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Orlando City at Atlanta United: Final Score 3-3 as Lions Steal First Points in Atlanta’s New Home

Orlando City became the first team to grab a point in Atlanta United’s new home on the back of a Dom Dwyer brace.



Lauren Bacho, The Mane Land

ATLANTA, GA — Four years after a four-goal performance in his final USL game with Orlando City, Dom Dwyer finally opened his MLS account with the club, bagging a brace in the Lions’ 3-3 draw with Atlanta United FC in front of a recording-setting crowd at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Lions (9-12-8, 35 points), who went nearly three months without scoring more than one goal in a game, now have five goals in their last two matches, with Cyle Larin — off a Dwyer assist — adding his 12th goal of the season into the tally as well.

“Obviously our objective is to get the three points here, as it will be now the rest of the way,” Head Coach Jason Kreis said after the match. “To settle for a point is a little bit disheartening. But to move past that, I’m really, really proud of the guys.”

Replicating last weekend’s performance in D.C., Orlando jumped on the opposition early to take a 1-0 lead when Dwyer, finally, opened his Orlando City account in the 10th minute, heading home a cross sent in high up the left side of the field by Donny Toia. It was Dwyer’s first goal in MLS with Orlando, and first since May 3.

“I wouldn’t say it’s anything except for finishing opportunities,” Kreis said of Dwyer finally finding the net. “Now we look forward to what’s going to be a very rich spell for him.”

But Atlanta (12-8-7, 43 points) remained unfazed by the score, and continued to push on as it had already been doing up to that point. Even with the lead, it was never Orlando’s game at any point, with the Lions spending the majority of the afternoon on the back foot, absorbing pressure from Atlanta’ quick, lethal attack.

Miguel Almiron hit the post in the 16th minute. In the 29th, Joe Bendik was able to get his paw on a shot to his left and the ball dinked off the post again, dribbling back into play before Jonathan Spector was able to send the ball into the stands for a corner kick. The quick corner by Atlanta nearly caught the Lions’ defense off guard, but it was cleared again.

After Giles Barnes sailed a shot wide across the goal, Atlanta quickly built up a counterattack that resulted in the hosts’ first goal of the afternoon in the 36th minute. Julian Gressel played a ball across the face of goal for Josef Martinez, who was able to swoop in and tap the ball home, tying the score at 1-1.

But Orlando was quick to respond, and it was Dwyer again, heading home goal No. 2 on the afternoon off of a cross from Scott Sutter, giving the Lions a 2-1 lead that they would take into halftime.

Nothing changed in the second half. The fireworks continued from Atlanta, which tied the game in the 55th minute on Martinez’s second goal of the afternoon. slipping between the defenders and heading home a Chris McCann cross.

And boy, do I have a stunning twist for you here, because Orlando City jumped right back into the action when Cyle Larin got in on the goal parade with his second goal in as many games put the Lions back into the lead, 3-2. Dwyer’s cross from the right side set up the Canadian’s 12 goal of the year.

The partnership between Larin and Dwyer is continuing to build. Dwyer has now assisted on both of Larin’s last two goals, and the duo is starting to feel a connection together.

“The more we play together, the harder it is for teams to play against us,” Larin said. “It’s our second full game together. Each time we did something together, we scored, and it’s getting better each game.”

It wasn’t all good news on the goal for Orlando, however, as Spector appeared to aggravate his knee injury and had to come off. Leo Pereira replaced him next to Tommy Redding in central defense.

But just 10 minutes later, Martinez claimed his second hat trick in four days, getting away from Redding and beating Bendik yet again off a Hector Villalba cross to level the score at 3-3.

The last 20 minutes of the match were some of the most intense minutes of the season for Orlando, but the Lions were able to hold on and become the first team to grab a point against Atlanta at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

After the match, Spector wouldn’t talk about the injury, but Kreis did say it was bothering the veteran defender at halftime and eventually got to a point in the second half where he just couldn’t go on it anymore.

After a hectic week of travling around a hurricane, the Lions will head back to Orlando to train for the next handful of days before getting back on a plane to fly out to Portland on Thursday, where they’ll take on the Portland Timbers next Sunday (4 p.m. ET).

Orlando City

My First Orlando City Road Match: New York Red Bulls

A trip to Red Bull Arena to see the Lions play created memories that will last a lifetime.



