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Orlando City vs. Jacksonville Armada U.S. Open Cup: Final Score 1-0 As Mateos Header Lifts Lions

Orlando City sunk the Jacksonville Armada on a second-half goal by David Mateos to move on to the fifth round of the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

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Matt Starkey, The Mane Land

JACKSONVILLE — Orlando City’s 2016 U.S. Open Cup run is off to a good start. Playing their first game in more than two weeks, and their first match since Sunday’s senseless act of violence, the Lions traveled to Jacksonville for their opening match of the tournament, where they escaped with a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Southern Oak Stadium on Jacksonville University’s campus.

The win came as a relief for Orlando City and the club’s fans after a somber week in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shootings that claimed the lives of 49 people.

“It’s been a really emotional few days for everybody, and I’m glad we got this out of the way now and can concentrate on Saturday because it’s going to be another emotionally-charged evening,” Head Coach Adrian Heath said after the match.

In addition to both teams walking out of the locker rooms prior to kickoff wearing purple “#OrlandoUnited” t-shirts, fans applauded throughout the 49th minute as another tribute to the 49 victims. It was a cathartic evening for the club and its traveling supporters.

While nearly the entire team traveled for the match, Heath used a reserve-heavy lineup against the team that was able to beat Orlando City, 2-1, in Jacksonville in a preseason friendly back in February.

David Mateos finally broke the Lions through with his first competitive goal for Orlando City in the 62nd minute, off a corner kick. Julio Baptista headed Antonio Nocerino’s corner ball back towards goal to find Mateos, who knocked in the game’s only goal, which ultimately was enough to send the Lions through the to next round of the tournament.

Neither team overly dominated the play through any point in the first half. Although Orlando City did control most of the better possession, the team struggled to put together dangerous opportunities after 17 days between competitive matches.

Orlando City nearly made it 1-0 before the crowd of 2,155 had time to sit down. Carlos Rivas used his speed to turn the corner on the Lions’ left side and squared a ball back across the box into the path of Julio Baptista. The Beast had a sitter on his foot but shot high over the bar from close range.

Jacksonville came up with its first real chance of the game 21 minutes in, when Junior Sandoval ripped a shot on goal from the right side of the box, but Earl Edwards Jr. was able to get a diving hand on the ball to knock it away for a corner kick.

Orlando City’s next best chance of the first half came in the 42nd minute, when Rivas rocketed a free kick goal just over the cross bar from about 30 yards out.

The Armada came back out as the better side at the start of the second half, but none of that mattered once Mateos put his far post header past former Orlando City goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo to put the Lions ahead, 1-0.

Rivas, who was very much involved in the game, although ineffective, put a header off a corner on goal minutes later, but was denied by Gallardo, who pawed it off the line.

As time wore down, the NASL side continued to apply pressure on Orlando’s defense, which had been putting up a solid performance throughout the night. Edwards, who started in goal for Orlando City, came up with one of his biggest plays in the game in the 91st minute off a counter attack, coming off his line to collect a through-ball and effectively stop the Armada’s final dangerous threat.

“The second (half) I thought we played some good stuff, and we had great chance early on — Julio [Baptista] had a great chance,” Heath said. “I’ve said it a million times, goals change games, and had we went up then we would have had a bit more composure on the ball. I thought the second half when we sort of moved the shape around a little bit I thought it was a lot better.

“I’m glad we got out of it, it looks like we’ve come through unscathed, and we’ll get them in tomorrow and get ourselves prepared for what will be a big game for us on Saturday.”

The win puts Orlando City through to the fifth round of the Open Cup. The club will find out its opponent at noon on Thursday. The Lions will get back into MLS play when they host the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday at Camping World Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

Orlando City

Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids

Familiarize yourself with the Colorado Rapids, courtesy of someone who knows them best.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Another Orlando City game is almost upon us, as the Lions look to both extend their five-match unbeaten run and pick up two wins in a row. This week sees the Colorado Rapids come to town for the first home game of June.

A match with the Rapids means I spoke to Matt Pollard, of Burgundy Wave. That’s another site that has gone independent and the folks over there are continuing to provide great coverage of the Rapids, so make sure to check them out!

What were some of the big incoming and outgoing transfers for the Rapids ahead of this season?

Matt Pollard: The three biggest incoming players in terms of expectations were Kévin Cabral, Connor Ronan, and Andreas Maxsø.

Cabral is probably the highest-risk, highest-reward signing when it comes to the Rapids going after distressed assets. So far, it hasn’t panned out. He presses well, but that’s about it. The same issues he had at LA Galaxy (getting called offside, not finishing) are present here in Colorado. The difference is, he’s the focal point instead of the third player opposing defenses worry about.

