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Orlando City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: Final Score 2-1 as Lions Continue to Struggle Offensively

25 shot attempts, but only four on target.

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Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Orlando City has probably never had a final stats sheet like the one members of the media received after the Lions’ 2-1 home loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps at Orlando City Stadium.

Possession: 72.5%. Shots: 25. Passing accuracy: 84.8% Total passes: 487 — that’s 384 more than Vancouver. The worst passer on the team, statistically — Yoshimar Yotun — still managed 75.4% accuracy. The team fired 40 (!) open-play crosses. And yet, the Lions lost.

But in the end, the Vancouver Whitecaps leave with all the points because again the Lions could not find much quality to go with all of that quantity. Orlando City mustered only four shots on target out of the 25 attempts. Giles Barnes hit the crossbar late in the game. Both goals against were gifts — an own goal by Tommy Redding within the game’s first 10 minutes, and a second-half giveaway that sprung a Vancouver counter, which ended in the eventual winning goal by Brek Shea, because of course it would be Shea.

Cyle Larin’s 10th goal of the season gave the Lions a lifeline but it turned out to be nothing more than consolation in the end.

All of the effort, possession, and scoring chances mean little if the team can’t convert. And on this night, like so many others we’ve seen recently, the end product didn’t match the effort. Orlando City has put together some good performances recently but the Lions sure aren’t getting rewarded for it.

That’s the kind of thing that eventually saps optimism, amplifies a lack of confidence, and leaves fans screaming for a change, when literally any change will do in order to create a feeling that lessens the helplessness of watching a team with one of the best starts in MLS history slowly bleed to death over the course of several months.

A somber Jason Kreis struggled to put into words after the game what it’s like to watch good performances result in so few goals and even fewer good results.

“The effort the guys are putting forward in the last five or six games now is second to none. The belief they have and the willingness to work until the bitter end is fantastic and I can’t be any more thankful for that,” Kreis said. “But for whatever reason, it seems like it’s bad luck after bad luck after bad luck. And to go through a game tonight where we gave them both goals and we weren’t able to finish one of the plethora of chances we had — it’s difficult. A really, really mentally and emotionally difficult time for us.”

“You look at the start of these games and there’s one team really putting the pressure on and in both of them one small error and we’re punished for it,” goalkeeper Joe Bendik said. “That’s the game in the grand scheme but at some point it’s got to go our way a little bit.”

Kreis sent out an interesting lineup, apart from the usual Bendik at the back and the same back four who have played since Jonathan Spector went out with a knee injury a few games ago. Cristian Higuita, Yoshimar Yotun, Giles Barnes, and Kaká provided a more offensive-minded midfield than we’re used to seeing, while Carlos Rivas joined Dom Dwyer in the starting strike partnership and Cyle Larin sat on the substitutes’ bench.

Orlando City gave up only one scoring opportunity in the first half and of course it was enough, as the Whitecaps got on the board when Redding flicked Nicolas Mezquida’s free kick with his head back into his own net just nine minutes after the start. The Whitecaps didn’t even need a shot on goal to take the lead. It was the second time in three games that the central defense partnership conceded an own goal — as Leo Pereira did at New York — and the second time in three games the Lions conceded a first-half goal without allowing a shot on target.

Dwyer nearly got on the score sheet in the 16th minute, when a cross came in that the keeper got a piece of just before Dom’s arrival. The deflection was just enough to put off the striker’s timing.

Orlando’s best opportunity of the opening period came in the 21st minute. From the left corner, Kaká sent a cross to the top of the box that Dwyer allowed to run through to Yotun. The Peruvian one-timed his shot but sizzled it just over the crossbar. Three minutes later, Yotun took a free kick from near the sideline about 10 yards inside of the midfield line. The Peruvian’s kick was headed on by Barnes and landed just over the bar on top of the net, although Stefan Marinovic appeared to have it well covered.

In the 31st minute, Scott Sutter sent a cross in that deflected off Vancouver fullback Jordan Harvey and nearly deflected in just under the bar, but Marinovic was there to tip it over. Two minutes later, off an ensuing corner, the ball pinballed around the Vancouver box after a Rivas shot attempt but no one could get it on frame, although it appeared Higuita was fouled in the process of heading it on goal.

