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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Minnesota United: Final Score 2-1 as Loons Stay Perfect vs. Lions

Stefano Pinho joins Lions’ injured list as Orlando remains winless on the season.



Carlos Romero, The Mane Land

Adrian Heath and Kevin Molino have won in Orlando before but not as the visitors. Now they have, as two Ethan Finlay goals were enough to offset a Yoshimar Yotun penalty kick and hand Minnesota United a 2-1 win in front of 24,038 at Orlando City Stadium.

Finlay’s second goal came on a quick counter in the 79th minute and secured all three points for the Loons (1-1-0, 3 points) on a night when the Lions (0-1-1, 1 point) lacked offensive bite — and lost even more with another striker injury.

“Obviously we’re very disappointed to lose a game at home,” Head Coach Jason Kreis said after the match. “To lose that one I think really hurts deep.”

Kreis made only two substitutions to last week’s lineup to start the match. With PC suspended, Richie Laryea started in the midfield and last week’s hero, Stéfano Pinho, started up top next to Justin Meram in place of rookie Chris Mueller. The only other change to the bench was the addition of Cristian Higuita.

As with last week, Orlando got off to a slow start in terms of finding a rhythm and stringing passes together. This led to some back and forth early play with the game’s first decent chance coming after an Orlando corner in the seventh minute was straight to Minnesota goalkeeper Matt Lampson. He started a counter that looked dangerous until the last pass was intercepted and the Lions broke back the other way. Meram finished the sequence with a shot that took a slight deflection and went just wide of the top left corner.

Spector got a free header on the ensuing corner but hit it well wide.

The Loons broke through in the 12th minute when former Lion Kevin Molino slipped a ball in behind the defense to Finlay, who beat Joe Bendik to the ball and put it in the top of the net.

The Lions lost yet another player to injury when Pinho got onto a cross but headed wide. Meram argued for a penalty as Pinho had been shoved while in midair by defender Francisco Calvo but no foul was given and Pinho could not continue, being stretchered straight to the locker room with an apparent leg injury. Mueller came on in the 28th to replace the Brazilian striker.

“He’s on crutches so it doesn’t look like a good sign at all,” Kreis said about Pinho. The Brazilian will undergo medical evaluation in the next couple of days.

Orlando City looked a bit shook after the Pinho injury and Minnesota nearly took advantage. Molino played a through ball behind Orlando’s defense that Bendik came off his line to grab in the 29th minute and, seconds later, Molino himself nearly broke in behind, but Bendik got to the ball just in time to prevent any further damage.

Laryea fired over the bar from the top of the box off a short corner in the 33rd minute, and Yotun sliced a moving ball wide a minute later as the Lions regrouped. Mueller crossed for Laryea in the 38th, but Richie’s header toward goal was blocked by the defense. However, that sequence led to Orlando tying the game.

Laryea won the race to a loose ball near the edge of the box and was bundled over from behind by Finlay. The Lions were initially awarded a free kick just outside the area but then Sorin Stoica got a call from VAR Edvin Jurisevic and took a second look. After video review, Stoica awarded a penalty. Yotun stepped up and sent Lampson the wrong way, hitting the upper left corner to make it 1-1 in the 42nd minute.

From there, the two teams saw out the remaining time and five minutes of stoppage before going into the break deadlocked at 1-1. The Lions had a 10-4 shots advantage (1-1 on target), 58% of the possession, and an 82% passing accuracy.

Molino went off injured early in the second half on a non-contact play after coming down awkwardly. It was a terrible way to end the night for the former Lion, who played well in his roughly 49 minutes.

“It doesn’t look good for Kevin at the minute. We’ll have a better idea on Monday,” Heath said after the game.

Meram nearly gave Orlando the lead at the 52-minute mark but his shot took a slight deflection and fizzed just left of goal. The ensuing corner kick by Will Johnson found Amro Tarek’s head, but Lampson made a fingertip save on the goal line to keep the game level.

Mueller was bundled over from behind in the box two minutes later while setting himself for a shot in a good area but Stoica saw nothing wrong with the challenge despite loud calls for a penalty by the Lions. Lindley fired wide from above the box in the 64th as Orlando continued to look for a go-ahead goal.

Minnesota started to get a bit more of the game after that. Johnson’s corner service cleared everyone and the Loons countered but Sam Nicholson’s cross was just a tad too far in front of Finlay. Just after the 70th minute, Jonathan Spector had back-to-back clearances on set pieces that prevented Minnesota from taking the lead, but it didn’t last long.

As the Lions pressed for a winner, the Loons countered again and this time it paid off. Scott Sutter allowed the attack to get in behind him and second-half sub Miguel Ibarra sent a perfect cross for Finlay to knock in for the eventual game winner.

“In transition on the counterattack I thought we could cause some trouble and that’s the way it proved,” Heath said.

“If we lose the ball in bad spots then the transition will be on to hurt us. So it’s a little bit about not losing the ball in those kind of spots, not taking too much risk when the ball’s in the midfield third, and the other part is, can we recognize those situations quicker to transition defensively quicker,” Kreis said.

This time there were no last-minute heroics. Meram fired a blast that Lampson fought off for a corner in the 90th minute. The ensuing set piece from Johnson came off Tarek in the middle and had Lampson beat, but Ibson cleared it off the line with some last-ditch defending to preserve the Minnesota lead.

After a couple of scary counters where it looked like the Loons might get a third, the final whistle blew on a disappointing 2-1 home loss. Orlando City finished with a 19-10 shots advantage but got only two on target to Minnesota’s three. The Lions couldn’t take advantage of 59% of the possession and an 82%-74% passing accuracy.

“We’ve got to continue to draw the positives out of the performance and I think we have to continue to learn about ourselves,” Kreis said. “And after a night like tonight I think we need to take a look at ourselves and figure out what it is we need to improve upon this year and just keep doing that. Because we’ve got a brand new group of players together. It’s going to take some time. And, all in all, I still think it was lots of positive performances out there but in the end we didn’t quite have the quality to score the goals.”

The Lions take to the road for the first time in 2018 when they visit New York City FC’s awful baseball diamond next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

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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