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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. New York Red Bulls: Final Score 1-0 as Lions Remain Perfect at Home

Substitute Servando Carrasco supplied the only goal of the game and the Lions had to defend much of the final 30 minutes to earn their third win of the year.



Carlos Romero, The Mane Land

Servando Carrasco’s goal in the 34th minute in relief of an injured Antonio Nocerino was all that separated Orlando City and the New York Red Bulls. With the 1-0 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 25,527, the Lions (3-1-0, 9 points) improved to a perfect 3-0-0 in Orlando City Stadium.

New York (2-3-1, 7 points) lined up what felt like a million set pieces in the game’s last half hour but could not find a way to tickle the twine in the back of Joe Bendik’s net. Bendik and the back four did their jobs well and the team escaped with another close win at its new purple palace.

“I think it was a hard-fought game for sure,” Carrasco said. “It wasn’t pretty at times but the guys showed tremendous fight. To come out of this game with three points was definitely the goal.”

Orlando City came out in a surprise 4-4-2 diamond after going with a flat 4-4-2 for the team’s first three matches. Scott Sutter got his first start at right back and Will Johnson played the right side of the diamond, opposite Cristian Higuita. Antonio Nocerino manned the bottom of the formation and Matias Perez Garcia played up top, beneath strikers Cyle Larin and Carlos Rivas.

The new formation was evident early as the Lions often struggled to find the next pass as it appeared players had to think rather than react naturally under pressure. This led to some turnover issues and broke up promising attacks.

“My experience is that playing in that way you tend to put yourself in spaces where you can find the ball a lot more and maintain the rhythm or set the rhythm of the game,” Kreis said after the match. “But it also takes time. I think we suffered a little bit in the first half just because that was the first time we’ve done it. It’s also that a coach wants to play a couple of different ways. I’d like to not walk into every match and have the opponent know exactly what you’re going to be doing.”

“The idea was to try and have an extra man in midfield to keep the ball a bit better,” Spector said. “And we did make some good passing combinations during the game but not consistently enough. I think it can be a good formation for us going forward but perhaps we need a little bit more time to work on that.” 

However, in the fifth minute, the strength of the formation showed, as the pitch got congested on the left, allowing Sutter to sneak down the right side. Larin’s pass picked him out but there wasn’t enough weight on it and the defense closed, but Sutter still worked hard to earn the game’s first corner. The set piece was poor, however, and New York broke on the counter, with Derrick Etienne racing down the field before being dispossessed by Johnson, just as Sutter was whistled for a foul. The long free kick found the head of Bradley Wright-Phillips but he had nothing on his attempt and it was off target.

After that, Rivas had a good spell in possession before having his shot at the top of the box blocked in the 11th minute. New York came back in the next minute with a perfectly lobbed long ball over the top for BWP. Bendik blocked his shot, but it deflected back toward goal and Jonathan Spector made a sliding save to clear it off the line.

Rivas nearly broke the scoreless deadlock in the 14th with a shot that took a slight deflection. Luis Robles made a diving save but spilled it. Unfortunately, it didn’t travel far from him and he was able to pounce on it. A minute later, Robles showed good strength in a midair collision with Larin and got to a cross to win it from the Canadian.

In the 17th minute, Antonio Nocerino — celebrating his 32nd birthday — got the worst present ever. The Italian pulled up lame without contact and had to be subbed off due to injury. Carrasco replaced him. After the match, Kreis said Nocerino sustained a calf strain and will be evaluated further on Monday.

The chess match continued, with Kemar Lawrence sneaking down the left and getting a shot on target in the 21st minute, but it had little power and was easy for Bendik. A minute later, Sutter fired just over the bar from the top of the box. In the 24th minute, MPG took a Rivas pass that nutmegged a defender and fired a shot that fizzed just inches wide of the left post, as Orlando got closer and closer to a breakthrough.

That breakthrough came in the 34th minute. City earned a corner and Johnson delivered a good ball in to the near post. Multiple defenders ran with Larin but the ball flew over them to Carrasco, who nodded home for his first MLS goal since 2013 when he was with Seattle. Johnson got the assist. It was the Lions’ first goal of the season that was scored by someone other than Larin, putting Orlando City up, 1-0.

“It means a lot because we won the game,” Carrasco said. “The fact that I scored is secondary to me. The fact that I could contribute is the main thing. Will played a fantastic ball and I was just lucky to be at the right place.”

