Connect with us

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Montreal Impact: Final Score 1-0 as Lions are Eliminated from the Postseason

Despite a wealth of possession and a lopsided shot advantage, the Lions can’t find a breakthrough, falling to the Impact for the first time in 2016.



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Orlando City was desperately in need of a win but it was the Montreal Impact that played with desperation. The Impact sat deep and defended for 90+ minutes, hoping for a moment of magic on the counter. They got exactly that with Dominic Oduro’s 56th minute, 1-v-1 opportunity. Oduro beat Joe Bendik and ended Orlando’s playoff hopes in a 1-0 Montreal win.

The Lions finished the season series 2-1-0 against the Impact, but the one loss seems to more than cancel out the two wins — two of only seven times Orlando has collected all three points this season.

In the end, it didn’t matter that the Lions held the ball for 66.8% of the game (74.2% of the second half). It didn’t matter that Orlando (7-11-14, 35 points) out-shot the Impact, 22-4. It didn’t matter that City won more duels, passed more accurately, or had 12 corners to Montreal’s one. All that matters is that it’s another loss for the lads in purple, and this one hurts more than all the others because it puts a finality to even the faintest glimmer of postseason hopes.

“In my opinion we did everything other than finish our chances,” said Head Coach Jason Kreis after the match. “And if we’d have finished one of our chances, I think the game would have been much different.”

Oduro’s one moment of magic was all that Montreal (11-10-11, 44 points) wanted. And Impact Head Coach Mauro Biello even acknowledged after the game that he’d have been satisfied with a single point in a 0-0 draw. But he did get that moment – on his team’s only shot on target of the game, no less – and he has to feel like he’s sneaking out of Orlando having committed the great train robbery.

The Lions peppered 19 second-half shot attempts toward Evan Bush’s goal and not one of them fell favorably. Five of the 22 total OCSC shot attempts were blocked and 12 were off-target, leaving only five on frame, with Bush stopping all of them, including two of the Save-of-the-Week variety.

Give credit to Montreal. The Impact came in with the bus already parked and their game plan worked to perfection, as the Lions missed the target, rushed shots, or hit Bush squarely, with only a couple of exceptions. Only two denied first-half appeals for penalty kicks could have made a difference, but neither was awarded. Even without those, you’d have to think the Lions generated sufficient chances to bulge the net at least once or twice. They didn’t.

Neither team did much through a sleepy first half. Montreal was content to give Orlando City possession, which the Lions were happy to take, holding the ball 62.2% of the first half to the Impact’s 37.8%. To Orlando’s credit, there weren’t a lot of turnovers leading to dangerous counters, but the Lions also failed to threaten goal much, finishing with three first-half shots and none on target.

The Lions also largely wasted five corner kicks, either failing to find a teammate or not even beating the first defender with the cross. However, Jose Aja got onto a Matias Perez Garcia corner cross in the 20th minute and directed his headed shot toward goal. The ball appeared to take a deflection and went over the end line. The Lions protested for a handball but the ref awarded a goal kick.

In the 23rd minute, a nice bit of build-up led to a near chance but Kaká over-hit the pass and Bush came quickly off his line to beat Cyle Larin to the ball.

In the 41st, Kaká got to the end line and tried to cross the ball in. It deflected off a defender and again the captain and the crowd howled for a penalty but to no avail. A minute later the Lions got their best opportunity of the half as Larin turned and blasted from the top of the box, but his shot was just wide. That summarized Larin’s afternoon.

Kreis brought Julio Baptista on for an ineffective Kevin Molino at the half and Orlando’s attacking mentality certainly changed. However, David Mateos sustained a right knee injury and forced a second substitution early in the second period, as Seb Hines came on.

Hines’ first touch served to send Kaká up the left flank, where the Brazilian crossed in for Larin, but the Canadian couldn’t quite get onto it. He may have been pushed, but there was no whistle from Armando Villarreal — a theme that played throughout the day.

In the 54th minute, Kevin Alston’s long throw found Baptista in the box, but he couldn’t control it and it was cleared as far as Luke Boden, who shot just over the bar from the top of the box. Within a minute, Larin turned around Laurent Ciman and sped toward goal. Ambroise Oyongo appeared to foul Larin just outside the box but Villarreal saw nothing in the challenge and what was more or less a breakaway went without even an attempt at goal. A minute later, Kaká tried a shot but it went straight at Bush, much like his attempt late at Toronto found Alex Bono.

