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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Montreal Impact: Final Score 3-3 as Lions Salvage Point via Late Equalizer

The Lions left it late on Saturday night against Montreal, but a moment of Jonathan Spector brilliance in stoppage time secured a home point for City.



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Saturday night’s contest against the Montreal Impact was an especially important one for Orlando City. The Lions (7-5-4, 25 points) were coming off a listless showing in their mid-week U.S. Open Cup match, and that effort, combined with Cyle Larin’s DUI arrest the morning after, left a cloud hanging over the club for the past several days.

It wasn’t the full three-point outing that the club and its fans were hoping for, but it was entertaining and the Lions showed a lot more what-for — albeit against a ninth-place side — in a dramatic 3-3 draw vs. Montreal Impact (4-4-6, 18 points) capped by a Jonathan Spector goal in second-half stoppage time.

There were legitimate concerns about Orlando’s ability to score without its main man up top (Larin had scored 50% of the club’s goals this season entering the game), but those concerns were at least temporarily eased by a fast offensive start against the Impact.

Despite playing without its leading scorer, Orlando City didn’t waste much time getting things going on the offensive end. Kaká — making his first start since a May 21 calf injury vs. NYCFC — sent in a cross from the left wing that Will Johnson took a stab at with a volley, but the Canadian was unable to keep his effort down enough and sent it sailing over the bar. It didn’t take long for Orlando to open the scoring, however, as five minutes later Kaká managed more impressive work down the left side, getting past Hassoun Camara with ease and pulling back a cross that Matías Pérez García was able to adjust to — he found it about a half-yard behind him as his momentum took him toward goal — and finish left-footed for his first goal in an Orlando City shirt.

While well-worked, the goal was not without a bit of controversy, as the ball was very close to being over the end line when Kaká chased it down and sent it back to MPG. It was tough to tell live and from certain camera angles on replay, but it’s safe to say our Canadian counterparts at Mount Royal Soccer weren’t as pleased with the end result as we were.

Nevertheless, City found itself up a goal just seven minutes in.

Perhaps a bit of karmic retribution was repaid in minute 16 by Jose Aja, who, instead of clearing the danger while being closed down by Ignacio Piatti, decided to dance around and was subsequently stripped by the Argentinian, who took full advantage of the defender’s gaffe and found an open Blerim Dzemaili in the box, who confidently slotted home near-post to knot the game at 1-1.

Continuing the trend of an exciting first half, though, Orlando answered less than 10 minutes later.

Giles Barnes played MPG into the box nicely, and the Argentinian laid it back to Johnson, whose first-time shot was parried back by Evan Bush and into the legs of his own center back Laurent Ciman just off the goal line, but the deflection off the Belgian fell perfectly for Rivas to smash home a go-ahead goal and make it 2-1 in minute 23 for Orlando. While Ciman’s knees kept Johnson from getting credit for the score, the Colombian Rivas left no doubt with his rifle of a finish on the rebound.

All of a sudden, an Orlando team that had averaged fewer than 1.1 goals per match coming in had netted two in the opening 25 minutes, and without Larin.

After another series of chances that included a beautiful one-two combination play from the likes of Rivas and Barnes, as well as a backheel nutmeg of Camara by Kaká, Orlando City finished the first half with a 14-2 shot advantage and 60% of the possession, but the one-goal advantage felt like it could’ve, and perhaps should’ve, been greater.

The failure to capitalize on chances in the first half predictably came back to bite Orlando City, as Montreal’s dynamic midfielder Piatti sprung for two goals in a two-minute span, with Lions center back Spector being bested both times.

Piatti used a clever touch on the first goal to set himself up on his right leg, side-stepping Spector in the process before finishing with a low burner that made it through Joe Bendik’s legs. Piatti struck again almost instantly in minute 59 when he cut to the inside of Spector to the left this time and fired another shot at Bendik. This time the Lions’ keeper was able to make the save, but Piatti was the only man left standing among a pile of three Orlando City players who had gone to ground to try to defend the first shot, and he easily tapped home his eighth goal of the season to put the Impact ahead 3-2, just like that.

