MONTREAL – Sebastian Mendez and Daryl Dike put an end to CF Montreal's playoff aspirations Sunday.
Mendez and Dike scored to lead Orlando City FC past CF Montreal 2-0. The Montreal squad came into the contest needing a victory to secure a playoff berth.
"It's definitely tough (to accept the loss). We had a great game with loads of momentum," said defender Mathieu Choiniere. "We wanted to do some good and bring some joy to these great fans that have supported us all season. This really hurts my heart."
Orlando (13-9-12) will face New York City FC in the first round of the playoffs.
With Montreal (12-12-10) needing a win and Orlando only requiring a point to make the playoffs, the game got off to a blistering start. Both sides wasted no time looking for the opener and provided an offensive show.
At the 16-minute mark, CF Montreal's Zachary Brault-Guillard set up Sunusi Ibrahim with an open net, but the ball got caught in between his legs. Less than five minutes later, Montreal's Djordje Mihailovic played Joaquin Torres in perfectly, forcing a great save from Pedro Gallese.
At the 37-minute mark, a Robin Jansson free kick almost gave Orlando the lead as it deflected off the post from 30 yards out.
Less two minutes later, Montreal responded when Brault-Guillard played in Ibrahim who scored, but it was called back for offside.
"We should have been up 2-0 at the half, but again we have these troubles once we got into that final third," said head coach Wilfried Nancy. "We were close. Incredibly close. And we have to remember that we did all this without some of our usual attackers."
At the beginning of the second half, Montreal continued to push for the game's first goal, but to no avail.
Just before the hour mark, Mendez found the ball on the right of the box. He fired a missile into the top corner to open the scoring.
Only three minutes later, Montreal believed it had drawn even when Romell Quioto smashed home Rudy Camacho's cross. But it was also called back for offside, although indications were that he was onside.
"I don't put the fault with the referee, but the person in charge of VAR," said Nancy. "We put this system in place to avoid mistakes like this but today we had a goal taken away from us."
In the 79th, Camacho went diving into a tackle on Dike with his studs up, resulting in Camacho being sent off.
Orlando then secured the win when Dike was played through on goal. He made no mistake, going around goalkeeper Sebastian Breza and passing the ball in.
"I think it's a combination of maybe anger and disappointment," said Breza about the atmosphere in the dressing room. "But we have another game to play, and we have to keep our heads on that."
With its MLS season over, Montreal now turns its attention to the Canadian Championship final against Toronto FC.