 11 p.m. Monday night and the ensuing quarterfinal game will be July 31, so at least the Lions/Impact winner will have some extra rest. But first things first.
The Lions are 4-6-2 against Montreal in the all-time series since the club joined MLS. Orlando City snapped a six-game winless streak against Montreal (0-5-1) dating back to 2016 when the teams last met, as the Lions put the Impact to the sword in a 3-0 drubbing at Stade Saputo on June 1, 2019. Nani (penalty), Tesho 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 of 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 through the group stage by finishing first in Group A with wins over Inter Miami (2-1) and New York City FC (3-1), and a draw against the Philadelphia Union (1-1). The Montreal Impact got here with a desperation 1-0 win over D.C. United in Round 3 of the group stage after losing to both the New England Revolution (1-0) and rival Toronto FC (4-3). The Impact finished third in Group C as a result.
The Lions will need to break their trend of allowing the game’s first goal if they want to find success against Montreal. The Impact have allowed seven goals in five matches, but four of those came against Toronto. 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 Saphir Taider, Romell Quioto, and Maxi Urruti.
Orlando will have to be more clinical in front of goal after scoring just once against Philadelphia. City doesn’t attempt a lot of shots per game, but at least the Lions have been getting them on target as of late. In the last two games, Orlando has taken 22 shots and 14 (64%) have been on target. Prior to that, the Lions were only getting 31% on target (10/32).
Nani is coming off a performance to forget in terms of passing and shooting, despite the fact that he set up Orlando’s only goal of the game on Monday. He’ll need to be a key player for Orlando to advance and the Lions need to get something on the board from a striker or Chris Mueller.
The defense and midfield also cannot be lazy with the ball or Urruti will take it away from them. He and Quioto are quick to the ball and it’s easy to misjudge how much time one has on the ball when they’re pressing. Urruti and Taider are Montreal’s offensive leaders. Each has three goals and an assist on the season.
The Lions are mostly healthy. Oscar Pareja said he hoped to have everyone available for tonight, with Dom Dwyer missing Monday as a precautionary measure after sustaining tightness in his quad and Junior Urso being forced off after 15 minutes against the Union. Pareja said this week that it was normal wear and tear from the work load.
Montreal is not expected to be missing any of its regular starters. Rudy Camacho is not in the bubble as his wife is expecting.
Mandatory Match #Content
- Our Intelligence Report dives deeper into Montreal with Paul Vance from Mount Royal Soccer.
- Scott Carnevale discusses three things we learned about Orlando City in the group stage of the MLS is Back Tournament.
- Dave Rohe talked about the rebuilt spine of Orlando City.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Ruan.
Defensive Midfielders: Sebas Mendez, Uri Rosell.
Attacking Midfielders: Nani, Mauricio Pereyra, Chris Mueller.
Forward: Tesho Akindele.
Montreal Impact (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Clément Diop.
Defenders: Jorge Corrales, Luis Binks, Rod Fanni, Zachary Brault-Guillard.
Midfielders: Saphir Taider, Victor Wanyama, Samuel Piette.
Forwards: Bojan, Romell Quioto, Orji Okwonkwo.
Ref: Marcos DeOliveira.
AR1: Nick Uranga.
AR2: Benjamin Hall-Volpenhein.
4th: Jair Marrufo.
VAR: Allen Chapman.
AVAR: Jeremy Kieso.
How to Watch
Match Time: 8 p.m. ET.
Venue: ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex — Orlando, FL.
TV: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes.
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Acción 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: ESPN+, FuboTV.
Enjoy the match! Go City!
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