ORLANDO, FL – Orlando City SC (1-0-0) kicked off it’s 2022 season with a 2-0 win over CF Montreal at in front of 21,283 fans at Exploria Stadium.
Orlando’s Alexander Pato and Benji Michel scored the goals for the home side, a good start for the re-vamped roster.
The goal was a special marker for Pato. After spending the 2021 MLS season battling injuries, today’s goal is his first With Orlando, making such an emotional impact on his teammates and coaches, who saw his struggles.
Pato got Orlando on the board shortly after Ryan beat his defender down the right flank, and served a cross pass over to him. Pato gathered the ball and sent it past the defenders in the 50th minute.
Benji Michel doubled the score 10 minutes later, charging into the box and taking taking a Maurisio Pereyra pass and putting it past CF Montréal goalkeeper Sebastian Breza into the back of the net.
This season is a new chapter for the Lions, as three key players that were key parts of the Orlando line up have moved on.
Daryl Dike, a force at striker and first round draft pick for Orlando in the 2020 draft, Chris Mueller, also an Orlando draft pick, and Luis Nani, the legendary Portuguese striker, are no longer on the roster.
These changes not only changed the roster, but effect the culture of thee team. It also gave Orlando more of a chance to refocus. Today was a great test of that, as Montreal was a solid opponent.
“I thought we played against a very good team [today].” Said Orlando head coach Oscar Paraja. “Montréal has been in competition earlier than everybody else and we found that to be a difficulty, but we matched that and ended up scoring goals and being precise where we had to.”
Orlando came out in the second half, and started having their way with the Montreal defense, threatening to score, and scoring (Pato and enjoy), and keeping Montreal at bay.
Pareja thinks that the difference was Orlando pressing more and being more aggressive. Michel thinks that the Florida head may have slowed the visitors down a bit.
Today’s match also is noted because it is the debut of César Araújo and Facundo Torres, who were both acquired in the offseason.
Faundo provided glimpses of what is sure to come, sending in crafty passes that were just slightly off in timing, something that will come with more time on the pitch with his new team.
Ercan Kara also checked into the game in the 69th minute, and quickly tussled around with Montreal defenders as they battles him, concerned by his 6’4″ frame.
The Lions head out on the road for the first time this campaign, set to take on Chicago Fire FC at Soldier Field on Saturday, March 5. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. ET.