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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. LA Galaxy: Final Score 2-1 as Cyle Larin Scores In Stoppage Time

Will Johnson and Cyle Larin supplied the goals for the Lions as they improved to 4-0-0 at home.

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Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Orlando City became the first team in MLS history to open up a stadium 4-0-0 with a dramatic 2-1 victory, thanks to goals from Will Johnson in the first half and a stunning, 91st-minute winner from Cyle Larin off Johnson’s corner cross.

The LA Galaxy (2-4-0, 6 points) struggled through the first half with Orlando’s (4-1-0, 12 points) defense holding strong. The second half saw a much more open game between the two teams, but Orlando was able to pull away at the very end to salvage three points at home.

“It’s a lot of the same stuff,” Head Coach Jason Kreis said after the match. “Really really good, lot of positive things. Then some negative stuff that we have to improve on. I think we’re still a team that’s not quite figuring out how to manage a match and we need to do better with that. For me, a lot of that just comes with time together, a collective understanding, a little bit more communication, a little more urgency when we’re starting to give away chances, to recognize we’re in a bad moment and we need to do something to fix it.”

Orlando City once again came out in a 4-4-2 diamond after switching up the formation last match against New York. Antonio Nocerino was back from injury after straining a calf in the last match, while Giles Barnes came in for the suspended Matias Perez Garcia up top, beneath strikers Larin and Carlos Rivas.

The formation looked a bit more fluid in the early parts of the match, resulting in multiple chances for Orlando.

It began in the seventh minute, when Larin won a free kick from about 28 yards, Carlos Rivas whipped a ball into the box, taking a bounce and hitting the left post, then the right. The ball then leaked out to Giles Barnes in the box, but his shot was deflected away by the LA defense and out for a corner.

Just seconds later, off the ensuing cleared corner, Scott Sutter punted the ball back into the area while everyone was tracking back — all except Johnson. The captain worked hard to get back onside, managed to control Sutter’s long ball in the box off his chest and volleyed it into the back post corner of the net, for a beauty of a goal.

“When you take the set piece and the ball gets knocked out, a lot of time the guy who takes the set pieces isn’t accounted for,” Johnson said about his goal, “I just tried to time my run, stay onside and once it sat up on me from my first touch, I knew I could try to get it over him on the back post.”

Another good chance for Orlando to extend the lead came in the 14th minute, when Donny Toia played a ball down the line for Rivas, who crossed in a low ball for Larin in the box. Unfortunately, LA defender Jelle Van Damme was equal to it and managed to touch it out of play, almost putting it into his own net.

In the 18th minute, Rivas — celebrating his 23rd birthday — had the ball on the right wing. Cutting inside and on his preferred left foot, he curled a shot towards goal. LA keeper Clement Diop managed to get a fingertip to it and push it onto the post, where it pinged back out and away from goal.

The Galaxy had their best chance on goal in the first half in the 38th minute, when Ashley Cole served a ball into the box and met the head of Romain Alessandrini, but the ball sailed over Joe Bendik and out of play.

LA battled hard to get back into it, but always seemed just out of reach from equalizing. A lot of that comes due to Orlando’s defensive shape, shutting down passing lanes that the Galaxy like to utilize.

At the half, Orlando held 52% possession to LA’s 48%. The Galaxy had eight shots in the first half to the Lions’ three, but out of those eight, only two were on target. Orlando also managed two shots on target, with one obviously going in.

The game opened up to start the second half, with both teams getting some chances in the early part of the second period. Within two minutes of the restart, Rivas ran down a ball that looked to be going out of play, and crossed the ball in to a waiting Barnes, but the ensuing cross he put in was knocked out of play by the Galaxy defense.

One minute later, Rivas sent another cross into the box, but it was knocked out for a corner, which eventually was cleared away by Diop. Just a minute after that chance, Rivas was played in on goal by Nocerino and had a shot on target, but the shot was low and Diop was equal to it.

The game then calmed down a bit until the 52nd minute. Larin was sent by Sutter down the right wing and Van Damme came in with a challenge from behind, earning the Galaxy defender a yellow card.

In the 58th minute, an excellent individual effort from Rivas found him shrugging off four different defenders en route to a cross into the box, which was just out of reach for Larin to get a foot on.

Just two minutes later, LA had a chance of its own, with Alessandrini getting a deflection on his shot from just outside the box, which Bendik had to adjust to but was still able to get down to the ground and save it. On the ensuing attack on the other end, Rivas once again got into space and caused problems, meandering his way into the box and crossing a low ball in to Larin, which LA defender Daniel Steres was able to intercept and knock away.

