CF Montreal keeps rolling, blanks Orlando City 2-0
MONTREAL — CF Montreal extended its winning streak to three games in Major League Soccer and four in all competitions, by beating Orlando City SC 2-0 at Stade Saputo on Saturday night.
An own goal from Robin Jansson gave Montreal (4-0-6) the lead before a goal from Romell Quioto — who made his first appearance off the bench since picking up a leg injury against the New England Revolution a month ago — put the game to bed. They also handed Orlando (4-2-4) it first road loss of the season.
“Playing a team like Orlando is tough because they have a lot of quality. They’re the best team in the league on the road and this is their first loss so I’m happy with that,” said Montreal head coach Hernan Losada.
“We have to create an atmosphere at home where we not only play well, but opponents know they won’t find any success here.”
From the opening whistle, both teams looked to play to their strengths. Orlando enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and pressed high up the pitch, but Montreal found success through its wing backs.
Ultimately neither team could find a breakthrough in the first 45 minutes as play often broke down before any real danger was created.
The beginning of the second half was not nearly as even. Usually struggling during this period of the game, Montreal thrived, dominating the tempo for the first 15 following the restart and pinning Orlando in its own half.
“We found out together that they were finding a lot of space in-between the lines, and we needed to be a bit closer and more aggressive. If we give them time and space, they are very good players, so we tried to adjust that,” said Losada.
“On Aaron (Herrera) we were having a bit of difficulty, so we put Bryce (Duke) a little bit lower. Slowly, we started to build more confidence and be more compact and little by little we started to create chances.”
That adjustment immediately paid off as Herrera completely took over. While he had similar chances to get forward in the first half, attacks on his flank would quickly run out of steam. However, the new tactic found loads of success as possession in dangerous areas on the right, allowing Herrera’s delivery to cause problems.
At the hour mark, a scramble in the Orlando penalty area led to Rudy Camacho hitting the post. Herrera’s followup cross was then deflected off Jansson, giving Montreal the lead. Sensing blood in the water, the home side continued to press their advantage and doubled the lead just five minutes later.
“That’s what halftime is for, to show us what we’re not doing and making a couple tweaks here and there. It shows us what we’re not doing and what we need to do better,” said Herrera.
“Having a guy like Bryce there is great for a guy like me to be able to make runs off of. Offensively, I’m allowed a lot of freedom and you can see that.”
After combining with Duke on the right flank, Herrera once again found himself in an advanced position with plenty of time and space. He then flawlessly picked out an oncoming Quioto who smashed the ball into the bottom right corner.
Montreal then saw the game out, keeping its fourth consecutive clean sheet in all competitions and extending its streak without conceding a goal to 405 minutes in that run. After starting the season with the worst defence in MLS, there has been a noticeable improvement in the team.
“We had a collective problem at the beginning of the season, it wasn’t just the defence. Individually we weren’t good enough and that translates to group results,” said defender Rudy Camacho.
“With time and a lot of work with the defensive staff you can tell (there's improvement). It starts from the forwards and their work takes a lot of pressure off the back line.”
Both teams are back in action on Tuesday, competing for their domestic cups. Montreal will partake in the first Canadian Classique of the season against Toronto FC, while Orlando stays on the road against Charlotte FC in the Canadian Championship and U.S. open Cup, respectively.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2023.
Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press