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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. D.C. United: Final Score 1-1 as 10-Man Lions Strike in Stoppage Time

Stefano Pinho’s dramatic first MLS goal pulls back a point for City after PC was sent off in the first half.



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

After 10-man Orlando City’s unlikely come-from-behind 1-1 draw in the 2018 season opener, Justin Meram said he didn’t expect his first match here to feature a penalty against and a player sent off. Welcome to Orlando, Mr. Meram.

The Lions conceded on a set piece out of nowhere and then went down a man before rallying the troops and setting up Stéfano Pinho’s first MLS goal in the 93rd minute to send the sellout crowd of 25,527 home with a happy point. Pinho’s goal was his fourth in two games at Orlando City Stadium, but this time he was the hero instead of the villain as he lifted the Lions to a hard-fought point in a match fraught with adversity.

“I think this was a fantastic example of what our team is capable of,” Head Coach Jason Kreis said after the game. “There was some very good soccer tonight. We out-possessed D.C. United on a night when we were down a man for 60 minutes, so that says something. But I do believe that there’s still lots of room for improvement, obviously.”

The visitors sat back with the lead — provided by new boy and former Atlanta United midfielder Yamil Asad — and the extra man throughout the second half, and it proved their undoing.

With several regulars out with injury or suspension, Kreis turned in a lineup sheet that featured some surprises, including a pair of rookies and Victor “PC” Giro in the midfield. Joe Bendik was no surprise in goal, behind a back line of Mohamed El-Munir, Amro Tarek, Jonathan Spector, and Scott Sutter. Cam Lindley played holding midfield in his first MLS start behind Will Johnson and PC on either side of Yoshimar Yotun in the No. 10 role. Chris Mueller and Meram made up the strike force in the 4-4-2. The actual shape varied throughout the match, however, as players wove in and out, playing off of each other and it was sometimes interesting to see where everyone was on the pitch.

D.C. got on the front foot first, with a dangerous cross into the box just seconds into the match. Rookie Lindley then gifted the visitors a scoring chance with a turnover with perhaps his first touch. United broke in alone, 4-on-2. Ulises Segura got on the end of it and took a shot, but Spector recovered to force a bad attempt.

Orlando’s first good opportunity came in the seventh minute when a free kick nearly fell for Meram in the box, but it skipped away and D.C. cleared. From there, the Lions started climbing into the match and creating some half-chances but had trouble beating Steve Birnbaum and Frederic Brillant in the box.

United got the best early opportunity when video review overturned a no-call and awarded the visitors a penalty in the 19th minute for a Johnson handball just inside the box. It seemed a bit harsh, as Johnson was only a few yards away from Darren Mattocks.

“Initially I thought there would be no way that the penalty decision would go against us,” Kreis said, “because from my point of view it looked like arms were down and anytime there’s a ball that’s played that quickly from somebody’s foot to somebody’s arm in the penalty box on really what looks like a non-decisive situation…ask yourself a question, if it doesn’t hit his hand, where does it go? But I haven’t seen any video on it so I could be completely wrong.”

Joe Bendik came to Johnson’s rescue with a fantastic save to tip the ball off the crossbar. Spector dove to head the rebound out of danger.

D.C. broke through in the 32nd minute. Lindley was late on a challenge and caught Asad out wide of the penalty area. Asad took the ensuing free kick and it curled toward the back post, narrowly clearing two would-be United headers and it froze Bendik and skipped into the corner of the net to make it 1-0.

Late in the half, the game turned on another video review. PC caught Asad while in the air and referee Fotis Bazakos thought about it and eventually booked the Orlando midfielder. Then, just as D.C. was taking the ensuing free kick, a call from VAR Geoff Gamble prompted Bazakos to take a second look. For the second time, he changed his mind, showing PC a red card in the 41st minute for violent conduct.

“I think my player’s fouled first, honestly,” Kreis said of the challenge that sent off PC. “He was pushed from the back going up on an aerial challenge. Once he gets pushed from the back he’s just fighting to try to get his balance back. But sure, an arm was flailing and hit the opponent’s head.”