Chance after chance came for Orlando but the Lions’ best opportunity of the half came in the 67th minute, when Rivas out-muscled Van Damme and broke with Barnes in front. A perfectly weighted through ball to Barnes found him one-on-one with Diop, who came up big with a save and also came away injured, staying down for a few minutes.

Subs then began to come into the game as Cristian Higuita made way for Luis Gil in the 72nd minute. Three minutes later, Rivas was subbed out after a fantastic outing, making way for Servando Carrasco and a more defensive mentality to close out the game.

After that, over the next six minutes, LA came knocking on the door a few times. In the 77th minute, LA earned a free kick as Toia stepped on Alessandrini’s foot. Gio Dos Santos took the free kick, trying to score it on the near post. The shot was palmed away for a moment by Bendik, then cleared off the line and out for a corner kick by Spector, after a secondary effort from Steres.

After coming so close, LA began to smell the equalizer. First, Alessandrini found himself free on the back post and 1-v-1 with Bendik, but he skied his effort over the bar. Bradford Jamieson tried a volley off a cross shortly thereafter, but his effort was just wide.

Then, in the 83rd minute, the dam finally broke. A through ball from Jermaine Jones to Alessandrini found him in the middle of the pitch, just at the top of the 18-yard box. He faked a shot, sending Spector past him, and drilled a goal with his right foot, barely beating Bendik and glancing it off the near post and in for the equalizer.

Orlando then tried to fight back into the lead. Off a throw-in with three minutes left, the ball got loose in the box and found Johnson’s foot, but his shot was weak and easily saved by Diop.

In the 89th minute, Barnes was subbed out for Hadji Barry to try to push for the winner.

As they pushed and pushed, the Lions finally found their winning goal in dramatic fashion. Off a corner in the 90th minute, Johnson served a ball into the box and Larin, who had struggled a lot of the game to make an impact, out-muscled Jones in the box and volleyed the ball into the top of the net to give Orlando the lead.

“I’ve been working the whole game and I was just waiting for my chance, for the ball to come to me, and I had a tough game,” Larin said. “Van Damme played very well against me and he’s a great defender and he was cutting a lot of passes and Carlos was trying to get me the ball. I was just happy. Happy I scored.”

With the goal, Larin has now become the all-time leading scorer in MLS history for a player under the age of 22, with his 35th goal in his career. His 22nd birthday is Monday.

Over the last few minutes of the game, LA pushed numbers forward to try for a last-gasp equalizer and, despite Orlando giving away some silly balls in the midfield, the Lions managed to hold on defensively for their fourth win at home.

“I think, for me, there are moments, tactical moments and things that you want to have happen to your team as you go through a season,” Kreis said, “One of them is to allow a goal late and see what the reaction is like. So, I’m really, really pleased, because if you went back and looked at it, immediately after they scored, we had a goal chance against them. So, that shows to me a really positive reaction and a belief within the team.”

LA finished with 50.9% possession and more shots (18-12), although Orlando had more shots on target (8-7). The Galaxy attempted 361 total passes to Orlando’s 345.


The Lions are back in action for their second away game on Sunday, April 23, in the Bronx against New York City FC at 1:30 p.m.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Chicago Fire: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions continue their search for a win at home as the Fire make their annual visit to Orlando.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to your match thread and preview for a Saturday night matchup between Orlando City (4-8-6, 18 points) and the Chicago Fire (4-8-6, 18 points) at Inter&Co Stadium (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the second and final scheduled meeting between the Eastern Conference rivals in 2024 and the only matchup in Orlando.

Here’s what you need to know about the match.

History

The Lions are 7-5-7 in 19 MLS meetings with the Fire and 7-6-7 in all competitions. Orlando City is 4-2-3 against the Fire at home.

These two teams just met a few weeks ago on May 29 at Soldier Field, playing to a 1-1 draw. Facundo Torres opened the scoring early with a scrappy goal in traffic, and the Lions should have had a penalty late in the first half when Ivan Angulo was clipped while in alone on a goal after rounding the goalkeeper, but the video assistant referee did not overturn the no-call and referee Malik Badawi did not look at the play himself. The Fire tied the match in the final 20 minutes on a Hugo Cuypers goal.

The Lions swept the two-game season series in 2023 by identical 3-1 scorelines. On Aug. 21, Orlando City got goals from Wilder Cartagena, Ivan Angulo, and Torres (from the penalty spot) to overcome a 1-0 deficit supplied by Mauricio Pineda, winning 3-1 on the road.

