(Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)

Match Recap

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City SC head coach Jason Kreis recognized his team’s home bout against the Montreal Impact as a “massive, massive match,” as it would be the final home match before a three-game road stretch. And his Lions (7-5-4, 25 points) responded in a massive way, salvaging a 3-3 draw with the Montreal Impact (4-4-6, 18 points) at Orlando City Stadium Saturday night in front of 25,527 people.

But the draw could have just as easily been an Orlando City win, as the Lions scored two goals in the first 23 minutes. Kreis felt his team gave away three goals rather than the Impact earning them.

“The negatives are, obviously, that I felt we gave them all three goals,” Kreis said after the match. “They weren’t situations where we were broken down defensively. We literally gave the ball away in really poor areas of the field, and then quick transitions cost us three goals against. Big, big negative there.”

Trailing 3-2, Orlando City pushed for a late equalizer with six minutes of added time. On the Lions’ second-consecutive corner kick from the right, center-back Jonathan Spector delivered the much-desired score. Midfielder Matías Pérez García sent the ball into the middle of Montreal’s penalty box where Spector directed his header toward the back-left corner of goalkeeper Evan Bush’s net.

“As I said, I think it’s part of the positives of, for me, was—a big, big positive was the guys continued to work really, really hard to work for chances to score the goal that would equalize,” Kreis said. “It would have been really easy, and I think on most nights with most teams, they would have packed it in after giving away two really disappointing goals in such a short turn.

“But our guys responded positively, kept fighting and kept believing, so we get to walk out of this with at least a point.”

Orlando City squandered both a 2-1 lead and the momentum when the Lions’ defense allowed Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti to complete his brace with 58th- and 59th-minute goals. A series of one-touch passes found Piatti open down the middle, who struck it past City goalkeeper Joe Bendik. Piatti scored his second goal off a rebounded effort that was initially saved by Bendik.

“As I said, I think some of the decisions, I think, we’re still struggling a little bit with,” Kreis said. “We’re still struggling with when we should be playing out of the back and when we should not—and if we’re not, what that shape looks like. So I don’t want to put that down, necessarily, to individual players… And we need to learn from it. We need to improve.

“We thought we were moving at a very positive direction with that, but, tonight, we, as we said, we shot ourselves in the foot, really.”

It seemed like it would be Orlando City’s game from the first whistle, as City appeared to play with a heightened aggression. The Lions out-shot their Canadian opponent 14-2 in the first half, owning 60 percent of possession en route to two goals by halftime.

Midfielders Ricardo Kaká and Giles Barnes broke down Montreal’s left-flank defense on several early occasions. The Lions were rewarded in the eighth minute when Pérez García scored his first Orlando City goal.

Forward Carlos Rivas started the effort, as his pace helped the Lions advance into Montreal territory. He then dished it off to Barnes down the left, who then sent a through ball into the box for Kaká near the end-line. Kaká kept it inbounds with a cross into a cutting Pérez García for a 1-0 lead.

“It was a great joy for me,” Pérez García said, translated from Spanish, after the match. “And also to be able to score early in the game allowed me to feel more confident for the rest of the game and perform even better for the rest of the match.”

After Montreal took advantage of a José Aja turnover with a 16th-minute equalizer by Blerim Dzemaili, the Lions then managed a response with another go-ahead goal in the 23rd minute. Down the left side again, Barnes sped toward the end-line and chipped it high into the box to Pérez García. The Argentinian then touched it to his left to a cutting Will Johnson for a shot that rebounded and rolled to Rivas. Rivas cleaned up the rebound with his third goal of the season in the 23rd minute for the 2-1 halftime lead.

“[Kreis] and the coaching staff, they give us all the information that we need for the games, you know,” Barnes said after the match. “We felt that down the sides were somewhere that we could be effective. You know, my game, I kind of like to float into that left-hand area, and Ricky likes to come in off the line, so it just kind of worked. It wasn’t really, you know, anything that was, like, really planned, but we kind of had an idea about it.”

