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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Toronto FC: Five Takeaways from Lions’ 2-1 Road Loss



Orlando City fell 2-1 Wednesday night at the house of horrors that has been BMO Field, where the Lions are yet to find a win — and have only one draw — in their MLS history. It was the Lions’ second loss of the season, but they still see themselves in first in the Eastern Conference table with two games in hand on NYRB, which got waxed at Sporting Kansas City last night. You can read the details of the match in the recap linked above, we’ll get into the takeaways now.

Orlando Failed to Take Advantage of its Chances

The Lions out-shot Toronto on the night and managed the same number of shots on target, but the Reds — Sebastian Giovinco, specifically — were more clinical in front of goal and it ultimately won them the match.

Kaká did well to pull a goal back just before the half with a top-shelf finish past Alex Bono, but Orlando squandered a number of other chances that could have seen them take a road win from BMO Field, and at the very least would have scraped a point. Cyle Larin had a pair of missed opportunities around the hour mark, the first on a Carlos Rivas cross that he slid into that took a deflection off Bono before trickling almost into the net, but not quite as Bono was able to swat it away at the last moment. About seven minutes later, Larin got on the end of another cross and just didn’t get anything behind the ball, leaving it well short on a chance that he almost certainly finishes on any other night.

Larin wasn’t alone, but he’s certainly the man that City looks to for goal-scoring support and he was unable to finish a couple chances he normally would. Against a Giovinco-led team, that wasn’t good enough, as the Italian finished a pair of chances efficiently to outclass Orlando. Bono deserves a mention for a few very nice saves against OCSC, as well.

The Value of Johnson and Nocerino is Clear

Will Johnson missed Wednesday’s match due to illness, and Antonio Nocerino sat out as a precautionary measure following his early-season calf injury. Without that stalwart duo in the midfield, things took a different shape for Orlando City.

The revamped defense that had been one of the best in MLS coming in looked disheveled in the first half when TFC notched both of its goals. Servando Carrasco and Luis Gil started in place of the missing duo, and although Gil was good the defense suffered as he and Carrasco didn’t appear to be clicking and failed to keep Giovinco from a pair of good looks, which he finished.

In addition to being solid pieces in the starting XI, Noc and Johnson are also leaders for the Lions, with the latter having worn the captain’s armband in place of Kaká during his injury rehab. It’s good to know that Nocerino’s absence was only precautionary and that he’ll presumably be back this weekend, and hopefully Johnson can bounce back quickly. We’ll just have to wonder if Wednesday’s result would’ve been different had one or both been in the lineup.

Giovinco Stings Orlando…Again

Speaking of Gio, he’s been really good against everyone in MLS since moving to Toronto in 2015 — he’d scored 39 goals and registered 31 assists across the past two seasons and won an MLS MVP award, so he’s been consistently great. He seems to find a little extra edge against Orlando, though.

Coming into Wednesday night, Giovinco had scored four times against the Lions during his MLS career, tormenting the Orlando defense en route to several blowout wins. He continued that trend even against an improved Lions defense, netting twice in the first half to bring his goal tally vs. City to six, surpassing Jozy Altidore’s five vs. Orlando.

His second goal was a poach of a score when Orlando City was unable to clear the danger following the swipe of a low cross from Joe Bendik, but his typical skill was on display for his first goal when he used a silky touch with his left foot off a half-clearance to play the ball around Luis Gil and onto his right foot and set up a finish into the bottom corner just nine minutes in.

As noted above, Giovinco is a brilliant MLS player, and he’s going to get his fair share against just about everyone. But the extent to which he’s burned Orlando has reached a ridiculous level.

Kaká Scores for the Second Consecutive Game

While Kaká’s season got off to just about the worst start possible with a hamstring injury just 10 minutes in, he’s made his presence known in the last two matches upon his return. The captain scored for the second straight game, notching City’s lone goal just before the half to restore some confidence and keep things tight going into the break.

He’s been the beneficiary of some good work from Larin on both of his scores, this time receiving a headed assist from the Canadian at the back post, but his top-shelf finish over Bono and another approaching TFC defender was not as simple as the Brazilian made it look. It was good to see some of the combination play between Kaká and players like Larin and Rivas again, as his creative flair is always refreshing. His match fitness will only improve as he progresses back into form, but the return from his first two appearances post-injury has been a good start.

Orlando Must Get a Result in Houston

The unfortunate consequence of missing a chance at a point (or three) on the road last night is that the Lions now have to finish off this back-to-back road session in Houston on Saturday in need of a result to prevent some negative momentum from building.

Two straight road losses would not only halt the fast start to the season, but it would restore doubt about the Lions’ ability to win on the road once again following a disappointment in Toronto. While Orlando can lament the absences of Nocerino and Johnson vs. TFC and know that Cyle Larin usually cashes in on at least one of the two excellent chances he had at BMO Field, another loss will overshadow those silver linings from Wednesday.