The flow of the game had suddenly been flipped, and the energetic attacking we saw from the Lions in the first half was dampened quite a bit. Lacking Larin up top, the Lions didn’t have too many options to go to for an offensive boost off the bench, but the attacking crew of Kaká, Rivas, Barnes, and Pérez García continued to fight to create chances to equalize.

After several more missed opportunities to produce chances — Barnes launched an awkward left-footed shot well wide despite having an open Johnson rushing down the middle, and played a through ball just too far for a charging Kaká minutes later, to name a couple — it seemed like hope was lost for Orlando.

One thing we’ve learned about these Lions, though, is that they’ll continue to fight until the last breath. That held true again, as Spector managed a bit of redemption in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time, beautifully redirecting a header off an MPG corner across the face of Bush’s goal and into the top left corner to salvage a point and a 3-3 finish. The corner was one in a series that Orlando earned with its all-out siege of Montreal’s 18-yard box in search of an equalizer.

Despite the disappointing sequence where Piatti scored twice in as many minutes — something Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis described post-match as his team shooting itself in the foot — the late equalizer represented a silver lining and showed the resilience of this Lions side again.

“For me, a big, big positive was the guys continued to work really hard,” Kreis told the media. “On most nights with most teams, they would’ve packed it in [after two quick goals]. But our guys kept fighting and kept believing, so we get to walk out with at least a point.”

The Lions controlled 58% of the ball on the evening and generated 17 shots, not bad at all for a team that had struggled to score consistently even with Larin in the lineup. The back-to-back Piatti goals took a lot of luster off the final result, but the three goals scored were a big positive for City and the effort and fight until the end was a needed response following Wednesday’s result vs. Miami FC.

Lions fullback Donny Toia, who spent two seasons with Montreal, echoed his coach’s sentiments following the match, acknowledging the excitement of the finish while admitting he and his teammates could’ve sealed it much earlier.

“It’s one point versus zero, so we’re happy with one,” Toia said. “We had opportunities to make it 3-1 and we didn’t put it away and then we gave up those silly goals. So it’s definitely frustrating, but at the same time you’ve got to look at it as a positive because we didn’t lose, we came out with a point.”

The Lions, who remain in fourth place in the Eastern Conference behind New York City FC, are back to it on Wednesday in the Pacific Northwest as they travel for a 10:30 p.m. ET showdown with the Seattle Sounders.

Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Jack Lynn

The 2022 draft pick spent most of his time with Orlando City B during his second year in purple.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Jack Lynn joined Orlando City through the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, when he was selected in the first round by the Lions with the No. 18 overall pick. He was then signed to a one-year deal in February of last year with options for the next three years. Much of his time during his first season was spent with Orlando City B, although he did make a few appearances for the first team.

Let’s take a look back at Lynn’s second year in purple.

Statistical Breakdown

Lynn made three appearances in Major League Soccer with the senior side, all of which came as a substitute, and finished with 33 minutes on the field. Defensively, he recorded one interception and two clearances, while committing one foul. Offensively, he won four aerial duels, took one shot, which was on target, drew two fouls, and completed three long balls while passing with 76% accuracy. He did not score a goal or assist on one.

As in 2022, the majority of Lynn’s season was spent in MLS Next PRO with Orlando City B. He had a phenomenal year in the developmental league, and his campaign finished with him being named the league’s MVP and winning the Golden Boot. He played in 27 games for the young Lions, 20 of which were starts, and racked up 1,826 minutes. Defensively, he recorded three interceptions, committed 16 fouls, and was shown four yellow cards. On offense, he took 72 shots and put 40 of them on target, scored 19 goals, drew 15 fouls, and passed with 74% accuracy while completing 13 long balls and 12 key passes but no assists.

Best Game

There weren’t a lot to pick from, but I’ve gone with his longest appearance of the year, which was a 20-minute shift during Orlando City’s 4-3 comeback win over the Columbus Crew. He didn’t record many statistics on the night, as he won two aerial duels, committed a foul, and passed with 50% accuracy. However, he provided a big target up front as the Lions continued to lump the ball forward in search of goals, and he factored in on Facundo Torres’ goal, pulling players away so Ramiro Enrique could collect the ball and start the move that ended with the ball in the back of the net. Michael Citro graded him as a 5 out of 10 in our Player Grades piece, the only game this year in which he received a grade.

