Orlando City was searching for its first win of the season entering Saturday’s game against the Montreal Impact at Orlando City Stadium.
That search, however, continued.
Two goals in two minutes from the visiting Impact, including a brace from Ignacio Piatti, secured a 3-1 victory over the Lions, who remain winless three weeks into the 2019 season.
“I think when you look at the way we started the game, the first 20-30 seconds, you cannot start games like that,” Orlando coach James O’Connor said after the game. “If you are going to start the game like that, you need to have a stronger mentality. The big thing I spoke about there is our mentality needs to be way stronger. To play for this football club, you need to have a strong mentality that’s something that’s really evident.”
In the opening play, The Lions started off shaky when defender Carlos Ascues’ giveaway almost gave Montreal the opportunity to go ahead in the starting seconds of the game.
The Impact (2-1-0, 6 points) opened the scoring in the 14th minute when a ball from Saphir Taider connected with Orji Okwonkwo, who made an uncontested turn inside the box, striking the ball past goalkeeper Brian Rowe.
Moments later during the reset in the 15th minute, Shane O’Neill attempted to play a back-pass to Rowe, but Maximiliano Urruti was there to steal the ball, leaving Ignacio Piatti to double Montreal’s lead, 2-0.
In the 58th minute, a ball won from Chris Mueller found Dom Dwyer, who then attempted a wide-open shot inside the box, but the forward sent the ball high over the crossbar.
Looking for an offensive edge, O’Connor deployed Josué Colmán and Santiago Patiño in the 74th minute for center back Shane O’Neill and Danny Acosta, essentially leaving Ascues as the lone center back left playing on the field for the Lions.
That eventually backfired when Piatti made it 3-0 in the 80th minute when a giveaway from Sacha Kljestan saw the Argentine strike the ball past Rowe.
The Lions (0-2-1, 2 points) eventually found their goal in the 90th minute, when Chris Mueller played a curling pass to an open Patiño, who was able to fend off a defender and find Dwyer to slot the ball into the net.
“I expect us to come back stronger,” Sacha Kljestan told reporters post-game. “I expect that we will come back and have a good week of training because we know we have a big game against [New York] Red Bulls next week. We’ve got to react in a positive way. Bad performance tonight, but hopefully we learn our lesson next time.”
Will Johnson left the game early due to concussion protocol. Cristian Higuita entered for Johnson in the 21st minute.
Nani and Dom Dwyer started for the first time this season on Saturday.
The Lions entered Saturday’s after a disappointing 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire last week on the road.
Tesho Akindele was ruled out for the game against Montreal after suffering a hamstring injury last week against the Fire.
Orlando and Montreal played a physical game, that saw seven players get booked, including a red card from Zakaria Diallo in the fifth minute of stoppage after putting his hands on Dwyer’s face during a late scuffle.
14′ Orji Okwonkwo (Montreal)
15′ Ignacio Piatti (Montreal)
80′ Ignacio Piatti (Montreal)
90′ Dom Dwyer (Orlando)
Up next for Orlando
The Lions take on the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
How the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI: Brian Rowe; Danilo Acosta (74′), Carlos Ascues, Shane O’Neill (74′), Ruan; Sebastian Mendez, Will Johnson (21′), Chris Mueller, Sacha Kljestan; Nani (c), Dom Dwyer.
Orlando City bench: Greg Ranjitsingh, Alex De John, Cristian Higuita (’21), Uri Rosell, Josué Colmán (74′), Santiago Patiño (74′), Kyle Smith
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