Saturday afternoon's matchup between the Montreal Impact and Orlando City SC was all about the first 30 minutes. All of the matches four goals came within the opening half hour. It was the good, the bad, and the ugly from the Impact at Olympic Stadium as the match hobbled along to a 2-2 draw.
The Impact opened the scoring in the 14th minute when Nacho Piatti converted a perfectly placed penalty. Orlando City player Sean St. Ledger handled the ball in the box and referee Ted Unkel pointed to the spot. The momentum continued for the Impact and 13 minutes later, (out of favour striker) Jack McInerney took advantage of some sloppy Orlando defending. The American Striker was able to chip a perfectly weighted ball over Orlando keeper Donovan Ricketts to give the Impact a comfortable 2-0 lead.
The first 27 minutes resembled the last match played at Olympic Stadium in the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) against Alajuelense, as the Impact looked comfortable moving the ball around, winning midfield battles and getting forward. Piatti, Reo-Coker, and Donadel were bossing the midfield; Oduro was getting up and down the wing successfully, and it looked like the Impact could get by without Laurent Ciman in the lineup -- two minutes later this all fell apart .
In the 29th minute a sloppy sequence in front of the Montreal goal led to Kaka squibbing the ball to an open Pedro Ribero who opened the scoring for Orlando. One minute later the air had been totally let out of the balloon after Ribeiro picked off a pass from Bakary Soumaré and fed the ball to Kaka, who finished with a quick touch and a world class finish.
Although the second half started off positively for the Impact they were unable to convert a winning goal and the match ended in a 2-2 stalemate. Head Coach Frank Klopas lamented after the game, "We started off quickly and we got a little too casual in our play. It's a little disappointing because we could have been a little sharper. I feel like we let this one slip away at home."
Although the Impact have put together a number of decent performances in the MLS this season they have only managed to grab two points from three matches. Saturday afternoon was a golden opportunity for the Impact to grab all three points from an Orlando team that was missing seven players due to international duty and furthermore only brought fifteen players to Montreal.
Yesterday was also a chance to see how the Impact would cope without key defender Laurent Ciman, who was missing due to international duty. Saturday was evidence of what Ciman means to the Impact. Not only is Ciman an excellent defender he also helps shape and organize the backline. It could be argued that his leadership could have helped prevent the second Orlando goal.
The Montreal Impact have next weekend off from MLS play, and will begin preparing for the return leg of the CCL in Costa Rica against Alajuelense on Tuesday April 7.
Game Statistics courtesy of Montreal Impact:
MTL - GK-Eric Kronberg; D-Victor Cabrera, Bakary Soumare, Wandrille Lefèvre, Donny Toia; M-Nigel Reo-Coker (Patrice Bernier 76'), Marco Donadel (Andrés Romero 69'), Dominic Oduro, Eric Alexander, Ignacio Piatti; F-Jack McInerney (Romario Williams 84')
Subs not used: GK-Evan Bush; M-Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé, Calum Mallace; F-Anthony Jackson-Hamel
ORL - GK-Donovan Ricketts; D-Luke Boden, Aurélien Collin, Sean St. Ledger, Seb Hines; M-Tyler Turner, Amobi Okugo, Eric Avila, Kaka; F-Pedro Ribeiro, Danny Mwanga (Bryan Rochez 66')
Subs not used: GK-Earl Edwards Jr; D-Tommy Redding; M-Harrison Heath
MTL - Piatti (PEN) 14'
MTL - McInerney 27'
ORL - Ribeiro (Kaka) 29'
ORL - Kaka (Ribeiro) 30'
MTL - Piatti 15'
MTL - Oduro 34'
MTL - Donadel 58'
ORL - Collin 63'
MTL - Reo-Coker 74'
ORL - Turner 76'