Orlando City are through to the quarterfinals of the MLS is Back Tournament, where they face a marquee matchup against reigning Supporters’ Shield holders LAFC on Friday night (7:30 pm EST, FS1/TUDN). The Lions topped the Montreal Impact 1-0 in the Round of 16, but that scoreline heavily flattered the Canadians, who were dominated for most of the night. Let’s use the data to break down how Orlando did it and what to expect on Friday night.
Orlando City attempted 586 passes against Montreal, by far their most in a game under Oscar Pareja. The last time Orlando had that many passes in a 90-minute match was on May 24 of last season against the Los Angeles Galaxy, a game in which the Lions conceded early and chased most of the way.
Much has been said about Uruguayan DP No. 10 Mauricio Pereyra’s play in this tournament, and he was terrific yet again against Montreal, though in a more understated way than in his flashy dominance of Philadelphia in the final group stage match. Miguel Gallardo has a great breakdown here of Pereyra’s contribution towards Orlando’s goal.
But I want to highlight the work of another player, one who has gone almost completely unnoticed by national media throughout Orlando’s run. This is a great catch from Lionsblog on Twitter, noting Uri Rosell’s nearly perfect night against the Impact:
Rosell came to Orlando from Portugal with a significant amount of fanfare in 2018, with the club expecting him to bring the form that helped take Sporting Kansas City to an MLS Cup title in 2013. But the Catalan struggled through injuries in his first two seasons, never quite getting the run of games he needed to establish himself in the side.
The club kept their faith in Rosell this winter, signing him to a new contract, and the Barcelona product has delivered. Rosell has started every match of MLS is Back for Orlando City, holding down the No. 6 role in Oscar Pareja’s double pivot, which allows his partner (either Júnior Urso or Sebas Méndez mostly) to get involved in the attack. Of course, it was Méndez who provided the assist for Tesho Akindele’s winner.
You might have noticed that Montreal didn’t score. The clean sheet had eluded Orlando City through the group stage, as they conceded once in each of their three games. The Impact barely had an opportunity to deny Pedro Gallese and company the shutout.
See how there are no big circles on Montreal’s side? The Impact had no clear cut chances throughout the night. Opta’s xG model didn’t love the one real half-chance Montreal had, Romell Quioto’s wide header on a set piece in the second half, and otherwise the Impact were silent. Give a ton of credit to Antonio Carlos and Ruan especially, who locked down Montreal’s active left side of Quioto, Bojan, and Saphir Taider.