That’s the way I saw the match. What stood out to you? Let us know in the comments below.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/29/23

Orlando City prepares for CF Montreal, learning more about Duncan McGuire, Jack Lynn named to MLS NEXT Pro Best XI, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

It’s Friday, which means we’re just one day away from a pretty busy weekend of Orlando soccer. It should be a pretty fun next few days, with Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Orlando City B all in action. I don’t have many weekend plans beyond working and getting some writing and reading done. Let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Prepares for CF Montreal

Orlando City hosts CF Montreal tomorrow night in a showdown between two Eastern Conference teams with just four games remaining this season. It’s the second match between the two teams this year, with Montreal beating the Lions 2-0 in Canada on May 6. In the time since that game, the Lions have only lost three games this season and have not been defeated at home since April 22. Orlando’s next win will be Head Coach Oscar Pareja’s 60th with the Lions, and tomorrow’s match could also break club records for most wins and points in a season. A win for the Lions would be massive to put some breathing room between them and the other top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Get to Know Duncan McGuire

Orlando forward Duncan McGuire was the latest to go under the microscope as part of the club’s video series to learn more about the players. The rookie spoke on his upbringing as a middle child, as well as how he turned to soccer after struggling in other sports. McGuire also talked about his acrobatic goal celebrations and a clip is included of a time he didn’t quite stick the landing after scoring for Creighton. It’s a pretty fun interview, as he gave some details on how Mason Stajduhar is a quick learner when it comes to golf and how he wants to go out to dinner with Ana de Armas.

Jack Lynn Makes MLS NEXT Pro Best XI

Orlando City B forward Jack Lynn was named to the MLS NEXT Pro’s Best XI for the second straight year. Lynn fueled OCB’s offense this season, scoring 19 goals to help the Young Lions claim a spot in the playoffs. No MLS NEXT Pro player has scored more goals since the league’s inaugural season last year than Lynn, who has 34 goals under his belt. The 23-year-old is joined on the front line of this year’s Best XI with the two players he tied with for the Golden Boot, New York City FC II’s Matt Myers and Colorado Rapids 2 forward Remi Cabral.

Orlando City B Takes On Columbus Crew 2 This Sunday

The Young Lions will play their first MLS NEXT Pro playoff game this Sunday when they face Columbus Crew 2 on the road at 5:30 p.m. It will be the third and final match between the two sides this year, with each claiming a big win over the other earlier in the season. No team that qualified for the playoffs has lost more road games than OCB this season, which may be why Columbus elected to face Orlando. However, Orlando’s offense has been electric at times this year thanks to Lynn, Shak Mohammed, Wilfredo Rivera, and others. Sunday may be another wild game with the Young Lions involved and you can check it out on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Tahir Reid-Brown Called Up for Training Camp

United States U-17 Men’s National Team Head Coach Gonzalo Segares called up 20 players for a training camp in Brazil to prepare for the U-17 World Cup in November. OCB defender Tahir Reid-Brown was the lone Orlando representative called up for this camp. The 17-year-old was called up to the U-17 team earlier this April for a training camp in Florida. He’s had an impressive year, earning a spot in the MLS NEXT All-Star Game and making 10 appearances for OCB. The U.S. will take on Brazil on Oct. 4 and Oct. 6 in a pair of friendlies during this camp.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City center back Rodrigo Schlegel unveiled the meaning behind his tattoos, including the ones for his parents and his biggest moments as a Lion.

That’s all I have for you today. Hopefully the weather plays nice this weekend and you’re able to do everything you have planned. Have a great Friday!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points against CF Montreal this Saturday in Exploria Stadium?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City hosts CF Montreal in the second-to-last home match of the 2023 MLS regular season at Exploria Stadium this Saturday night. The Lions have already secured a spot in the playoffs but are now fighting for home field advantage. Montreal is currently sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and is fighting for a playoff spot.

What does Orlando City need to do to secure three important points against the Canadian Club Foots?

Time to Make the Donuts

It had been a minute since Duncan McGuire scored a goal for Orlando City — and by a minute I mean since July 29. McGuire had a few opportunities against Inter Miami and managed to get one to equalize for the Lions and ensure a point at home. I do think he might have scored on another of those chances if he was fully back in form after his injury time, but I’ll take the goal. 

My hope is that getting that goal will remind him that he can score goals when given the opportunity, and he will be better about finishing the chances he gets against Montreal. Sometimes it just takes getting that first goal to open up the muscle memory and to unlock the confidence needed in a striker. It’s time for Duncan to score more goals, and the match against Montreal is the first and best opportunity to do so since Montreal starting center back Joel Waterman will be serving a red card suspension.

