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Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Final Score 2-2 as Euphoria Turns to Heartbreak in Stoppage

Julio Baptista appeared to have won the game with a brilliant strike but Shea Salinas spoiled the party.

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Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

What was seconds away from being a storybook ending and a welcome celebration for a community badly in need of one turned into just another game and just another draw. The Lions remain unbeaten at home but that will be little consolation after a 2-2 draw against a San Jose Earthquakes team that hadn’t scored a goal in its last three competitive matches.

And the fact that both of those goals came in 85th minute or later, and both followed Orlando City goals won’t make anyone feel any better about it. It’s two more dropped points in a season filled with them. And this one hurts more than most because the city of Orlando was a few mere ticks away from happiness, even if only for the moment.

“Obviously bitterly disappointed with the way that it’s finished,” Head Coach Adrian Heath said after the match. “I don’t think I ever wanted to win a game of football more in my life than tonight for the obvious reasons. The players are absolutely distraught in there and I feel for them. They worked really, really hard.”

A huge, emotional Camping World Stadium crowd of 37,194 saw a 94th-minute goal from Shea Salinas ruin what was nearly a much-needed win — instead producing Orlando’s MLS-leading eighth draw. Orlando City and San Jose have now met twice and neither game produced a winner.

Orlando City players collapsed in frustration and exhaustion as referee Robert Sibiga blew the whistle for full time just seconds after Salinas had equalized in the fourth of what was to be at least three minutes of stoppage time. It came minutes after Julio Baptista scored what could have been the goal of the season and one of the biggest in Orlando City history — for non-soccer reasons.

The night began with a huge ovation for the first responders and an emotional National Anthem, sung by a crowd that somehow managed to stripe the stadium in rainbow colors with just a few days’ notice. The Pulse shooting victims’ names were displayed on the giant video screen and advertising boards. And then there was a soccer game.

All four goals were scored in the second half as Orlando City (3-3-8, 17 points) and San Jose (5-4-6, 21 points) traded salvos at the death of a hard-fought game that neither side wanted to lose.

After the midweek U.S. Open Cup match at Jacksonville, Heath opened with a back four of Luke Boden, Seb Hines, Tommy Redding and Kevin Alston, meaning three of the four defenders were playing their second game in four days. Cristian Higuita returned from his yellow card suspension to line up with Servando Carrasco in the defensive midfield, with an attacking midfield of (left to right) Brek Shea, Kevin Molino, and Adrian Winter beneath lone striker Cyle Larin in the 4-2-3-1.

San Jose countered with the traditional 4-4-2.

The Lions fashioned the game’s first good scoring chance when Molino earned an early free kick. Carrasco fizzed the set piece delivery just over the bar from about 20 yards out.

Two minutes later, Molino coughed up the ball and conceded a kick from the right wing, which was sent in by San Jose’s Matias Perez Garcia, but it was nodded well wide by Quincy Amarikwa. San Jose came close again three minutes after that when Amarikwa’s cross slipped momentarily out of Joe Bendik’s hands, but the keeper recovered before the Quakes could pounce.

In the 13th, Molino had a free header at the back post off a Boden corner but seemed to misplay the ball and it sailed harmlessly wide. Carrasco’s try from above the box in the 15th minute sailed as well.

Simon Dawkins found pockets of space throughout the opening half and had San Jose’s best chance of the first period when Perez Garcia found him in the middle of the box. Dawkins sent a one-time shot just inches wide of the right post in the 21st minute.

Molino had an eventful first half, getting a shot blocked in the 27th minute after Shea’s long ball fell for Larin, but the Canadian had a defender draped on his back and laid off for the Trinidadian.

Hines should have done better with a free header off a Boden corner in the 31st, but his shot was over despite a lack of pressure from any Earthquakes player. Five minutes later, Shea sent Winter in on goalkeeper David Bingham, but the Swiss winger’s shot sailed well high of the target.

Molino then earned the visitors yellow cards on counter attacks against San Jose’s Shaun Francis and Fatai Alashe in a two-minute span in the 37th and 39th minutes, but Orlando couldn’t take advantage of the free kicks from distance.

