Orlando City Prepared For Crucial Conference Showdown Saturday
By Lucas Casás, Orlando City // June 19, 2015
Take On Montreal At 8 p.m. ET Saturday
ORLANDO, FLORIDA – A quick glance at the Eastern Conference standings would bring a smile to any Orlando City fan.
The Lions sit comfortably in third place, while Saturday’s opponent, the Montreal Impact, are in eighth. But as the old saying goes, looks can be deceiving.
The Lion’s climb up the standings comes on the heels of their current five-game MLS unbeaten streak, but they’re not the only ones flying high.
Montreal has won four of its past six league games since earning just two points through their first five. Maybe they were a bit preoccupied early on though; they were in the midst of their run to the CONCACAF Champions League final – the first appearance for a Canadian club.
A win over Orlando on Saturday would close the gap between them and a playoff spot.
Needless to say, the stakes are high in this de facto six-point game.
The Lions have already played in Montreal this season – at the Stade Olympique. City erased an early two-goal deficit and salvaged a point with two minutes of brilliance from Kaká and his countryman Pedro Ribeiro.
With the Canadian winter now behind them, the Impact will be returning to their outdoor home at Saputo Stadium, a move Lions’ coach Adrian Heath believes will offer them a huge boost.
“They’re back outside now – back in Saputo Stadium – which is obviously their spiritual home and a benefit to them,” he said on Tuesday.
Last weekend, Montreal fell 3-1 to NYCFC – a team on a hot streak of their own. Montreal dominated possession in the second half but could only muster a single goal to draw within one. Kwadwo Poku iced the victory for New York in the 90th minute.
“I watched the game [last] weekend and after the first half, they were the better team. Second half they played really, really well,” Heath commented.
Perhaps it’s because of his first-hand experience of wanting to rebound from a difficult loss, but Heath knows the Impact will have an extra spark as they look to take back the points they let slip away to Orlando on March 28th.
“It’s an Eastern Conference matchup, so every game you play against somebody in your division – and certainly against a team you think is going to be around when you see the standings – becomes a really important game.”
The Lions have plenty to play for, too. With a win, Orlando City would pull to within one point of the New England Revolution for second place in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand.