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Orlando City

Orlando City at Chicago Fire: Final Score 2-2 as Lions Let Lead Slip Away Late Again

Kaká and Cyle Larin found the back of the net, but the Lions lost their lead to a resilient Chicago side and poor set piece defense.



Carlos Romero, The Mane Land

Orlando City went into Toyota Park needing a win to propel the team ahead of the New England Revolution and D.C. United and into the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference. The Lions (5-6-12, 27 points) had to settle for a 2-2 draw with the last-place Chicago Fire (4-11-7, 19 points) after failing to convert on their opportunities and breaking down on a late Chicago set piece. Orlando is in the midst of a 10-game winless streak on the road (0-5-5) since winning its first away match of the year.

It was a poor start for Orlando. After some nervy passing, Tommy Redding — playing for the suspended David Mateos (yellow card accumulation) — fouled David Accam at the edge of the area to set up a dangerous free kick that Bendik managed to punch free. The rebound landed at the feet of Fire midfielder John Goossens, who let loose a low blast from long distance that pinged off the post and past Bendik just six minutes into the match. For all the highlight saves Bendik has made this season, Goossens’ shot from well outside the area is one he’d no doubt like to have back.

Orlando responded quickly, lobbing passes over the defense until one finally found the foot of Cyle Larin. Kaká chipped a perfectly weighted ball over the top and the Canadian managed to get his left foot to the ball, poking it just out of reach of UCF alum Sean Johnson to level it for the Lions, just three minutes later. The goal brought Larin’s total to 12 for the season and was his fourth in the last five matches.

Orlando almost immediately managed to give a goal away as Servando Carrasco slipped on the turf and the ball dropped fortuitously to Accam, who used his speed to round Seb Hines. Luckily, Bendik managed to parry the attempt and relieve the danger. Bendik was tested constantly by Goossens and Accam during the first half, but managed to hold the Fire to one goal at the break.

The offensive game plan was to feed Kaká on the left, running the offense through the Brazilian even from the wide areas. The captain sent ball after ball into the area but couldn’t quite find Larin or Brek Shea on the other end. Johan Kappelhof did well to keep the Orlando captain at bay for the Fire, closing him down before he could get into dangerous positions.

Kappelhof couldn’t do anything on Orlando’s second goal, though. Matias Perez Garcia, in his first start for Orlando, found Carrasco on the right wing, who sent in a cross that reached Larin, but the Canadian striker’s header glanced off the left post. Kaká was there on the second chance and calmly put the ball in the roof of the net to give Orlando the lead. Kaká now has four goals this year, good enough for third on the team behind Larin and Kevin Molino. The captain managed to get all three of his shots on target and finished with a goal and an assist.

Perez Garcia almost created a third goal just before halftime, sliding in to intercept a Chicago pass from Eric Gehrig. Kaká picked up the loose ball and was through on goal. He crossed for Shea, but it was behind the winger and went across the box harmlessly. The Argentine did well in possession and used his vision to pull the strings in midfield whenever he saw the ball before being taken off for Molino in the second half.

Orlando did not start the second half well, either. The Fire saw the majority of possession and Orlando committed various fouls in dangerous areas. Kaká decided to change that, making a run the length of the field, sending Gehrig to the turf as he reached the end line before sending a cross in to Larin that just missed. Kaká seemed willing to shoulder the majority of the offensive load, testing Johnson from distance a few minutes later and forcing a diving save.

Redding had the unenviable task of keeping Accam in check and was booked for his troubles in the 18th minute. Redding finished with two fouls conceded and the speedy Ghanaian got the best of him a few times, but Orlando’s Homegrown defender managed to keep Accam off the scoreboard before Jason Kreis replaced him with Jose Aja near the hour mark for the Uruguayan’s debut.

Cristian Higuita’s return to the starting lineup didn’t last much longer, as he went down injured and was helped off the field in the 61st. Tony Rocha made his MLS debut after appearing twice with the first team in the U.S. Open Cup.

Larin almost bagged his second shortly after, but Johnson came off his line to stuff the Canadian and managed to keep him away from the ball long enough to collect it. Larin took a hit on the challenge, but referee Mark Geiger decided not to call a penalty. Orlando applied consistent pressure on the Chicago back line for the next 10 minutes with a combination of Molino, Rocha, and Kaká that tested Johnson but couldn’t produce a goal. Orlando commanded possession for the majority of the match with 54.7%, but the Lions couldn’t put the game away.

Chicago found the equalizer in the 79th minute. Fire defender Brandon Vincent found Razvan Cocis on a corner, who beat Bendik with a point-blank header to level the score.

For all of Orlando’s promise on offense, the defense couldn’t keep the Fire off the board. Aja gave the Fire life at the death, committing a foul on the edge of the area and earning a yellow card, but Accam’s ensuing attempt sailed wide of the mark.