San Jose fashioned the last good chance of the opening 45 minutes off a Perez Garcia free kick that found its way to Alberto Quintero above the box. The Panamanian sent his volley over Bendik’s goal and the teams went to the locker room with a 0-0 stalemate.

The action picked up after the scoreless first half. Shortly after the restart, Victor Bernardez and Hines picked up separate bookings. The latter set up a moment of silence in the 49th minute (actually in the 50th) for the victims of the Pulse nightclub tragedy. Hines will miss next weekend’s match against Toronto FC due to yellow card accumulation.

Nothing came of the free kick, and moments later, Larin was in alone on goal down the right side of the box, but his shot hit a sliding Bingham in the 52nd minute. One minute later, Molino was nearly in on goal alone off a great entry ball from Winter but the Trinidadian’s first touch was a tad heavy and the Earthquakes’ keeper collected.

In the 56th minute, Orlando fashioned two chances. Off a corner scramble, Carrasco’s volley was stopped by a diving Bingham. Seconds later, Alston tried his luck from distance but didn’t get enough power on his drive and Bingham comfortably collected.

The Earthquakes then put Dawkins in on goal but Bendik made a big save in the 61st minute. Before the throw-in, San Jose brought on Salinas for Quintero and Heath countered with Baptista, withdrawing Boden and moving Shea to left back.

Moments later, Larin earned a corner with his hustle to force Bernardez into an error at the end line. Hines sent a header toward goal on the scramble that Bingham tipped over for a second corner. Hines did better with his second bite of the apple, driving a powerful header just under the bar off Winter’s inch-perfect corner cross, giving the Lions a 1-0 lead in the 66th minute.

Immediately after the goal, the Earthquakes got on the front foot. Bendik was forced into a diving save on a shot that changed directions in the 68th. Salinas was left wide open at the back post on a corner and knocked his header just over in the 72nd.

Larin nearly got in alone on Bingham in the 74th but appeared to be held, although the referee had a good look and no foul was given, and the goalkeeper reached the ball first as a result. Orlando again created a chance to put the game away with a Molino breakaway in the 83rd but a perfect saving tackle from behind by Marvell Wynne barely poked the ball off of his foot to deny the opportunity.

San Jose Head Coach Dominic Kinnear praised the play as a big moment in the game.

“One thing we know about Marvell is that he’s really fast,” said Kinnear. “For Marvell to make up the ground and put pressure on him to put him into not getting a goal, that’s huge. Because at two-nothing the climb is a little bigger than it was for one-nothing. Sometimes Marvell’s last-ditch defending is excellent and it was really important for us at that particular time.”

There’s no understating the play by Wynne, because two minutes later, second-half sub Chad Barrett tied the score with a header. Salinas ran inside of Barrett, confusing the defense and leaving Redding with two attacking players to defend on a cross. The cross fell perfectly onto Barrett’s head for the goal.

Just when the game appeared headed to a 1-1 draw, Heath brought on Carlos Rivas and the Colombian helped deliver a magic moment. Rivas sent in a perfect cross for Baptista and Molino that the Brazilian chested. He let the ball take a bounce to gather himself and then volleyed spectacularly with power through Bingham to send the crowd into a frenzy in the 91st minute.

It should have been the game winner. It almost was.

But the euphoria wasn’t to last. Salinas then broke hearts in the fourth minute of injury time when Carrasco’s clearing attempt bounced right to the San Jose attacker for the tying goal.

“We got done in by a little bit of lack of concentration on a couple of occasions,” Heath said. “But I thought we’d done enough to win the game. It’s been a difficult evening for everything. The mood in the stadium and even the music that was playing. Everything was a little bit different. Probably for me it was the most emotional evening I’ve had in football.”


Now Orlando City will need to regroup for Toronto next week. The Lions haven’t done well against the Reds so far in MLS and it’s unknown if either Kaká (thigh) or Darwin Ceren (ankle) will be back. Rafael Ramos did return to the bench tonight and may have come on had there been a stoppage before the Barrett goal. But once that happened, Heath opted to put Rivas on to try for the win. It almost worked.

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Cavalry FC, Concacaf Champions Cup: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions play their first competitive match of 2024 north of the border in the Concacaf Champions Cup.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to your match thread for a Wednesday night Concacaf Champions Cup matchup between Orlando City and Cavalry FC of the Canadian Premier League at Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia at 10 p.m. (FOX Sports 2, TUDN). It’s the first meeting ever between the teams and Orlando City’s first ever match against a CPL team.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.

