Welcome to your match thread for a Decision Day match-up between Orlando City (12-9-12, 48 points) and CF Montreal (12-11-10, 46 points) at Stade Saputo (3:30 p.m., FOX 35 Plus). This is the third of three scheduled meetings between the teams this season and only meeting north of the border. It’s the final match of the regular season for both sides and the stakes couldn’t be any higher. More on that below.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
The Lions are 5-7-3 against Montreal in the all-time league series (3-3-1 on the road, but one of those “away” wins came at Red Bull Arena during the pandemic-affected 2020 season) since the club joined MLS and 6-7-3 in all competitions. The last meeting came just weeks ago in Orlando with the teams drawing 1-1 at Exploria Stadium on Oct. 20. Chris Mueller struck for the Lions just before halftime but Rudy Camacho answered on a corner kick header shortly after the restart. Orlando out-played Montreal for about 60 of the 90 minutes but, as has been the case all too often this year, struggled to put the final ball into the net.
The first meeting this season came at Exploria on Sept. 15 with Orlando falling 4-2 and finishing the game with just nine men after both Nani and Andres Perea were sent off. Romell Quioto led Montreal with a goal and two assists. Mathieu Choiniere and Quioto put Montreal up 2-0 but despite already being down one man, Robin Jansson and Ruan tied things up. But the visitors got two more from Lassi Lappalainen and Sunusi Ibrahim.
Last year, the teams met at Red Bull Arena as the then-Impact played home games in New Jersey due to the pandemic. Orlando City got a Daryl Dike goal in the 39th minute to win 1-0 on Nov. 1, 2020. It was the second meeting of the 2020 season, with Orlando also beating Montreal 1-0 in the MLS is Back Tournament knockout rounds on July 25 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 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, 2019, 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 for Orlando City 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.
The Lions must win or draw to assure a playoff spot, which is an unthinkable position after the way the team performed through much of the season. It’s also an unconscionably precarious position for Orlando City to be in after last Sunday’s game against Nashville, with referee Allen Chapman wiping a goal (and two points, as a result) off the board when he disallowed an Andres Perea goal deep in stoppage time on a play that was neither clearly nor obviously an error in what was ultimately a 1-1 draw. The Lions will need to put that devastating decision out of their minds and focus on the daunting task of getting a result at Stade Saputo against a desperate CF Montreal side.
The Lions are 4-7-5 on the road in 2021, with one of those four wins coming in an empty Exploria Stadium over Toronto.
CF Montreal played in the midweek and beat the Houston Dynamo 2-0 to stay alive in the chase. The hosts today will need to win to get in and when you combine that with the struggles the Lions have had against Montreal this season, it isn’t going to be an easy task for Orlando to finish the job and reach the postseason. Montreal is 9-3-4 in home games this season and 6-2-2 at Stade Saputo since returning from their pandemic exile in Florida. Only the New England Revolution and Nashville SC have won as guests at Stade Saputo this season, with fellow playoff teams Atlanta United and Philadelphia Union earning the draws.
Orlando City should already have clinched a playoff spot if not for an inexplicable decision by Chapman but can’t let that continue to linger in their minds today, even if things start off poorly. The Lions must get a result because the only scenario in which they can make the postseason with a loss is if the New York Red Bulls fall at Nashville SC, where the likeliest outcome is a draw due to the Tennessean club’s penchant for them (17 already this season).
Montreal is a good defensive club that has baffled Orlando in two previous games this year. Tonight’s hosts can hit on the counter and can create from wide areas through Djordje Mihailovic and Quioto. The former has an impressive 16 assists to go along with four goals in 2021 and Orlando must smother him and/or deny him the ball. Ruan will need to stay home somewhat to ensure Mihailovic has less space to pick out crosses but the Lions will also need to avoid conceding corners and other set pieces as much as possible. Quioto has eight goals and six assists and destroyed Orlando in the first meeting. Sunusi Ibrahim has excelled against the Lions in 2021 with only a spectacular save from Pedro Gallese on Oct. 20 preventing him from a second goal in Orlando this year.
“This week has been a great week of training for the boys, preparing for what is going to be that Decision Day for us against a rival and a rival that we faced not long ago,” Pareja said in his pre-match press conference. “Now we have this opportunity to go to Canada and not just qualify but give that final touch of getting the three points, which is an urgency right now. I think Montreal has been consistent in the way that they do things and I say that they have good players too.”
Orlando City’s availability report heading into this game is the cleanest it’s been all season. Jordan Bender is listed as out and Joao Moutinho is questionable — both with the ubiquitous lower body injury. Montreal reports Mason Toye (shoulder), Róbert Thorkelsson (adductor), and Jean Aniel Assi (quadriceps) as out for the match, with Lassi Lappalainen (illness) listed as day-to-day.
Mandatory Match Content
- This week’s PawedCast features our key match-ups and score predictions.
- Our Ben Miller gave his three keys to victory for Orlando City.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Emmanuel Mas, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Ruan.
Midfielders: Mauricio Pereyra, Junior Urso, Sebas Mendez, Silvester van der Water.
Forwards: Benji Michel, Daryl Dike.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Kyle Smith, Rodrigo Schlegel, Uri Rosell, Andres Perea, Alexander Alvarado, Nani, Alexandre Pato, Tesho Akindele.
Montreal Impact (3-4-3)
Goalkeeper: Sebastian Breza.
Defenders: Kamal Miller, Rudy Camacho, Aljaz Struna.
Midfielders: Mathieu Choiniere, Victor Wanyama, Samuel Piette, Zachary Brault-Guillard.
Forwards: Djordje Mihailovic, Sunusi Ibrahim, Joaquin Torres.
Bench: James Pantemis, Mustafa Kizza, Zorhan Bassong, Matko Miljevic, Clement Bayiha, Emanuel Maciel, Ahmed Hamdi, Bjorn Johnsen, Romell Quioto.
Ref: Armando Villarreal.
AR1: Logan Brown.
AR2: Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho.
4th: Silviu Petrescu.
VAR: Carol Anne Chenard.
AVAR: Gianni Facchini.
How to Watch
Match Time: 3:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Stade Saputo — Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
TV: FOX 35 Plus (local only).
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), Acción 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+ (out of market only) and on the LionNation app.
Enjoy the match. Go City!
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