The Lions were able to see out the remainder of the first half, plus five added minutes, and go into the break down by a goal. Possession was nearly 50/50 at that point but United had a 7-4 advantage in shots (3-0 on goal). Paul Arriola’s 44th minute shot that Bendik stopped was the final good opportunity for either team in the first half.

Neither team made halftime changes and United felt comfortable to not press. The Lions took advantage, holding the ball for 61% of the second period and generating some excellent play through the midfield despite their numbers disadvantage.

The first warning sign for D.C. came in the 51st minute when Mueller smashed a shot from a tight angle off the outside netting. Meram nearly got to a cross from Mueller in the 54th but David Ousted’s outstretched arm got in the way and Bazakos gave a foul even though it was anyone’s ball and Meram had the better position.

Meram almost set up Yotun for the equalizer in the 57th minute. His cross fell onto Yotun’s left foot and only Brillant’s last-ditch intercession to clear it off the line kept the visitors on top.

Pinho came on a minute later for Mueller, making his MLS debut. Three minutes later, he appeared to be fouled by Birnbaum in the penalty area on a cross into the box and needed a minute to collect himself after a clash of heads got him just under the eye. Birnbaum appeared to get his arms up over Pinho’s back as the ball came in but no foul was called.

Meram and Yotun continued to work magic in the midfield, and Kreis sent Richie Laryea on for Lindley to try to add to the attacking flow. For about the next 10 minutes, it seemed the Lions were just a foot or so from finding the perfect pass or cross, but nothing quite materialized.

Then El-Munir made perhaps the play of the game to keep it a one-goal game.

After a cleared free kick, the ball fell for Mattocks already behind the defense around midfield but on his own side of the line, keeping him onside. Mattocks, one of the faster players in the league, seemed sure to have a breakaway chance on Bendik. But El-Munir ran him down at the end and knocked the ball away before the United striker could worry Joe with a shot.

“I’m speechless to be honest,” Meram said of the El-Munir recovery. “That’s pure determination, that’s pure heart of ‘I’m going to leave everything on the line for my teammates.’ Without that play we don’t tie this game.”

The ensuing corner kick pinged dangerously around the box before Bendik caught it.

Time wound down and the game entered five minutes of added time that proved to be D.C.’s downfall. In the 93rd minute, Spector got forward and played a give-and-go with Meram, who slotted a beautiful ball behind the defense. Spector had continued his run and the center back got all the way to the end line before squaring a perfect pass to Pinho at the top of the six. The Brazilian took just one touch to equalize.

“I’m so happy to score and help Orlando,” Pinho said. “I saw the fans go crazy. It was amazing for me.”

“That’s how we drew it up in training,” Meram joked about the tying play. “That’s a heads-up play by Spector to make a run and keep going and that just shows the determination and the heart of this team and I love that.”

The stadium erupted as the Lions scored their third opening day stoppage-time tying goal in four seasons. Neither team got a final good look for a game-winner but the draw definitely felt more like a win to Orlando City all things considered.

“Really pleased with the performance,” Kreis said after the match. “Really pleased with the effort level, the commitment level, the togetherness the team showed. The never giving up. The true grit that was shown by our squad was second to none. I couldn’t be happier. Obviously we ended up getting a point out of the affair, but had we not gotten that last-minute goal, I’d be just as happy.”

“It’s a great way to start the season when our backs were against adversity for a little bit,” added Meram.

Orlando City will be back in action next Saturday when Adrian Heath returns to the City Beautiful with Minnesota United.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 1-1 home draw against the Herons?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Draws are never satisfying but there’s at least a much better feeling when your team scores the final goal that earns the point rather than conceding so the other team takes two away. Thus was Orlando City’s 1-1 draw at home against Inter Miami on Sunday. It feels better to score the last goal, despite the fact that the same number of goals are scored either way. It’s a grand illusion.

Duncan McGuire’s blast through the legs of Drake Callender at least kept the Pepto-Bismol-colored team from winning at the purple palace and added another point to Orlando’s fine 2023 total.

