MLS Preview- Orlando City SC v Montreal Impact

Orlando City will be looking to get their first win of the season this weekend at Orlando City Stadium. The third game of the season presents an opportunity to assess how a team’s tactics are taking shape, the mentality of the players, and areas where a team needs to improve. After experiencing a horrendous season in 2018, which saw Orlando finish last in the Eastern Conference, the Lions need to show that 2019 will not be a repeat.

Orlando suffered a bitter draw last weekend against Chicago with a last minute equalizer by Charles Sapong. Chicago held 59% possession with 436 accurate passes compared to Orlando’s 41% possession and 266 accurate passes. This can be compared to Orlando’s 58% possession in their first game at home against NYCFC, which ended in a 2-2 draw. As of now, the statistics from the first two games show to two predicable performances from the MLS side. Regardless, Orlando took their chance against the Chicago Fire with only two shots in the entirety of the game.

Montreal Impact, on the other hand, will be playing their third straight away game. The Impact do pose a threat in attack with Ignacio Piatti and Maximiliano Urruti, who recently moved from FC Dallas. Remi Garde, Montreal’s manager, traditionally employs a 4-3-3 attacking formation that will look to keep possession in the oppositions half. The Impact will be quick to try to regain possession when they lose the ball. Garde will strive to exploit a still relatively new back line of Orlando defenders. It will be critical for O’Connor’s side to communicate without the ball to prevent the runs in behind by the Impact wingers. Orlando will also need to generate formidable counter attacking threats with quality passing from Johnson and Mendez.

James O’Connor has continued to implement his 3-5-2 formation and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues. O’Connor was quoted this offseason as saying that he would like his side to be able to play in multiple formations. Whether Orlando start with Nani and Dwyer up top or Nani and Mueller, Orlando must continue to utilize their quick attacking threats on the counter. Seeing as Orlando does not have an imposing hold up striker, it will be paramount to work quick one-two passes between the strikers and Sash Kljestan. Nani’s skill on the ball should be on full display this weekend as he continues to get accustomed to his new team.

This weekends game should prove to be an captivating affair. Both teams will be hoping to take advantage of every opportunity to pick up three points in a challenging MLS competition. Orlando has so far appeared to be performing much better this year, but a larger body of work is required. Saturday’s game will help provide an understanding as to where the team stands and if they are built to last.

Last year, the Lions went on a six game win streak only to suffer a nine game losing streak. This season should be more about consistency at the back. Montreal, on the other hand, just missed the MLS playoffs by four points and may end up competing with Orlando for the last few playoff spots.

Montreal will mostly likely seek to keep hold of possession early on in the game at Orlando City Stadium, and it would wouldn’t be surprising to see OCSC oblige them by instead focusing on creating a lethal counter attack. Orlando will have the opportunity to score, but will need to prevent defensive breakdowns to come out on top. At the end of the day, Orlando will get their first win of the season in front of the home crowd with a 2-1 victory.

*Statistics taken from Transfermrkt.com

*Photo Credit Unsplash: Fachry Zella Devandra

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