A minute after that, Oduro ripped the hearts out of the 26,041 at Camping World Stadium, finishing a 1-v-1 opportunity against Bendik. Patrice Bernier found room on the right side and centered for Matteo Mancosu. The Italian’s one-time pass took an unlucky deflection off Hines and right into the path of the onrushing Oduro, who easily out-paced Boden and found the upper right corner of the net.

Kreis didn’t fault Hines on the goal or suggest that had he not been forced to sub out the inured Mateos the outcome would have been any different.

“I honestly don’t think that had much to do with (the goal),” Kreis said. “We let that break happen with the player on the ball where he was allowed a little too much time and space. And then Oduro makes a run that we should have held our line and we didn’t hold our line. When you do that and you end up with a player with that kind of pace behind you, you’re going to be in trouble.”

Orlando had an opportunity in the 60th with the ball pinging around in Montreal’s box after a corner kick, but every Lion shot or pass attempt was deflected by a Montreal boot and you just knew it wasn’t City’s day.

That became even more evident in the 62nd minute. Antonio Nocerino sent a lovely ball to the left corner for Boden, who one-timed a perfect cross into the six-yard box for Larin. The Canadian got it on frame but Bush made a point-blank save to somehow keep it out.

Kreis withdrew Servando Carrasco for Carlos Rivas in the 64th minute, going all-out in the attack. Just four minutes later, Rivas sent in one of his incredible crosses from the left flank that found Baptista’s head but he nodded off target. Baptista again missed the target in the 69th, firing just over the bar after an Alston cross into the box deflected right onto the Brazilian’s foot.

Rivas sent a free kick just inches over the bar in the 72nd minute, as it looked for all the world like a shot eventually had to find the net. He fired just over the bar again in the 80th, however, and you started to realize that Bush could leave the stadium and somehow the ball would stay out. But he didn’t leave the stadium, instead robbing Larin on a header off a corner kick in the 88th.

There were six minutes of stoppage time to try to at least pull a goal back, but the best chances were already behind the Lions and the Impact saw out the clean sheet for Bush.

“Obviously we’re all very, deeply disappointed,” Kreis said. “I think we all put in a tremendous amount to that game, really gave our hearts and souls to it in the buildup the past several days. I couldn’t be happier with the work everybody’s done and the effort everybody’s given, but soccer can be a cruel game and that’s what we saw today.”

The Lions are left to play two lame duck matches – two weeks from today at Philadelphia and again three weeks from today at home against D.C. United.

“We want to finish well,” Kreis said. “This group has worked extremely hard and it would be a real shame not to not give ourselves the respect and our fans the respect to do everything we can to get points and wins in these last two matches. I think we’re all too good of professionals to ever look at these games this way.”

Orlando City

Orlando City Parts Ways with Captain Mauricio Pereyra

Orlando City and club captain Mauricio Pereyra have agreed to terminate his contract.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Orlando City announced this afternoon that the club and captain Mauricio Pereyra have mutually agreed to terminate his contract. The Uruguayan midfielder leaves the club after four and a half years in purple and two seasons as captain.

“Mauricio has embodied Orlando City since the moment he arrived to the club, and we’re very thankful for everything he has given to us, our fans, and the community,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “His contributions and impact to our organization will be felt for years to come, and we wish him and his family the best of luck in this next chapter of their lives.” 

Pereyra originally joined the club on July 30, 2019 after his contract expired with Russian side FC Krasnodar. He made his debut on Aug. 17, 2019 against Minnesota United FC as a Designated Player, coming on at halftime for Robinho. He would go on to make 136 appearances in all competitions (122 starts) and record 10,027 minutes. The midfielder scored seven goals for the Lions and recorded a club record 47 assists.

His 136 appearances are third most in the club’s MLS era, his 121 starts are second, and his 10,027 minutes are third since the club jumped from USL Pro to MLS in 2015.

Following the departure of previous captain Nani after the 2021 MLS season, Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja named Pereyra the club captain. He led his team through an historic cup run in 2022, lifting the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the club’s first-ever major trophy. He captained the team again in 2023, leading the Lions to the MLS Cup playoffs for the fourth straight year and the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second time in that period.

