Preview: CF Montréal (h).
Where? Wednesday October 20, 4;30 p.m. PT, 7:30 p.m. ET and 00:30 BST (21/10).
Where? Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL.
How can I catch the action? TVA Sports as well as MLS Live on ESPN+ for residents of North America. For Central Florida residents, the game will be broadcast on TV by Fox 35 Plus and LionNationTV and via radio on 104.1 Real Radio, Accion 97.9 FM and 810 AM.
What a difference a couple of weeks makes, eh? Prior to the game against D.C. United there was a whole lot of doom and gloom permeating through the Orlando City supporter base. And a lot of it wasn't unfounded. Far from it. However, consecutive wins over D.C. and FC Cincinnati have put Orlando City right back on track. And not a moment too soon. This is another chance for the Lions to put real daylight between themselves and those just below the line, or sitting just above it in CF Montréal's case.
This will be no cakewalk, though. Wilfried Nancy's team have already bested us at Exploria Stadium this season. Don't forget that.
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CF Montréal's style
Montréal are a team that concerns me, and not just because of our less than stellar home record against them. Orlando City are a team that like to overload in wide areas, particularly down the right hand side. This often leaves them open to the counter attack, right? Well, Montréal are a team blessed with pace and quality down both flanks. We saw them have a lot of joy down their left-hand side a few weeks ago (figure 1). Whereas in their recent win over Atlanta United, they focused their attacks down the other wing (figure 2), where we know George Bello gets forward a lot. The space behind Emmanuel Mas and Ruan, could be something they look to exploit with the likes of Zachary Brault-Guillard.
Figure 1 shows how Montréal focused their attacks down the left-flank against Orlando.
Figure 2 shows how, in their recent game against Atlanta, they focused their attacks down the right.
Outside of their ability in wide areas, they're steady scorers; their 42 goals on the season has them ranked 12/27. They have an XG of 1.46 which has them ranked 17/27. They're quite direct, but not in the traditional 'hoof it up the field' sense. They favour a possession based approach, playing 474.8 passes per game with 32.9% of them going forward. They have gotten pretty good at maintaining this possession based approach, completing 84.7% of their passes. How Orlando fare in terms of recoveries and winning those second balls is going to be important.
CF Montréal have quite a lengthy injury list right now. Robert Thorkelsson, Mason Toye, Jean Aniel Assi and Ahmed Hamdi are all out, according to the MLS injury report. Lasso Lapalainen is listed as questionable. Joel Waterman is suspended.
As for Orlando City, Joao Moutinho is listed as questionable. Sebas Mendez should be available, so it's pretty much a fully fit squad again. There are some minor issues for Pedro Gallese and Andres Perea, but both are expected to be fit. They'll be monitored in Tuesday's session. EDIT (10/19): Antonio Carlos is suspended.
Possible starting XI
Montréal prefers a 3-4-3 formation, which gives them plenty of width. Victor Wanyama, I think will come back in, as will Zorhan Bassong:
The Jacksonville born midfielder has been the key creative influence for this club so far in 2021; his 4 goals and 14 assists say it all really. Mihailovic has started 27 of his 29 appearances, amassing 2,371 minutes since his move from the Chicago Fire. He has completed 80.6% of his 1,050 passes so far this season. He's also scored 8% of his chances, so far this season. It's his creativity that's the main string to his bow however; the aforementioned 14 assists as well as his 58 key passes speak for themselves.
Their form has been a little patchy of late; they've won 3 of their last 6, losing 2 and drawing the other. They currently sit 7th on an 11-8-10 record.
Orlando, on the other hand, have won their last 2 following on from their recent rotten stretch. The Lions sit 4th with a 12-9-8 record.
*All statistics courtesy of footystats.org, MLSsoccer.com and whoscored.com
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