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Orlando City vs. New York Red Bulls: Final Score 5-2 as Cyle Larin Sets MLS Rookie Scoring Record With Hat Trick

Cyle Larin captured his second hat trick of the season, Bryan Rochez scored another late goal off the bench, and Orlando City walked out of Red Bull Arena with a huge victory.

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JD Casto, The Mane Land

Who said Cyle Larin was out of gas?

The Canadian rookie finally captured the Major League Soccer record he’s been chasing for weeks with the first of his three goals against the New York Red Bulls (14-9-6, 48 points) in Orlando City’s 5-2 win at Red Bull Arena on Friday night.

Following a hat trick against New York City FC at Yankee Stadium back in July, Larin made his return to the New York metro area with another heroic performance, netting his second hat trick of the season, coupled with a pair of assists from Carlos Rivas, to lead the Lions to a massive road victory. The much-needed three points keep Orlando one point back of the Montreal Impact for the sixth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

If you missed the first 15 minutes, then you didn’t miss much. The two sides took the early part of the match to get a feel for things before turning up the heat. And that’s when things got crazy.

Six minutes after Bradley Wright-Phillips had a dangerous free kick at the edge of the penalty area saved by Tally Hall, Larin opened the scoring with his first of three on the night in the 24th minute, finishing home a header off of a corner kick to put the Lions up 1-0, officially setting the MLS rookie record for goals in a single season in the process.

Orlando City (10-13-8, 38 points) was able to hold its lead for all of four minutes before Red Bulls captain Dax McCarty headed home his first goal of the season off of a set piece, diving home on the far post to level the score in the 29th.

In the process, Seb Hines and two other New York players — Matt Miazga and Lloyd Sam — collided with, and destroyed, Hall in front of the net. It’s unclear what happened to Hines, due to the lack of any real replays, but he was carried off of the field on a stretcher, forcing Heath to burn his first sub just over 30 minutes in, using it on Rivas, who would turn out to be the difference-maker for the Lions in this one. Rivas assumed left wing duties, sliding Brek Shea back to left back and moving Luke Boden to Hines’ vacated center back slot.

Hines was starting because David Mateos felt something in pregame warm-ups and had to be a late scratch.

Rivas’ first big moment came just before the end of the half in the 44th minute, sending a perfect through ball in to Larin, whose clinical finish past Luis Robles put the Lions back in front in the wild first 45 minutes. In stoppage time, New York nearly leveled when McCarty headed one ball off of the cross bar, and moments later a Bradley Wright-Phillips header went off the right post, saving Hall once more.

The Lions carried the momentum into the locker room, and brought it back out with them to start the second half, picking up right where they left off with a goal less than a minute into play.

Moving with pace down the left side, Rivas sent another ground cross into the box to Larin, which was first met by Red Bulls defender Damien Perrinelle, whose touch went into the back of the net, extending Orlando City’s lead to 3-1.

Surely that sealed things up for the Lions, right? Wrong.

After Kaká and Hall picked up yellow cards less than five minutes apart for silly infractions, Sam shook loose of Boden and pulled his team within a goal, finishing from just a handful of yards out to beat Hall, making it a 3-2 game after 58 minutes.

But Larin was still on the field, which meant there were more goals to come.

One more for the Canadian, as Larin finally picked up his hat trick with his 14th goal of the season, finishing off another impressive pass from Rivas, pushing the lead back to two goals.

Larin’s last game against the Red Bulls, in case you forgot, ended with him seeing a red card for a tackle that was really not a tackle on Sacha Kljestan. And after tonight’s game, it’s fair to say that not only does he enjoy facing New York teams on the road, but Larin was able to avenge the red card with a stellar performance in New Jersey.

Bryan Rochez, who came on for Larin in the 76th minute, picked up his third goal of the season in the closing minutes of the match, finishing off a pass from Kaká to officially turn the lights out on New York’s night.

It was a crazy game that saw Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch sent off in the 57th minute for dissent, much like Adrian Heath was dismissed in the first meeting between the two clubs. Crazy or not, Orlando City has now won three consecutive MLS games for the first time, fanning the flames of the club’s faint playoff hopes.


Orlando City’s next game will be another big one, as the Lions return home to host the team they’re chasing — the Impact — at the Citrus Bowl next Saturday. The Lions will be without Cristian Higuita for the match, as the defensive midfielder picked up a yellow card in the first half, meaning he’ll be suspended for yellow card accumulation.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/20/24

The Wall sells out, Robin Jansson earns recognition, Concacaf W Gold cup preview, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! We’re now just one day away from the first competitive Orlando City game of the year, and it can’t get here fast enough. As usual, we have plenty to cover this morning, so let’s jump straight into it.

