Hello, Mane Landers, My name is Adrian and I am excited to write my first article for you all on The Mane Land. What a game it was to write my first article on. Let’s get right to it!
Orlando City shut out CF Montreal 2-0 on Decision Day to earn a spot in the 2021 MLS playoffs. In the final meeting of the season between the two sides, Orlando City went on the road to get their first win against CF Montreal in the season series, finishing 1-1-1 against the Canadian side.
Here are my five takeaways from the dramatic final match of the season.
Gallese’s Big Saves Earned Him the Shutout
Pedro Gallese came to play, as he has shown he is capable of all season, in this all-important game when the team needed him the most. His biggest save came at the 20-minute mark, when Djordje Mihailovic got the ball to Joaquin Torres at the top of the box. Emmanuel Mas whiffed on the challenge and gave Torres room to take a one-on-one shot at goal. Gallese was quick off his line and was able to cut off Torres’ shot, making huge save for Orlando to clear the danger and keep the score level at zero apiece. Here is a look at the save that kept Orlando City alive early on.
Gallese went on to defend his goal for the rest of the match and made three saves en route to earning his seventh clean sheet of the season.
Jansson Made His Presence Felt on Both Sides of The Field
Robin Jansson came up big against the Montreal forwards throughout the match. He made a big sliding tackle in the 15th minute to clear the ball out from the center of Orlando’s box, disrupting that initial attack. He also finished with two tackles, two interceptions, five clearances and two blocked shots on the defensive end. Jansson remained a key figure in disrupting the Montreal attackers but he also contributed to Orlando’s own attacking chances. The Swede’s first chance came from a set piece free kick when Mauricio Pereyra touched the ball over to Jansson, who struck a low ball towards goal that beat Montreal goalkeeper Sebastian Breza but hit the right post and stayed out. Jansson had another chance at the top of the box in the first half with a shot that was heading towards goal but was blocked by Rudy Camacho and instead earned a corner kick for Orlando. The defender has had a knack for getting himself in the attack as of late, scoring three goals on the season. Jansson has also become a set piece free kick option for Head Coach Oscar Pareja, as he has been in the mix for the long-range free kicks for the power he puts on the ball.
Pereyra Plays the Facilitator
With Nani out of the starting lineup for this match, it meant that the attack would need to come from other players on the field. Pereyra stepped up to this role nicely as Orlando City looked to get the ball to him to set up the attack going forward. From getting the ball wide into space for Benji Michel or Silvester van der Water to feeding Daryl Dike up the middle, Pereyra was there from the start of the attacking chances and was always looking for the best option to connect his passes to. He finished with three key passes, an accurate cross, and went three for three with his long-ball attempts. Pereyra ended the match with one shot on target of his own on a nice free kick effort.
Mendez’s First Goal Came in a Big Moment
What a way to get your first goal for the club and to do it in style. Sebas Mendez did just that in the 55th minute when Camacho had a poor clearing attempt land right at Mendez’s feet just outside the area. The Ecuadorian took advantage of his space and put an absolute stunner in the upper 90 at the back post and into the back of the net to give Orlando its first goal of the night. This goal was just what the team needed and ended up being the game winner for Orlando. The defensive-minded Mendez will surely get a boost of confidence from the goal heading into the playoffs as he has had an up and down season due to injuries.
Dike Rewarded For His Hustle
Throughout the game, Dike used his size and strength to be physical against the opposing Montreal players while the ball was at his feet, but at some cost. The first instance where his physicality put his body on the line to give Orlando an advantage was when he was fouled early in the match by Samuel Piette and took a hard fall on his shoulder after receiving the ball at the top of the Montreal box. The play set up Pereyra for the free kick on which he nearly scored. Dike was also met with the studs-up sliding challenge from Camacho, drawing a straight red card from match referee Armando Villarreal. This was a huge break for Orlando as Montreal was starting to ramp up its attack and it hindered the hosts’ chances at getting back into the match. Despite the punishment Dike was taking, he was rewarded nicely for his efforts in the 86th minute. Dike received a perfect through ball from Ruan, pushed it to the side to separate from the defender on his back — and the oncoming rush from the keeper — and put in the dagger for Montreal’s chances, solidifying Orlando’s lead, and helping Orlando City reach the playoffs.
This was a statement win for Orlando City on Decision Day and guarantees Orlando one more game. What else caught your attention from this thrilling win north of the border? Let us know in the comments below!