The 3 keys to taming the Lions

Impact unbeaten in last five games against Orlando City SC

Maybe it’s because Florida is so beloved by Quebecers, but the Montreal Impact sure does like facing Orlando City SC. The Bleu-blanc-noir hasn’t lost against the Lions since 2016, with an all-time record of five wins, three losses and two draws. Does this mean that Nani’s new club represents the perfect opponent for the Bleu-blanc-noir to bounce back following a tough last-minute loss in Houston last week? Better not to think about it too much on Montreal’s end, who is already somewhat comfortable at the magnificent Orlando City Stadium, a venue which has proven beneficial to the Bleu-blanc-noir since it first opened in 2017.

The Lions, on their end, seem to be going through a constant rebuild. Head coach James O’Connor can count on 14 new players since this winter, while another 15 removed their mane, most notably Yoshi Yotun, the former leader in midfield for the Floridian side. Orlando’s start to the season is somewhat satisfying for them, with two draws up to now, albeit both tell a different story: against NYCFC, a two-goal deficit was erased in front of their home crowd, but in Chicago, the Fire managed to tie the game at the 94th minute and steal a point. And since we’re not afraid to stir the pot here at Impact Media, we’d go as far as saying that two of the three goals they scored this year were rather lucky. Here are the three keys to taming the lion, Saturday at 4pm (TVA Sports, 98.5).

  1. Forget Houston

We can’t change the past. Yes, the goal conceded at the last minute in Houston is a lesson Montreal must retain, but this result shouldn’t affect the team’s confidence and togetherness. Coming back to the foundation established during this year’s training camp, during which the Impact conceded just one goal in five games, will be of vital importance for Rémi Garde’s men.

  1. Press the centre-backs

An obvious weakness early in the season on Orlando City SC’s end becomes evident when one of its centre-backs is in possession of the ball: Alex De John, Shane O’Neil and Kamal Miller have lost the ball 58 times in two games, with only three of four passes attempted finding their intended target. It may be worth it to press them when one of them is in possession, although the Impact will need to get back into position quickly if it doesn’t work.

  1. Quality in the final third

Perhaps it’s what was most lacking in Houston last week: quality and precision in the final third are essential at this level. Focus and execution, particularly for Montreal’s wingers, who can take advantage of space on the flanks created naturally by Orlando City SC’s formation, must absolutely be employed by the Bleu-blanc-noir’s forwards.