MONTREAL — Orlando City has been in a free fall for weeks, and on a rainy Wednesday night at Stade Saputo, the Lions hit a new low.
It’s a low coach Jason Kreis is hoping will end up being the worst of the season, when all is said and done.
During a shambolic performance against the club with most losses in MLS in front of an announced crowd of 15,621, the Lions shot themselves in the foot repeatedly. The Lions (6-8-1, 19 points) dropped their sixth consecutive match in league play, falling 3-0 to the Montreal Impact (5-11-0, 15 points).
It was Orlando City’s final match in league play before the World Cup break.
“I sure hope so,” Kreis said with a laugh when asked if Orlando City has reached its lowest point of the season. “That is 1,000 percent the hope is that this is rock bottom and that we can move forward from here.
“I keep telling the guys, and I believe it to be 1,000 percent true, is that nobody’s helping us out of this. Nobody’s coming over the wall to rescue us. Pretty clearly we’re not getting any 50-50 referee decisions so we’re going to have to take this one ourselves. We’re going to have to work together and bring ourselves out of this.”
The match was the second of back-to-back stops in Canada for Orlando City. It was also the Lions’ fourth road match in a row, including a game against Miami United in U.S. Open Cup play.
When asked what positives he could take from two matches in Canada, Kreis was clear.
“Zero,” he said. “Zero points means zero positives, really. I still think we’re doing some things right in the game, but at the end of the day, we get paid to get points and we didn’t get the job done.”
For the 13th time in 15 matches this season, Orlando City conceded the first goal. For the third time this season, the opposing side scored the first goal of the match on a penalty kick.
The Lions got off to a nightmare start and the Impact wasted no time getting into Orlando City’s penalty area. In the fourth minute, centerback Amro Tarek cleared a shot to the feet of Montreal midfielder Saphir Taider in the penalty area. Taider made his way toward the end line and was tripped up by Orlando City’s Cristian Higuita for a penalty.
Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti stepped up and converted the penalty kick in the fifth minute and Orlando City found itself battling from behind again.
“I’m a little exasperated at the moment because it’s another game where a critical decision just goes against us,” Kreis said. “I vehemently disagree with the call. I don’t think it was anywhere close to a penalty kick. And we’re down 1-0 again.
“Like it or not, the reality of life is that with so many things happening in so many games so many weeks in a row now, it’s really hard to keep coming back from that. Really hard to keep a positive mindset and a positive response to that.
“The challenge is ours. We have to rise to that challenge and be able to do better.”
Things were just as bad in the second half, even though the Lions controlled possession (61.2 percent in the second half) and took nine shots (two on target).
Montreal doubled its lead in the 55th minute thanks to an own goal from Tarek. Piatti found left back Daniel Lovitz on the left side of the penalty area.
Lovitiz didn’t bother taking a touch and sent a low cross in front of the goal. Tarek tried to clear it out for a corner and instead sent the ball into the back of his own net.
The Lions spent the rest of the match frantically searching for a goal. Kreis made three second half subs and all three decisions brought on attacking players.
Piatti put the exclamation point on the match for the Impact with a goal in the second minute of second half stoppage time.
The loss spoiled the MLS return of captain and centerback Jonathan Spector, as well as striker Dom Dwyer’s return to the starting XI.
“We’re frustrated with each and every loss, but the only thing we do is take it one game at a time,” Spector said. “On a six game win streak we took it one game at a time and we’ll do the same in this. We have another opportunity coming up in the Open Cup against D.C. and we need to take that one.”
Orlando City plays D.C. United on Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup action. The Lions resume MLS play June 23 at home against the Impact.