2023 Final Grade

As he fell well short of the 450 minute threshold that we require for a player to be given, Lynn has been given a grade of incomplete for the 2023 season. After spending the bulk of his time with Orlando City B in his first two seasons as a Lion, we still don’t have a great idea of what he might be able to contribute to the first team, and we simply need to see more of him to get a better read on his abilities.

2024 Outlook

Lynn remains fairly young and inexpensive, has option years left on his contract, and just tore up MLS Next PRO with Orlando City B. With there being some whispers about overseas teams scouting Duncan McGuire, and the Lions already a little thin at the striker position, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Lynn’s option year exercised. What sort of role he’ll have will then likely depend on what he’s able to show during preseason, but if nothing else he should remain a key part of OCB.

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Lion Links: 12/8/23

Orlando City will play Flamengo in preseason friendly, Kylie Strom signs new deal, USMNT’s Copa America group draw, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Friday! The work week is almost over and I’m really looking forward to the weekend. I’ll be celebrating a friend’s birthday and knocking out most of the holiday shopping that I haven’t gotten around to just yet. Hopefully the malls aren’t too chaotic. Regardless, it should be a nice next few days. But for now, let’s get to the links!

Orlando Will Face Flamengo in 2024 FC Series

Orlando City’s first preseason game will take place on Jan. 27 when it takes on Flamengo at Camping World Stadium as part of the 2024 FC Series, which was previously known as the Florida Cup. Going up against one of Brazil’s powerhouses should be great preparation for the Lions after a record season in 2023 that earned them a spot in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup. It will be the second meeting between the two sides after a 2015 friendly in Brazil that Flamengo won 1-0. It will be nice to see the Lions in action at Camping World Stadium again and the kickoff time for next month’s match will be unveiled at a later time.

Kylie Strom Signs New Deal With Pride

Defender Kylie Strom, who was a free agent following the 2023 season, will return to the Orlando Pride after signing a three-year deal with the club. She joined the Pride in the summer of 2021 from Atletico Madrid and started in 26 games this past year, holding down the left back position. The Pride now retain their starting back line heading into 2024 and have full protection in Tuesday’s expansion draft. Although the defense struggled at times, it improved as the season wore on and the Pride nearly made the playoffs. Jordyn Listro is now the only free agent left from last year’s squad.

NWSL Announces Blueprint for 2024 Schedule

The framework for the 2024 NWSL season was revealed and the 182-match regular season has been formatted so that NWSL games don’t take place during international breaks. The biggest change is that the NWSL Challenge Cup is no longer a tournament and now just a match between the NWSL Shield winner and the NWSL champion, meaning San Diego Wave FC will play NJ/NY Gotham FC on March 15. However, there will be a weekend tournament organized by the league for all 14 teams during a break in the regular season while the Summer Olympics take place. The playoffs will feature eight teams and won’t include byes this year, with the quarterfinals starting on Nov. 9 and the NWSL Championship set for Nov. 23. Clubs can begin their preseason camps as early as Jan. 22 and no later than Jan. 29.

Copa America Teams Learn Their Groups

The United States Men’s National Team will take on Uruguay, Panama, and Bolivia in its group in the 2024 Copa America. Uruguay was one of the strongest opponents the U.S. could get drawn against, as the South American team has scored 13 goals so far in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. The important match between the USMNT and Uruguay will take place on July 1 in Kansas City. We’ll see how much Orlando City winger Facundo Torres plays for Uruguay in the tournament. As for Orlando’s Peruvian pair of Pedro Gallese and Wilder Cartagena, Peru is in a tough group against Argentina, Chile, and whichever nation prevails between Canada and Trinidad & Tobago.

We also have a clearer idea on which teams will be playing in Orlando. Two games will take place at Exploria Stadium, with Chile playing either Canada or Trinidad & Tobago on June 29 before Bolivia and Panama face off on July 1.

