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Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Seattle Sounders FC



Orlando City will try for the third time to take something out of a game against the Seattle Sounders when the two teams tangle tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET at CenturyLink Field. The first two meetings saw the Sounders win a pair of lopsided matches by a combined score of 7-1.

When you factor in that Seattle is playing better of late, winning three of the last five and three straight at home, against an Orlando side that has one win from the last nine outings, things could seem a little bleak. Now add in that Jason Kreis will rotate the squad somewhat, meaning it won’t be a full first-choice starting XI, and Cyle Larin is still unavailable. Prospects for a result seem even more remote.

But hey, you’ve got to play the game, and anything can happen for 90+ minutes after a kickoff in a game of soccer. So, we’ll see what happens.

Stopping by to give us an advance scouting report on the Sounders is Andrew Tingkang from SB Nation’s Seattle blog, Sounder at Heart. I responded to SAH’s questions as well, and you can find those responses over at their place.

While it certainly is too early for Seattle fans to panic, the Sounders don’t seem to be clicking on offense the way they did down the stretch last season. What’s going on with the attack?

Andrew Tingkang: The Sounders’ attack has been hampered by injuries, national team call-ups, and an unsettled starting XI that seems to shift from week to week as players show better or worse form. Harry Shipp started the season injured, Will Bruin has been injured, Jordan Morris has been injured almost all year, and that’s just in the attack.  The Sounders seem to have two primary modes of attack: through-balls on the ground or over the top to Morris or Joevin Jones and building out of the back when there are no lanes for through-balls.  With Morris injured, and the defense shifting through fifth-and-sixth stringers due to the aforementioned injuries, the Sounders have had to try and find other ways of getting goals. 

Honestly, Nicolas Lodeiro seems to be the one who is missing the same sharpness that he had last season, missing great opportunities to put crosses away, delivering meandering crosses (especially corners) himself, and not quite hitting Morris or others in stride like he did last season. He’s still usually the best player on the pitch for the Sounders, capable of delivering a dose of magic at any moment, but he hasn’t connected this year with the ease he did last. Perhaps that’s the short off-season, perhaps it’s a combination of all the other factors adding up to hamper the Sounders, but if the Sounders are to defend their championship, Lodeiro likely needs to bring his game back up a notch.  

Statistically, it looks like Jordan Morris is the player who is having trouble linking up with Clint Dempsey, Nicolas Lodeiro, etc. Has Morris hit a sophomore slump or is he just being snake bitten?

AT: Maybe? It is really tough to tell with Jordan. We know he’s been literally hamstrung for part of the season and then earned himself a bum ankle, both injuries which he mostly played through. He’s also been shuffled back and forth from forward to wing, depending on how Brian Schmetzer sees the tactical approach for the day (usually a choice between Bruin and Shipp/Alvaro Fernandez). There have been games where Morris looks great on the wing with Bruin clearing space for him up top, and games where Morris looks best pushing the back line with more possession-oriented, defense capable wingers/mids behind him. Not to mention Jordan’s extremely short off-season, having less than a month between winning the MLS Cup and joining the USMNT camp in January. 

On the other hand, Morris should be doing much better statistically than he has been.  He has been clear on breakaways where his shot just wouldn’t fall right. He has served up balls to guys like Lodeiro and Dempsey on a platter that they couldn’t finish. Just this weekend, Morris watched his beautiful through-ball to Shipp, who was clear on goal, die in a puddle of water that stopped the ball in its tracks. 

All that to say is the jury is still out. We think Morris will return to form with a bit of health and a (hopeful) settling into the lineup, whether that’s at wing or forward. But we are expecting more from the young man than he’s achieved so far this year.

Flipping from offense to defense, only a couple of teams have conceded more goals than the Sounders so far in 2017. Is this simply a matter of getting through some injuries on the back line or is there more to the issue than meets the eye?

AT: This we can comfortably say is almost entirely due to injuries. The Sounders were one of the best defensive teams in MLS last year, especially through the MLS Cup run, and have only gotten better by swapping Mears for Evans. Unfortunately, Roman Torres and Brad Evans have not been able to stay healthy, leading to constant shuffling at the back as Chad Marshall and Jones have also missed a handful of games. Simply put, the Sounders have had to give way too many minutes to Jordy Delem, and Tony Alfaro has shown he is not ready to be a full-time starter. The Sounders have been eaten alive on the road, totally falling apart in the second halves of certain games, largely due to mistakes from the youngsters. Of course, at home the Sounders are giving up less than a goal-per-game, posting shutouts in their last three home matches, while also usually fielding slightly stronger lineups. I would expect the Sounders to be a top five defense with Jones, Marshall, Torres, and Evans all healthy, with Gustav Svensson filling in where needed.  

Injuries/suspensions/projected starting XI/score line prediction?

AT: Oniel Fisher and Jordy Delem are at the Caribbean Cup with Jamaica and Martinique, respectively. 

Projected lineup: Stefan Frei; Joevin Jones, Chad Marshall, Roman Torres, Brad Evans; Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan; Clint Dempsey, Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordan Morris; Will Bruin

Score prediction: 2-0 Seattle win.

Big thanks to Andrew from Sounder at Heart for giving us some insight on tonight’s opponents from the Pacific Northwest.

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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