New York battled hard after the goal and earned multiple set pieces but could not get much directed at Bendik’s net. Orlando City’s last good chance of the half came in the 43rd minute, with Sutter missing just wide of the post. BWP scored in first-half stoppage time but was correctly ruled offside and Ismail Elfath waved off the goal.

Orlando City out-shot New York in the first half, but the Red Bulls got three on frame to Orlando’s two. The Red Bulls held 55% of the possession and were more accurate in passing the ball (75.5%-63.9%). 

The game opened up to start the second half, with both teams getting some chances in the early part of the second period.

Bendik came off his line to make a vital challenge to keep Etienne from reaching a pass in the box. Then, on the other end, Larin somehow missed off a gorgeous cross from Rivas in the 52nd minute. In the 56th minute, Higuita took a pass from MPG on the left side of the box and fired just over the net on a slight deflection.

In the 58th minute Higuita slotted in to Rivas in the box but he lost control trying to tee it up on his left foot. A minute later, MPG skied one into the upper deck of the south grandstand.

Former Lion Aurelien Collin’s header off a free kick was on target in the 62nd but he didn’t get all of it and it was right at Bendik on a hop. The set piece was set up by a foul on Higuita and the young Colombian compounded his error when he said something to Elfath and was booked. Collin again got a free header in the 64th on a corner kick but sent this one wide to the left of goal.

In the 67th minute, Larin was sent alone on Robles but was robbed by a diving save. Rivas played a quick ball to MPG, who released the Canadian. Larin then beat the defense but shot from the top of the box with a third defender cutting off his angle. Robles still made a hell of a save.

Kreis sacrificed Higuita — likely due to the yellow card — in the 69th minute, replacing him with Giles Barnes. The team took more of a flat 4-4-2 look after the switch.

The game got choppy after that, with Elfath giving foul after foul. The Red Bulls started racking up set pieces in good areas. The Lions started to do a better job of tracking Collin, however. One such set piece turned into an Orlando counter that saw Giles Barnes get taken down by Collin just above the box. Collin was booked and Rivas sent the ensuing free kick a few feet over the bar.

Luis Gil came on for a battered MPG in the 84th minute, making his Orlando City debut.

Collin again nearly brought his team level in the 85th, heading a free kick cross just wide of the right post after a Barnes foul, as the free kicks continued to mount. Gil went into Elfath’s book in the 86th minute for a late challenge and the Lions nearly paid dearly for it. BWP shot from the left just after the restart and Bendik made a vital save.

“The negative is that we’ve got to be better with the ball,” Kreis said. “We cannot force ourselves to defend for such long stretches in matches like these against opponents like these because in some moment you’re going to break and you’ll have lost all of the momentum that we should gain, especially when we’re winning the game by a goal. It’s game management issues I think we’ll continue to work on and we’ll continue to improve on.”

BWP tried his luck from distance in the 88th despite harassment from Redding and his shot was well off the mark. That was about the last real volley fired in a 90+ minute war between the two Eastern Conference sides.

“I think in all three of the home matches I thought a lot of the same things after the match,” Kreis said. “So many positive statements to make about effort level, intensity level, commitment of the players to defend — real, real signs of togetherness and just a fortitude that says we won’t be broken at home. And so [I’m] really, really pleased with that.”

New York finished with 61.2% possession and more shots on target (4-3) despite both teams having 12 total attempts. The Red Bulls attempted 403 total passes to Orlando’s 268.

The Lions are back in action at home Saturday against the LA Galaxy at 3 p.m.

Orlando City

Orlando City at New York Red Bulls: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points on the road at Red Bull Arena this Saturday night?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City is back on the road this Saturday with a match against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. The Lions have four results in the last four matches, but only one win. That needs to change if this team is going to be a serious contender once the playoffs come around. 

Orlando City defeated the Red Bulls 1-0 to begin the 2023 MLS regular season at Exploria Stadium. Now the Lions have a chance to sweep the Eastern Conference rival in the regular season with another victory. What does Orlando City need to do to get all three points on the road this weekend?

Take Advantage of Tired Legs

The Red Bulls are coming off a midweek away match against Inter Miami, and a flight back to New Jersey. That means that new Red Bulls skipper Tony Lesesne won’t have as much time to game plan as Oscar Pareja will with a full week between matches. It also means that there may be some tired legs on the Red Bulls’ side of the pitch.

If Orlando City can get through the first half with either the lead, or at least even on the scoreboard, it will be tougher for New York in the second half, especially once the hour mark hits. Use possession and passing to make the Red Bulls run as much as possible and then hit them with the fresh legs of Duncan McGuire to finish them off.