When the teams met in Orlando, the Lions rode a Torres brace to a 3-1 win on July 1. Xherdan Shaqiri pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after a Kyle Smith foul in the box against Brian Gutierrez, but Ramiro Enrique added an insurance goal.

Orlando City claimed a 1-0 victory at Exploria Stadium on April 9, 2022 on Ercan Kara’s first MLS goal. The two sides met at Soldier Field just over a month prior to that match and played, officially, to a 0-0 draw on March 5. The game is another Orlando City match that will live in infamy due to the Professional Referee Organization’s statement after the game that Junior Urso’s goal should not have been overturned upon video review by Ismir Pekmic due to Kara not having clearly and obviously handled the ball in the buildup in any of the available replay angles. Alas…

The teams met in Orlando on Aug. 21, 2021, with a second-half Benji Michel strike lifting the Lions to a 1-0 victory. Tesho Akindele set up the play by forcing a turnover. In that year’s meeting at Soldier Field, the Fire got the better of the Lions to the tune of 3-1 on July 7. Andres Perea scored his first career MLS goal to open the scoring, but a defensive lapse in first-half stoppage allowed Boris Sekulic to equalize just before the break. Chicago rode that momentum, adding goals by Robert Beric and Chinonso Offor.

The Lions were 0-4-4 in the eight meetings before smashing the Fire 4-1 in Orlando on Sept. 19, 2020. Orlando City withstood two Chicago penalties and saw two Fire goals overturned by video review in that rain-soaked match. (Weird things usually happen when Chicago visits Orlando.) The Lions got goals from Chris Mueller, Nani, Urso, and Michel, while Chicago had only a Beric penalty to show for an otherwise good offensive performance.

The last meeting of 2019 was the last time the Fire won on the road in the series. It was a debacle for the Lions, who lost defender Robin Jansson to a back/neck injury early and shipped a handful of goals in a 5-2 home loss in the regular-season finale. Orlando got goals from Akindele and Michel but largely played like a team that couldn’t wait to end its season. Chicago got an own goal from Orlando’s Smith and strikes from CJ Sapong, Aleksandar Katai, and Przemyslaw Frankowski (twice) in the rout.

Orlando City was seconds away from a road win on March 9, 2019 before Sapong’s free header in the 95th minute leveled things in a 1-1 draw in Chicago. Dom Dwyer scored Orlando’s goal.

In 2018, the Fire swept the season series. Orlando fell 2-1 at home on May 26, 2018, with Alan Gordon’s wondergoal breaking a 1-1 deadlock. The return leg in Chicago that September was an abysmal performance by Orlando in a 4-0 Fire victory.

Chicago went 1-0-1 in 2017, with the teams playing to a 0-0 draw on June 4, 2017, with the Lions reduced to nine men. The previous 2017 meeting was the Fire’s 4-0 beatdown of Orlando on June 24 of that year. David Accam figured in all four goals, with a hat trick and an assist on Nemanja Nikolić’s goal.

The teams split the points in 2016, drawing both meetings. Cyle Larin and Accam traded goals in a 1-1 draw in Orlando on March 11. The Fire again came from behind to draw, 2-2 in the return leg that August.

The teams met once in Orlando in 2015, with the Lions and Fire battling to a 1-1 draw. You may recall that five-hour, weather-delayed affair with Eric Gehrig’s own-goal canceling out an Accam strike. The other three meetings came in Chicago, with City winning 3-2 and 1-0 in MLS matches and falling 3-1 in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal action.

Overview

The Lions are coming off a 2-2 road draw at Charlotte FC Wednesday night. The hosts scored early off an Orlando defensive gaffe but went down a man late in the first half. Orlando took initial advantage when Duncan McGuire tied the match in the second half, however, another defensive mishap led to Charlotte regaining the lead late. Torres tied the game again but the Lions could not find a winner. It was Orlando’s fifth consecutive game without a win (0-3-2) but the team’s first point since the last game against Chicago. Orlando is an abysmal 1-5-3 at home this season, so the club is starving for three points at Inter&Co Stadium.

Conversely, Chicago is 2-0-0 since hosting Orlando City last month. The Fire are coming off a 4-1 dismantling of Toronto FC last Saturday and will be on a full week’s rest. That win was Chicago’s first on the road this year (1-3-4), so the two teams with identical overall records have been headed in opposite directions than when they last met. Cuypers has gotten hot and leads the Fire with six goals on the season, while Gutierrez has four. Fabian Herbers and Maren Haile-Selassie pace the team with four assists each. USMNT midfielder Kellyn Acosta has two goals and two assists.