Here’s how I saw the individual performances from a feisty affair at Exploria Stadium.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 7.5 — It was another standout game from the Peruvian shot stopper, who made four saves on the night, including a big one to stop a Leonardo Campana attempt from just a couple yards out. Gallese couldn’t do much about the lone goal conceded, as it came off a rebound of a wicked Josef Martinez shot, offering Gallese little opportunity to control the rebound due to the angle and pace. El Pulpo also recorded a clearance and passed at an 81.8% rate, connecting on five of his nine long balls.

D, Rafael Santos, 6.5 — After a couple of somewhat underwhelming performances, the Brazilian had a solid night. He didn’t have a shot attempt, but he managed two key passes despite completing only 71.4% of his passes. He connected on three of his eight long balls and one of his four crosses, but that latter number says more about his teammates not getting onto some good-looking balls into the area. Defensively, he provided two clearances and an interception, committing just one foul and completing a dribble. He even led the team in touches (60).

D, Robin Jansson, 7.5 (MotM) — In the first half, Jansson was the best player on the pitch and, in my opinion, it wasn’t close. The Beefy Swede vaccuumed up almost everything sent forward by Miami that was intended for Campana and Martinez on his side of the field. He finished the night with two tackles and two interceptions but it seemed like more than that. His passing was magnificent, as he completed 89.4% of his 47 passes, including six of seven long balls and his only through ball attempt. He had a key pass as well. He didn’t attempt a shot but he completed one dribble and drew a foul as he stymied the Miami attack. He did his best to cover Martinez’s quick, incisive run to the opposite side but couldn’t block the shot with his sliding effort. His biggest blemish was getting yet another yellow card for dissent — something he’s mostly been able to avoid this season.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 5.5 —While I thought Schlegel had a much better night Sunday than he had in the previous two games, it was far from where he was just a week or two earlier. The quick transition gave him a tough choice of backing off Campana and allowing a dangerous shot or doing what he did — stepping out and allowing a through ball. His closeout wasn’t tight enough. His marking on set pieces also left a lot to be desired at times. His passing was mostly accurate (91.5%), and he connected on two of three long balls, but there were a few dicey ones in his own end. He recorded two aerials won, one tackle, two interceptions, and a clearance. He committed three fouls and picked up a yellow card, conceding a dangerous free kick. His lone shot attempt was an off-target header.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6.5 — After a couple of tough games, the Icelandic midfielder-turned-fullback acquitted himself pretty well, considering Inter Miami attacked his side quite a bit. He passed well, connecting 82.5% of the time with one key pass and hitting the target once on two crosses, four times on six long balls, and sent a marvelous through ball that should have resulted in an Ivan Angulo goal, but the winger flubbed his lines. His lone shot attempt was a difficult one and did not threaten goal. He did not record a single defensive stat, although much of the time his opponent curled in toward the top of the area and was passed off to another defender.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 5.5 — The young Uruguayan had a quiet night, without recording any defensive statistics in his 45 minutes before being subbed out at the break for Martin Ojeda. He managed only 23 touches and his passing rate of 73.3% was much lower than his usual standard and he completed one of his two long balls. He also drew two fouls and completed a dribble. He simply wasn’t able to impact the game to the extent we’re used to seeing.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 7 — It was a good night for the Peruvian midfielder, who was constantly getting under the opponents’ skin. He drew yellow card fouls on Dixon Arroyo and Benjamin Cremaschi — the latter after a slick nutmeg move — and had a steal that was set to ignite the break called back for a foul that I don’t agree was committed. Defensively, he recorded a tackle, a clearance, and an interception. He passed at a 91.1% success rate, created one scoring chance, and completed both of his long-ball attempts.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 5 — Whether it’s a lack of confidence and/or composure or being intimidated by a good goalkeeper, the Ivan Angulo who shoots in warmups is not the same guy in front of goal once the game is underway. He completely flubbed his lines when Thorhallsson sent him in behind for a 1-v-1 chance against Callender. The number of times he gets into dangerous spots and either a bad pass, shot, or decision keeps Orlando City from generating a scoring chance from it is maddening. Angulo failed to get any of his three shot attempts on target. His passing rate was just 60%, he did not have a single key pass, and neither of his two crosses were on target, although his single long ball was. He also didn’t record a single defensive statistic. There are many things Angulo does well, and his speed is tantalizing, but the final product is often lacking.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 — The captain had a mostly quiet match except when he was scissored down from behind by David Ruiz, somehow only producing a yellow card for the Miami midfielder. Pereyra produced only one key pass and no shot attempts, starting at central attacking midfielder before dropping into central midfield in the second half to pull the strings from a deeper position. He passed at an 80.5% success rate, completing one of three crosses and two of five long balls. He did not record any defensive stats and committed two fouls while drawing three.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6.5 — Torres led the Lions in shots (4), putting two on target, contributing one key pass and winning an aerial. He passed pretty well overall (81.5%), though he did not complete either of his two crosses or his lone long ball. He contributed an interception and a clearance defensively. Miami concentrated on double-teaming the Designated Player whenever possible. Torres still created some opportunities for himself and others, but it was a fairly quiet night overall.