Man of the Match: Ricardo Kaká

Kaká was a part of the opening goal, as he grounded in a cross to Pérez García for the eighth-minute score. The Brazilian was also instrumental in helping maintain possession, completing 86.3 percent of his 51 passes. He also took two shots, created three chances, recorded a tackle and drew a foul in just his second 90-minute performance of the season.

What’s next?

Orlando City now will begin a three-game road trip, beginning with the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday at 10:30 p.m.

Donny Toia Plays Former Team for the 1st Time

Left-back Donny Toia played his former team for the first time in Saturday’s draw with the Impact. On Jan. 24, during the preseason, Toia said he had been trying to get out of Montreal.

“I mean, I was trying to get out of Montreal,” Toia said during the preseason. “It just wasn’t right for me, so I was able to get out of there, and now I’m in the states.”

Toia knew that he wanted to win playing against his former team.

“It felt good. I mean, obviously, going against your old team, you wanna come out and win,” Toia said after the match. “Unfortunately, we didn’t do that, but I thought we played first half, and we just made some mistakes in the second half, and it cost us. Learn from it and move on.”

The 25-year-old signed a three-year contract extension with Orlando City in late March. So far this season, he has started all 13 of his appearances, tallying 1,170 minutes with two assists.

Orlando City SC Embarks on 3-game Road Trip

Orlando City embarks on a relatively familiar stretch of games, as the Lions will play three road matches in the span of nine days. City will first travel to face the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday, then travel to face Chicago on June 24 and will conclude the trip with a visit to Real Salt Lake on June 30.

For Kreis, the approach doesn’t change compared to the three stretches of three games in eight days during May. It’s a matter of improving that same approach.

“You know, I don’t think it’s a question of doing something differently. I think it’s a question of doing it better,” Kreis said. “I think that we will have to use multiple players. We aren’t gonna stick with the strongest 11 and try to play as many games as we have with as much travel as we have.

“We have a deeper roster. We have a lot of players that we believe in, and we’re gonna need to just do better.”

Said Barnes on the upcoming three-game road stretch: “You know, I think it goes back to the work rate that we were showing at the beginning of the year. I thought the first 45 minutes…was exceptional. I thought we attacked really well. We defended well. Some really exciting football. So that’s what we’ve got to look at. Look at the positives and take that through all these games throughout the month.”

Highlights

NDR Notes

  • Kaká is making his first start since a 3-0 loss to New York City FC at home on May 21.
  • Pérez García scored his first goal of the season, his first as a Lion.
  • Center-back Tommy Redding subbed on in the 72nd minute, making his first appearance for Orlando City since starting in a 4-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo on May 6.
  • Spector scored his first Orlando City goal with a stoppage-time, equalizing header.
  • Toia faced his old team for the first time in Saturday’s 3-3 draw.
  • Kaká played his first 90-minute game, his second of the season, since a full performance in a 2-2 draw against Sporting Kansas City on May 13.

Scoring

Time Team Goal-scorer Assisted by
8’ Orlando City SC Matías Pérez García Ricardo Kaká
16’ Montreal Impact Blerim Dzemaili Ignacio Piatti
23’ Orlando City SC Carlos Rivas n/a
58’ Montreal Impact Ignacio Piatti Blerim Dzemaili
59’ Montreal Impact Ignacio Piatti n/a
90’+ Orlando City SC Jonathan Spector Matías Pérez García

Statistics and Starting Lineups

  Goals Assists Shots Shots on Goal Possession %
Orlando City SC 3 2 17 7 58.6%
Montreal Impact 3 2 11 7 41.4%

Orlando City SC starting XI (4-4-2): Joe Bendik (GK); Donny Toia, José Aja, Jonathan Spector, Scott Sutter; Ricardo Kaká (C), Cristian Higuita, Will Johnson, Matías Pérez García; Carlos Rivas, Giles Barnes

Montreal Impact starting XI (5-3-2): Evan Bush (GK); Daniel Lovitz, Kyle Fisher, Laurent Ciman, Victor Cabrera, Hassoun Camara; Blerim Dzemaili, Marco Donadel, Patrice Bernier (C); Ignacio Piatti, Matteo Mancosu

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