“We played them not too long ago. Chicago is a team that has been evolving too. We understand that evolution since we have information [and analysis] in our game against them in Chicago, but I think we played them well there and I think we had another good game,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said ahead of the match. “We’ll try to improve some things and see if we can get better at those things that we’re talking about, being more precise and taking advantage of that volume that we had in front of the goal, but also just being cautious and smart defending them.”

The Lions list Mikey Halliday (knee), and Tahir Reid-Brown (thigh) as out on the availability report, along with international players Pedro Gallese, Wilder Cartagena, and David Brekalo. Ramiro Enrique (personal matter) and Felipe (foot) are listed as questionable. Chicago will be without Chase Gasper (leg), Andrew Gutman (leg), Tobias Salquist (leg), and Xherdan Shaqiri (international duty), while Federico Navarro (leg) is listed as questionable.

Match Content


Projected Lineups

Orlando City (4-4-2)

Goalkeeper: Mason Stajduhar.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Midfielders: Facundo Torres, Cesar Araujo, Nico Lodeiro, Ivan Angulo.

Forwards: Luis Muriel, Duncan McGuire.

Chicago Fire (5-3-2)

Goalkeeper: Chris Brady

Defenders: Andrew Gutman, Rafa Czichos, Carlos Teran, Mauricio Pineda, Jonathan Dean.

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta., Federico Navarro, Brian Guitierrez.

Forwards: Tom Barlow, Hugo Cuypers.

Referees

REF: Natalie Simon.
AR1: Corey Rockwell.
AR2: Kevin Klinger.
4TH: Chris Penso.
VAR: Sorin Stoica.
AVAR: Mike Kampmeinert.


How to Watch

Match Time: 7:30 p.m.

Venue: Inter&Co Stadium — Orlando.

TV/Streaming: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Mega 97.1 FM (Spanish).

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


Enjoy the game. Go City!

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Orlando City

Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Chicago Fire

Get caught up on the Chicago Fire courtesy of someone who knows them best.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Following a midweek draw on the road that was filled with plenty of intrigue, Orlando City returns to the welcoming confines of home to take on the Chicago Fire in the second meeting of the season between the two teams.

A matchup with Chicago means I caught up with Ruben Tisch, who runs the show over at The Lantern. As always, he was kind enough to give us some valuable insight into how the Fire have fared since these two teams last met.

Hugo Cuypers was Chicago’s big off-season signing, how has he looked so far?

Ruben Tisch: He’s been good so far and it’s finally paying off on the score sheet. He’s scored a goal in each of the Fire’s last three matches and has turned into a real asset on the counter-press, something I didn’t see happening. When he was brought in, we knew we were getting a poacher — someone with an eye and foot for goal but not someone who could create his own opportunities. However, he’s shown to be more than his player profile and the Fire are cashing in the dividends.

He’s also starting to figure out how to play with Brian Gutierrez and Maren Haile-Selassie. Early on in the season, there were problems. The quality of service was poor, and as a result, the coordination between he and the midfield was bad. In recent games, things have gotten better. The passing has improved, and as a result, the chance creation has gotten better. Cuypers is getting in better spots and his shots are going in. 

Former Lion Chris Mueller is now in his third season with the Fire. What sort of season has he had in 2024?

RT: Honestly, he hasn’t had much of one. Part of it is that tactically, the Fire have moved away from traditional wingers to wingbacks and Mueller isn’t someone you can trust to defend with any regularity. He’s an attacking demon, but the way the Fire are trying to play, he’s just not as useful as someone like Allen Arigoni, who can attack and defend. 

The other bit is speculation on my part, but he doesn’t seem to have recovered completely from the season-ending surgery from last season. He looks a step slower when on the field and he’s having trouble playing meaningful minutes. I expect that he’ll get better as he continues to recover, but I don’t expect him to regain his starting role anytime soon, especially if the Fire goes out and gets a DP wide player in the summer.

The Fire have hit a nice patch of form, and the team is unbeaten in its last four games. What’s been working well for Chicago during that stretch?

RT: The switch to three center backs has been a boon for a team that struggles with defensive focus for 90 minutes. They now have cover, so that small mistakes don’t become big mistakes, and Carlos Teran is determined to play himself into a transfer to Europe, so every game he’s in he gives his 100%.

Mostly, though, I think it’s Xherdan Shaqiri’s exit from the club. It looks like a huge weight has been lifted and the team is playing a lot freer with him gone. The move never worked out for a lot of reasons, but a large part of it was he just isn’t the player the club needed him to be. He’s not a good fulcrum. The game cannot run through him, and he’s best when he can float in and out of the action. He can’t run a team, and when the Fire signed him, that’s what they really needed. And they never got it.

