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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.



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 Enjoyed the Best Summer Stretch in Team History

Orlando City climbed the table in the club’s best summer since joining MLS.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

June, July, August (plus, most of September), and the dog days of summer are officially in the rearview mirror and Orlando City is set to put a cherry on top of what was the best summer stretch in team history when they face Inter Miami tomorrow night at Exploria Stadium. As the season starts to wind down, I felt it was only necessary to take some time to examine the what we all just witnessed…the best summer in team history.

A quick Google search says that the season of summer in the U.S. traditionally starts June 21 on the summer solstice, which we will use as the starting point. I looked historically at the team’s performance from that point in time through the end of summer each season, a.k.a. today, Sept. 23. As a new expansion team in Major League Soccer, Orlando City dealt with the summer heat fairly well and earned 15 and 17 points in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The next two seasons, on the other hand, were much darker times to be a city fan, as Orlando City racked up seven and 10 losses in 2017 and 2018, respectively, during those two seasons. It does not take Sherlock Holmes-level detection skills to know that those summer stretches did not lead to postseason playoff berths. In 2019, the team amassed a decent 18 points during the summer, but only tallied 37 on the season overall.

It should not come as a surprise to any OCSC fan that the team’s best years of success have all come while Oscar Pareja has been at the helm. Prior to this season, the best summer stretch that the team had enjoyed was back in 2021 — also under Pareja’s reign — when the boys put up 23 points, setting a summer team record with six wins. Despite their great summer success, the 2021 Lions were unfortunately not able to keep their strong summer momentum going as they dropped four straight matches after Labor Day that year. Enter 2022, or as I like to call it “the summer of the trophy.” Technically speaking, in the MLS regular season, it was the team’s second best summer, with 20 points to their name. Orlando also happened to lift the U.S. Open Cup during that span last year, so there is an argument to be made that without the additional fixtures, the Lions may have been able to commit more resources to the regular season and would have wound up with more points. I will take the hardware!

This summer it has seemed as though Papi has pulled all the right strings at the right times. Orlando currently not only sits in second place in the Eastern Conference, but second overall in the Supporters’ Shield race and has only dropped two matches from June 21 to Sept. 23 while sporting a +6 goal differential. The Lions amassed 24 points during the summer this year.

Orlando City finding the back of the net more often than conceding makes for quite fun matches to enjoy. The two losses OCSC has picked up throughout the summer this season both have come on the road (at Real Salt Lake and at NYCFC), despite Orlando City earning an MLS-best 25 points away from Central Florida this year.

Orlando City did a great job getting through the hottest part of the calendar while locking up results left and right. Orlando has already secured a spot in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year in no small part due to the amazing summer the team just enjoyed. As fall comes barreling at us and the MLS playoff home-field advantage race begins to heat up, the performance of the squad this summer should not be taken for granted as championships might not be won in June, July, or August, but poor performances can certainly ensure that they are lost.

Did you have a favorite moment or match from this summer? My favorite moment was what I am calling the Hail Ojeda Mary goal in Charlotte, and my favorite match was the electrifying 4-3 come-from-behind victory against the Columbus Crew. Let us know in the comments below your favorites, and as always, vamos Orlando.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/23/22

Lions and Herons meet again, Carly Nelson is writing a book, NWSL free agency opens, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Founder’s Day, Mane Landers! It was on this day in 2014 that our fearless leader and Managing Editor Michael Citro started our first ever WordPress website. It’s safe to say that I’m sure The Mane Land has impacted your life as much as it has mine over the years, whether that be through daily reading or weekly podcasts. Cheers to Michael and all those who have come before me.

In my own personal news, I have been grinding away on the new EA FC 24 (the franchise formerly known as EA’s FIFA.) So far, the gameplay and updates have been great in my initial 15+ hours of play, and my online Ultimate Team is starting to really take its shape. I’m sure in a couple weeks that I’ll transition to a traditional Career Mode and take the Lions all the way to an MLS Cup and beyond.

Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a very happy birthday to everyone’s favorite defensive midfielder, Wilder Cartagena!

Third Bout for Orlando City and Inter Miami

Orlando City and Inter Miami have already met twice this campaign. Sunday’s match will look to break the deadlock between the two rivals as both clubs have a victory to their name in this year’s series. In May, the Lions grabbed a 3-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale-based club. The two sides met for a second time in the knockout round of Leagues Cup 2023 with Inter Miami taking the 3-1 result at DRV PNK Stadium. No matter the result this time around, Orlando City has already clinched a playoff spot, however, the Herons need every point they can get to attempt to do the same.

Carly Nelson, Goalkeeper and Author

It isn’t unheard of to learn that an athlete might have tried another sport before finding soccer, Orlando Pride goalkeeper Carly Nelson came from a background of gymnastics, tennis, basketball, and baseball before her father started a club soccer team with her in mind. While Nelson might have idolized USWNT legend Hope Solo as a child, she started her playing days as a forward, winger, and midfielder. Outside of protecting the Pride’s net, Nelson is spending time writing a book about her life growing up in Utah and the issues her family faced to hopefully help others that might find themselves in similar situations.