The last few minutes of the match were filled with Chicago chances and not many threatening attempts by the Lions. The Fire appealed for a penalty when Boden collided with Arturo Alvarez, but Geiger let play continue. When the final whistle sounded, it was a disappointing result for Kreis’ men against a Chicago side floundering at the bottom of the table. The Lions still find themselves on the wrong side of the red line, behind D.C. United on the total wins tiebreaker.

Next week, Orlando travels to Commerce City, CO, to take on this year’s surprise contenders, the Colorado Rapids. You can catch the match Saturday at 9 p.m.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/29/23

Orlando City prepares for CF Montreal, learning more about Duncan McGuire, Jack Lynn named to MLS NEXT Pro Best XI, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

It’s Friday, which means we’re just one day away from a pretty busy weekend of Orlando soccer. It should be a pretty fun next few days, with Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Orlando City B all in action. I don’t have many weekend plans beyond working and getting some writing and reading done. Let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Prepares for CF Montreal

Orlando City hosts CF Montreal tomorrow night in a showdown between two Eastern Conference teams with just four games remaining this season. It’s the second match between the two teams this year, with Montreal beating the Lions 2-0 in Canada on May 6. In the time since that game, the Lions have only lost three games this season and have not been defeated at home since April 22. Orlando’s next win will be Head Coach Oscar Pareja’s 60th with the Lions, and tomorrow’s match could also break club records for most wins and points in a season. A win for the Lions would be massive to put some breathing room between them and the other top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Get to Know Duncan McGuire

Orlando forward Duncan McGuire was the latest to go under the microscope as part of the club’s video series to learn more about the players. The rookie spoke on his upbringing as a middle child, as well as how he turned to soccer after struggling in other sports. McGuire also talked about his acrobatic goal celebrations and a clip is included of a time he didn’t quite stick the landing after scoring for Creighton. It’s a pretty fun interview, as he gave some details on how Mason Stajduhar is a quick learner when it comes to golf and how he wants to go out to dinner with Ana de Armas.

Jack Lynn Makes MLS NEXT Pro Best XI

Orlando City B forward Jack Lynn was named to the MLS NEXT Pro’s Best XI for the second straight year. Lynn fueled OCB’s offense this season, scoring 19 goals to help the Young Lions claim a spot in the playoffs. No MLS NEXT Pro player has scored more goals since the league’s inaugural season last year than Lynn, who has 34 goals under his belt. The 23-year-old is joined on the front line of this year’s Best XI with the two players he tied with for the Golden Boot, New York City FC II’s Matt Myers and Colorado Rapids 2 forward Remi Cabral.

Orlando City B Takes On Columbus Crew 2 This Sunday

The Young Lions will play their first MLS NEXT Pro playoff game this Sunday when they face Columbus Crew 2 on the road at 5:30 p.m. It will be the third and final match between the two sides this year, with each claiming a big win over the other earlier in the season. No team that qualified for the playoffs has lost more road games than OCB this season, which may be why Columbus elected to face Orlando. However, Orlando’s offense has been electric at times this year thanks to Lynn, Shak Mohammed, Wilfredo Rivera, and others. Sunday may be another wild game with the Young Lions involved and you can check it out on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Tahir Reid-Brown Called Up for Training Camp

United States U-17 Men’s National Team Head Coach Gonzalo Segares called up 20 players for a training camp in Brazil to prepare for the U-17 World Cup in November. OCB defender Tahir Reid-Brown was the lone Orlando representative called up for this camp. The 17-year-old was called up to the U-17 team earlier this April for a training camp in Florida. He’s had an impressive year, earning a spot in the MLS NEXT All-Star Game and making 10 appearances for OCB. The U.S. will take on Brazil on Oct. 4 and Oct. 6 in a pair of friendlies during this camp.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City center back Rodrigo Schlegel unveiled the meaning behind his tattoos, including the ones for his parents and his biggest moments as a Lion.

That’s all I have for you today. Hopefully the weather plays nice this weekend and you’re able to do everything you have planned. Have a great Friday!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points against CF Montreal this Saturday in Exploria Stadium?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City hosts CF Montreal in the second-to-last home match of the 2023 MLS regular season at Exploria Stadium this Saturday night. The Lions have already secured a spot in the playoffs but are now fighting for home field advantage. Montreal is currently sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and is fighting for a playoff spot.

What does Orlando City need to do to secure three important points against the Canadian Club Foots?

Time to Make the Donuts

It had been a minute since Duncan McGuire scored a goal for Orlando City — and by a minute I mean since July 29. McGuire had a few opportunities against Inter Miami and managed to get one to equalize for the Lions and ensure a point at home. I do think he might have scored on another of those chances if he was fully back in form after his injury time, but I’ll take the goal. 

My hope is that getting that goal will remind him that he can score goals when given the opportunity, and he will be better about finishing the chances he gets against Montreal. Sometimes it just takes getting that first goal to open up the muscle memory and to unlock the confidence needed in a striker. It’s time for Duncan to score more goals, and the match against Montreal is the first and best opportunity to do so since Montreal starting center back Joel Waterman will be serving a red card suspension.

