A red-hot CF Montréal, now on a seven-game unbeaten streak, dominated Orlando City on Saturday, 4-1. It was a dismal performance by the Lions — one they will want to forget as soon as possible, as they ready themselves for a Tuesday night U.S. Open Cup showdown against Philadelphia at Exploria Stadium.
Here are our five takeaways from the match.
Orlando’s Offense Stayed in Florida
The Lions mustered just one shot in each half and João Moutinho’s header off a Mauricio Pereyra corner kick in the 72nd minute was the only one on goal. In Orlando City’s last three contests, they’ve tallied just 12 shots, with only five on target — four of which came in the 2-1 win over Charlotte last weekend. Montréal controlled the flow and tempo of the game and dominated possession (59%-41%) throughout the contest. Long stretches passed when Orlando appeared to not be interested in the game at all, committing too many careless giveaways all over the pitch.
Orlando’s anemic offensive effort wasted an opportunity. Montreal’s two starting central midfielders — Ismaël Koné and Victor Wanyama — were suspended due to yellow card accumulation. The Lions couldn’t find a way through their replacements, Mathieu Choiniere and Samuel Piette.
Head Coach Oscar Pareja left forward Ercan Kara and box-to-box midfielder Junior Urso out of the starting lineup, presumably to give them some rest in advance of Tuesday’s Open Cup match up against Philadelphia. They didn’t improve the attack after their introduction.
Hello Jake, Goodbye Benji?
It was a lackluster day for Benji Michel. Montreal struck first in the 21st minute when a corner kick fell in the box and bounced off Michel right to goal scorer Joel Waterman. Orlando’s Homegrown Player struggled to find or beat anyone in the box when given a couple of chances, something we’re seeing with regularity in Michel’s play over the past year.
At the beginning of the second half, Michel was unaware a defender lurked behind him, easily lost posession, and Montreal’s ensuing counter won a corner. Michel left the game in the 57th minute, giving up his spot on the pitch to Jake Mulraney. The new winger’s first touch was a dangerous cross toward Ruan on the back post but was snuffed out well by Montreal’s goalkeeper, Sebastian Breza. His defensive pressure led to Orlando winning the corner that produced Moutinho’s goal. Orlando acquired the 26-year-old Irishman to strengthen the Lions’ depth on the wings with Silverster van der Water injured. I now wonder if we’ll see more of Mulraney than Michel moving forward.
Gallese Prevented a Massacre
While no goalkeeper will be pleased when four shots get past him, the Lions’ Pedro Gallese deserves credit for preventing a massacre. El Pulpo stopped six shots, many right after his teammates committed sloppy turnovers in front of him, including impressive stops in the eighth, 40th, and 70th minutes to keep the game close. Montreal also deserves a little of the credit for lessening the bloodletting by missing an easy sitter in front of goal in the 36th minute.
Moutinho a Lone Bright Spot
I try to be an optimist and find beauty where others overlook it, so with that in mind, I consider João Moutinho’s set-piece header to be the lone bright spot in this otherwise decrepit Orlando City performance. After struggling with injuries and missing plenty of action during his time in Orlando, Moutinho leads the club in minutes played after putting in a full 90, something he’s done in all 11 MLS competitions this season. Moutinho’s goal off Pereyra’s corner was his second of the season and made it 2-1, providing Orlando City with a glimmer of hope. A short-lived glimmer.
Williams Displays Inexperience in Mixed Performance
With Robin Jansson suspended for yellow card accumulation, 17-year-old center back Thomas Williams earned his first career MLS start and reminded us he’s just 17. Williams held his own in moments, particulary in the second half when a Rodrigo Schlegel giveaway sent Montreal on the counter and the rookie stayed close to Romell Quioto, giving the forward only a very tough angle from which to shoot — that Gallese parried. However, Williams often was dragged out of position and didn’t stick close enough to attackers in the box. The center back gave up on a ball that he thought was out but Kei Kamara kept in, which quickly led to a strike from Joaquin Torres — who spun off of his mark by Williams — making it 3-1 and putting the game effectively out of reach for the Lions.
What did you learn about the Lions yesterday? Leave your takeways in the comments.