We can debate all day if it was offside or not, but the bottom line remains... Montreal has again failed to reach a play-off series.
While it is reasonable to point out the team was forced to begin the season on the road, forfeiting several home games, it’s also clear to conclude that poor game management at the business end of the season, sealed Montreal’s fate.
Only two games were won in that final stretch of nine and one of those was at home to Houston, the worst team in the West; a game that would have been more difficult to lose.
But despite the overall feeling of slight improvement, the same old failings re-emerged in 2021. Poor in the run-in, didn’t score enough goals and not sound enough defensively. Montreal’s football team in whichever guise it chooses, seems destined for an existence of mid-table mediocrity.
It’s now six seasons since Stade Saputo had a play-off team to cheer. Forget about last season, a qualification of sorts, but finishing ninth in the East is not all that worthy of note.
The feeling of progress says much about the transfusion of players and change over the past twelve months. There are signs that Montreal has turned a playing corner but it needs to make the next stage a successful one. Too often this organization has strengthened between seasons on the pitch, only to find rivals have strengthened even more. The perennial game of catch-up is a constant at Stade Saputo.
Still, Renard and Nancy deserve more time. This latest outcome was not what anyone wanted but the pair have enough credit in the bank and the fanbase is relatively content with their work...
The last thing CF Montreal needs now after another Covid-affected and turbulent season of questionable rebrand, name-change and supporter disenfranchisement is change in the senior technical areas of the organization.
And so to yesterday’s ninety minutes. A questionable refereeing decision or, losing to Orlando did not cost play-off qualification. A poorly executed end of season run of results most certainly did. CF Montreal rather than looking in other directions for scapegoat solace, need only look inwardly... to themselves.
If the pain of failure does not drive forward those that remain at the club for next season, then nothing will.
Sunusi should have had his team in front yesterday after only 16 minutes, but got his feet in a tangle at the far post after good work by Brault-Guillard had set him up. Many watching would feel they’d have scored it themselves.
Five minutes later it was the turn of Torres, a more difficult chance, but still one on one with ‘keeper Gallese, after neat football by Choiniere (on his 50th appearance) and Mihailovic, one player who has deserved more from an ultimately disappointing campaign.
But it’s goals which change games. Montreal couldn’t find one and Orlando produced from ‘out of the blue’, a 55th minute wonder strike by Jhegson Mendez, worthy of winning any occasion and his first in the mauve.
Montreal now needed two. Even had Quioto’s 59th minute header been allowed would they have prevailed? Possibly? Possibly not? We’ll never know. It’s all academic now.
Only two significant events remained. Rudy Camacho’s outrageous 79th minute assault on Daryl Dike earned the Frenchman his fourth MLS red card and a place in the CFM Montreal record books for most reds (4) alongside Hassoun Camara.
It’s highly unlikely now if Camacho will be afforded the time to claim the unwanted record outright.
Dike, Orlando’s American international striker supplied the perfect riposte to Camacho’s recklessness, sliding in an 86th minute insurance goal to put the icing on a big win for Orlando.
Montreal can get their golf clubs out, sit back and watch some play-off football. They can’t relax too much... Toronto looms large in what has now become an ever more crucial Canadian Championship decider.
CFM: Breza - Waterman (Johnsen, 76), Camacho (red card, 79), Miller - Brault-Guillard, Piette (Hamdy, 60), Wanyama, Choiniere (Kizza, 76) - Mihailovic, Torres - Sunusi (Quioto, 46) Bench (not used): Pantemis, Miljevic, Bayiha, Bassong, Maciel
Head Coach: Wilfried Nancy
OCSC: Gallese - Ruan (Smith, 87), Carlos, Jansson, Mas - Junior Urso, Mendez (Rosell, 89)- van der Water (Perea, 46), Pereyra (Schlegal, 87), Michel - Dike (Akindele, 87)
Bench (not used): Stajduhar, Alvarado, Nani, Pato
Head Coach: Oscar Pareja
Match Officials -
Referee: Armando Villareal
Asst Refs: Logan Brown, Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho
4th Official: Silviu Petrescu
VAR: Carole Anne Chenard
Asst VAR: Gianni Facchini