Switch up the Lineup

I propose a change to the starting lineup — something Oscar Pareja does not do very often. Due to injuries and other factors such a move wasn’t possible earlier in the season, but I think it could work now. I have a ton of respect for Mauricio Pereyra, but he could probably use a rest to be fresh for the playoffs as the regular season winds down. 

I suggest letting Martin Ojeda get the start in the 10 spot, moving Dagur Dan Thorhallsson up the wing, and having Michael Halliday take over at right back. Ojeda’s play as of late has been much improved, and with Halliday healthy again, why not take advantage of Dagur Dan’s versatility along the wing. I think this move provides energy, a surprise for opposing defenses, and allows Facundo Torres more freedom. 

Same Old Effective Defense

Orlando City’s defense has only allowed 37 goals this season — which is good enough to tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. On the flip side, Montreal has only scored 30 goals so far — which is only better than Toronto at 24 goals. Montreal has a goal differential of -15.If the Lions play their normally solid defense in front of the outstanding goalkeeping of Pedro Gallese, Montreal should not get too many opportunities to score. There’s no doubt that we will see Robin Jansson and Rodrigo Schlegel paired together with Rafael Santos on the left and either Dagur Dan — or Michael Halliday as I suggested — on the right. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena can stop most attacks before they get to the back line. If Orlando City plays defense as well as the club did against Miami, things should be fine.

That is what I will be looking for this Saturday as the Lions take on the boys from North of the border. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/28/23

Ajax is reportedly scouting Facundo Torres, Orlando Pride focus on upcoming matches, Houston Dynamo win U.S. Open Cup, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this work week has gone smoothly for you as we get ready to bid farewell to September. It’s been a hectic week for me, but I started and then promptly devoured all of Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. It was a nice read, albeit a bit intense at times. I’m not sure what I’ll read next as most of my reading list is packed up for a move, but if you have any recommendations then let me know in the comments below. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Ajax Reportedly Interested in Facundo Torres

Orlando City forward Facundo Torres has reportedly garnered the interest of Dutch club Ajax according to Fabrizio Romano.

It’s not too surprising that Ajax, which currently sits in 14th in the Eredivisie with just seven goals from five games, has scouts keeping tabs on Torres. The 23-year-old has scored 12 goals this season, powering Orlando to second in the Eastern Conference. It wouldn’t be the first time Torres has received attention from European clubs and likely won’t be the last as he continues to impress with the Lions

Orlando Pride Focus During Playoff Push

The Orlando Pride are back in action on Monday for a crucial road match with Angel City FC. Both teams have 25 points this season, one point from the sixth and final playoff spot currently held by the Washington Spirit. It will be the first of three remaining games for the Pride this season, with matches against fellow playoff hopefuls Racing Louisville and the Houston Dash set for later in October. As a result, there’s not much margin for error if the Pride wish to make the playoffs and Kylie Strom talked about how the team is focused for these games.

MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs Begin This Weekend

The first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs kicks off this weekend with six matches that can all be watched on MLS Season Pass. Unlike last year, Orlando City B will be taking part and is set to face off with Columbus Crew 2 on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Although the Young Lions have struggled on the road against Columbus, Jack Lynn and Shak Mohammed can make things difficult for the hosts. Hopefully we’ll see OCB make Columbus regret its choice of opponent in the postseason. I like the wrinkle and mind games to the playoffs the new rule gave and am interested to see which of the lower seeds plays with a chip on their shoulder. The playoffs begin on Friday when Sporting Kansas City II hosts Austin FC II in a battle between the third and fourth seeds of the Western Conference.

Houston Dynamo Win U.S. Open Cup

The Houston Dynamo have lifted the U.S. Open Cup trophy after winning 2-1 on the road against Inter Miami. A pair of goals in the first half were enough for Houston to win its second U.S. Open Cup title after also winning in 2018. A goal in stoppage time from Josef Martinez made things interesting, but the Dynamo defense did well to secure the win and deny Miami its second tournament title this year. It was a strong end to a solid tournament campaign from the Dynamo, as they beat four MLS sides before taking down Miami in the final.

Albertin Montoya Hired as Bay FC Head Coach

Ahead of its inaugural NWSL season next year, Bay FC named Albertin Montoya as the club’s first head coach. Montoya, who has lived in California for most of his life, served as the interim coach for the Washington Spirit in 2022 and also coached the U.S. U-17 women’s national team in 2011. Bay FC General Manager Lucy Rushton spoke on how Montoya’s name came up often while the club searched for a head coach, as well as how his skill at developing players will help build the club’s foundation.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja called for the supporters to continue filling Exploria Stadium and pushing the Lions forward for the team’s remaining home games this season.
  • St. Louis City midfielder Njabulo Blom won MLS Goal of the Week for his winner against Minnesota United. It was also the 23-year-old’s first professional goal.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

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