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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.

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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 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 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 in Orlando.

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 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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