Ronan and Maxsø have been great. Ronan was brought in to play alongside Jack Price. When Price went down for the season, Ronan stepped into the No. 6 role and adjusted well. He’s tidy at the back, works hard off the ball, and is one of the better assist providers on the team. Maxsø has been good defensively in the air and good at emergency defending. The Rapids typically give up goals by making a series of small errors. Rarely is the Great Dane one of those players who makes a mistake on a goal.

It’s hard to say if there were any significant departures from last year’s team. Most fans weren’t surprised or bummed out when Gyasi Zardes signed for Austin FC. The left back position has been an issue, so maybe Lucas Esteves. But he had some attitude issues and was hot headed. Robin Fraser’s such a culture guy, he wasn’t worth the headache.

It’s been a difficult start to the season for Colorado, what has been the biggest reason for the team’s struggles?

MP: Injuries. Injuries. Injuries. Price went down for the season in his second appearance. Diego Rubio has had three separate injuries. Maxsø was under concussion protocol for two games. I’ve lost count of how many players have had hamstring issues. As I’ve written about previously for Burgundy Wave, the infrastructure at Dick’s (Sporting Goods Park) is showing its age. The team had a really bad stretch in March and April with practice fields and winter sticking around. They’ve missed key players. They’ve had limited depth. All while playing eight games in May. Hopefully a full week of training has them healthy and refocused for Saturday.

With plenty of games left to play and only sitting six points out of the play-in spots, the Rapids are far from dead and buried. What needs to happen for Colorado to turn the season around?

MP: Get healthy and get going offensively. Rubio is still their only reliable chance creator. All their goal scorers have been streaky. If Rubio comes back healthy and can give the Rapids the production he had last year (a club-record 16 goals and seven assists), that would be fantastic. Add in Cabral, Jonathan Lewis, and Braian Galván having a good finishing streak, and they could be ok. Orlando fans should be wary of Michael Barrios coming off the bench tomorrow. All 12 of his goals for the Rapids have come in the second half.

Are there any players who will be unavailable for selection due to call-ups, injuries, suspensions, etc? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?

MP: The injury report just came out and there are only four players on it. That’s tied for the lowest of the season! Rubio is questionable, and Fraser’s been really cautious with his key players coming back from injury. I can’t see him getting more than 20 minutes Saturday. Moïse Bombito is suspended for a harsh second yellow against San Jose, so expect Lalas Abubakar to start at center back. Price is out, as mentioned previously. Max Alves is still removed from team activities as he’s under investigation for participation in a sports gambling scheme in his native Brazil.

Marko Ilic; Danny Wilson, Andreas Maxsø, Lalas Abubakar; Sam Nicholson, Keegan Rosenberry; Connor Ronan, Bryan Acosta, Cole Bassett; Jonathan Lewis, Darren Yapi.

I think Orlando wins a tight, ugly game. Oscar Pareja knows how to poop-house the Rapids. 1-0, Facundo Torres scores. I do think we’ll see one of the better performances from the Rapids of this winless stretch for what that’s worth. 


Thank you to Matt for the excellent info and helping get us up to speed on the Rapids. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/9/23

Orlando City gets ready for the Colorado Rapids, OCB faces FC Cincinnati 2 on Sunday, U-20 World Cup final is set, and more.

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How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Friday finds you well as we gear up for a weekend filled to the brim with Orlando soccer. My friends are taking me out for teppanyaki and scorpion bowls tonight, so it should be a pretty nice day on my end. Hopefully your Friday goes smoothly as well. Now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Prepares for the Colorado Rapids

The Lions are on a five-game unbeaten run as they get ready for a home match tomorrow night against the Colorado Rapids. Facundo Torres scored twice in the team’s 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls last weekend. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling against a Colorado team that’s allowed 25 goals this season and sits last in the league in points per game, with just two wins in 17 matches. Pedro Gallese also recorded his 26th clean sheet for Orlando in last week’s win, and could make his 100th appearance as a Lion tomorrow night. The Lions will have to keep an eye on Irish midfielder Connor Ronan, who has six assists in his first season with the Rapids.

Orlando City B Aims to Bounce Back at Home

After a 3-0 defeat to Toronto FC II in Canada this past weekend, Orlando City B will look to right the ship on Sunday at home against FC Cincinnati 2. The Young Lions are unbeaten at home this season, winning four of their six games at Osceola Heritage Park. The last time these two teams played was in August of last year, with Cincy winning in the penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw. Although he didn’t score in that match, OCB forward Jack Lynn scored three goals against Cincinnati last year and currently leads OCB with six goals this season. Sunday’s match should be a good opportunity for OCB’s offense to bounce back against a leaky Cincy defense.

USMNT Players Focused Despite Coaching Search

With European seasons over, American players who have been plying their trade abroad are back in the U.S. to prepare for the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup this month. The team will be coached by B.J. Callaghan in an interim capacity while the search for a head coach continues. Although not having a permanent head coach for these tournaments isn’t ideal, Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman spoke on how the team still knows how to get the job done.