Score First, Score Second

We saw what happens when Orlando City doesn’t find a way to get a second goal in the last match against Atlanta United. They don’t call them the Cardiac Cats for nothing. The Lions must get the early lead to make New York chase the match, but they also need to get a second goal before the Red Bulls can get their first.

If Orlando City can go up by two goals, it will be demoralizing for a team that is playing twice in four days, and will have the tired legs mentioned above. It will also give the Lions the mental confidence to potentially get a third goal, as the club did against Inter Miami. Finishing the chances and putting the match to bed early is a big key to victory.

Keep a Clean Sheet

The Red Bulls haven’t scored a ton of goals this season, nor do they have any player lighting things up on the offensive side of the ball. Orlando City hasn’t earned a clean sheet since the April 29 match against the LA Galaxy. The Red Bulls are the type of opponent that could help the Lions solve that dilemma.

Doing so will mean Pedro Gallese must continue being one of the best keepers in MLS. Many of the goals conceded this season are not on him — not all, but certainly many. Michael Halliday will still be with the USMNT U-20 squad this weekend and we might see Oscar Pareja employ three at the back in his absence. If so, it will be contingent upon whoever is lined up on the right to deal with John Tolkin when he presses up the pitch, which he will. 

If  the three center backs do their job, and if Cesar Araujo plays like he usually does, then the attack will likely come from the flanks. It is contingent upon the wingbacks to make sure they don’t neglect the defense, especially later in the match.

That is what I will be looking for this Saturday night as the Lions look for a fifth straight result. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/1/23

MLS All-Star voting is underway, midweek MLS results, Sevilla wins Europa League, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to June, Mane Landers! I hope May treated you well as we get ready for another month filled to the brim with soccer. The Florida summer is heating up, so make sure to stay hydrated out there as we break out the beach umbrellas and dust off the grills. But for now, let’s jump into today’s links!

MLS All-Star Voting Begins

Voting is underway for the 26 players who will be selected for the MLS All-Star Team this summer. Of those 26 players, 12 will be chosen from a combined vote from fans, media, and current players. Orlando City defensive midfielder Cesar Araujo was noted as a candidate who could make this year’s team. Personally, I think goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, center back Robin Jansson, and forward Ercan Kara have a real shot at playing in the All-Star Game if they keep up their form. This year’s MLS All-Star Game will take place against Arsenal in the nation’s capital, with D.C. United Head Coach Wayne Rooney at the helm.

MLS Midweek Action Brings Plenty of Goals

The Lions weren’t in action for this midweek round of games, but there was still plenty of soccer to enjoy from the other MLS teams. Atlanta United and the New England Revolution battled to a 3-3 draw at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Carles Gil and Bobby Wood gave the Revs a 2-0 lead heading into halftime. Atlanta then scored three times in the second half, only for Gil to find an equalizer in stoppage time. It wasn’t the only high-scoring game of the evening either, as the Columbus Crew won 3-2 over the Colorado Rapids thanks to a goal and two assists from midfielder Lucas Zelarayan. Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, FC Cincinnati beat New York City FC 3-1 and D.C. United and CF Montreal played to a 2-2 draw. Orlando City’s next opponents, the New York Red Bulls, won 1-0 at Inter Miami.

Sevilla Wins Seventh Europa League Title

It took a penalty shootout to decide the winner of this year’s Europa League final, with Sevilla beating AS Roma in Budapest. It was the Spanish club’s seventh time lifting the Europa League trophy. This win salvaged a rough La Liga season for Sevilla and it will play in the Champions League next year. Paulo Dybala gave Roma the lead in the first half, but an own goal levelled things in the 55th minute. Chris Smalling nearly gave Roma the win in extra time, but his header hit the crossbar. It was Jose Mourinho’s first defeat in six European finals and Roma will aim to qualify for the Europa League again when it takes on Spezia in its final Serie A game of the season on Sunday.

More Teams Claim Spots in U-20 World Cup Quarterfinals

Host Argentina was bounced from the U-20 World Cup after a 2-0 loss to Nigeria in the U-20 World Cup. After a scoreless first half, Nigeria struck twice and will face either Ecuador or South Korea in the next round. The other South American nations in action fared a bit better than Argentina, with Brazil cruising past Tunisia, 4-1, in a match that included three goals in stoppage time, and Colombia beating Slovakia, 5-1. In a clash between European sides, Italy won 2-1 over England after Cesare Casadei scored from the spot in the 87th minute. In the quarterfinals, the U.S. will face the winner of today’s match between Gambia and Uruguay.