Gisele Thompson Signs With Angel City FC

Angel City FC signed young defender Gisele Thompson to a three-year contract that had this year count as the first year, with an option for an additional year in 2026. She turned 18 earlier this month and turned down an offer to play at Stanford to instead sign with Angel City, meaning the club did not need to use a draft pick for her to join. Gisele is the sister of Alyssa Thompson, who Angel City traded up to select with the first pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft. They are the youngest players on Angel City’s roster and will become the second pair of sisters to play in the league.

Free Kicks

  • The Colorado Rapids are reportedly in talks with American goalkeeper Zack Steffen to sign him from Manchester City.

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

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Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Favian Loyola

The Homegrown midfielder spent most of the year with OCB but made his MLS debut in July.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City signed midfielder Favian Loyola to a Homegrown Player deal through 2025 on Dec. 2, 2022, with club options for 2026 and 2027. The OCSC Academy product became the club’s 13th all-time Homegrown signing and it was no surprise after his fantastic 2022 season. The Camp Lejeune, NC, was coming off a breakout year in the club’s youth system, which culminated with his selection to the 2022 MLS NEXT All-Star Game, in which he was named MVP. After starting the 2022 season on an academy contract, Loyola earned an MLS NEXT Pro deal, signing it last August. When he signed his Homegrown deal in December he became the first player to climb the club’s developmental ladder from the academy, to the current OCB setup in MLS NEXT Pro, to the first team.

Let’s take a look back at Loyola’s 2023 campaign, which was abbreviated due to surgery on his arm to remove a blood clot on Aug. 27.

Statistical Breakdown

Loyola played in just one MLS match with the Lions, making his first-team debut July 1 in a 3-1 home win over the Chicago Fire. The 18-year-old came on as a substitute in the third minute of stoppage time for Facundo Torres and is officially credited with one minute played, although that match went to nine minutes of stoppage. In that short amount of time he managed six touches and attempted six passes, completing all of them — one of them being a key pass. Loyola did not attempt a shot or record any defensive stats, but he did commit one foul, but he was not booked for it.

The bulk of Loyola’s 2023 season was spent with Orlando City B in MLS NEXT Pro, where he was a key player off the bench for Martin Perelman’s side. He appeared in 20 of the team’s 28 matches, starting seven, and logging 732 minutes. He scored two goals and added three assists, putting 10 of his 21 shots on target during the year. Loyola completed 80.3% of his passes with OCB, served up seven key passes and six successful long balls, and completed three crosses. He recorded four tackles and three interceptions, committed 11 fouls while drawing 10, and was booked three times.

Best Game

With just the one MLS match to his credit, Loyola’s MLS debut against Chicago was his best game of the 2023 Major League Soccer Season. It was a memorable match, as he subbed on for Torres, who set the tone for the Lions with a brace that night, and it was also the game in which Mauricio Pereyra made his 100th appearance with Orlando City. Loyola made the most of his short amount of time on the pitch, despite committing a foul during his first minute of MLS play. He settled in and completed all six of his passes and created a scoring chance just seconds after his foul, when he sent a ball to Ramiro Enrique, although the Argentine had his shot attempt blocked from a tight angle.

2023 Final Grade

As Loyola came up short of the minimum total of 450 minutes played to receive a rating on our 1-10 scale, The Mane Land has no choice but to mark his grade as incomplete for the 2023 season. If his meteoric growth continues, Loyola will likely have much more than one appearance next season as his skills at passing and finding pockets of space translate well to the next level. He wasn’t able to return to the pitch after the surgery for his blood clot, but he should be ready to go for 2024.

2024 Outlook

With Loyola being just 18 years old and the club having him under contract, I would expect his role to be the same in 2024. He’ll be learning the ropes with OCB, playing most of the season with the club’s reserve side in MLS NEXT Pro, where he will continue to be a key player. However, if he continues to develop his game, he could push for more late substitute appearances with the first team or even get a start if the Lions draw a lower-league team in the U.S. Open Cup. One thing Loyola will need to work on is controlling the ball, as he turned the ball over 15 times with OCB in 2023.

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