The Wall Sells Out for Orlando City’s Season Opener

The Wall, the supporters section of Orlando City’s stadium, has sold out of single-match tickets ahead of Saturday’s home opener against CF Montreal. Limited tickets for the match are still available for the rest of the stadium, and hopefully it will fully sell out for the first match of the season. This Saturday will be the 10th consecutive time in which the Lions start their MLS season at home. It should be a great match and a chance for Orlando to get its season off to a good start between Concacaf Champions Cup matches against Cavalry FC.

Robin Jansson Praised as a Top Defender in MLS

Orlando City center back Robin Jansson was recognized as one of the best center backs in MLS by MLSsoccer.com‘s Joseph Lowery. The 32-year-old has been an integral part of Orlando’s defense since joining the league in 2019 and should continue anchoring the team’s back line this season. Not only is he excellent in terms of defense, but the Beefy Swede can also make an impact on offense with his passing and surprising runs up the field. Jansson is one of the most consistent defenders in the league and agreed to a new contract with the club earlier this month.

MLS Transfer News Roundup

The 2024 Major League Soccer season might kick off tomorrow, but transfers are still flying thick and fast, which means we have things to catch up on. We start with one of the teams opening the season tomorrow, Inter Miami, which has officially transferred midfielder Gregore to Botafogo in the Brazilian top flight. We move on to NYCFC, which has completed the signing of striker Jovan Mijatović from Red Star Belgrade. The 18-year-old Serbian youth international has inked a deal that runs through the 2028 season, with an option year for 2029. We finish up with the Houston Dynamo, which have signed Coco Carasquilla to a contract extension. The Panamanian midfielder’s deal now runs through the 2025 season and has option years for 2026 and 2027.

Concacaf W Gold Cup Preview

The inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup kicks off later today, so make sure you get up to speed on everything you need to know about the competition. The United States Women’s National Team has been grouped with Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico, and will be looking for a strong showing following a disappointing campaign at last summer’s World Cup. The tournament will feature a total of 12 teams, with eight Concacaf representatives and four from CONMEBOL. The top two finishers in each of the three groups advance to the knockout round, along with the top two third-place finishers. The USWNT begin play tonight against the Dominican Republican at 10:15 p.m. from Dignity Health Sports Park.

Americans in Midweek Action

With a number of American players taking part in games during the working week, get everything marked down on your calendar so you don’t miss anything. Things get started this afternoon with a huge game, as Malik Tillman, Ricardo Pepi, Sergino Dest, and PSV Eindhoven take on Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League. European competition continues on Thursday as well, with Christian Pulisc, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan facing Rennes in the Europa League play. Things finish out on Friday as the red-hot Brandon Vazquez and Monterrey face Juarez in Liga MX competition.

Minnesota United Close to Coaching Hire

A coaching search that will surely go down as one of the most thorough in MLS history is nearing its conclusion, as Minnesota United is reportedly close to naming Manchester United assistant Eric Ramsay as the team’s new skipper. While nothing is official yet, Ramsay is said to be the leading candidate, and The Athletic‘s Tom Bogert says that the team is closing in on the hire. If he joins, Ramsay will become the youngest coach in league history at the tender age of 32, and he will also become Minnesota’s second coach following Adrian Heath’s departure in October of last year.

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That’s all I have for this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Opinion

Orlando City’s 10th Anniversary is the Time to Remember the Club’s Originals

Orlando City’s 10th year in MLS should be used to honor the players who built the club.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

The 2024 season is Orlando City’s 10th in Major League Soccer. The club has scheduled several events throughout the year to celebrate having been in the country’s top division for a decade, but the season should also be a time for fans to reflect on the people who made it happen without getting to experience the result.

Orlando City arrived in Orlando in 2010 with the goal of reaching MLS. However, it was the first professional soccer team in the city since the 1990s and resides in a football hotbed, leaving many to wonder if the team would be successful. The most famous doubt came at the team’s inaugural media day, when longtime WESH 2 sportscaster Pat Clake told club founder Phil Rawlins and inaugural Head Coach Adrian Heath that, while he wished them luck, a professional soccer team in Orlando would never work.

The Orlando project got off to a much better start than the Austin Aztex, Rawlins’ former project. During the team’s first season in 2011, Orlando City substantially outdrew its predecessor, proving there was an appetite for soccer. But there was another factor to the team’s popularity. The Lions won…a lot.

The success of a team at home has a significant impact on the enjoyment of attending games. In four USL Pro seasons, Orlando City was 40-3-9 (W-L-D) at the Citrus Bowl (now Camping World Stadium) and Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports, winning three regular season titles and two USL Pro championships. Seeing the local team win and score frequently is much more likely to result in people returning for more games. That’s exactly what the Lions did, and it helped to create a following.

When MLS considered Orlando City for expansion, the league looked at average attendance, season ticket numbers, and community involvement. All of these factors were directly related to the team’s success on the field. For this reason, the key players on those teams are responsible for Orlando City being in MLS in the first place. 

