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  • Writer's pictureDan Berridge

Analysis: CF Montréal (h). Frustration For Orlando As The Canadiens Claim A Draw.

The eagerly anticipated 2024 home owner has come and gone, and just like the Star Wars sequel trilogy, it wasn't what everyone was hoping for.

In a week where pundits galore have tipped Oscar Pareja's Lions for varying degrees of success this season, the Lions were stifled by the visitors.

There were still plenty of positives to take from the game, however. The debut of David Brekalo in the heart of Orlando's defence, chief amongst them. Orlando displayed just how miserly their back line is likely to be this season. In Brekalo and Robin Jansson, Pareja's side have a potential All-Star pairing.

Whilst fans will undoubtedly be disappointed at this result, there is no need to panic. We know Orlando City under Oscar Pareja are typically slow starters. Nothing is won or lost on opening weekend. The performance was far from perfect, but there were clear signs that Orlando are not going to be a team to be trifled with this season. They will win a lot of games.

Bookmark that if you want.


As I've already alluded to, Jansson and Brekalo are a potential All-Star centre-back pairing. Rafael Santos is a solid left-back, whose usefulness in the attacking third is well documented. Dagur Dan Þórhallsson has also been something of a revelation at right-back.

And then there's El Pulpo... He's the best goalkeeper in the league. And it's not even a debate at this point. Whilst Orlando were not quite at their best, they limited the visitors to very few opportunities, with Montréal limited to a 0.83 XG score according to

My point is, in games like this, where the attackers aren't quite firing, although we were only one missed chance from winning, this backline looks like it will keep the team in games. That's honestly such an important building block for any successful side.

As they did against Cavalry in midweek, the backline did a great job of squeezing up on the Montréal attack, allowing them less time on the ball. Jansson had a slightly deeper average position, whilst Gallese was quite high (figure 1). This helped to negate the long ball over the top and thus allowed Brekalo and both of our full-backs to push up. This approach allowed Orlando to be more aggressive in possession; 60% overall and nearly 3 times as many touches in the opposition box than their opponents.

Whilst we didn't quite make the breakthrough this weekend, if we keep playing in this manner the goals, and wins, will come. It's clear to me, 2 games in, we intend to be a front footed side. And that's enough for me, at this stage.

Figure 1 shows Orlando's average positioning.

Missed opportunities

Whilst Orlando were far from being at their best, they still had the best chances of the game. As you'll see in figures 2 & 3, Orlando created 3 big chances to Montréal's 1, 15 shots to their 9, 34 touches in the opposition box to their 12, 11 shots inside the box to their 3... Orlando had the ball in the net via Felipe Martins, but the Brazilian vet had strayed into an offside position. Chances for Duncan McGuire, Dagur Dan and Martín Ojeda were all spurned.

On another day, Orlando take all 3 points in this game.

Figure 2 shows some of Orlando's shooting statistics.

Figure 3 shows some of Orlando's attacking statistics.

Top player

David Brekalo

The Slovenian was solid on his Orlando City debut. The winter signing from Viking won 4 interceptions, 3 recoveries, 2 headed clearances 4 duels. He looked comfortable in possession of the ball completing 86% of his 66 passes. He also looks to have a good early understanding of Robin Jansson's game, which bodes well for the future.

Player ratings

Starting XI

Gallese -8- Made a key save at the death.

Þórhallsson -7- Got up and down well.

Brekalo -8- Very steady.

Jansson -8- Jansson was Jansson.

Santos -7- Solid performance.

Cartagena -6- Seemed off the pace in the first half.

Araujo -7- Broke up play well.

Torres -7- Energetic.

Lodeiro -7- Showed glimpses of his class.

Angulo -7- Tried to make things happen.

McGuire -7- Led the line well


Ojeda -7- Looked lively.

Enrique -7- Was direct.

Smith -7- Helped to see the game out.

Felipe -7- Unlucky not to win the game.

Lynn -6- Too late to have much impact.


Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja

This was a very intense game for both teams. In the first half, I thought it was a little rough and rocky for us, we couldn’t find the sequences that we normally found and the way we play. We found a team that was trying to get by with speed and the wings and break our pressure. But when we had the ball we couldn't just create sequences that got us much closer to the goal. The first half, we came and spoke about it and decided to make some changes in how we wanted to face the second half. Much better, the second half much better. I thought it looked more like us, and we created the options to score. And not being so clean but we respect the job that Montreal did as well because they put their team in the much lower block in the second half. They have a couple attempts to move forward. I think we dominated, but not being so clean so we take the point. I think we have big expectations; I want us all to know this is a long trip and we have to know how to navigate. It’s not like we’re going to score four goals in every single game. This is a process, and we’ll take the tie today. The boys came from a long trip from Canada, and probably in the first half we didn’t have the energy, but in the second half we looked much more like us. So, I’ll take the point, and the boys will move on and get ready for the next match.”

*All statistics courtesy of and

Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.

Media availability and b-roll footage courtesy of Orlando City' SC.


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