“We’re a team that has a very strong team chemistry, strong culture within our group. And we know that for us, not much has changed right now,” said Zimmerman. “We know the same principles, style of play, expectations, accountability – all those things are the same. So I think that’s player-driven, to hold each other accountable to the standards that we’ve set over the past four years. BJ, he’s on top of it. He’s knowledgeable about what we want to do, how we’re going to go about these games.”

The roster includes many of the players who featured in the World Cup last year, but the striker position is one to watch due to the new faces involved. Folarin Balogun is with the team for the first time and it will be interesting to see how he measures up against Ricardo Pepi, Alex Zendejas, and Jesus Ferreira. We will get to see who spearheads the USMNT’s attack next Thursday, when the Yanks take on Mexico in Las Vegas.

Italy and Uruguay Reach U-20 World Cup Final

Only two teams remain in the U-20 World Cup after Italy and Uruguay each won their semifinals. Uruguay, which beat the U.S. in the quarterfinals, beat Israel 1-0, thanks to a goal in the second half from Anderson Duarte. In Italy’s semifinal against South Korea, Cesare Casadei’s terrific tournament continued as he gave Italy the lead in the 14th minute. South Korea equalized soon after with a penalty kick, but 17-year-old forward Simone Pafundi scored a nice free kick to send Italy into the final.

The final will take place on Sunday at 5 p.m., with the third-place match set for 1:30 p.m. It will be Italy’s first time playing in a U-20 World Cup final, while it will be Uruguay’s third time after losing in 1997 and 2013.

Free Kicks


That’s all I have for you today. Have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points at home against the Rapids this Saturday night?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City is back home in Exploria Stadium and hosting the Colorado Rapids this Saturday night. The Lions are coming off a big road win over the New York Red Bulls, and will want to extend the five-match unbeaten streak. What does Orlando City need to do to secure all three points at home this weekend?

Survive the First Half

Colorado has been better in the first half of matches this season than in the second half. The Lions can expect the Rapids to come out strong, looking for an early goal. If Orlando City can play smart on defense, maintain possession, and limit Colorado’s chances for the first 45 minutes, plus stoppage time, the odds of winning at home go up. 

I’m most worried about the first 15 minutes and the last five minutes of this half. It’s going to be contingent upon the effective midfield pairing of Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena to break down the Rapids’ attack. Araujo was in training this week despite going off injured in the last match, indicating it wasn’t that serious and he may be available. Cartagena has quietly been fantastic the last few matches, and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue. 

Behind that pair is another line of defense, including Robin Jansson and Antonio Carlos, that can clean up anything else that gets through. Carlos has mostly been great, although he’s had a few less-than-stellar matches, and Jansson has been excellent. If Orlando City weathers the first half in good shape, I’ll feel better about the Lions getting three points.

Ride the Hot Feet

Oscar Pareja has trotted out the same starting lineup the last couple of matches, and I don’t expect he will mess with the success. After the last match, Ivan Angulo and Facundo Torres will be feeling pretty good, and we don’t want those confidence-boosting performances to be wasted. There will be plenty of time to let them rest if they can help provide the team with a two-goal lead after the 60 minute mark.

The same goes for Ercan Kara. No he didn’t have a goal last match, but that had more to do with dealing with the New York Red Bulls press than anything else. His last goal was three matches ago against Inter Miami, but he is putting the work in regardless, and I think he’s primed to find the back of the net against Colorado. 

Regardless of the scoreline, look for Pareja to bring on Martin Ojeda and Duncan McGuire to either put the match away or look for a positive result. Duncan can be a terror against a team that doesn’t play well in the second half, and Ojeda seems due for a goal. He certainly isn’t shy about taking chances, and eventually one of them is going to result in a goal.

Relax

Too many times in Orlando City history, the Lions have played a team on a winless streak — the Rapids haven’t won in their last six matches — and been the team to let the opposition get back on track. The Lions are also riding a five-match undefeated streak heading into Saturday’s match. It’s the type of match that tends to worry scarred Orlando City supporters, and I have those bad thoughts and feelings as well. As Michael Scott said on The Office, “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.” If Orlando City could not feed into that phenomenon, it would be great.

I think that sometimes the Lions want to give the home crowd a win so badly that they get nervous and end up pressing too hard, or trying to slip a pass into too tight of a window. When that happens, the natural flow of an offense that is looking better, passing better, and scoring goals will give the ball away cheaply. My suggestion is for the players is to just relax. Pretend it’s a road match if necessary, but just keep calm and let the match develop naturally. 


That’s what I’ll be looking for this Saturday night from my seat in Exploria Stadium. Since I’ll be down for this one, please make sure to say hello if you see me.

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