Nic Josey, The Mane Land

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to take in my first-ever Orlando City away match when the Lions traveled north to Harrison, NJ to take on the New York Red Bulls. The experience was one that I will not soon forget and I wanted to take some time to share a firsthand account of our travels and game day experience.

Early Friday morning prior to the match, I loaded the car up with my wife, 10-month-old son, and enough luggage to support a small army and made the trek from our home in Central Florida to the Orlando International Airport. I had been planning to take in an away game this year ever since the schedule came out, and as destinations go…Red Bull Arena certainly checked off a few must-haves from our family’s travel list. Direct flights (because travel with a little one is just plain easier when you don’t have to connect), a city we have not visited as a family before (what better way to make memories in a new city than to have them tied to an Orlando City victory?), extracurriculars (give us all the good food, drinks, and hot spots to visit). The latter is actually how I talked my wife into the trip. Who could say no to an Orlando City game and Broadway shows to boot?

After a shockingly low-stress travel day, we arrived in Time Square to meet up with my parents, who had journeyed from Michigan to spend the weekend with us (to provide some much appreciated babysitting) and have some fun in the city. After a day exploring downtown New York City, it was time to head to the stadium. If you ever have the chance to go, and I think every fan should if they are capable, just know that if you are staying in Manhattan, it can be quite a Herculean effort to physically make it to the stadium! After a 45-minute Uber ride, my father and I arrived on the doorstep of Red Bull Arena. The stadium was clean, easy to access, and had an outdoor tailgate area within the gates, where a live band provided pregame entertainment.

Being a once-in-a season type of experience, I splurged on two field-level seats for my father and I and could not have been happier with the choice. I don’t think it would have been physically possible to have been closer or more immersed in the action, with the exception of streaking onto the pitch, and no matter our differences, the Red Bull faithful definitely did not deserve that type of show. Looking up at the fans seated around the stadium, small pockets of purple could easily be made out against the sea of red and blue seats and we were even lucky enough to meet an engaged couple who work and live not to far from us back in Orlando and came up to the game to celebrate a special birthday weekend.

The game environment was spectacular and my excitement was only bolstered by our team’s effort on the pitch. A clean sheet victory on the road, and a three-goal effort was enough to justify the whole trip, but the night of memories did not stop after the final whistle. Instead, as my father and I were walking from our seats on the sideline towards the exit tunnel, a joyful Facundo Torres came sprinting over to our corner of the field to celebrate with the Orlando City supporters. As someone who has covered his struggles to start the year, it was clear as day to me to see a sense of relief wash over him in the spirit of celebration, and, with fans cheering him on, he even took a moment to shake my old man’s hand and pat him on the shoulder.

I have been a season ticket member in the City Beautiful for the past three years, and while I love heading to the games week in and week out, there was something different about taking in an away match. Whether we as fans are celebrating the highest highs or dreading the lowest of lows at home, when we leave the stadium, the stress of the real world is waiting just around the corner. The beauty I found of attending an away match was that by turning the experience into a weekend getaway, the joys of the victory were able to linger around for just a bit longer while we were still fully immersed in vacation mode.

Did you make the trip up to Jersey this weekend? Have you gone to any away matches this year or plan to before the end of the season? If so, let us know your favorite destinations and plans in the comments below.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/7/23

Orlando City moves up in MLS power rankings, Orlando Pride take on Gotham FC tonight, USMNT announces official Concacaf Nations League roster, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. How is everyone doing so far this week? I’ve been doing well and keeping myself busy lately. I’ll be working the Dead & Company concert this weekend at Wrigley Field. There is plenty to get to today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Moves Up in MLS Power Rankings

Orlando City moved up five spots to 10th in the latest MLS power rankings. The Lions defeated the New York Red Bulls 3-0 on the road this past Saturday. Ivan Angulo put together a stellar performance and Facundo Torres scored twice in the match to help the Lions extend their unbeaten run to five matches. Around the league, the Columbus Crew also moved up five spots, climbing to sixth after a 4-2 win against Charlotte FC. Cincinnati edged out LAFC for the top spot in the power rankings following its 1-0 shutout win against the Chicago Fire.

