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MLS is Back: Orlando City continues surprise run, overcome Impact


Orlando City dispatched the Montreal Impact with ease on Saturday and continues to take the MLS is Back tournament by storm progressing to the final eight. Fresh off topping Group A in impressive fashion, Óscar Pareja’s men now await the winner between the Seattle Sounders and LAFC in the quarterfinals.

Orlando City dominated possession in the early goings of the game and was unlucky not to open the scoring when the ball fell to Mauricio Pereira inside ten minutes. The Uruguayan spared the Impact’s blushes, skying his effort on his weaker foot.

The hosts poured on the pressure sensing the Impact’s vulnerability and had two gilt-edge chances in quick succession just before half-time. Impact goalkeeper Clement Diop intervened with great aplomb on Jhegson Méndez, making a sensational double save.

Orlando City picked up exactly where they left off after the restart and kept Thierry Henry’s men on the backfoot. The breakthrough finally fell to Tesho Akindele on the hour mark, after Rod Fanni fluffed his lines and played the Canadian international through on goal. Akindele slotted home with ease into the empty net, propelling Orlando City into the next round.

The Impact kicked into another gear with their tournament lives on the line but failed to find an equalizer despite their best efforts. Romell Quioto was presented with a golden opportunity to level the score in the 80th minute but headed his effort just wide.

Orlando City will now have to wait until Monday’s affair between reigning MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders and last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners LAFC for their next opponent. Pareja’s men have since emerged as a dark horse contender at the MLS is Back tournament, with three wins and a draw out of four matches.

Man of the Match:

Clement Diop: Despite being on the losing side, the Impact number one made a number of crucial saves throughout, keeping Henry’s men in it with a chance until the very end. Diop has been a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing tournament for the Impact.

Moment of the Match:

Fanni’s mistimed clearance: Orlando City created a number of quality chances on the night but benefitted from an individual error in the end. It may not have been pretty, but it proved just enough for Pareja’s men to progress.

Match to Forget:

Rod Fanni: The veteran French defender played a direct hand in sending the Impact home, inadvertently setting up Tesho Akindele for the winner with a miscued clearance.

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