F, Duncan McGuire, 7.5 — The rookie is still getting back to form after returning from injury, so he managed only 18 touches on the night but he did well with the touches he had. Both of McGuire’s shots were on target and both were rockets. Unfortunately, both were right at goalkeeper Callender. Fortunately, the second of those went through the keeper’s legs for the equalizing goal — his ninth of the MLS season. He also created a chance with a key pass, completed 83.3% of his pass attempts, and connected on his only long ball. He even contributed a defensive clearance. It was a good night for the rookie striker, although he wasn’t able to get that many touches.


MF, Martin Ojeda (46′), 6.5 — The Argentine Designated Player came on at halftime for Araujo to give the Lions more attacking presence and an extra playmaker on the field. He continues to grow in recent games, as he put his only shot attempt on target, created a chance with a key pass, and completed two dribbles, although he did have four unstable touches and was dispossessed once. He completed 89.5% of his 19 passes and all three long balls, but missed on his only cross attempt. He helped with the ball back with two tackles, and added a clearance.

MF/F, Ramiro Enrique (74′), 5 — Enrique came on for Angulo, which I thought at the time was the exact sub that was needed, but the Argentine didn’t offer much for the second straight game after winning Player of the Matchday. He did not attempt a shot or create a key pass and managed only seven touches on the night, passing at an 83.3% clip. He chipped in a clearance.

D, Michael Halliday (77′), 5 — The Homegrown defender spelled Thorhallsson but didn’t offer much, despite completing all four of his passes on 13 total touches. He had two unstable touches and was dispossessed once, which is not what you want to see from your fullback in the final 15 minutes of the match. Defensively, he blocked a shot, but he also conceded an unnecessary late corner when he pulled up, thinking he’d won a foul that didn’t end up getting called.

MF, Gaston Gonzalez (84′), N/A — As the MLS U22 Initiative attacker works his way back to fitness, he got a late runout, replacing McGuire, which pushed Enrique to the top of the formation. He conceded a free kick, but I honestly thought his challenge was clean and should have led to an Orlando counterattack. He put his only shot on frame, but it was a weak dribbler right at Callender. He did not complete his only pass attempt of the match.

MF, Junior Urso (84′), N/A — The Bear entered for Pereyra and was active, gettin 12 touches in late. His 90% passing rate on 10 attempts was solid, missing only on his only attempted long ball. He didn’t record any defensive stats, but he also didn’t make any mistakes in his brief spell.

That’s how I saw the individual performances by Orlando City on Sunday night at the stadium. Let me know where I got things right or wrong in the comments below and be sure to vote for your Man of the Match in our poll below.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/26/23

Pedro Gallese honored, Orlando Pride and Lions celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Campeones Cup preview, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I won’t lie to you, I’m dragging a bit to start this week. I’m still recovering from being sick and frankly had to fight the urge to take Monday off. I’m soldiering on though, and there’s plenty of soccer happening this week to help keep me entertained and in good spirits. Let’s have a look at today’s links.

