Welcome to your match thread for an opening day match-up between Orlando City and CF Montreal at Exploria Stadium (1 p.m., FOX 35 Plus). This is the first of two scheduled meetings between the teams this season and the only meeting in Orlando. The Lions will make the return trip to Stade Saputo on May 7.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
The Lions are 6-7-3 against Montreal in the all-time league series and 7-7-3 in all competitions since the club joined MLS. However, Orlando City is just 2-4-2 at home against Montreal and that includes a loss and a draw last season.
The last meeting came on Decision Day of 2021, with the Lions earning a 2-0 road victory at Stade Saputo to clinch a playoff spot. Sebas Mendez and Daryl Dike provided the goals. For Mendez, it was his first MLS goal.
The last time the teams met at Exploria Stadium, the visitors managed a 1-1 draw on Oct. 20, 2021. Chris Mueller struck for the Lions just before halftime but Rudy Camacho answered on a corner kick header shortly after the restart. The first meeting of 2021 took place Sept. 15 in Orlando with the Lions 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. The visitors got two more from Lassi Lappalainen and Sunusi Ibrahim.
The teams met at Red Bull Arena in late 2020 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 enter the 2022 season with a lot of question marks. The team a huge chunk of its scoring when Nani, Dike, and Mueller departed, and new striker Ercan Kara missed the majority of the team’s preseason matches with an ankle injury. Winger and Young Designated Player Facundo Torres is still settling in. The defense should be as good as ever, with Pedro Gallese backing up the same back line Orlando has featured the last couple of years.
Orlando was 8-2-7 at home a year ago but one of the two losses and one of the seven draws came against this Montreal side. The Lions are unbeaten in MLS openers but have only won one of them (1-0-6).
“It’s good to be back into the rhythm of the competition. This year seems like everything is coming quicker, but we are excited to be in front of our fans and competing for points,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said in his pre-match press conference. “We are very optimistic. We think we have done things right in terms of the effort and the intention of putting a team together that can represent this community and the progress of the club.”
CF Montreal has a leg or two up on Orlando City after playing two competitive matches already in 2021. The opening day visitors advanced in Concacaf Champions League by defeating Liga MX side Santos Laguna 3-1 on aggregate. Those two games to get settled in should be a huge factor in this match-up against an Orlando side still trying to build chemistry in the attacking third.
Montreal is a good defensive club that can hit on the counter and create from wide areas through Djordje Mihailovic and Quioto. The former had 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 had eight goals and six assists and destroyed Orlando in the first meeting of 2021. Sunusi Ibrahim also excelled against the Lions in 2021.
Orlando City’s availability report heading into this game shows only Michael Halliday (right thigh) as out. Montreal will be without Mason Toye (adductor), Ahmed Hamdi (ankle), and Samuel Piette (ankle) due to injury and Rudy Camacho due to suspension.
Mandatory Match Content
- Our Intelligence Report provides more information on CF Montreal from Mount Royal Soccer editor Paul Vance.
- This week’s PawedCast features our key match-ups and score predictions.
- Our Dave Rohe gave his three keys to victory for Orlando City.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Ruan.
Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Andres Perea.
Attacking Midfielders: Facundo Torres, Mauricio Pereyra, Benji Michel.
Forward: Alexandre Pato.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Kyle Smith, Rodrigo Schlegel, Thomas Williams, Sebas Mendez, Junior Urso, Silvester van der Water, Tesho Akindele, Ercan Kara.
CF Montreal (3-4-3)
Goalkeeper: Sebastian Breza.
Defenders: Joel Waterman, Gabriele Corbo, Kamal Miller.
Midfielders: Zorhan Bassong, Victor Wanyama, Ismael Kone, Alistair Johnston.
Forwards: Matko Miljevic, Romell Quioto, Djordje Mihailovic.
Bench: James Pantemis, Zachary Brault-Guillard, Robert Thorkelsson, Lassi Lappalainen, Rida Zouhir, Mathieu Choiniere, Tomas Giraldo, Joaquin Torres, Kei Kamara.
Ref: Marcos DeOliveira.
AR1: Jeffrey Greeson.
AR2: Andrew Bigelow.
4th: Alyssa Nichols.
VAR: Edvin Jurisevic.
AVAR: Peter Manikowski.
How to Watch
Match Time: 1 p.m. ET.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
TV: FOX 35 Plus (local only).
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (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 (local only).
Enjoy the match. Go City!
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