Orlando Pride Take on NJ/NY Gotham FC Tonight

The Orlando Pride will play NJ/NY Gotham FC tonight in their third group stage match of the 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup. The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Red Bull Arena and you can watch it on CBS Sports Network or stream it on Paramount+. The Pride are at the bottom of their group following a draw and a loss so far in the competition. Ally Watt scored in those first two matches for the Pride, with Summer Yates providing the assists on both of those goals. Gotham is unbeaten in the Challenge Cup and leads the group with four points. The Pride are unbeaten in their last six matches on the road in all competitions against Gotham, including a scoreless draw last month in league play.

USMNT Announces 23-Man Roster for Concacaf Nations League

The U.S. Soccer Federation officially announced the 23-man roster for the U.S. Men’s National Team before the 2023 Concacaf Nations League.

Goalkeeper Josh Cohen, who plays for Maccabi Haifa in Israel, was the lone player dropped from the preliminary roster announced last week. The USMNT will play rival Mexico on June 15 in the Concacaf Nations League semifinals at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. If the U.S. prevails in that match, it will face the winner of the match between Canada and Panama. The final is set to take place in Las Vegas on June 18.

U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals Begin

The quarterfinals of the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup kicked off last night with two matches. FC Cincinnati defeated the Pittsburgh Riverhounds out of the USL Championship, 3-1, with Brandon Vazquez, Alvaro Barreal, and Santiago Arias all scoring in the second half. The Houston Dynamo also booked their spot in the semifinals after winning 4-1 over the Fire. Nigerian winger Ibrahim Aliyu had a brace for Houston in the road win. Today, we have two more matches to determine who else will move on to the semifinals. Birmingham Legion FC of the USL Championship will take on Inter Miami, while Real Salt Lake will face the LA Galaxy.

Free Kicks

  • In case you missed it, check out the sights and sounds of Orlando’s road victory at Red Bull Arena this past weekend.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/6/23

Lions earn weekly honors, OCSC headed in the right direction, Kylie Strom lands on NWSL Best XI of May, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I got absolutely clattered during my Sunday league game over the weekend, and I’ve been hobbling around ever since. Fortunately, my fingers still work just fine, because there are plenty of things to talk through this morning. Let’s get after it.

Lions Earn Weekly Honors

Orlando was well represented on the MLS Team of the Matchday following a 3-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls Saturday night. Facundo Torres and Ivan Angulo were both named to the starting lineup, while Oscar Pareja was given the nod as head coach. Torres scored two goals and Angulo recorded a goal and an assist in the victory. Dave Rohe gave Torres a 7.5 and Angulo an 8, along with the Man of the Match award, in our player grades. It was nice to see other people take notice of the performances they put in. Keep up the good work, fellas!

OCSC Heading in the Right Direction

Orlando City got the complete performance that it’s been looking for in recent weeks, and Oscar Pareja is very pleased with what he saw from his team. He went out of his way to highlight the fact that the Lions stayed vigilant and didn’t relax and give up a goal as the game went on, something that’s been a problem at times this year. While Pareja said that things aren’t perfect yet, he and Torres were both of the opinion that the team is playing better lately, and Torres said that Saturday was OCSC’s best performance of the season.

Kylie Strom Earns Monthly Plaudits

Orlando Pride defender Kylie Strom has been named to the NWSL Best XI for the month of May. Strom started in each of the Pride’s four matches during May and went the full 90 minutes in all but one of them. She helped anchor a back line that only gave up two goals during those four games, but the highlight of her month came during the team’s home game against the Washington Spirit. Strom scored the winning goal in the second half as the Pride handed the Spirit their first loss of the season. Here’s hoping she continues the good form!

Fines and Bans Proposed for Vinicius’ Abusers

The four men accused of hanging an effigy of Vinicius Jr. from a bridge are set to have hefty punishments levied against them. Spain’s anti-violence commission has proposed fines of  €60,001 and two-year stadium bans as a result of their actions. Additionally, the three men accused of racially abusing the Brazilian winger during a match against Valencia may be given fines and a one-year stadium ban as well. All seven were arrested and, although they’ve been released, could still face criminal charges, although that would be unprecedented. The Real Madrid player has suffered repeated instances of racial abuse since arriving in Spain. Hopefully the punishments will do something to deter the ugly incidents from occurring.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City has picked up more points on the road than any other team in the Eastern Conference.

That’s all for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.

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