Will any players be unavailable due to injuries, suspensions, call-ups, etc.? What is your best guess at a starting XI and a score prediction?

RT: It’s probably going to be the same as their win over Toronto. Part of the big problem with the Fire over the last decade has been lineup consistency. They didn’t have a midweek game, so there’s no reason to rotate the squad.

Chris Brady; Jonathan Dean, Rafael Czichos, Carlos Teran, Arnaud Souquet, Allan Arigoni; Kellyn Acosta, Fabian Herbers, Brian Gutierrez; Hugo Cuypers, Maren Haile-Selassie.

No score prediction provided.


Thank you to Ruben for the update on the Fire. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/21/24

Facundo Torres earns praise, Orlando Pride play the Utah Royals tonight, FC Cincinnati linked with Weston McKennie, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! This weekend is what soccer fans dream of, with NWSL, MLS, Copa America, and Euro 2024 matches to enjoy. The Orlando Pride are in action tonight, Orlando City plays Saturday, and the U.S. begins its Copa America campaign on Sunday. But first, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter!

Facundo Torres Makes MLS Team of the Matchday Bench

Orlando forward Facundo Torres earned a spot on the bench of the MLS Team of the Matchday after providing a goal and an assist in Orlando’s 2-2 draw against Charlotte FC. Both contributions were crucial to Orlando getting a point on the road. It was only Torres’ third goal of the season, so hopefully this gets him going. If the Lions are to claw their way up the Eastern Conference table, they’ll need more performances like this from their talisman.

Orlando Pride Host the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride will aim to get back in the win column tonight when they take on the Utah Royals at home. The last time these two teams squared off was on April 12, with Orlando winning 1-0 in the first of eight straight victories for the Pride. Another match with the Royals could be just what the doctor ordered for an Orlando side that’s been held to draws in its past two matches. While Utah is having a difficult season and sits last in the league standings, it did get its first road win on Sunday against Bay FC.

FC Cincinnati Reportedly Wants Weston McKennie

American midfielder Weston McKennie could be coming to the U.S., as FC Cincinnati has reportedly made an offer to sign him from Juventus. Cincinnati is willing to spend up to $15 million to bring McKennie on as a Designated Player. The 25-year-old has one year left on his contract with Juventus, but he’s likely leaving the Italian club this summer if reports are to be believed. McKennie was part of FC Dallas’ academy, but never actually played in an MLS game before heading to Europe.

Spain Wins to Advance in Euro 2024

Spain booked its spot in the knockout stage of Euro 2024 after beating Italy 1-0 in a match that didn’t quite live up to its billing. It does set up for an intriguing matchup between Italy and Croatia on Monday, though. England and Denmark traded first-half goals but neither team could find a winner in a 1-1 draw. In the other Group C match, Orlando City defender David Brekalo came on as a late substitute in Slovenia’s 1-1 draw against Serbia.

As for today’s slate of games, Slovakia will face off against Ukraine, Poland plays Austria, and France takes on the Netherlands. We’ll see if Kylian Mbappe will play after breaking his nose in France’s opening match.

Latest FIFA Rankings Unveiled

Despite losing 5-1 to Colombia in a friendly, the U.S. didn’t drop enough points to be unseated from 11th in the latest FIFA rankings. The U.S. remains the highest-ranked Concacaf nation, and Mexico dropped to 15th after losing to both Uruguay and Brazil in friendlies. Argentina is still at the top of the rankings, while Brazil leapfrogged England for fourth place. The rankings usually don’t matter all too much, but they are used to determine pots for the World Cup. With Euro 2024 and Copa America going on, things could shake up a bit for some of the world’s best teams.

Free Kicks

  • Peter Musa was named MLS Player of the Matchday for his hat trick in FC Dallas’ 5-3 win against Minnesota United. It was the Croatian striker’s first hat trick since he joined Dallas this past off-season, and he now has eight goals this season.
  • Now with Cruz Azul, former Atlanta United forward Georgios Giakoumakis took some parting shots at MLS in regards to how losses are OK compared to Liga MX. I find it a pretty oblivious thing to say considering Atlanta fired its head coach a day after losing to Charlotte FC earlier this month.
  • Steve Cooper, who was sacked by Nottingham Forest six months ago, was hired as Leicester City’s new manager.
  • Of the 47 goals scored so far in Euro 2024, five have been own goals and only Germany’s Jamal Musiala has scored more than once. None of the goals have been scored from the penalty spot as well.
  • Burnley is reportedly in talks with Ruud van Nistelrooy to be the club’s next manager after Vincent Kompany’s departure.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend. Go Orlando!

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