28 teams have now become 14 with the MLS Cup playoffs officially upon us. LAFC edged out the Union in the pursuit of the Supporters’ Shield. Now on the line is the coveted cup, and the beauty is that anyone can win it. CF Montreal versus Orlando City at Saputo Stadium is a fascinating first-round match-up, a true battle of north and south.
MLS Cup Playoffs Pits CF Montreal Against Orlando City
The Tale of the Tape
Orlando City have become a perennial playoff team under the stewardship of Oscar Pareja, and are on a mission to continue building on that. It hasn’t been the best of years for them but with US Open Cup silverware to their name, they aren’t to be overlooked. A 4-1 defeat at the hands of Florida rivals Inter Miami struck fear into the heart of the Lions. Then though, on decision day, they snuck past the Columbus Crew to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs.
For CF Montreal, it is a very different story. The Canadians have been in and around the top of the Eastern Conference for the majority of this season. Whilst unable to pip Philly to the post, they remain a lethal unit all over the field. Wilfried Nancy’s side closed out the regular season against the aforementioned Miami and three different scorers for them in the first half secured the victory.
Northbound ✈️ 🇨🇦 #DaleMiAmor | #VamosOrlando pic.twitter.com/aylZknZxcB
— x – Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) October 14, 2022
Turning attentions to the history of this specific fixture now. The pair boast a win a piece in 2022, both winning out on home soil. On the first day of the season, back in late February, Orlando prevailed at Exploria Stadium. Alexandre Pato and Benji Michel got the goals in a 2-0 win but the action didn’t end there, with the game finishing 10 vs 10. Romell Quioto saw red just after the hour mark and then Robin Jansson was given his marching orders with ten or so minutes left.
Fast forwarding to early May and Montreal certainly got their revenge. Joel Waterman, Djordje Mihailovic, Joaquin Torres and Zachary Brault-Guillard all found the back of the net for the hosts with Joao Moutinho rescuing a consolation north of the border. In the five games prior to these two, Orlando won three of them with one being a draw and the other going the way of Montreal.
Read More: Last Word SC Radio: MLS Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round Preview
Who Can Make the Difference In These MLS Cup Playoffs?
The aforementioned Joao Moutinho started at centre-back for Orlando on decision day. Pareja will be hoping he isn’t forced into doing this again. Injuries have come at a bad time for the Colombian, formerly of FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids. Swede Robin Jansson and Brazilian Antonio Carlos are a key duo and they were both absent.
Meanwhile, the biggest injury worry of Montreal’s season has to be that of Djordje Mihailovic. Having starred in Chicago and now for L’Impact, the man from Jacksonville, Florida has earnt his big money. Mihailovic will join Dutch side AZ Alkmaar at the beginning of the January window, meaning this is his last MLS hurrah. He started this season oh so hot only for injuries to stunt both his success and that of his team.
Kei Kamara is a finalist for MLS Comeback Player of the Year and for Humanitarian of the Year.
Wilfried Nancy is a finalist for the Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year award. #CFMTL https://t.co/KWwj6AGqDJ
— Tristan D'Amours (@tristandamours) October 13, 2022
This MLS Cup playoffs clash has fascinating battles all over the field. The best place to start is with one of the MVPs of the league, Mihailovic. He is the talisman for Montreal whereas Facundo Torres has impressed hugely down south. Torres left his home country Uruguay where he played for Penarol, so as to join Orlando. He, along with Ercan Kara and others, has made the difference for Pareja’s side.
Another name worth mentioning here is Kei Kamara. Bjorn Johnsen, Mihailovic and Mason Toye have all been absent at points so, alongside Quioto, the veteran has had to step up. At 38, the Sierra Leone stalwart has contributed eight goals and seven assists which is only bettered by Quioto.
Individually and collectively, Montreal are the better side. This is the MLS Cup playoffs though and so, anything can happen!