Pedro Gallese Recognized

Pedro Gallese turned in another superb performance during Orlando City’s 1-1 draw with Inter Miami on Sunday, and he’s been rewarded with a place in the most recent edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. El Pulpo made four saves on the night, including a fantastic stop on a header from close range, and helped the Lions stay in the game until they could find the equalizer. Congratulations to Pedro, and here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Orlando Pride and Orlando City Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Orlando Pride defender Celia fielded questions for fans to learn more about both her and Spain. Celia is from Alicante, a port city in southern Spain, and shared her favorite food, music, and activity while in her home country. She also spoke on a common misconception about spices used in Spain being spicy.

Orlando City’s Facundo Torres also shared the meaning behind some of his tattoos, which include the Uruguayan flag and La Paz, the city he grew up in. Orlando City’s match with CF Montreal on Saturday will also be Hispanic Heritage Night at Exploria Stadium.

Campeones Cup Preview

You can be forgiven if you forgot that the Campeones Cup is still a thing, because I know I did. Here’s a little refresher on the annual match. It’s being played tomorrow night at BMO Stadium between LAFC and Tigres, which are the reigning MLS and Liga MX champions, respectively. The MLS representative has won three out of the four contests, with Tigres beating Toronto FC 3-1 in the first iteration of the competition in 2018. This match will also be a rematch of the 2020 Concacaf Champions League final, which saw Tigres emerge victorious 2-1 at Exploria Stadium.

Americans in Midweek Action

A number of Americans will be taking part in games for their clubs this week. Tim Weah and Weston McKennie’s Juventus will take on Lecce today in Serie A, while Chris Richards and Crystal Palace face Manchester United in the Carabao Cup. Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah have a league match when AC Milan plays Cagliari tomorrow. PSV Eindhoven has a game against Go Ahead Eagles tomorrow as well, which means Ricardo Pepi, Sergino Dest and Malik Tillman could all be involved. Friday closes out the week with Hoffenheim taking on Borussia Dortmund, which could see John Brooks matched up against Gio Reyna depending on Reyna’s fitness.

Spanish Players Will Testify Against Rubiales

Alexia Putellas, Irene Paredes and Misa Rodriguez have all been called to testify as witnesses in the case against Luis Rubiales. Jenni Hermoso’s brother and a friend of the player both testified on Monday afternoon, as Rubiales is facing charges of sexual assault and coercion. Rubiales has already testified and maintains he did nothing wrong amid uproar that has led to a number of Spanish players refusing to return to the team until changes are made, and a general overshadowing of Spain’s victory at the Women’s World Cup. Putellas, Paredes and Rodriguez will testify next Monday.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for today. Y’all stay safe out there!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Photo Gallery

An album of images from Orlando City’s hard-fought draw at home against the Herons.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

The Lions brought much more roar on Sunday night to face their southern rivals but had trouble finding the net, allowing the Herons to nick a point even while short staffed. None of Miami’s high-priced talent traveled for the match after facing Toronto midweek, and physicality ensued, firing up the sold-out crowd at Exploria Stadium.

Talking with some of the other photographers on the sideline who had flown in for this match, they rated the Orlando atmosphere top-notch; in their experience, other cities don’t compare to the in-stadium fan enthusiasm.

The Lions were in “the net is lava” mode, with Duncan McGuire and Iván Angulo each missing prime one-on-one chances with Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender in each half, McGuire leaving it straight at Callendar, and Angulo badly missing the net after a missed first touch. So of course Miami struck first, with David Ruíz scoring early in the second half.

This fired the Lions up even more and Martín Ojeda pinballed McGuire in behind the Miami back line, allowing Duncan to do what Duncan does to draw the score level. The Lions generally looked the more dangerous team for most (but not all) of the night. However, it is scoring goals that actually counts, leaving both teams unchanged in their respective Eastern Conference standings. Orlando remains second at 14-7-9, while Miami stays in 14th at 9-15-5.

The Lions continue to control their own destiny in terms of getting a top-four finish as they look to lock up home field advantage for a best-of-three matchup in the MLS Cup playoffs.

With home dates left against Montreal and a sputtering-but-dangerous New England remaining, there’s still plenty of time to be part of that world-class gameday atmosphere by going out to support the team as they push for a strong finish.

We hope that you enjoy these images from a hard-fought, come-from-behind draw against Inter Miami at Exploria Stadium.

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