After a strong performance in the MLS is Back group stage, Orlando City dominated the Montreal Impact in a 1-0 win in the round of 16. Despite the narrow scoreline, Montreal had few good chances on goal while the Lions created several chances throughout the night. The win sees them advance to the quarterfinals on Friday night.
While the shots on goal were pretty close at 10-7, Orlando City dominated with 57% possession. This was especially impactful in the attacking end, where Chris Mueller, Nani, and Sebas Mendez helped create several opportunities throughout the night.
Let’s look at how Orlando City’s players did individually in this important win.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 7 — It was a pretty easy game for Pedro Gallese as he didn’t have much trouble throughout the night. Only one of Montreal’s seven shots was on target, resulting in the need for only one save for Gallese. He did have to come out to punch a ball late in the game, which he missed, but it was cleared away. The fact that he got his second clean sheet of the season is worthy of a high grade but there will be games where he’ll be called upon much more to help the team.
D, Joao Moutinho, 6 — The pressure on the right side of the field by Montreal meant that Moutinho was called upon more frequently than he probably would’ve been otherwise. With Ruan needing to stay further back than he usually does, Moutinho ended up in the attack throughout much of the game. While there were a couple of passes that didn’t reach the intended target, Moutinho was responsible for a key pass and took an off-target shot. Defensively, it was a solid performance by the back four, Moutinho included. Even when Montreal looked to be building up an attack, the back four were able to clear.
D, Antonio Carlos, 7 — Antonio Carlos made the biggest impact of any defensive player in this game for Orlando City. He was very solid throughout the game, making four interceptions and seven clearances at center back. This was one of the primary reasons why Gallese’s night was so easy. He didn’t go forward very often, leaving that to Robin Jansson, but stayed back and kept the Impact from getting any dangerous shots on goal.
D, Robin Jansson, 6.5 — Similar to Carlos, Robin Jansson had a strong defensive game, keeping the Impact from threatening the Lions’ goal. He went forward more than Carlos in this game, helping build the attack from the back and allowing Mendez to push further forward into the attack. However, it was his defensive play that was largely on display in this game. While communication has been a problem for Orlando City in the past and the two starting center backs had a language barrier to cross to start the season, they worked well together this night in keeping the Impact from creating any dangerous chances on goal.
D, Ruan, 6.5 — Typically, Ruan’s offense is quite noticeable but that wasn’t the case in this game, though he and Mueller did enough down the right to force Montreal to change shape at the break. The Impact continually tried to attack the Lions down the left, forcing Ruan into greater defensive responsibilities, particularly in the second half. The right back came up with a strong performance in this game, keeping some of the Impact’s most dangerous attackers at bay. He was credited with two tackles, two interceptions, and a blocked shot but it was the ineffectiveness of Montreal on his side that really stood out.
MF, Sebas Mendez, 6.5 — This was probably Mendez’s best performance of the year so far. While his defensive midfield partner, Uri Rosell, stayed further back, Mendez was able to push forward into the attack at multiple points throughout the game. He created multiple opportunities for the Lions, especially in the second half, and his quick passing and long run helped to create the game’s lone goal. In his 82 minutes, he ended up with four shots of his own, and forced Rod Fanni into an errant back pass for an easy tap-in by Tesho Akindele.
MF, Oriol Rosell, 6 — When you have a defensive midfielder push forward as Mendez did, the other one needs to play a defensive role. That was what Uri Rosell did in this game. He completed 81 passes on the night, second on the team only to Moutinho. His pass accuracy rating of 97.5% was the highest of any starter. That’s even more impressive since he played 10 long balls forward, with nine reaching their intended target. It was yet another strong performance by the Spanish midfielder.
