With Montreal coming off a tie from a game fraught with exhaustion against New England, and Orlando City hurting after being delivered a loss by Vancouver, both teams had something to prove as they came into today’s match. As if that wasn’t enough, both teams were depleted by injury & international action, making the scoreline all the more important. Both teams marked the match with quick goals and a smattering of yellow cards. With the players displaying their tons of energy and professionalism, the match was dynamic & exciting.
With a lot of international action happening, there were a number of players unable to make it out for both teams. As a result of yesterday’s victory of Canada over Guatemala, Montreal was short Maxim Tissot & Orlando was short Cyle Larin. Also missing from Montreal were Ciman (BEL) and Oyongo (CMR). Due to international duty, Orlando was missing Shea & Donovan (US), Ceren (SLV), Estrela (POR), and Molino (TRI). With a suspension of Camara from Montreal, and injuries preventing play from Porter (MTL) & Paterson (ORL), the choices for today’s lineups were somewhat difficult for both teams. Sadly, Impact chose to keep Bernier, Jackson-Hamel, and Gagnon-Lapare on the sidelines, leaving a fully non-Canadian starting XI on both sides of the field.
Donadel opened up the shooting with a blazing shot in the 9th minute, forcing Ricketts to punch it out and give up a corner kick. Alexander made a dangerous cross in the 13th, with a corner kick that ended with an Orlando handball. The resulting penalty kick by Piatti zipped past Ricketts in the lower right corner, putting Montreal up by a goal. Piatti’s goal put an end to Montreal’s scoreless streak, having gone 194 minutes in the MLS without putting one away. Kaka came back with a good shot in the 23rd minute to the top-left, only to be deflected out of harms way by Kronberg. A Kaka free kick in the 26th minute sailed well over the wall, with Impact’s keeper again stepping out to punch it to safety. A long-pass in the 27th found McInerney who sailed it right over Orlando’s Ricketts and dropped it into the net. But an easy win was not to be had, as Orlando decided to change the game, With Ribeiro taking a pass from Kaka for Orlando’s first goal in the 29th, followed by Kaka scoring off a pass from Ribeiro in the 30th, the game was swiftly equalized. Heading tied into half-time, it was a suddenly a completely different match for both teams.
The second half started with a corner kick from Montreal in the 49th minute that was swiftly cleared by an amped up Orlando line. Good back and forth by both teams made entertaining play, with Donadel taking Montreal’s third card of the match in the 58th minute as a result of a hard foul. The 59th minute resulted in some dangerous pinball headers bouncing around the Montreal goal. Luckily, it cleared over the bar allowing Montreal to push back across with Oduro popping it over Ricketts and into supporters in the 61st. Orlando took their first yellow of the match in the 63rd as Collin decided it would be a good idea to argue with a ref. In the 71st, McInerney attempted a bicycle kick, but despite making the connection the ball was stopped & a foul called. The stadium was prepped for insane cheering, but suffered momentary disappointment as play swung back the other way. The 74th minute saw Montreal take yet another yellow card, their 4th, following a hard foul by Reo-Coker.
Bernier, the Quebec-native & sole-Canadian player to see the field, was subbed in at the 76th minute. A long-time Captain for Montreal, the speed of the game quickly kicked up. Piatti slammed a quick one toward the Orlando net in the 77th. It was knocked away, and once again play moved toward the other end of the field. By the 81st, everything had swung back toward the Orlando net when Ricketts landed roughly and called a trainer over concerned about his knee. Despite his apparent injury, Ricketts decided to tough it out following the 2-minute breather. Orlando continued to kill time as Turner, in the 86th & again in the 88th, went to the ground and played injured letting the seconds tick past. With a whopping 5 minutes of stoppage time, play continued back and forth as both sides fought for a deciding goal. Despite a last minute rush at the net by Orlando, both sides were frustrated and split the points.
A very professional, high-quality match was played by teams on both sides of the pitch. With Montreal blazing to an early lead thanks to a Piatti penalty kick and McInerney’s boot, it looked like Montreal would finally take its first 3-points of the season. Orlando had a different idea and within a couple minutes, brought forth two goals to set things level. Despite a lot of action between the teams in the second half, the scoreline remained unchanged at 2 goals each. This match was a great way for us to see what Montreal has been bringing to the Champions League this year, and what we can expect as the MLS season continues.