NWSL Opens 2024 Free Agency

The National Women’s Soccer League has officially opened the league’s unrestricted and restricted free agency periods. In accordance with the NWSL Players’ Association’s collective bargaining agreement, eligible free agents can begin negotiations for their 2024 Standard Player Agreements. Players eligible for unrestricted free agency include all who have at least five years of service within the NWSL and contracts expiring in 2023, while players eligible for restricted free agency include those who have at least three years of service. For the Orlando Pride, defender Kylie Strom is set to be an unrestricted free agent and midfielder Jordyn Listro is under restricted terms. Any club that currently holds the rights of a restricted free agent has a seven-day period to match an incoming offer from another club or else the player may sign with the new club under the terms of the offer.

USMNT’s Tyler Adams Nearing Return

Tyler Adams will not make his Bournemouth debut this weekend, but he could return as early as next week. Bournemouth’s manager, Andoni Iraola, provided a positive update on the U.S. Men’s National Team captain as he finishes up rehabbing a long-term hamstring injury.

“He has started this week at least to train partially with the group, so probably we can have a chance of having him next week or two weeks, something like this. Tyler is really close because once you start training partially with the group, it’s a matter of sensations, and if you are physically good enough. He has a very good physical base. So I think it will take not a long time to see Tyler with the team.”

Adams has not played since March after having a hamstring surgery. Even with a known injury, the 24-year-old still completed a move from Leeds United to Bournemouth following Leeds’ relegation to keep him in the top flight.

MLS Weekend Preview

Aside from the Florida derby, there are plenty of matches to be excited about around the league this weekend. Personally, I’m looking forward to catching a bit of the D.C. United and New York Red Bulls match. Manager Wayne Rooney’s club is right on the bubble in a tight Eastern Conference race while the Red Bulls can do themselves a huge service and come back into the playoff picture with a win. Out in the Western Conference, there is a real buzz around a Portland Timbers squad after a manager sacking. It could be a huge win for the Timbers and likely push them above the play-in round should they find a result against the Colorado Rapids.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Saturday. Be safe on Sunday at the match. Stay hydrated and look out for those around you. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Three Keys to Victory

Here are three things the Lions need to do in order to set themselves up for a win over Inter Miami.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Wednesday’s match didn’t go the way anyone hoped it would, but now it’s time to turn our attention to a Sunday matchup with Inter Miami back in the comfortable confines of Exploria Stadium. What follows are three things that I believe will go a long way toward helping the Lions emerge victorious from the Tropic Thunder derby and keeping Florida purple.

Close Down Sergio Busquets

As many headlines as Lionel Messi has rightfully been getting since joining Major League Soccer, I think Busquets is just as important to Miami’s success. He remains an excellent midfielder and his ability to transition the team from defense into attack and link the two lines together is crucial. He has two assists and eight key passes in six MLS appearances and is passing with 92% accuracy —if you give him time, he will make you pay. Even if Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena mark him tightly, he’ll still manage to find space at times and affect the game because he’s that good of a player. But the Lions cannot afford to repeatedly give him time and space to get on the ball, pick up his head, and play a pass or he’ll cut OCSC to ribbons. Getting tight to him and making his life difficult won’t stop him every time, but it’ll make life a hell of a lot easier. As soon as Orlando loses the ball in Miami’s half, someone needs to find no. 5 and close him down.

Play With an Edge, but Don’t Go Over It

This is likely going to be an extremely, fast, physical and heated game. These two teams don’t have any love lost for each other, and if last game is any indication, then Orlando is going to try to use its physicality to disrupt Miami from playing its brand of soccer. That’s not a bad strategy, and it’s one that was largely working during the aforementioned Leagues Cup match until the penalty kick call in the second half. If the Lions are going to try to repeat the tactic, then they need to play with physicality and intensity while toeing the line of what’s acceptable to do during a soccer game. Going down a man isn’t going to do OCSC any favors, so the boys in purple are going to have to flirt with the edge of the cliff without falling headfirst over it.

Stay Organized Defensively

We’ve seen some shaky defending during Orlando’s last two matches. Runners in behind were a particular problem during the match against the Columbus Crew, while Wednesday’s loss to NYCFC saw Talles Magno largely unmarked between two Orlando defenders to score the header that sealed the Lions’ fate. OCSC will likely still be without Antonio Carlos, but the Lions are capable of much better defending than they’ve done during the last week and they need to show it. Even if Lionel Messi doesn’t play, Miami has a whole host of guys who can hurt you in Josef Martinez, Leonardo Campana, Benjamin Cremaschi, Robert Taylor and Facundo Farias. The Lions need to be much more keyed in on defense than they have been the last two games, otherwise one or more of those guys is going to make them pay. Orlando has the firepower to put the ball in the back of the net, but it won’t matter if the team is giving up multiple preventable goals at the other end of the field.

If the Lions execute those three things then they’ve got as good a chance as any of getting a result on Sunday. Vamos Orlando!

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