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Orlando City

Orlando City at Philadelphia Union: Final Score 2-0 as Dwyer, Mueller Score Again

Joe Bendik has his best game of the year and the Lions have won three straight.

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Carlos Romero, The Mane Land

Orlando City did its scoring much earlier this time but got the same result for the third consecutive game. First half goals by Dom Dwyer and Chris Mueller gave the Lions an early lead, and Joe Bendik made those markers stand up with a six-save effort, leading Orlando to a 2-0 win in front of 16,032 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, PA.

The Lions (3-2-1, 10 points) improved to 3-3-2 (and 2-3-0 on the road) against the Union (1-2-2, 5 points) and picked up their first clean sheet since a 0-0 draw last September against FC Dallas.

In an interesting twist, Jason Kreis did not start Justin Meram for the first time and also sent Josué Colmán to the bench, opting to use the attacking midfield that finished the win over Portland, with forwards Stefano Pinho and Mueller playing wide on the left and right, respectively. We also got the first appearance in the 18 of Oriol “Uri” Rosell this season. With Scott Sutter (lower body injury) and Jonathan Spector (concussion protocol) day-to-day, RJ Allen started wide right, with Amro Tarek stepping back into the starting lineup next to Lamine Sané.

In the early going, Orlando City had trouble getting a hold of the game. Keegan Rosenberry’s weak long shot was really a shot across the bow, as the Union came out strong, while the Lions struggled to find a friendly face in the penalty area among the Philadelphia defenders.

David Accam’s speed gave Orlando its usual trouble, as he used both pace and strength to get around Allen in the fifth minute but he had no teammates in the area and his cross skipped harmlessly through.

Orlando nearly got the first goal against the run of play in the ninth minute. Off a short corner, a cross from Yoshimar Yotun found Tarek in the area. His shot beat Andre Blake but was blocked off the line by Jack Elliott.

Dwyer started to work the Union’s back line in the 10th minute, getting in behind but the flag was up.

Philadelphia tried a few corner kicks to get on the board, but the Lions did just enough to defend those early set pieces, including a clearance over the goal by Mohamed El-Munir. The Union had a great opportunity off a quick restart and Accam got down the left channel to fire a shot. Bendik went low and made a great reaction save to keep the game scoreless in the 16th.

Already down Sutter and Spector, Allen pulled up lame with an apparent hamstring issue in the 21st minute after making a long overlapping run and firing a cross into the box. Allen got his leg wrapped and tried to have a go but he quickly signaled to the bench for a substitution. Before that happened, the Union got the ball to Accam in behind the gimpy Allen but the speedy attacker’s near-post effort went wide of goal.

The reprieve allowed Kreis to send Cristian Higuita on in the 29th minute to occupy Will Johnson’s spot in the midfield and Johnson moved to right back. The Union kept trying to get in behind, with El-Munir making a great tackle to prevent Fafa Picault from doing so in the 33rd minute.

Dwyer made his patented run in the 39th minute, staying level with Matthew Real and taking a beautiful scoop pass from Kljestan, turning toward goal, and beating Blake with his right foot to make it 1-0. It was Dwyer’s fourth goal in his three games this season.

It was the first time in 2018 that the Lions scored the first goal in a game and the 99th goal of Dwyer’s professional career — including USMNT and Orlando City USL action.

Orlando seemed emboldened by the goal. Kljestan ruined a Philadelphia corner by rising above the scrum to head a Borek Dockal cross away. Moments later, Yotun got down the left and fired in a dangerous cross but it was cut out.

Mueller doubled the lead in the 45th minute, after dribbling into traffic at the top of the box. He lost the ball with a heavy touch, but took it back off the foot of Elliott, got in behind, and slotted into the lower left corner past Blake.

The Lions saw out the four minutes of stoppage time and took a 2-0 lead into the break.

Despite a lot of early Philadelphia possession, the Union held just 50.6% of it in the first half. Philadelphia did out-shoot the Lions, 10-6 (3-3 on target), but Orlando City passed better (81%-79%)

The Union tried to get on the front foot early in the second half and managed to maintain a good chunk of the possession while Orlando City sat back and stayed organized, looking for a way to put the game away on the counter. The Lions looked to spring Dwyer quickly when recovering the ball, but between offside calls and fouls on the Union defense, that didn’t really materialize.

Pinho finally got into a good spot in the 53rd minute, but with the defense closing he tried a pass through traffic rather than attempting to spin and get something on net. Two minutes later, Yotun got caught forward and the Union countered, getting Picault down the right channel, but again Bendik made a big one-handed save.

Dwyer’s one-timer in the 59th was blocked by Auston Trusty, keeping the Union in the game, and Philadelphia kept the pressure on. Alejandro Bedoya blasted a shot on target in the 62nd, but Bendik was there again, having his best night of the young season.