The midfielder signed a new two-year contract on Nov. 23, 2022 that was supposed to keep him in Orlando through the 2024 MLS season. Muzzi used Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) to buy down his contract, opening a Designated Player spot for the 2023 season. However, this decision ends his contract a year before its expiration.

“Thank you to everyone for these four years together. It was a pleasure to belong to this family and I am so thankful to every person that works for this club and that has helped this team grow and win titles from their place,” Pereyra said in a club press release. “I was honored and proud to be given the captain’s armband and, of course, thanks to the technical staff and my teammates who helped me to become better as a player. But more so made me feel loved and made me a better person. I’ll miss you, but from this next season and beyond you’ll have one more fan that will wish nothing but the best for you. I love you and thank you.” 

The 33-year-old Uruguayan made 38 appearances in his final season for Orlando City, with 34 starts and 2,637 minutes across all competitions. He scored one goal and added 12 assists.

What It Means for Orlando

Pereyra is a significant player in Orlando City history. He was one of the first players signed by Muzzi after the GM’s arrival from FC Dallas and was a key part of the club’s turnaround from doormat to contender. The importance of his place in the team was shown when Pareja named him captain following the 2021 MLS season.

However, the 33-year-old has lost a step since arriving. It was visible as the past two seasons progressed and raised questions as to whether he was the right option in the starting lineup moving forward. The club’s sale of striker Ercan Kara to Turkish side Samsunspor opened up a Designated Player spot that could be used on that position if the club wishes.

While Pereyra was an essential part of the team during his time in Orlando, it seems impossible for him to stay without being in the starting lineup. As captain, he was never going to come off the bench, so leaving the lineup would inevitably mean his departure from the club.

Additionally, Pereyra moved forward this past season into a more unfamiliar role. He started as an eight when he arrived, but was forced into the attacking midfield when Junior Urso left. The club now has the option of moving Urso or Designated Player Martin Ojeda into the starting lineup, or using their now open DP spot on that position.

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 12/6/23

Antonio Carlos linked with move to Fluminense, Emily Madril agrees to new contract with the Pride, USWNT beats China, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. There is not much new with me, I’ve just been staying busy working at Under Armour and covering high school basketball and wrestling lately. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Antonio Carlos Linked with Fluminense

Orlando City center back Antonio Carlos was linked with a move back to Brazil, with Fluminense reportedly close to finalizing a deal to sign him.

Carlos initially joined Orlando on loan from Palmeiras before the 2020 season. Following that season, the club signed him to a three-year contract with an option for an additional year. The 30-year-old has been a key part of Orlando’s defense under Head Coach Oscar Pareja, although Carlos missed some time this past season due to injury.

Emily Madril Agrees to New Contract With the Pride

The Orlando Pride announced that defender Emily Madril has reached an agreement with the club on a new three-year contract through the 2026 NWSL season. Madril just finished her first season with the Pride, making 27 appearances for the club across all competitions and leading all rookies with 1,977 minutes played in the NWSL regular season. She was already signed to a three-year deal through 2025, but the Pride were able to find a way to keep her with the club for another year. Now the club can work on retooling its roster with a back line anchored by Madril and Rafaelle.

MLS 2023 College Showcase Begins Today

Major League Soccer announced the 44 invitees for the 2023 MLS College Showcase. The event will kick off today through Dec. 9 in Phoenix. One local player to keep an eye on is defender Jahlane Forbes out of Wake Forest. Forbes is from Clermont, FL and joined Orlando City’s academy in 2016. He has also played for Orlando City B, making three appearances. Forbes made 19 appearances for Wake Forest in the 2023 season, recording five goals and seven assists. Other top prospects to watch include Louisville defender Josh Jones, High Point’s Jefferson Amaya, and Marshall forward Matthew Bell.

USWNT Beats China in Final Friendly of 2023

The U.S. Women’s National team defeated China 2-1 at Toyota Stadium in its final match of 2023. The USWNT trailed 1-0 at halftime, but bounced back in the second half thanks to a pair of goals and a solid defensive effort. Jaedyn Shaw gave the USWNT its winner in the 79th minute, scoring in her hometown in a memorable moment for the 19-year-old. It was the USWNT’s second win over China this month after winning the first match 3-0 this past Saturday in Fort Lauderdale.