MF, Chris Mueller, 6 — Chris Mueller has earned his spot in the Lions’ starting lineup during the MLS is Back Tournament and he showed why he starts again last night. In the first half, Mueller was very problematic for the Impact as he created chance after chance for the Lions. The one glaring play in the game was when he had a golden opportunity for the opening goal. The ball rolled right in front of him with an empty net but the young midfielder was unable to put it away. That could’ve been a deciding moment had the Lions not finally converted in the second half. Despite the miss, it was a quality performance for the midfielder.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 5.5 — This wasn’t one of Mauricio Pereyra’s best performances since he joined Orlando City last season. That’s partly because he’s such a quality player that he has higher expectations than others. He only completed 84.2% of his 57 passes in 74 minutes of play. Similar to Mueller, the most noticeable moment for Pereyra could’ve been a mistake early in the game. He found himself with some space in the box but hit the ball off target. As a quality attacking player, that’s one he has to get on goal and could’ve been costly in the end.
MF, Nani, 6.5 — While it wasn’t the dominant performance that Orlando City fans have seen in the past, Nani put in a good shift for the Lions. This was especially so in the first half. Along with Mueller, Nani created havoc for the Montreal defense, creating several chances for teammates and nearly helping the Lions get on the board. The two closest chances in the first half were both set up by Nani. The first was the shot off target by Pereyra — after a slick back heel pass from Nani — and the second was a good cross on Mueller’s mistake in front of goal. The Portuguese midfielder could’ve had a pair of assists on the night.
F, Tesho Akindele, 7 (MotM) — This was a very good performance by Tesho as the Canadian scored the lone goal and nearly had an assist. Just before halftime, a one-two between Akindele and Mendez saw the latter tap home the go-ahead goal. However, Akindele was judged to be offside. Replays of the controversial ruling appeared to show the striker slightly onside but the flag went up during the play. In the 60th minute, Akindele got the lone goal in this 1-0 win. It may have been a tap-in after a good run by Mendez, but similar chances were squandered earlier in the game. If not for the finish, the Lions could’ve been heading out of the tournament.
MF, Andres Perea (75’), 5 — Andres Perea was the first player brought on by Orlando City as he took part in the final 15 minutes. Replacing Pereyra, Perea didn’t play that poorly, completing 84.6% of his 13 passes. Coming on as a midfielder with a one-goal lead, Perea’s role was to help keep possession and secure the victory. While the Impact didn’t score in the late stages of the game, Perea could’ve done better with his possession.
F, Daryl Dike (75’), 4 — Coming on for the final 15 minutes of the game, it was a difficult performance for rookie Daryl Dike on his debut. The young striker found himself with the ball in the box on multiple occasions but was unable to do anything with it. In some cases, Dike lost the ball before being able to reach a teammate. On other occasions, he committed a foul during an attack, effectively ending the chance. He only had one off-target shot but committed three fouls and picked up a yellow card for shooting the ball after the whistle.
MF, Joey DeZart (83’), N/A — Joey DeZart came on for Mendez with just seven minutes left and didn’t have time to make much of an impact. He only had nine touches and one interception, but did help secure the win.
D, Rodrigo Schlegel (83’), N/A — Rodrigo Schlegel came on for Mueller as a defensive change to help see out the game. He only had six touches in seven minutes as the Lions simply looked to hold onto the ball. He did record one tackle and one clearance in those seven minutes and drew a foul on a frustrated Romell Quioto.
D, Kyle Smith (87’), N/A — Kyle Smith was the final change for the Lions, coming on for Ruan in the dying minutes. He had a bigger impact in fewer minutes than DeZart and Schlegel, with 13 touches, two clearances, and a tackle credited to his name. The most important thing was, like DeZart and Schlegel, he helped to see out the 1-0 win.
Overall, there’s not much to be displeased with in this game. The Lions came into this tournament with questions of if they would be able to get out of their group. The 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact puts them in the quarterfinals Friday night against the winner of Seattle and LAFC.
While many thought the Lions would be home by now, Orlando City fans have the luxury of enjoying the remaining round of 16 games and waiting to see who their team will play. This is how I saw the game. How do you feel about the individual performances? Tell us by commenting and voting on the Man of the Match below.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match in the Lions’ 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact?
This poll is closed