Second-half sub Meram got into the box in the 69th, but just as he wound up to shoot, he had the ball nicked from behind at the last second. Meram again nearly was in behind in the 83rd minute, when a ball over the top was pounced on by Blake, who came way off his line just inches ahead of Meram’s arrival. Then, in the 90th, Meram sent in a perfect cross for Dwyer, but Dom couldn’t keep his shot on target.

A final big save by Bendik in the 94th minute on Dockal’s attempt was the last bit of business on the night as the Lions kept the clean sheet and earned the win.

Philadelphia flipped the final possession number to 55.2% and out-shot the Lions, 20-8 (6-3 on target). Orlando’s passing accuracy slipped to 79% with the number of long ball attempts in the second period, and the Union improved to 80%.

But, in the end, the Union were not sharp in the final third — something we’ve often said about Orlando in the past — despite having Lion killers Accam and C.J. Sapong playing together. When Philadelphia did get shots on frame, Bendik was there.


The Lions return home for their next match, hosting the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, April 21. Neither team has won in the previous three meetings, with all ending in draws.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Cavalry FC, Concacaf Champions Cup: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions play their first competitive match of 2024 north of the border in the Concacaf Champions Cup.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to your match thread for a Wednesday night Concacaf Champions Cup matchup between Orlando City and Cavalry FC of the Canadian Premier League at Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia at 10 p.m. (FOX Sports 2, TUDN). It’s the first meeting ever between the teams and Orlando City’s first ever match against a CPL team.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.

History

There isn’t any. These teams have never met, nor has Orlando City faced anyone in the Canadian Premier League before.

The Lions will be experiencing their fourth international cup competition and their second foray into Concacaf Champions League/Cup, having drawn twice against Tigres UANL last season. Orlando bowed out of last year’s competition due to the away goals tiebreaker. Orlando City has also competed twice in Leagues Cup.

Overview

Both teams will be playing their first competitive match of the 2024 season. Orlando City is coming off a 4-0-1 preseason, drawing 1-1 against Flamengo before reeling off four straight wins against Rhode Island FC, the New England Revolution, the Houston Dynamo, and the Colorado Rapids. City reached the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 2023 and is looking to build on its most successful season to date in MLS.

Cavalry FC is coming off a season in which it finished top of the table in the regular season, but fell 2-1 after extra time in the CPL championship match against Forge FC. As far as CPL teams go, the Lions will be facing one of the league’s best, as you’d expect in a competition called “Champions Cup.”

“We’re very proud and very happy to bring Orlando City to this beautiful city and this excellent competition,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “(We’re) Feeling proud of playing in Champions Cup in Concacaf and obviously aiming for the best prize, and here we are starting the season with obviously a very competitive game.”

Pareja is suspended for tonight due to his red card in the second leg against Tigres in 2023.


Projected Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Michael Halliday.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Nico Lodeiro, Facundo Torres.

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

Cavalry FC (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Marco Carducci.

Defenders: Bradley Kamdem, Daan Klomp, Eryk Kobza, Fraser Aird.

Defensive Midfielders: Charlie Trafford, Jesse Daley.

Attacking Midfielders: William Akio, Sergio Camargo, Ali Musse.

Forward: Myer Bevan.

Officials:

REF: Juan Gabriel Calderon (Costa Rica).
AR1: William Arrieta (Costa Rica).
AR2: Henri Pupiro (Nicaragua).
4TH: Keylor Herrera (Costa Rica).
VAR: Oscar Mejia (Mexico).
VAR1: Erick Miranda (Mexico).


How to Watch

Match Time: 10 p.m.

Venue: Starlight Stadium — Langford, British Columbia.

TV: FOX Sports 2, TUDN.

Streaming: The match can be streamed on FOX Sports GO, the FOX Sports app TUDN.com, and the TUDN app.

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).


Enjoy the match. Go City!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/21/24

Orlando City takes on Cavalry FC tonight, Lions sign Jeorgio Kocevski, USWNT wins in Concacaf W Gold Cup, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you in Florida as we get to watch the Lions in action tonight in the Concacaf Champions Cup. There’s not much new with me this week other than staying busy covering high school basketball and hockey. Let’s also wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Takes on Cavalry FC Tonight

Orlando City will be in action tonight in the first round of the Concacaf Champions Cup, as it takes on Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium at 10 p.m. This matchup will be the Lions’ first competitive match of 2024, with their MLS season opener against CF Montreal set for Saturday. The Lions were knocked out by Tigres due to away goals in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. Cavalry FC will make its debut in this competition tonight and qualified by winning the 2023 Canadian Premier League Shield. The second leg between these two sides will be on Feb. 27 at Inter&Co Stadium.