In addition to their work on the field, the players from the USL Pro era worked in the community to build a following. They spoke with local groups and were active throughout Central Florida, convincing people to attend games. It was all about the effort of getting the team into MLS. Unfortunately, many of those players didn’t get to experience the results of their labor.

The core of Orlando City’s team from 2011 to 2013 remained the same, with Miguel Gallardo in goal, Luke Boden at left back, Rob Valentino at center back, Kevin Molino and Jamie Watson in the midfield, and Dennis Chin up top. The success they had resulted in the club being announced as the newest expansion side on Nov. 19, 2013. However, of those six stalwarts, only Boden and Molino continued with the team into MLS.

Over the past 10 years, Orlando City has had several star and fan favorite players come and go. As the club’s USL Pro era gets further in the rearview mirror, the players who built the organization are forgotten or unknown by a large portion of the fanbase that didn’t experience the early seasons.

To the club’s credit, Orlando City worked to keep the memory of the team’s foundation alive in recent years. This preseason, Chin, Lewis Neal (a 2011 original who returned to the team in MLS), and Dom Dwyer (who was on loan with the team in 2013 and returned in 2017) were involved in the popular away jersey unveiling. Additionally, Chin signed autographs and took part in a Q&A session during the Society XXI preseason game against the New England Revolution. They’ve had other events, like the 2022 U.S. Open Cup games against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, when former players have been invited back.

Additionally, the club raised banners last year for the 2011 and 2013 USL Pro championships and announced this year that it will display the trophies in a new permanent exhibit called “The Vault.” The club also released an updated version of the three-lion USL Pro logo from those first four seasons.

When people consider the factors that resulted in Orlando City joining MLS in 2015, the fan support during the USL Pro years is the first thing that comes to mind. But without the success of those teams and the work the players put into building the following, the club likely never would’ve made it to the top division. This 10th anniversary season is a good time to remember those club legends.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/19/24

Orlando City wins preseason finale, post-match concert artists named, U.S. Open Cup in jeopardy, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers. We’re about to get to see Orlando City play matches in both the MLS regular season and the Concacaf Champions Cup. Cavalry FC is up first on Wednesday and CF Montreal on Saturday. That’s a whole lot of Canada to start things off, eh? Before we get to the links, please join us in wishing a happy birthday to Orlando Pride star Marta, who turns 38 today.

Orlando City Defeats the Rapids in Preseason Finale

The Lions won their final preseason match against the Colorado Rapids 3-2 at Inter&Co Stadium on Saturday. Kyle Smith got the scoring going mere seconds into the match and Facundo Torres doubled the lead on a penalty kick before the end of the first half. The Rapids tied it up in the second half, but Orlando City rookie Jeorgio Kocevski scored a late winner in stoppage time to keep the Lions unbeaten in the preseason. Orlando ended the preseason schedule with a record of 4-0-1.

Orlando Postgame Concert Announced

As I get older, I see each decade get its time in the nostalgic spotlight. Evidently, it is the 1990s’ turn. Orlando City announced a concert that will follow the Austin FC match at Inter&Co Stadium on March 23. You didn’t ask for it — and neither did anyone else — but Vanilla Ice, Rob Base, and Montell Jordan are headlining an “I Love the 90s” post-match concert. I’m not entirely certain if everyone will be required to stop, collaborate, and listen, but it’s certainly a possibility.

PRO Referee Strike Looms

Normally, if I told you that Orlando City didn’t have to worry about the Professional Referees Organization (PRO), I’m willing to bet you’d be pretty happy. Now it’s a real possibility that the Lions’ first match will likely have stand-in referees. The Professional Soccer Referees Association rejected a new collective bargaining agreement with PRO, meaning that there will be a lockout. PRO has identified “qualified replacements” ready to make sure that matches will be able to be played.

Open Cup in Jeopardy

The start of the 2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is only a month away, although that isn’t a certainty. U.S. Soccer and MLS are still not seeing eye to eye regarding how many of the senior squads will participate. On the other side of the equation, the USL is pushing back against the demands from MLS.

Ultimately, this is a power struggle between the upper levels of organized soccer in this country. If a compromise solution can’t be found, it could mean that the Open Cup won’t take place this year. If that happens, it won’t help any of the involved parties and it will be devastating to the supporters of all the clubs at every level.

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  • Thanks to Zakaria Taifi’s mother, Alyssa Taifi, we know that Orlando City B defeated Philadelphia Union II by a score of 4-0 in a preseason scrimmage, and that there was some chippiness in the match.
  • Inter Miami is under pressure to get roster compliant. As such, Federico Redondo will not be joining the Herons due to Miami’s inability to bring him in because of MLS regulations regarding payment methodology.
  • Inter Miami midfielder Victor Ulloa announced he is retiring, which will also help Miami’s roster cap problems.

That will do it for today. Check back for our coverage of Orlando City’s two matches this week. Vamos Orlando!

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