Orlando travels to see a familiar face this weekend as they head up North to Montreal to take on Montreal CF for the second time already this season. The Lions opened up their season at Exploria vs Montreal, with a resounding 2-0 win that fired up Orlando fans for a great season ahead. Both squads have very similar records and close spots in the Eastern Conference, with Orlando currently having a game in hand on Montreal. Last week, Orlando bounced back from their worst performance vs the Red Bulls to a confident win vs Charlotte. We’re decently into the MLS season now and Orlando has emerged as a real player in the Eastern Conference and striking down another conference foe is a great way to keep the momentum going.
Orlando City FC 5-3-2, Top Goal Scorer: Kara, Torres, Pato, Urso, Top Assister: Pereyra, Torres, WLWWL
Charlotte CF 4-3-2, Top Goal Scorer: Mihailovic, Top Assister: Mihailovic, WDWWW
1. Win the Midfield, Win the Game
Kone and Wanyama are two fantastic center midfielders, but both will be missing from this fixture due to yellow card suspensions. Urso, Pereyra, and the likes of Araujo and even Torres should get on the ball often. I mentioned how Montreal may still be in control for points of the match, but eventually when Orlando wins it back I think they can switch the pace of the game to suit their style. Our wingers like to float inside too and become a part of the whole offense, so winning the midfield is a strong indication of how this game can turn out.
2. Limit the Defensive Errors
It’s been two straight weeks of Schlegel making clumsy errors leading to penalty kick goals. Besides that, the defense has been pretty solid and held their own without star defender Antonio Carlos. We’ve been lucky to not have the penalty goals mean THAT much yet - the first was against the Red Bulls in a game that was essentially already over, and the second was consolation vs Charlotte. That being said, the defense needs to be much smarter moving forward. Silly little errors are huge blows to confidence moving forward and I don’t want Orlando dropping points they deserve because Schlegel can’t keep his hands down. Additionally, Jansson will be serving a yellow card ban as well, so defensive stability is going to be HUGE come Saturday. Pareja needs to hone in on this before it continues to happen.
3. On the Road
This team has been hard to get a real read on. At some points we’ve been flying, and at some points we’ve been shit. A valuable point to add to the “we’re class” argument is that we’ve been good on the road so far. Coming up, another road test is in our sights. Of the seven league games Orlando will play in May and June, five of them are on the road. Traveling in MLS is tiring and it’s always hard to play away from home, but the best manage to figure it out. The travel is all over the place, from Canada, to Texas, and then to the Northeast. With all this travel, Orlando still is dealing with injuries and yellow card suspensions. If the Lions can get through this stretch with a decent amount of points and good performances, it would say a lot about the team and the chemistry building within it.
A Look At Montreal CF
~ Mihailovic leading the team in both goals and assists, extremely dangerous playmaker ~ Usually operate in a 3 back with wing backs and use the width of the field ~ Attacking on the counter could be important
~ Montreal are playing well and will dictate play early on, just need to stay solid defensively and wait for our chances
1-0 to the Lions. Montreal will see more of the ball early on but Orlando will work their way into the game. I’m putting my faith in two backup center backs and I hope they don’t let me down. I believe the loss of Kone and Wanyama will be too much for Montreal to come back from. The Lions hold the high ground. Vamos!