Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Five Takeaways


Orlando City are a tough team to beat on matchday one, but coming in yesterday, the Lions usually can’t find a way to win their opener either. That seemed to be the case again after a scoreless first half that didn’t produce many highlights from the hosts or visiting CF Montreal. But Alexandre Pato and Benji Michel scored 10 minutes apart to put Orlando in control en route to a 2-0 victory.

Here’s what I took away from Orlando City’s 2022 season opener.

You won’t get anything and you will love it!

Orlando’s opponents haven’t scored a goal on Matchday 1 since Oscar Pareja took over. The Lions have won consecutive draws in the first game of the season against Real salt lake (2020) and Atlanta United (2021) before Montreal hits town on Sunday. The visitors had only a few decent looks on goal all day as the defense and trio of central midfielders – Cesar Araujo, Andres Perea and substitute Junior Urso – spent most of the game keeping toothless visiting attack and all that passed through them. was handled by the back line.

The Lions allowed eight shot attempts in total. Orlando blocked three and Pedro Gallese only had to make two saves – both were shots from the top of the area or further. Only two Montreal shots came from inside the box. One was blocked by Moutinho early in the second half and the other came from a harsh angle by Romell Quioto from the left of goal. Montreal’s expected total goals (xG) for the game was just 0.5.

You don’t score on the Pareja Lions in the season opener at the Exploria Stadium.

The importance of Pato

Pato was named the club’s man of the match for his performance and it was deserved. He was easily the best attacking player on the pitch on either side, making smart runs, luring defenders out of position, passing for teammates in better situations and, of course, scoring his first MLS goal. Pato finished with three shots and two on target to lead Orlando in both categories, and he also led in key assists (2). His 73.3% success rate doesn’t sound great, but he tried several in the final third and he completed his only long ball attempt. Pato showed his intelligence with clever play in the defensive half late in the game, returning a ball to Gallese from long range to relieve the pressure and revive possession. He also succeeded in a pair of permissions. It was a good overall game for the Brazilian, who can really shine with Orlando if he stays healthy in 2022.

The introduction of Urso changed the game

Perea is a good young midfielder who continues to seek the right positions on the pitch and he looks set to have a bright future. But several plays throughout the first half fell short when he made questionable decisions or poor passes in attack, or was stripped in build-up play. Pareja pulled the young midfielder off at half-time and sent Urso into the game. The Brazilian made an impact early and often. His anticipation led to the play that resulted in Orlando’s second goal and he did well to hold the ball and draw fouls from the opposition to retain possession throughout the 45 seconds. Hopefully Perea can learn some of the bear’s tricks, so he can take the next step in his development.

Antonio Carlos doesn’t need pre-season

If Pato wasn’t the best player on the court Sunday afternoon, it was probably Orlando center back Antonio Carlos. The Brazilian was a monster after missing most of pre-season due to visa issues and finished the game at 90. AC finished the game with a whopping nine clearances to go along with two tackles and an interception. He kept Romell Quioto in check, frustrating and aggravating the Honduran international until he ended up being sent off. He also made some clever moves playing from the back to break the front line of the Montreal press. He completed 93% of his passes and four of his five long ball attempts. It was a big day for AC.

New kids on the block won’t sit

Pareja wasted no time bringing his new players onto the pitch. Facu Torres was an obvious starter from the day the team signed him, but Initiative U22 midfielder Cesar Araujo starting ahead of Sebas Mendez raised some eyebrows. Ercan Kara started the game on the bench after missing much of pre-season with a sprained ankle. It was good that he was able to make his MLS debut in the 69th minute, although the match was basically decided then and things got a bit chaotic after Robin Jansson was sent off, leaving each team has one man. Torres and Araujo were involved throughout the game and seem to be settling into the team. Kara made a sick play with her first touch, perfectly chasing a long overhead pass into the path of a midfield teammate. New players can play and it looks like they’re going to see the pitch a lot.

That’s what struck me during the Lions’ first victory against Montreal. Let me know what caught your eye in the comments section below.


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