Switch up the Lineup

I propose a change to the starting lineup — something Oscar Pareja does not do very often. Due to injuries and other factors such a move wasn’t possible earlier in the season, but I think it could work now. I have a ton of respect for Mauricio Pereyra, but he could probably use a rest to be fresh for the playoffs as the regular season winds down. 

I suggest letting Martin Ojeda get the start in the 10 spot, moving Dagur Dan Thorhallsson up the wing, and having Michael Halliday take over at right back. Ojeda’s play as of late has been much improved, and with Halliday healthy again, why not take advantage of Dagur Dan’s versatility along the wing. I think this move provides energy, a surprise for opposing defenses, and allows Facundo Torres more freedom. 

Same Old Effective Defense

Orlando City’s defense has only allowed 37 goals this season — which is good enough to tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. On the flip side, Montreal has only scored 30 goals so far — which is only better than Toronto at 24 goals. Montreal has a goal differential of -15.If the Lions play their normally solid defense in front of the outstanding goalkeeping of Pedro Gallese, Montreal should not get too many opportunities to score. There’s no doubt that we will see Robin Jansson and Rodrigo Schlegel paired together with Rafael Santos on the left and either Dagur Dan — or Michael Halliday as I suggested — on the right. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena can stop most attacks before they get to the back line. If Orlando City plays defense as well as the club did against Miami, things should be fine.

That is what I will be looking for this Saturday as the Lions take on the boys from North of the border. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/28/23

Ajax is reportedly scouting Facundo Torres, Orlando Pride focus on upcoming matches, Houston Dynamo win U.S. Open Cup, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this work week has gone smoothly for you as we get ready to bid farewell to September. It’s been a hectic week for me, but I started and then promptly devoured all of Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. It was a nice read, albeit a bit intense at times. I’m not sure what I’ll read next as most of my reading list is packed up for a move, but if you have any recommendations then let me know in the comments below. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Ajax Reportedly Interested in Facundo Torres

Orlando City forward Facundo Torres has reportedly garnered the interest of Dutch club Ajax according to Fabrizio Romano.

It’s not too surprising that Ajax, which currently sits in 14th in the Eredivisie with just seven goals from five games, has scouts keeping tabs on Torres. The 23-year-old has scored 12 goals this season, powering Orlando to second in the Eastern Conference. It wouldn’t be the first time Torres has received attention from European clubs and likely won’t be the last as he continues to impress with the Lions

Orlando Pride Focus During Playoff Push

The Orlando Pride are back in action on Monday for a crucial road match with Angel City FC. Both teams have 25 points this season, one point from the sixth and final playoff spot currently held by the Washington Spirit. It will be the first of three remaining games for the Pride this season, with matches against fellow playoff hopefuls Racing Louisville and the Houston Dash set for later in October. As a result, there’s not much margin for error if the Pride wish to make the playoffs and Kylie Strom talked about how the team is focused for these games.

MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs Begin This Weekend

The first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs kicks off this weekend with six matches that can all be watched on MLS Season Pass. Unlike last year, Orlando City B will be taking part and is set to face off with Columbus Crew 2 on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Although the Young Lions have struggled on the road against Columbus, Jack Lynn and Shak Mohammed can make things difficult for the hosts. Hopefully we’ll see OCB make Columbus regret its choice of opponent in the postseason. I like the wrinkle and mind games to the playoffs the new rule gave and am interested to see which of the lower seeds plays with a chip on their shoulder. The playoffs begin on Friday when Sporting Kansas City II hosts Austin FC II in a battle between the third and fourth seeds of the Western Conference.

Houston Dynamo Win U.S. Open Cup

The Houston Dynamo have lifted the U.S. Open Cup trophy after winning 2-1 on the road against Inter Miami. A pair of goals in the first half were enough for Houston to win its second U.S. Open Cup title after also winning in 2018. A goal in stoppage time from Josef Martinez made things interesting, but the Dynamo defense did well to secure the win and deny Miami its second tournament title this year. It was a strong end to a solid tournament campaign from the Dynamo, as they beat four MLS sides before taking down Miami in the final.

Albertin Montoya Hired as Bay FC Head Coach

Ahead of its inaugural NWSL season next year, Bay FC named Albertin Montoya as the club’s first head coach. Montoya, who has lived in California for most of his life, served as the interim coach for the Washington Spirit in 2022 and also coached the U.S. U-17 women’s national team in 2011. Bay FC General Manager Lucy Rushton spoke on how Montoya’s name came up often while the club searched for a head coach, as well as how his skill at developing players will help build the club’s foundation.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja called for the supporters to continue filling Exploria Stadium and pushing the Lions forward for the team’s remaining home games this season.
  • St. Louis City midfielder Njabulo Blom won MLS Goal of the Week for his winner against Minnesota United. It was also the 23-year-old’s first professional goal.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

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