Orlando City grabs well earned point on the road in Montreal

Filed under: Florida News,Orlando City Soccer,Orlando Sport |

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Orlando City Soccer took a well earned point in Montreal this afternoon after staging a dramatic fight back midway through the first half after they found themselves 2-0 down after 27 minutes.

The game itself was low on quality but that shouldn’t detract from the performances given by the Orlando players today. In all, the team had some seven players away on International duty and while much has been said about MLS not recognizing FIFA International games, the club can hardly have much argument as going into the season they chose the route of filling their squad with such players.

To their credit, all of the players on the field did their job and much has to be said that not one of the players making their first start today looked out of place. In fact, having been 2-0 down, to fight back to earn a draw away from home pays testament to the strength the club has in depth.

The game itself started slowly until referee Ted Unkel stepped in and awarded a penalty to the home side for a handball by Sean St. Ledger. The defender himself could hardly of been aware of what had happened. Quite how Mr. Unkel reached his decision in awarding the home side a penalty in the 14th minute will remain something to place alongside the seven wonders of the world in terms of the mystery they create. Perhaps Mr. Unkel will get out the football rule book on his way home to Sarasota this evening and learn the definition of deliberate handball or maybe his wife, also a referee, will review the decision with him? We can but hope.

The penalty from Ignacio Piatti was almost saved as Donovan Ricketts guessed the right way in diving to his left but agonizingly couldn’t quite get enough on it to stop the shot. Piatti then found himself the recipient of a yellow card for revealing a message to his grandfather in an undershirt as he celebrated his goal.

Montreal’s second goal came about in slow motion in the 27th minute as Jack McInerney hopefully chased Seb Hines who tried to head a long ball back to Luke Boden. The Impact forward got there first and seeing Ricketts out of position lifted a delightful chip high over the stranded goalkeeper and into the empty net.

Orlando got one back two minutes later as Marco Donadel failed to deal with Luke Boden’s cut back from the left to the edge of the 18 yard box. Kaká then took a touch to send the ball into Pedro Ribeiro’s path, and the forward slotted it home with a neat finish past Impact goalkeeper Eric Kronberg.

A minute later, Ribeiro returned the favor to Kaká by intercepting a Bakary Soumare pass destined to Marco Donadel near the center circle. Ribeiro ran at the Impact defence before slipping the ball to his illustrious team mate who made no mistake with a right foot finish that found the roof of the net.

The game then fizzled out to a 2-2 half time scoreline as both teams seemed to take a breather, hardly surprising given the three goal in three minute burst.

The second half was a disappointing low quality affair as both teams tried to find the edge but always seemed to give the ball away at the crucial moment.

It seemed the game was calling out for some quality as even the normally impressive Kaká found himself giving the ball away on more than one occasion.

The takeaway from the game though, is that Orlando City are indeed here to compete. They have strength in depth and while a couple of additions to the squad would be most welcome, this team is showing that it is capable of a great deal more once the players have had more playing time with each other.

Personally, I’d have liked to see Head Coach Adrian Heath give an MLS debut to his son Harrison Heath in the last ten minutes of this game. A year or so ago I remember watching young Heath coming onto the pitch at Seminole Soccer Complex to make his debut against Tampa Bay Rowdies. It was an interesting few minutes as he appeared a little over eager but he then went onto have a very good end of season for the club as he played a prominent part in the final few games that saw the club take the USL PRO title.

It would have been interesting to see Harrison make his debut in MLS and to really see how he has developed. In the Summer a few eyebrows were raised that he had been awarded a contract but in pre-season he showed that he had developed considerably after spells with Burnley, Stoke and Wolves during the break.

That said, no criticism of Coach Heath is intended. He did a masterful job of using all his resources today and the point away from home in such circumstances is testament to his and his players ability. It’s just that after watching today’s game, one can’t help but think that if he’d been willing to take a risk or two, he might have got all three points. At the end of the day, he’s the coach and he works with the players day in, day out and frankly, his little finger has more knowledge about the game than I ever will!

PS. Sorry about the lack of photos from today’s game. We didn’t get any provided by Orlando City Soccer from today’s game and I have to say that I’m a bit bemused that the club hasn’t sent their own photographer to the first two MLS away games. You only have one chance to record your first season in MLS and I have no idea why the club wouldn’t want to do this. I understand that budgets have to be set but there really should be some funding for this as, in time, it will prove to be an important part of the history of the club.

I was fortunate to attend the first game and it cost Florida Leisure around $900 for the trip to report on the Houston game. Perhaps the club can sell a few more jersey’s to pay for someone to go to document this historic season?

PPS. This isn’t a plug for either of my friends Joe or Mark, who I understand have club contracts, to get the gig either. I’ll be honest and say I rather fancy the job myself. 😉


Orlando City SC – GK Donovan Ricketts, D Luke Boden, Aurélien Collin, Sean St. Ledger, Seb Hines, M Amobi Okugo, Eric Avila, Kaká, Tyler Turner, F Pedro Ribeiro, Danny Mwanga (Bryan Róchez 65’)

Montreal Impact – GK Eric Kronberg, D Victor Cabrera, Bakary Soumare, Wandrille Lefevre, Donny Toia, M Dominic Oduro, Marco Donadel (Andres Romero 69’), Ignacio Piatti, Nigel Reo-Coker (Patrice Bernier 76’), Eric Alexander, F Jack McInerney (Romario Williams 84’)


PPPS.You can find details of our trip to Austin, where Orlando City was formed, after the Houston game here.

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