Preview: CF Montréal (h).
When? Wednesday September 15, 4:30 p.m. PT, 7:30 p.m. ET and 00:30 BST (16/9).
Where? Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL.
How can I catch the action? The game will be broadcast on TSN1, TSN4 and TVA Sports as well as MLS Live on ESPN+ for residents of the United States and Canada, and Fox 35 Plus and LionNation TV for residents of central Florida. The game will also be broadcast via radio on FM 96.9 The Game, Accion 97.9 FM and 810 AM. The game will be broadcast on FreeSports for us UK folk (FreeView channel 64 and the FreeSports app).
This game really couldn't come soon enough for Orlando City. After their disastrous performance against Atlanta, the Lions need to set the record straight. In the immediate aftermath there have been question marks raised regarding this team's ability to compete in MLS Cup. And those questions are justified; Friday evening was Orlando's second road humbling against high calibre opposition. Orlando have to make a real statement win, particularly with an exceptionally tough run of games on the horizon. There can be no mistakes. None.
Orlando continue to see their injury list dissipate, so their roster should look a lot healthier during the run in. That will be scant consolation, however, if the Lions don't beat Montréal. Whilst the Lions are still looking good for a play-off spot, their spot in the top 4 is far from assured. Victory on Wednesday would not only go some way to helping them achieve their goals, but it would also go some way towards exorcising the ghosts of Friday evening.
Montréal are enjoying a solid, if unspectacular, season so far and currently occupy the last play-off spot. Much like ourselves, they're not spectacular goal scorers, as their 30 goals and 1.41 XG will attest to. They are, however, a fairly robust side defensively away from home. At times. They have kept clean sheets in 3 of their 12 away games, and have yet to concede over 2 goals in all 12 of those games (figure 1).
That being said they do have a fairly high XGa rating of 1.67 away from home. So they do concede chances. But, they can grind out clean sheets away from Montréal, though it's worth noting they are yet to do this against a play off team; their 3 shut-outs came in Cincinnati, Chicago and Fort Lauderdale.
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Montréal also seem to have an issue closing games out, particularly late on; they've conceded a huge 32% of their goals in the last 20 minutes of games (figure 2). Orlando, aka the Cardiac Cats, have scored 30% of their goals in the same period. So, you know. Cha-ching. Maybe.
They're also a team that likes to get the ball into the box from wide areas; averaging 9.69 per game. Their use of the wide players such as Mathieu Choinière enables them to stretch opposing defences.
Figure 1 shows some statistics pertaining to Montréal's goals conceded.
Figure 2 is a graphic showing Montréal's goal concession times.
Montréal are expected to be without Robert Thorkelsson, Mason Toye and Kiki Struna through injury. They also without Lassi Lappalainen and Ballou Tabla.
As for Orlando, Sebas Mendez and Alexandre Pato could feature. Otherwise Orlando has a clean bill of health (at the time of writing). Orlando will welcome back Junior Urso after the completion of his 1 game suspension.
Possible starting XI
It's difficult to accurately predict how Montréal are going to line-up in this game, considering their injuries, travel and the fact that this is a midweek game. I see them using their familiar 3-4-2-1/4-3-3 formation, a little something like this:
The former Celtic, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder has been a big success in Montréal. With 64 appearances for the Kenyan national team, and a wealth of experience in the Champions League and Premier League, Wanyama has helped to install a resilience in this squad. He's a key member of this squad, having started all 20 of his 20 appearances, he's played a total of 1,148 passes averaging at 57.4 passes per game. His pass completion rate currently stands at 86.1%, and he has won 20 of his 30 tackles on the season. He makes this team tick.
I think Montréal's recent form can best be described as patchy. Their last 6 sequence reads as L-W-D-D-W-L, as they moved to 8-7-8 on the season. They currently occupy the last play-off position in the east, following their defeat to Nashville last time out.
Orlando, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back from their humiliation in Atlanta. A result which snapped a 7 game unbeaten streak. Orlando are currently 10-8-5 and sit 3rd in the table.
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