Orlando City SC hopes to build off last season's success as CF Montreal visits

League: MLS

Posted on: 23 Feb, 2024 at 11:55 PM

Credit: Simon Fearn-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City SC will try and build on the most successful season in club history when it opens its 2024 MLS campaign with a home game against CF Montreal on Saturday night.

Orlando City finished second last season in the Eastern Conference standings behind FC Cincinnati with a club-record 18 wins and 63 points and also tied the team mark for goals in the regular-season with 55. The Lions then swept Nashville with a pair of 1-0 wins in the best-of-three first round of the MLS Cup playoffs before losing 2-0 to the eventual MLS Cup winner Columbus Crew on a pair of extra-time goals while playing with 10 men.

That season-ending loss left the Lions wanting for more heading into this season.

"We could have gone further in some of the different competitions that we played in," forward Facundo Torres told the Orlando Sentinel. "Playing two playoff games and winning those and then bowing out of the playoffs here at home left us with a really bad taste in our mouths."

Orlando City will go into its MLS opener on the heels of a 3-0 road victory over Cavalry FC of the Canadian Premier League on Wednesday in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League series. Torres had a brace and Duncan McGuire also scored for the Lions in their first-ever CONCACAF Champions League win.

CF Montreal finished 10th in the East last season with a 12-17-5 mark and 41 points, just two points behind the eighth-place New York Red Bulls and ninth-place Charlotte FC.

Montreal scored just 36 goals, the fourth fewest in MLS, and fired head coach Hernan Losada after just one season. The team hired Laurent Courtois away from the champion Columbus Crew 2 of the MLS Next Pro league in January to try and open things up offensively.

The team also signed free agent striker Josef Martinez, the 2018 MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner with Atlanta United. Martinez has scored 105 goals and 14 assists in 161 career MLS contests.

Montreal went just 0-3-1 in preseason matches, but Courtois told the Montreal Gazette there was no reason to panic.

"We believe we're in the right place," Courtois said. "We really experimented, especially in the last match. We weren't looking for results. It was more a question of repeating positive actions and avoiding finding ourselves in negative situations. Those are the lessons we wanted to learn."

--Field Level Media