Free Kicks

  • St. Louis City midfielder Eduard Löwen won MLS Goal of the Matchday for his free kick goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

That’s all I have for today. I hope you all have a wonderful start to June!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/31/23

Nani will return to Exploria Stadium for celebrity match, Amanda Allen scores again for Canada, U-20 USMNT defeats New Zealand, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. There’s not much new with me up here in Chicago. Now that high school sports have finished up for the school year, I’ll be busy this summer working at Wrigley Field. There is plenty to get to today, so let’s get to the links.

Nani Will Return to Exploria Stadium for Celebrity Match

Former Lion captain Nani will return to Exploria Stadium on June 23 to participate in the celebrity soccer match called The Beautiful Game. The 36-year-old expressed his thoughts on his return to Orlando and taking part in this match next month.

“For me it is an honor to be back in Orlando and be with the fans one more time,” said Nani. “I can’t wait to see my friends from the club, The Wall and all Orlando City supporters again. I’m thankful for this opportunity to play one more time with Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho, and so many legends.”

Nani played three seasons for the Lions, recording 28 goals and 23 assists in 77 appearances for the club. The match will feature icons such as Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, Carlos Valderrama, Javier Mascherano, and Rivaldo as well. The match will also have halftime entertainment, and more additions to the rosters set to be announced at a later date.

Amanda Allen Scores Again in Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship

Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen made the starting lineup again for Canada in the 2023 Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship in the Dominican Republic. In Canada’s final group stage match against the U.S., Allen converted a penalty kick for Canada’s first goal in what finished as a 5-2 loss for her side.

It was Allen’s second goal of the tournament, but she was injured in this match as well. Canada finishes second in the group, with the U.S. on top. On Friday, the U.S. will play Costa Rica and Canada will face Mexico in the semifinals.

U-20 USMNT Advances to World Cup Quarterfinals

Orlando City defender Michael Halliday came on as a substitute in the 71st minute for the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team in its U-20 World Cup match against New Zealand. The U.S. shut out New Zealand 4-0 to advance to the quarterfinals in Argentina. That victory gives the U.S. its fourth-consecutive shutout in the tournament. Austin FC midfielder Owen Wolff, San Jose Earthquakes forward Cade Cowell, FC Dallas defender Justin Che, and Hajduk Split midfielder Rokas Pukstas all scored for the Americans. In the quarterfinals on Sunday, the U.S. will face the winner of tomorrow’s match between Gambia and Uruguay.

Interim Head Coach Anthony Hudson Leaves USMNT

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced that Anthony Hudson is leaving his role as the USMNT’s interim head coach to pursue a new opportunity. Hudson is reportedly set to take a head coaching role with a club in the Middle East. He was the head coach of the U.S. U-20 team in 2020 and had been an assistant under Gregg Berhalter for the USMN before being named interim head coach in January. Hudson will be replaced by B.J. Callaghan, who will be the interim head coach for the USMNT for the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup competitions this summer. Callaghan has been an assistant coach with the USMNT over the last four years and was previously an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Union.

USMNT Will Host Ghana and Germany for October Friendlies

The USMNT will play two international friendlies in October against Germany and Ghana. The U.S. will take on four-time World Cup Champion Germany on Oct. 14 in East Hartford, CT. The last time the USMNT played Germany was in 2015, with the Yanks winning 2-1. On Oct. 17, the USMNT will face Ghana in Nashville. The Black Stars will look to get their first win on American soil against the Stars and Stripes. Ghana eliminated the Americans in the World Cup in 2006 and 2010, but the U.S. defeated Ghana in the group stage at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The last time these two sides met was in 2017, when the USMNT edged Ghana, 2-1.

Free Kicks

  • The LA Galaxy parted ways with President Chris Klein. Head Coach and Sporting Director Greg Vanney will remain with the club. The Galaxy have missed the playoffs in four of the last six seasons.
  • Former Netherlands forward Quincy Promes will be prosecuted for his involvement in drug trafficking. Promes is accused of allegedly smuggling 1,360 kilos of cocaine in 2020.
  • Juventus is reportedly emerging as the leader in the race to acquire Christian Pulisic on a transfer from Chelsea. Pulisic has one-year remaining on his contract with the English Premier League side.
  •’s James Nalton shared his insights on five potential USMNT players to watch during the U-20 World Cup .
  • An arrest warrant has reportedly been issued in Brazil for LA Galaxy midfielder Douglas Costa for unpaid child support.
  • Is it just me or did The Athletic forget to mention our beloved Lions’ U.S. Open Cup run last year?

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

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