Former Lion Daryl Dike Nears Return with West Brom

After being sidelined with an Achilles injury since March, former Lion Daryl Dike could make his return to West Brom this month. Dike has been back at training with the club since last month to work his way back to fitness, and West Brom’s manager, Carlos Corberan, stated that that he would be an option in the squad by the end of the December if he keeps progressing well. The 23-year-old joined West Brom in December of 2021, but injuries have limited his playing time while in England.

Free Kicks

  • The Orlando Pride had a message for former Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod after her farewell ceremony with the Canadian Women’s National Team during its friendly against Australia on Tuesday.
  • The Chicago Fire have announced that Frank Klopas will return to the club to serve as head coach for the second time. Klopas was the head coach for the Fire from 2011 to 2013 and was the interim coach this past season after Ezra Hendrickson’s departure in May.
  • Minnesota United announced that Sean McAuley will remain with the club as its interim head coach going into the 2024 season.
  • Former Portland Timbers Head Coach Gio Savarese is reportedly in consideration for the open head coach position with the New England Revolution.
  • The Seattle Sounders have reached an agreement with goalkeeper Stefan Frei on a new two-year contract that will keep him at the club through the 2025 season.

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

Continue Reading

Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Junior Urso

The Bear returned unexpectedly in the middle of the season to bolster the Orlando midfield.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Midfielder Junior Urso joined Orlando City on Jan. 13, 2020 from Brazilian giants Corinthians on a multi-year deal. The Bear spent three years in purple before he and the club mutually agreed to part ways, terminating his contract for personal reasons on Nov. 10, 2022. Upon his return to Brazil, Urso joined Coritiba, but injuries limited him to just seven appearances. In a surprise move, Urso rejoined Orlando City on July 19, returning to the City Beautiful and accepting a backup role behind the Lions’ double pivot of Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo.

Let’s take a look back at Urso’s 2023 campaign.

Statistical Breakdown

Urso made his return to the pitch for Orlando City on Aug. 20, following the club’s run in Leagues Cup. In the MLS regular season, Urso made nine appearances (two starts), logging 250 minutes. Urso did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting just three shots, none of which found the target. The Bear completed 78.3% of his 115 total pass attempts but did not record a key pass or a successful cross. Defensively, Urso tallied two interceptions, five tackles, and five clearances. He committed two fouls, drew two on the opposition, and was booked just once.

The Brazilian also appeared in all three of Orlando City’s playoff matches, all off the bench, totaling 98 minutes. He did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting three shots, one of which was on target. He completed 86.4% of his passes, including three key passes, but did not connect on a cross. Urso chipped in one tackle defensively, committed two fouls, suffered three, and was not booked in the postseason.

Best Game

With a little less than a third of a season in purple and gold and serving primarily as a reserve player, Urso’s best match was his regular-season appearance on the road against Nashville SC on Oct. 4. The Bear came on for Facundo Torres in the 72nd minute and did what fans have always expected of him, which is to frustrate the living hell out of the opponent. Urso made sure that Nashville knew that he had entered the game, winning countless throw-ins, allowing Orlando to walk away with its first road victory at Nashville. Urso also recorded a shot in the match, which was the Lions’ only attempt other than Duncan McGuire’s goal, although it was perhaps a bit generous to call it a shot attempt. He passed at a 72.2% rate and recorded a tackle and a clearance and did his job helping the Lions see out a tight victory.

2023 Final Grade

As Urso came up short of the minimum total of 450 minutes played to receive a rating on our 1-10 scale, The Mane Land has no choice but to mark his grade as incomplete for the 2023 season. While it was a surreal experience just to see the Bear back on the pitch for Orlando City after his sudden departure, a delayed return to the pitch due to a lingering knock and the play of the midfielders in front of him on the depth chart limited his ability to leave his mark on the season. However, it’s difficult to put a grade on the experience he brought to the squad.

2024 Outlook

Orlando City has yet to announce its end-of-season roster decisions as of this writing, but with Wilder Cartagena’s loan spell expired, the Lions would be wise to pick up Urso’s contract option for the 2024 season. If that happens, he would likely take up the No. 8 role with Araujo playing the No. 6 in Orlando’s double pivot (assuming Oscar Pareja also returns). Urso could split time at the No. 8 if Orlando adds a new starting No. 10, because in that case, Mauricio Pereyra might see some time in that spot. If a permanent transfer or loan extension for Cartagena is secured, Urso provides value off the bench, although he’s a bit pricey for a backup at $360,000.

Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)

Continue Reading