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Orlando City vs. Portland Timbers: Final Score 3-2 as Lions Roar Back from Two-Goal Deficit

Down 2-0, Orlando City got three late strikes to win its second straight game.



Carlos Romero, The Mane Land

These late-game comebacks are fun, but how many of these can our hearts take? Orlando City scored three times in a span of seven minutes to erase a 2-0 deficit and beat the Portland Timbers, 3-2. The smallest MLS crowd so far at Orlando City Stadium (22,337) was treated to a wild finish with goals from Chris Mueller, Sacha Kljestan, and Dom Dwyer in the 80th, 82nd, and 87th minutes, respectively.

Those three markers allowed the Lions to overcome strikes by Diego Valeri (pen.) and Bill Tuiloma.

The Lions (2-2-1) won consecutive games for the first time in 2018 and, indeed, in about a year, improving to 3-1-0 all-time in MLS play against the visiting Timbers (0-3-2, 2 points). And even though Orlando City out-passed, out-possessed, and out-shot Portland, Head Coach Jason Kreis said he was pleased with the result and effort but not the overall performance.

“I kind of feel like this week is very similar to last week in many ways,” Kreis said. “Incredible work rate by the guys, incredible that they stick together, incredible that they come back from two goals down. The effort and all those things are fantastic. I still think we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got a lot of improvement to make. So we cannot kind of let this result take us to a place where we start to feel comfortable. We have to improve.”

With nearly everyone available, Kreis started a 4-2-3-1 lineup full of expected starters. Only Oriol Rosell was not in the lineup.

Orlando City started on the front foot, with lots of possession in the attacking half and great movement in building up from the midfield. The Lions earned a corner in the first minute and Kljestan’s service fell to Lamine Sané, whose header flew just a foot or so wide of the back post.

Portland got the next good opportunity, as Scott Sutter was caught upfield on the attack. Will Johnson tried to cover for him but Andy Polo blew past him with a burst of speed and fired a shot that Joe Bendik got a piece of but the ball still went through his legs. Jonathan Spector was there to clear it off the line for a corner in the fourth minute.

Kljestan went for goal in the seventh minute on a free kick and got his shot through the wall, but it was straight at goalkeeper Jake Gleeson. Four minutes later, Justin Meram found Josué Colmán in the penalty area, but the Paraguayan’s shot was blocked by a defender. Seconds after that, Kljestan passed up a good opportunity to shoot and instead tried to find Colmán, but the pass didn’t get through.

Disaster struck in the 19th minute, when an initial call for embellishment and what would have been a second yellow card to Sebastian Blanco was overturned by video review and instead Portland was awarded a penalty due to a foul in the area on Mohamed El-Munir. Valeri stepped up and put the visitors ahead, 1-0, even though Bendik guessed the correct direction of the kick.

After the goal, it took Orlando City about 10 minutes to settle down again, with a period of sloppy play keeping the Lions from getting anything going.

Dwyer went just wide with a free kick that took a deflection in the 31st as Orlando looked to get back into rhythm. Kljestan’s shot in the 41st was tough for Gleeson to handle but he did just enough to make the save and concede a corner.

The last good opportunity came in first-half stoppage time, when a corner kick delivery from Kljestan was headed on by Spector and fell for Meram at the back post, but his shot was saved by a diving Gleeson.

Portland took its 1-0 lead to the break.

The Lions held 57% of the first half possession, passed at an 83% rate compared to Portland’s 78%, and out-shot the Timbers (14-4) in the opening period (but only 3-2 on target). The Lions had nine first-half corners compared to just one for Portland. Aside from an inability to finish off a play, it was a mostly dominant half, but the visitors led on the Valeri penalty.

If the Timbers were fending off most of the attack in the first half, they came out of the locker room looking in the mood to score again. Portland twice hit the woodwork in the first five minutes through Blanco and Valeri, and had another shot blocked by the defense that surely would have doubled the lead.

Orlando started to settle down and earn some set pieces, and Kljestan nearly tied the game in the 56th when he went for goal on a free kick to the left of the penalty area. However, his shot fizzed just wide of the back post. But it was a set piece at the other end three minutes later that allowed Portland to double its lead.

Sané was whistled for bundling over Blanco in the 59th minute, and Valeri’s cross found defender Tuiloma, who went over two Lions to head home his first goal and double the visitors’ lead.

The Lions brought on offensive reinforcements in Mueller and Stefano Pinho and pressed numbers into the attack. That allowed the Timbers a few half chances on the counter, but good recovery runs from El-Munir, Spector, and Sané preserved the score as it stood.

Mueller looked dangerous from the time he stepped onto the pitch for Colmán in the 67th minute, and he freed himself up for a shot in the 78th that went inches wide and found the outside netting. Three minutes later, the rookie finally found his first MLS goal. Dwyer earned a corner kick and Yoshimar Yotun delivered a perfect near-post ball for Mueller to flick home with his head to throw the Lions a lifeline.

“You dream about your first goal but most importantly we got the three points,” Mueller said. “I’m happy to have gotten the goal that kind of catapulted us forward. Just a great day.”

Just one minute after Mueller’s goal, Orlando came on the attack again and Dwyer was fouled in the box by Alvas Powell, who threw a shoulder into Dwyer and knocked him down, prompting referee Baldomero Toledo to point to the spot.

Kljestan, not Yotun, stepped up and sent Gleeson the wrong way to level the score. It was Kljestan’s first goal as a Lion and it was a new game for the final eight minutes plus stoppage time.

In the 85th minute, there was a delay as both Powell and Gleeson needed treatment, possibly both for cramping issues. During the stoppage, Dwyer was screaming encouragement to his teammates. They responded, and so did he.

Second-half sub RJ Allen read Dwyer’s timed run and floated a perfect long ball over the back line. Dwyer looked to be in alone but the Portland center backs recovered and converged on the Orlando City striker. Dwyer slipped and went to ground, but maintained possession, got up, switched feet and blasted home the eventual game-winning goal with his right foot in the 87th minute.

“Tremendous character from the boys to come back from two down,” Dwyer said.

Portland nearly pulled the goal right back. Dairon Asprilla managed to get in behind the defense on the right side, but he fired his shot right at Bendik. After four tense minutes of stoppage time, the Lions had their second win of the season and second on the bounce.

City ended up with more possession (58.2%-41.8%), better passing (84.5%-78.1%), more corners (12-1), and more shots (24-13, 7-6 on target), but there were still moments of missed opportunities, as players like Kljestan, Meram, and Colmán continue to figure out where the others are about to go while in transition or in the final third.

“I think we need to bundle up all the positivity from the performance — again, just the effort and the commitment and the work rate — and we need to remember that and put that in our pocket, because that could be really useful as the season goes along,” Kreis said. “But then we also have to be humble and know that we need to make some improvements from front to back. A lot of work to be done.”

Orlando City’s next match will be Friday at Philadelphia against the Union at 8 p.m.

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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