History

There isn’t any. These teams have never met, nor has Orlando City faced anyone in the Canadian Premier League before.

The Lions will be experiencing their fourth international cup competition and their second foray into Concacaf Champions League/Cup, having drawn twice against Tigres UANL last season. Orlando bowed out of last year’s competition due to the away goals tiebreaker. Orlando City has also competed twice in Leagues Cup.

Overview

Both teams will be playing their first competitive match of the 2024 season. Orlando City is coming off a 4-0-1 preseason, drawing 1-1 against Flamengo before reeling off four straight wins against Rhode Island FC, the New England Revolution, the Houston Dynamo, and the Colorado Rapids. City reached the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 2023 and is looking to build on its most successful season to date in MLS.

Cavalry FC is coming off a season in which it finished top of the table in the regular season, but fell 2-1 after extra time in the CPL championship match against Forge FC. As far as CPL teams go, the Lions will be facing one of the league’s best, as you’d expect in a competition called “Champions Cup.”

“We’re very proud and very happy to bring Orlando City to this beautiful city and this excellent competition,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “(We’re) Feeling proud of playing in Champions Cup in Concacaf and obviously aiming for the best prize, and here we are starting the season with obviously a very competitive game.”

Pareja is suspended for tonight due to his red card in the second leg against Tigres in 2023.


Projected Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Michael Halliday.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Nico Lodeiro, Facundo Torres.

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

Cavalry FC (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Marco Carducci.

Defenders: Bradley Kamdem, Daan Klomp, Eryk Kobza, Fraser Aird.

Defensive Midfielders: Charlie Trafford, Jesse Daley.

Attacking Midfielders: William Akio, Sergio Camargo, Ali Musse.

Forward: Myer Bevan.

Officials:

REF: Juan Gabriel Calderon (Costa Rica).
AR1: William Arrieta (Costa Rica).
AR2: Henri Pupiro (Nicaragua).
4TH: Keylor Herrera (Costa Rica).
VAR: Oscar Mejia (Mexico).
VAR1: Erick Miranda (Mexico).


How to Watch

Match Time: 10 p.m.

Venue: Starlight Stadium — Langford, British Columbia.

TV: FOX Sports 2, TUDN.

Streaming: The match can be streamed on FOX Sports GO, the FOX Sports app TUDN.com, and the TUDN app.

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).


Enjoy the match. Go City!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/21/24

Orlando City takes on Cavalry FC tonight, Lions sign Jeorgio Kocevski, USWNT wins in Concacaf W Gold Cup, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you in Florida as we get to watch the Lions in action tonight in the Concacaf Champions Cup. There’s not much new with me this week other than staying busy covering high school basketball and hockey. Let’s also wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Takes on Cavalry FC Tonight

Orlando City will be in action tonight in the first round of the Concacaf Champions Cup, as it takes on Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium at 10 p.m. This matchup will be the Lions’ first competitive match of 2024, with their MLS season opener against CF Montreal set for Saturday. The Lions were knocked out by Tigres due to away goals in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. Cavalry FC will make its debut in this competition tonight and qualified by winning the 2023 Canadian Premier League Shield. The second leg between these two sides will be on Feb. 27 at Inter&Co Stadium.

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signed 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a contract through the 2024 season, with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. Kocevski scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time in Orlando’s final preseason match against the Colorado Rapids this past weekend. The midfielder was selected 21st overall in the first round of the 2024 MLS SuperDraft by the Lions in December. He played four years for Syracuse, recording seven goals and 18 assists in 71 matches. Kocevski is the only player the club has signed from the Lions’ 2024 draft class and will likely get some minutes with Orlando City B this season.

St. Louis City and Philadelphia Union Win in Champions Cup

Orlando City isn’t the only MLS team kicking off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign this week. St. Louis City edged out the Houston Dynamo 2-1, with rookie Hosei Kijima scoring the winner in stoppage time. The Philadelphia Union were on the road in Costa Rica to face off against Deportivo Saprissa and won 3-2 thanks to a hat trick from Julian Carranza in the second half. As for other tournament matches this week, the New England Revolution face Independiente in Panama tonight, with Nashville playing Moca FC in the Dominican Republic and FC Cincinnati taking on Jamaica’s Cavalier SC tomorrow.