The Lions dominated possession in the opening half (72.6%) and out-shot Vancouver, 15-1, but Orlando only mustered one effort that actually hit the target, and Marinovic stopped that.

The first half was largely an exercise in frustration as Rivas continually failed to do much of anything with conviction. His shots were further off target than usual, including one about five rows into the upper deck. His passes were rarely properly weighted for their recipients. And he wasn’t even able to use his speed to much effect. By halftime, Kreis had seen enough and Larin came on for the Colombian.

Kreis said after the match that his thought with starting Rivas was he wanted to use the Colombian’s willingness to drop into the midfield and to the sidelines to feed Dwyer as he ran into the box, but what occurred during the game was that there weren’t enough bodies getting into the area to provide other options.

The second half was pretty much an exact replica of the first. Orlando controlled the ball for nearly the same amount of time (72.5% rather than 72.6%). Again, Orlando had the ball, the shots, the chances, but could only hit the target three times. And again, a gaffe by an Orlando defender led to a Vancouver goal. This time Pereira ignited a break that ended up with Shea in alone on Joe Bendik and the former Lion chipped the Orlando keeper to give the guests a two-goal lead in the 53rd minute.

Shea’s goal came three minutes after Dwyer smashed a shot just wide of goal.

Larin pulled one back for the Lions at the 62-minute mark, seemingly reigniting the game. Yotun got down the left flank after taking a pass from Higuita and scorched in an inch-perfect cross for the Canadian to nod home to make it 2-1. It was Yotun’s first MLS assist on a night when the Peruvian played extremely well, creating six chances and getting on the ball often — he led all players with 99 touches.

Vancouver nearly made it 3-1 a couple of times. Second-half sub Alphonso Davies got a fortunate deflection on a counter off Higuita and it fell for him to be alone on Bendik, but he shot high in the 69th minute. The Whitecaps somehow completely bungled a 3-on-1 counterattack in the 73rd without even getting a shot out of it. And Higuita made a vital desperation lunge to block a shot attempt in the box on another dangerous counter.

But the Lions had more opportunities than Vancouver. Off a 78th-minute corner kick, Sutter ended up shooting from above the box. The ball fell in front of Larin with Marinovic on the ground. Larin took a touch and then could not get his foot back onto it to knock it into the gaping net. The ball skipped off Barnes’ attempt to knock it in and eventually came to Dillon Powers — making his Orlando City debut as a second-half sub — who fired a shot that deflected off a defender and out of play.

Dwyer nearly got his head to a cross from point-blank range in the 85th but got a punch to the side of the head from Marinovic just as the ball arrived. A minute later, Barnes drove a blast off the crossbar. Larin nodded a corner cross wide of goal in the 89th.

Referee Hilario Grajeda signaled a minimum of four stoppage minutes and with the Lions coming close time after time, it seemed like that might be enough time. But in the end, as usual, even that didn’t go Orlando’s way. Despite repeated time wasting efforts in injury time by Vancouver that drew warnings from the referee, Grajeda still blew the full time whistle a good 10 seconds before the four minutes were up.

To paraphrase a recurring bit from the old 1970s musical comedy show Hee Haw, if it weren’t for bad luck, the Lions would have no luck at all.

“A little bit of a loss for words, honestly, because I just have never felt like I’ve been in such an unlucky situation,” Kreis said. “We just can’t seem to get anything to go our way. I feel like if we get something to go our way right now we can get a lot of good results because we’re performing well and playing well. But the struggle continues.”

Bendik was visibly dejected after the game, lamenting the team paying for every small mistake while not being able to capitalize on its own opportunities.

“Disappointed. It’s a lot of effort, a lot of heart, and to just get punished for these tiny mistakes…last week Cyle runs with a guy on a free kick and heads it away, it hits the side of a guy’s head and goes in the net,” he said. “This week Tommy makes a challenge, wins the ball but can’t get enough on it and I can’t make the save. Really disappointed.”

The season is still mathematically alive, but with Columbus, Atlanta, and even Philadelphia earning points tonight, coupled with the way every break seems to be going this summer, it’s probably best for your sanity to just enjoy the games while we’ve got them and look forward to a good off-season at this point.


The Lions are at New England next Saturday to make up the postponed game from back in March. Hey, we’ll be here to cover it.

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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