top of page

Join us on mobile!

Download the Spaces by Wix app and join “TheEnglishLion” to easily stay updated on the go.

Download app from the App Store
Download app from Google Play
  • Writer's pictureDan Berridge

Analysis: CF Montréal (a).

I have to start by getting something off of my chest. OK. Here goes... I'm sorry PRO referees. I may have been screaming profanities at my TV on Saturday evening, following the awarding of Joel Waterman's goal for Montréal. 'How is that offside you silly moomin'. OK, I may have paraphrased that.

Alas, I was wrong. The ball clearly came off of Benji Michel's shoulder. So, I'm sorry.

No, wait. I'm not that sorry. You're still a collection of inept buffoons.

With Orlando a goal down, away from home, at the break it was always going to be tough to get a result. Some odds sites even had Orlando as high as +900 at the half. Djorde Mihailovic's goal early in the second half meant the Lions were faced with a mountain to climb. Joao Moutinho gave them hope, before Montréal ultimately put the game to bed, winning 4-1.

Possession is 9/10ths of the law

The game was a difficult watch on in terms of possession; Orlando were playing hot potato with the ball. Their pass completion rate of 87% was solid enough, but that was undoubtedly beefed up by long periods of passing along the back-line. Thomas Williams, more on him later, and Joao Moutinho exchanged 9 passes consecutively in one instance. Offensively they just seemed retisant to get the ball down and play in the Montréal half; just 71 of their 226 passes, in the first half, came in the opposing half. And when they did, everything was either rushed and forced or slow and pedestrian. Orlando lost the ball 10 times in the opposing half of the field before halftime. It was hard to watch.

There seemed to be an overall reluctance to play the ball forward and get on the front foot, and when they did they just couldn't make it stick for long. They needed to be more aggressive, to back themselves on the ball. There just seemed to be a degree of trepidation every time the team ventured over the halfway line.

The story was much the same after half time. Orlando just couldn't get anything going on possession of the ball (figure 1). They just weren't brave enough with their passing. I think that's what a lot of it boils down too, a lack of belief. Not only in themselves, but the overall mantra. There was a look of resignation about the team, particularly after the third goal.

They just weren't the protagonists that Pareja says he wants them to be. Only 124 passes were played in the Montréal half, compared to 260 for the home team. Orlando seemed to want to retreat every time they ventured forward. The whole game was played in front of Montréal's defence. The Lions were so easy to defend against. Their attacking output was non-existent; the Lions had an overall XG of 0.22. That says it all really.

Figure 1 shows Orlando's (right) possession statistics, whole 90.


What defending? I actually felt sorry Thomas Williams. The young defender was thrown into the lions den with very little protection. A 17 year old should only be starting in a back 4 with a top quality centre back. Particularly when you have 2 full-backs who like to push on. I love Rodrigo Schlegel, but he's not MLS elite. Williams was exposed to far too much in my opinion.

The 2nd goal is an excellent example of what I'm talking about. Both full-backs are caught up the pitch, Williams correctly tries to cut out the pass, but Schlegel is caught out here. He needs to be shifting into the 6 yard box and cutting off that pass. Instead he makes no play on the ball, as though he just expects Pedro Gallese to deal with it. The Peruvian probably expects his centre back to deal with it. He has to cut off the pass by moving into the 6 yard box, and trust that his midfielders are dropping in to cut out the pull back. Such a movement would leave Mihailovic and Romell Quioto free in the centre, but Sebas Mendez and Cesar Araujo should be tracking them (they weren't by the way). If they don't, that's their issue. It's just a shoddy goal all round.

Figure 2 is a game still from just before the 2nd goal.

I realise we are somewhat depleted at the back, but it would have been much more prudent to have Williams as part of a 3 with Kyle Smith and Schlegel, just to ensure that bit of extra cover. As a young centre back, he is going to make mistakes (see the third goal, where he loses Torres). It's as simple as that. He needed experience alongside him, either side, talking him through the game. He shouldn't have been making his maiden MLS start in a 2 alongside Schlegel.

He needed experience and guile alongside him. He'd get that with Antonio Carlos and Robin Jansson. Neither of which were available, of course. Schlegel isn't going to give him that because he's relatively inexperienced himself. He's also just not that sort of character.

Figure 3 is a game still from just before the third goal.

There wasn't much he could do about the 4th goal. I just feel like he was thrown to the wolves a little. Well, a lot to be quite frank. Williams to his credit, dealt with it all with a maturity that belied his years. And people shouldn't be too harsh on him. He distributed the ball well and didn't allow himself to be bullied by the typically aggressive Quioto. He actually played well, under the circumstances. The youngster has a bright future.

Tactical inflexibility

This is one thing that drives me nuts about Orlando City under Oscar Pareja. Pareja absolutely refuses to shift from the 4-2-3-1 formation. He's married to the concept and seems totally unwilling to change tact in game. I was left scratching my head when Pato made way for Ercan Kara. I realise Pato had a quiet game, but surely you want all of your most attacking pieces on the field when chasing the game? And then Mauricio Pereyra for Andres Perea... Oscar Pareja accepted responsibility for the lack of creativity in the post-game press conference. It's worrying though.

I feel we've become a little predictable. Most good teams have a plan B, that they can shift too mid game. We don't seem to have that. At all.

Top player

Thomas Williams

I was going to go with Pedro Gallese. The Peruvian stopper stopped the game from becoming a cricket score. But then I saw some of the criticism of young Thomas Williams...His rating of 4.6 is incredibly harsh, especially considering his age and inexperience. I thought the young defender acquitted himself marvelously, given the circumstances. He definitely passed the eye test in terms of his play on the ball. His stats were nothing to be sniffed at; a pass success rate of 91% from 44 attempts, 2 completed clearances, 3 interceptions and 3 recoveries. In a game where nobody, I terms of outfielders, played well. I think he showed some promise.

I'm not saying his performance was amazing. It wasn't. But considering he was thrown in at the deep end, in extremely difficult circumstances, I think he did OK. There were far more senior pros in the side who didn't show half as much courage on the ball as he did. Don't be fooled by his rating.

Player ratings

Starting XI

Gallese -7- Kept the score down.

Ruan -5- Not his best performance.

Schlegel -5- All over the place.

Williams -7- Acquitted himself very well.

Moutinho -6- Took his goal well, that's about it.

Araujo -6- Seemed hesitant in midfield.

Mendez -6- Not decisive enough when pressed.

Torres -6- Next to no service.

Pereyra -6- Inexplicably hooked in the second half.

Michel -6- Forgettable performance.

Pato -6- Totally isolated.


Mulraney -6- Looked lively.

Smith -6- Came in very late.

Urso -6- Unable to stem the flow of the tide.

Kara -6- Similar to Pato, got no service.

Perea -5- Struggled.


Head Coach Oscar Pareja: “For us we faced a team that had a lot of initiatives going forward and we couldn’t first get the ball back and second we didn’t create much. There was a point in the second half where we woke up a bit and started being more of ourselves, but it just came out that way with mistakes that just allowed them to score the goals and kept them away from a better performance. A very favorable result for Montréal and we’re going to push forward for better results.”

*All statistics courtesy of

Cover image and top player image courtesy of Orlando City SC.


bottom of page