USWNT Beats the Dominican Republic in W Gold Cup

The United States Women’s National Team got its Concacaf W Gold Cup campaign off to a great start with a 5-0 win against the Dominican Republic in Group A. Olivia Moultrie scored her first USWNT goal to give her team an early lead, with Lynn Williams giving the U.S. another goal before halftime. Moultrie scored another in the second half to earn her brace, and Jenna Nighswonger converted a penalty for her first USWNT goal as well. Former Pride forward Alex Morgan replaced Mia Fishel on the roster due to injury and scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time. The USWNT’s next game will be against Argentina on Friday at 10:15 p.m.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

The UEFA Champions League had plenty of drama as the round of 16 continued. Inter Milan won 1-0 in its first leg against Atletico Madrid at home, with Mark Arnautovic scoring the only goal in the match. In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund played to a thrilling 1-1 draw. The second legs for both matchups will be played on March 13. There is more Champions League action today, as FC Porto hosts Arsenal while Napoli takes on Barcelona.

Free Kicks

  • The latest MLS power rankings are out just before the regular season begins. Orlando City begins the season in the fifth spot.
  • Orlando City and the Orlando Pride announced fan experience upgrades at Inter&Co Stadium featuring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in merchandise shops, stadium Wi-Fi upgrades, and a jersey history experience.
  • The MLS Players Association released a statement on the ongoing referee lockout.
  • Here is the list of MLS Season Pass commentator assignments for opening week.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.

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Orlando City

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signs its first-round draft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a one-year deal with three option years.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City SC announced the signing of first-round 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski today. The deal is through the upcoming 2024 season with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. The Lions selected the Syracuse midfielder with the 21st overall pick in the draft in December.

“Jeorgio has had a really strong preseason camp with us, demonstrating everything we saw in him when we were scouting him and analyzing his game in college,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “He’s done well working his way into the group, even starting in our friendly against Flamengo and holding his own against some of the best in Brazil, and we’re excited to have him with us this season.”

The box-to-box midfielder made three appearances this preseason, starting against Brazilian club Flamengo and the following scrimmage against USL Championship side Rhode Island FC. He came on at halftime against the Colorado Rapids last weekend, scoring the winning goal in the 90th minute.

Prior to being selected by the Lions, the Liverpool, NY, native made 71 appearances with 65 starts and logged 5,599 minutes for Syracuse in four years. He scored seven goals and recorded 18 assists, putting 33 of his 93 shots on frame. Additionally, he was part of Syracuse’s 2022 NCAA national championship team, playing 90 minutes in the 2-2 draw, but missing in the team’s victorious shootout over Indiana.

Kocevski had a breakout junior year, being named to the United Soccer Coaches’ All-South Region third team, All-ACC third team, NCAA All-Tournament team, and ACC All-Tournament team. During his senior year, he wore the armband for the Orange and was named All-ACC first team and ACC Co-Midfielder of the Year.

What It Means for Orlando City

Kocevski was the most likely pick from this most recent draft to be signed by Orlando City. The departure of club captain Mauricio Pereyra left a spot in the midfield and Head Coach Oscar Pareja seemed to feel the rookie could fill it from early on. His start against Flamengo was in the place of regular starter Cesar Araujo, who was on international duty with the Uruguay U-23 national team. He played against Flamengo’s best lineup and did quite well in almost an hour on the field in his first minutes of play at the professional level.

While a spot was open for the signing of Kocevski, he likely won’t see much of the field for the first team this season. In addition to being behind starters Araujo and Wilder Cartagena, the defensive midfielder will be behind Felipe on the depth chart. In all likelihood, the rookie will slot in with Orlando City B in MLS NEXT Pro to get some minutes, but there is room for him to start regularly with that team.

Kocevski is currently the only player signed by the club from the Lions’ 2024 draft class. West Virginia midfielder Yutaro Tsukada, Pittsburgh midfielder Filip Mirkovic, and Charlotte midfielder Riyon Tori remained unsigned, with the latter opting to return to school for his senior season.

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