For several weeks, CF Montreal has been able to earn points against the best formations of the Eastern Association of Major League Soccer (MLS), and it is a similar challenge that awaits the team on Saturday, against Orlando City SC.
In March and April, the Bleu-Blanc-Noir won twice against opponents higher than him in the standings (the New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United FC) and delivered draws in Atlanta and at the Philadelphia Union.
Orlando, one of the only clubs to have played in 10 games, is third in the East with 17 points, three more than CF Montreal. His performances have been inconsistent recently, notably under a 3-0 loss to the Red Bulls on 24 April.
The men in purple don’t score many goals, with just 12 this season. No team player has scored more than two goals. It is however the good outfit of goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, author of five shutouts, which keeps them in the game. The Peruvian had only 18 saves to make, his defense holding up pretty well.
A sequence to slow down
Where it gets complicated for CF Montreal is that Orlando City SC has won its last three games on home turf. That includes a hard-fought duel at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, which Wilfried Nancy’s men have occasionally used due to pandemic-related Canadian border constraints. Nevertheless, the “Lions” did not allow any goals, while they scored six during this sequence.
This is the first time this year that the Montreal squad will play two consecutive weeks at Stade Saputo. The Soccer Club is undefeated on home turf, with 2-1 wins over the Vancouver Whitecaps and Atlanta last week.
Recall that Orlando had defeated Montreal at the start of the season, at Exploria Stadium, in a match marked by a red card on each side. The visitors, however, were in the midst of a grueling streak due to CONCACAF Champions League duels.
Chris Mueller back?
In addition, Orlando is about to make a major transaction, according to The Athletic website. Forward Chris Mueller, whose rights are still held by the Florida club despite his 2021 transfer to Hibernian, Scotland, would soon join the Chicago Fire.
As compensation for acquiring the American, the Illinois team would hand over a general allocation amount of $500,000 over two years, a 2023 SuperDraft pick and the rights to one other player.
Mueller did not convince in Europe and his return to North America, to his native state, would only be a formality. In 112 MLS games, all in Orlando, he had 21 goals and 24 assists.