It was perhaps one of Orlando City SC’s best wins this season. Without two of their three top scorers, the Lions (7-7-13, 34 points) stepped up against formidable Eastern Conference opponents Montreal Impact (9-8-10, 37 points) to claim an important three points in a 4-1 away victory Wednesday night at Saputo Stadium.
The first half was a frantic end-to-end affair with two goals occurring within the first few minutes.
Didier Drogba opened the scoring in the second minute with a sumptuous free kick that left Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik rooted to the spot. Just two minutes later, however, the score was tied with a brilliant Orlando move. It began with a Ricardo Kaká through pass that set up a cross for Matías Peréz García to fire across goal, bounce off Carlos Rivas and fall kindly to Brek Shea, who rifled it past Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush.
Kaká also notched his first goal of the game after a neat lay off from Rivas to make the score 2-1 in the 36th minute.
When play resumed for the second half, Orlando City applied even more pressure to a usually sturdy defensive line, causing a calamity of errors for the Canadian side. It all began to unravel in the 51st minute as Rivas used his rapid pace to pounce on a deflected ball and charge toward goal. This would prove to be the major turning point for the game, as Bush made heavy contact with the Orlando City forward and was consequently sent off. Captain Kaká converted the spot kick to take a 3-1 lead.
A further goal from Rivas, after a sublime pass from Júlio Baptista in the 77th minute, sealed the victory for the Lions, thrusting them into a playoff position with only seven games remaining.
Although Orlando City dominated the second half, they were not immune to their well-known defensive frailties. The Lions were outshot 17-9 and called upon Bendik to prevent a Drogba penalty due to a questionable tackle by defender David Mateos that brought down substitute Matteo Mancosu in the box midway through the second half. City also looked vulnerable on corners and required brave defending to stop Drogba on multiple occasions.
Man of the Match: Carlos Rivas
The young Colombian was all over the field and played a role in each of the four Orlando City goals. In just over 90 minutes, Rivas was able to get a vital deflection, an assist, win a penalty and score a goal. With Kevin Molino and Cyle Larin on international duty with Trinidad and Tobago and Canada respectively, Rivas used his pace and alertness to fill the void and provide the Lions with a much-needed attacking threat.
Filling the Void
Molino and striker Larin have combined for 54 percent of the goals for the Central Florida club in the 2016 campaign. With both players currently representing their nations in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, the rest of the squad had to pick up the slack. The front four of Rivas, Kaká, Pérez García and Shea were lively for the entire match, making dynamic runs, and embarrassed experienced defenders Laurent Ciman and Hassoun Camara frequently throughout the match.
Moreover, the central midfielders of Antonio Nocerino and Servando Carrasco nullified the obvious threat of Drogba and proven Major League Soccer stars Ignacio Piatti and Dominic Oduro by swarming and smothering all three for the entire game. Piatti and Oduro were limited to one shot each while Drogba recorded nine (four on goal). This rendered Montreal’s attacking focal points unable to consistently challenge in open play.
|2’||Montreal Impact||Didier Drogba||n/a|
|4’||Orlando City SC||Brek Shea||Carlos Rivas|
|36’||Orlando City SC||Ricardo Kaká||Carlos Rivas|
|54’||Orlando City SC||Ricardo Kaká||PENALTY|
|77’||Orlando City SC||Carlos Rivas||Júlio Baptista|
Statistics and Starting Lineups
|Goals||Assists||Shots||Shots on Goal||Possession%|
|Orlando City SC||4||3||9||5||51.9%|
Montreal Impact XI (4-2-3-1): Evan Bush (GK); Amadou Dia, Laurent Ciman, Hassoun Camara, Donny Toia; Hernán Bernardello, Calum Mallace; Ignacio Piatti, Kyle Bekker, Dominic Oduro; Didier Drogba
Orlando City XI (4-4-1-1): Joe Bendik (GK); Luke Boden, David Mateos, José Aja, Kevin Alston; Brek Shea, Antonio Nocerino, Servando Carrasco, Matías Pérez García; Ricardo Kaká (C); Carlos Rivas
Disclaimer: Benjamin Sanders is a volunteer mentor for the Orlando City Foundation where he uses his free time to teach young children in after-school initiatives the basics of the game.