LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Canadian international Tesho Akindele scored in the 60th minute and Orlando City advanced to the quarterfinals of the MLS is Back tournament with a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact on Saturday night.
Montreal was eliminated with the loss to open the knockout round of the World Cup-style tournament at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World.
"We knew it was going to be a different game tonight because it was in the knockout round. We had to beat DC to carry on and go back into a playoff spot, and that's what we did. We all know the circumstances. It was the same for everybody. There was going to be fatigue, and mistakes at times. It didn't work out for us today. We were a bit better against DC defensively, but today it didn't happen," said Impact coach Thierry Henry.
Orlando will play the winner of Monday night's clash between the defending league champion Seattle Sounders and LAFC in the quarterfinals on Friday.
“The chemistry with the group, it was very good, especially in the first half," Orlando coach Oscar Pareja said. "The second half, I think we had much, much harder opposition. Montreal came out sharper.”
Orlando City dominated possession in the opening half but couldn't score. Jhegson Mendez appeared to break through with a goal late in the half, but it was ruled offside in the buildup.
Mendez also had a good opportunity in the 38th minute, but his shot from the centre of the box was stopped by Montreal goalkeeper Clement Diop.
Calgary-born Akindele finally got Orlando on the scoreboard. Apparent miscommunication between Diop and defender Rod Fanni allowed Akindele to dash forward and easily slot the goal.
“We've had the lead and we've held on to the lead a few times in a row," Akindele said. "It shows a strong mentality, it shows good organization from the team and it shows dedication for the cause from the front to the back.”
With group stage matches counting toward the regular season, the Impact are 2-2-1 this season under new coach Thierry Henry.
Montreal was a third-place finisher in its group, but secured a spot among the 16 teams in the knockout rounds with a 1-0 victory over D.C. United on Tuesday. Saphir Tadir, who has three goals in the tournament, scored the lone goal.
“Obviously we wanted to go all the way,” Montreal midfielder Samuel Piette said. “We knew it was a tough tournament, and the way we played against Toronto and D.C., we strongly believed we could beat anybody. I think we started the first half really flat, and I felt that set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Orlando, 2-1-2, was without forward Dom Dwyer, who was out for the second straight game with muscle tightness. Midfielder Junior Urso also sat out.
Orlando, playing this season under Pareja, finished atop its group with two wins and six total goals.
Impact forward Maxi Urruti was on the bench to start the game, but was subbed in for the final five minutes of regulation.
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The Associated Press