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signed 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a contract through the 2024 season, with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. Kocevski scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time in Orlando’s final preseason match against the Colorado Rapids this past weekend. The midfielder was selected 21st overall in the first round of the 2024 MLS SuperDraft by the Lions in December. He played four years for Syracuse, recording seven goals and 18 assists in 71 matches. Kocevski is the only player the club has signed from the Lions’ 2024 draft class and will likely get some minutes with Orlando City B this season.

St. Louis City and Philadelphia Union Win in Champions Cup

Orlando City isn’t the only MLS team kicking off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign this week. St. Louis City edged out the Houston Dynamo 2-1, with rookie Hosei Kijima scoring the winner in stoppage time. The Philadelphia Union were on the road in Costa Rica to face off against Deportivo Saprissa and won 3-2 thanks to a hat trick from Julian Carranza in the second half. As for other tournament matches this week, the New England Revolution face Independiente in Panama tonight, with Nashville playing Moca FC in the Dominican Republic and FC Cincinnati taking on Jamaica’s Cavalier SC tomorrow.

USWNT Beats the Dominican Republic in W Gold Cup

The United States Women’s National Team got its Concacaf W Gold Cup campaign off to a great start with a 5-0 win against the Dominican Republic in Group A. Olivia Moultrie scored her first USWNT goal to give her team an early lead, with Lynn Williams giving the U.S. another goal before halftime. Moultrie scored another in the second half to earn her brace, and Jenna Nighswonger converted a penalty for her first USWNT goal as well. Former Pride forward Alex Morgan replaced Mia Fishel on the roster due to injury and scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time. The USWNT’s next game will be against Argentina on Friday at 10:15 p.m.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

The UEFA Champions League had plenty of drama as the round of 16 continued. Inter Milan won 1-0 in its first leg against Atletico Madrid at home, with Mark Arnautovic scoring the only goal in the match. In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund played to a thrilling 1-1 draw. The second legs for both matchups will be played on March 13. There is more Champions League action today, as FC Porto hosts Arsenal while Napoli takes on Barcelona.

Free Kicks

  • The latest MLS power rankings are out just before the regular season begins. Orlando City begins the season in the fifth spot.
  • Orlando City and the Orlando Pride announced fan experience upgrades at Inter&Co Stadium featuring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in merchandise shops, stadium Wi-Fi upgrades, and a jersey history experience.
  • The MLS Players Association released a statement on the ongoing referee lockout.
  • Here is the list of MLS Season Pass commentator assignments for opening week.

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signs its first-round draft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a one-year deal with three option years.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City SC announced the signing of first-round 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski today. The deal is through the upcoming 2024 season with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. The Lions selected the Syracuse midfielder with the 21st overall pick in the draft in December.

“Jeorgio has had a really strong preseason camp with us, demonstrating everything we saw in him when we were scouting him and analyzing his game in college,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “He’s done well working his way into the group, even starting in our friendly against Flamengo and holding his own against some of the best in Brazil, and we’re excited to have him with us this season.”

The box-to-box midfielder made three appearances this preseason, starting against Brazilian club Flamengo and the following scrimmage against USL Championship side Rhode Island FC. He came on at halftime against the Colorado Rapids last weekend, scoring the winning goal in the 90th minute.

Prior to being selected by the Lions, the Liverpool, NY, native made 71 appearances with 65 starts and logged 5,599 minutes for Syracuse in four years. He scored seven goals and recorded 18 assists, putting 33 of his 93 shots on frame. Additionally, he was part of Syracuse’s 2022 NCAA national championship team, playing 90 minutes in the 2-2 draw, but missing in the team’s victorious shootout over Indiana.

Kocevski had a breakout junior year, being named to the United Soccer Coaches’ All-South Region third team, All-ACC third team, NCAA All-Tournament team, and ACC All-Tournament team. During his senior year, he wore the armband for the Orange and was named All-ACC first team and ACC Co-Midfielder of the Year.

What It Means for Orlando City

Kocevski was the most likely pick from this most recent draft to be signed by Orlando City. The departure of club captain Mauricio Pereyra left a spot in the midfield and Head Coach Oscar Pareja seemed to feel the rookie could fill it from early on. His start against Flamengo was in the place of regular starter Cesar Araujo, who was on international duty with the Uruguay U-23 national team. He played against Flamengo’s best lineup and did quite well in almost an hour on the field in his first minutes of play at the professional level.

While a spot was open for the signing of Kocevski, he likely won’t see much of the field for the first team this season. In addition to being behind starters Araujo and Wilder Cartagena, the defensive midfielder will be behind Felipe on the depth chart. In all likelihood, the rookie will slot in with Orlando City B in MLS NEXT Pro to get some minutes, but there is room for him to start regularly with that team.

Kocevski is currently the only player signed by the club from the Lions’ 2024 draft class. West Virginia midfielder Yutaro Tsukada, Pittsburgh midfielder Filip Mirkovic, and Charlotte midfielder Riyon Tori remained unsigned, with the latter opting to return to school for his senior season.

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