The MLS Cup playoffs are in full swing now and it all began at Stade Saputo for CF Montreal and Orlando City. Djordje Mihailovic has had injury issues this year but he made all the difference for the former in this one. Orlando’s defensive weaknesses came back to bite them and so Montreal advance, with the winner of NYCFC and Inter Miami lying in wait.
Djordje Mihailovic Inspires Montreal
Djordje Mihailovic Starts, Scores and Assists vs Orlando
CF Montreal have been at their weakest in 2022 when Djordje Mihailovic has been out of action. He had an ankle injury that saw him sidelined for all of June and then some. They may have beaten the Sounders and Charlotte in that period. At the same time though, they conceded four against the LA Galaxy and Toronto FC, the latter coming in a Canadian Championship semi-final.
Mihailovic, who has agreed to join Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, starred on the final day of the regular season. He contributed a goal and an assist to make the difference in Miami on decision day. Miami’s state rivals Orlando City were next up and he contributed to two goals once again.
🔔 BREAKTHROUGH 🔔
Ismael Kone finishes a slick move for the @cfmontreal opener!#MTLvORL // Audi #MLSCupPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/mB05hwNBs7
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) October 17, 2022
There is a constant discussion regarding MLS players and their standing when it comes to the USMNT set-up. Gregg Berhalter has regularly included a fair few players playing on home soil, and the Jacksonville native has to be in that conversation. One loss in 23 to fellow Eastern Conference teams became 24 thanks to him.
After a goalless first half, Djordje Mihailovic was involved in the opener with 68 minutes on the clock. A lovely, fluid team move was rounded off by Ivorian Ismael Kone. The man targeted by Watford and Sheffield United in the summer was found by Mihailovic very well indeed. The talisman was once again involved, being brought down at the death, with the game in the balance. What was originally given as a free-kick, was then upgraded to a penalty, which Mihailovic himself converted.
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Orlando’s Stuttering Form Shines Through
Montreal’s professional display is easy enough to praise, but their opponents came up short at the same time. There were only two shots on target in the whole game and they both found the back of the net, in favour of the Canadian side.
A major positive for Oscar Pareja’s Open Cup winning side was the return of centre-half Antonio Carlos to the fold. The Brazilian is one of the most highly rated players in his position and so after missing the clash with Columbus, him featuring was a boost. On the other hand, his usual partner Robin Jansson remained absence, meaning Rodrigo Schlegel continued to feature.
City Fam, thank you for your endless passion and support through thick and thin this season.
We love you and cannot wait to see you again in 2023 💜 #DaleMiAmor pic.twitter.com/Vl5qIS97Iu
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) October 17, 2022
Pareja has done a sensational job at the helm of the Lions but once again, the playoffs have proved unsuccessful. Meanwhile, Wilfried Nancy’s Montreal have to quickly shift their attentions to the weekend. Due to their seeding, no matter who prevails out of NYC and Miami, Montreal will play at home once again regardless. In the conference final they could go on the road if the Union beat FC Cincinnati.
Djordje Mihailovic came to the fore here and one would expect his presence is needed once again. There are plenty of other excellent pieces in this team, as was shown in those wins where he didn’t feature, but he is still the main man. He scored and assisted against Miami just last week so would be glad to face them again. Mihailovic assisted in a 4-1 defeat to NYCFC whilst their other clash this year ended goalless. Either way, Montreal will fancy their chances in the next round.