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Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Final Score 3-2 as Lions Win Fourth Straight

Dom Dwyer and Chris Mueller scored again.



Carlos Romero, The Mane Land

Orlando City kept it rolling. A sellout crowd of 25,527 watched as the Lions climbed into a second-place tie (for the moment) in the Eastern Conference with a 3-2 win at Orlando City Stadium. Chris Mueller, Sacha Kljestan, and Dom Dwyer each scored, and Yoshimar Yotun added two assists.

It was the first win in the series for either team, as Orlando City (4-2-1, 13 points) improved to 1-0-3 all time against the Earthquakes (1-3-2, 5 points). The win could have been more lopsided, with Orlando missing out on several good opportunities, and Justin Meram missing a penalty. The Lions led 3-0 in the second half before allowing a pair of goals off set pieces to Florian Jungwirth.

“Another night that I think the fans got their money’s worth. Another night that the coach gets a few more gray hairs,” Head Coach Jason Kreis said after the match. “But really, really pleased. Four wins in a row. Really, really pleased with three wins in a row at home. And I think we’re moving in a very positive direction. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we still have a way to go.”

Kreis stuck with the lineup that finished the Philadelphia game, a 4-2-3-1 with Will Johnson at right back, Cristian Higuita next to Yotun in central midfield, an attacking midfield line of Mueller, Kljestan, and Stefano Pinho, and Dwyer up top.

It took Orlando just over a minute to take the lead. A gorgeous long cross-field pass from Yotun found its way to Mueller, and the rookie shrugged off Shea Salinas, took the ball into the penalty area, and found the corner to make it 1-0. Mueller’s goal was his third in as many games and it was the fastest goal to start a game for Orlando City since the club joined MLS.

“(Yoshi) gets overlooked a lot, I feel like,” Mueller said. “He’s just unbelievable in the middle of the field. The balls that he’s finding me on is just next level, so my hat goes off to him. He had a great performance and it makes it easy when you’ve got guys like that giving you the ball.

“Chris made a fantastic individual effort,” Dwyer said of Mueller’s goal. “He’s coming on leaps and bounds every week so we’re very happy with him right now and very excited.”

Dwyer tried to double the lead 10 minutes later, getting into the box on the end of a long ball from Joe Bendik. Andrew Tarbell made a one-handed stop and it came off the woodwork. The rebound fell perfectly for Pinho but the Brazilian whiffed on the shot and the chance evaporated.

San Jose started seeing more of the possession for about the next 15 minutes and earning a series of corner kicks but the Lions were able to navigate those set-piece opportunities and retain the lead. Dwyer again nearly doubled the lead when he was sent into the box by Kljestan and fired a shot that deflected just inches wide of the far post in the 30th minute. Two minutes later, Pinho turned down a shot opportunity at the top of the box, worked in a bit deeper and got his shot blocked.

But three minutes later, Yotun sent another long ball that resulted in Orlando’s second goal. His ball found Mueller again on the right. The rookie waited until Tarbell committed and fed the ball toward goal, where Kljestan made a sliding effort to tap the ball in, putting the Lions up, 2-0 in the 35th minute. Mueller picked up his first MLS assist on the play.

“I heard (Kljestan),” Mueller said of his unselfish play. “It’s 100% a goal if you pass that ball. Probably could have scored it myself but the chance is slim. If I give that ball to Sacha, it’s a goal every time.”

“The key is Dom is able to bring down the first ball and hold off the center back and then I think he finds Yoshi, who finds Chris,” Kljestan said. “Chris looked up and saw me and I didn’t know if he was going to pass it or not. I think most young guys would take the shot themselves. But he knew if he laid it across in a good pass, it was an easy tap-in. He knows I would do the same for him and, yeah, I probably would have killed him if he would have shot and missed at that point, but unbelievable pass.”

The Quakes nearly pulled that goal right back. Danny Hoesen’s shot smashed off the woodwork a minute later and a second effort on goal was headed away by Amro Tarek. Four minutes later, Bendik made a save on a shot through traffic by Jungwirth. He spilled the save but was able to pounce on the ball before a San Jose player could arrive.

In the final minutes of the first half, the Lions missed out on a few great chances to put the game away. Pinho slipped trying to get onto a cross in front of an open net. Moments later, Yotun went in alone on a defender but tried to make one move too many and lost the ball.

Orlando held just 47% of the first-half possession, with both teams attempting five shots (Orlando had three on target to San Jose’s one). Both teams passed well, with the Lions connecting on 85% and the Quakes on 87%.

Much of the second half was played between the two penalty areas, as Orlando looked to slow play down and take the air out of the ball. Each team squandered some early set pieces after the break.

San Jose got its best opportunity to pull within 2-1 when Hoesen spun inside of Tarek in the 67th minute but fired his shot over the crossbar. It was an expensive miss, as the Lions extended the lead to 3-0 just two minutes later.

Second-half substitute Meram split the defense with a pass for Dwyer, who took a touch to round Tarbell and fire his 100th professional goal into the empty net. It was Dom’s fifth goal in his four games played this season, extending his scoring streak.

“It was a fantastic pass. Justin’s a threat whether it’s scoring goals or setting up goals,” Dwyer said of the play that sent him through. “Once he can get this monkey off his back and get that first one, i think the floodgates will open for him. I think he’s a very, very talented player and there’s a lot more to come from him.”

Yotun unleashed Mueller again in the 74th minute and the rookie got into the box, but his cross was cut out by the defense. Shortly after that, San Jose found a way into the game.

A corner kick found Chris Wondolowski, who headed on goal. Bendik got a hand to it to push it off the goal frame, but it bounced perfectly for Jungwirth to finish, putting the Earthquakes on the board in the 78th minute.

The Lions kept coming, however. Johnson got forward from his right back spot and smashed a shot that Tarbell fought off in the 79th minute to keep his team in the match. Three minutes later, Kljestan sent his set piece attempt over the crossbar.

It looked like City would put the game away when Dwyer was taken down in the box by Anibal Godoy, earning a penalty. Meram was given the opportunity to score his first goal as a Lion and stepped up to the spot. He took a very short approach and fired, but he left his shot too close to Tarbell, who got a hand on it to keep it out in the 86th minute.

The Earthquakes, to their credit, kept pressing and eventually got another Jungwirth goal off a corner — this time on a header from Magnus Eriksson’s service in stoppage time.

“For me, defending dead-ball situations is a matter of commitment, organization and focus,” Kreis said. “And I would say to give up the number of dead ball goals we have this year, we’re extremely disappointed with that. But it’s not just the coaches. I just walked out of the locker room and we have some people in there that are very, very disappointed not to have obtained all of our objectives tonight. Clearly a shutout at home is one of the objectives that we’ve had and haven’t accomplished yet.”

That was as close as the Quakes could get, and after more than four minutes of injury time, the final whistle blew on Orlando’s fourth straight victory and third consecutive win at home.

Orlando finished with 51% of the possession and both teams fired 11 shots (Orlando with six on target to San Jose’s three). The Lions passed at an 84.4% clip to San Jose’s 85.5%.

“We were a little bit disappointed to concede,” Dwyer said. “It wasn’t quite the complete performance, but we got the job done. We got all three points.”

The Lions will be back in action next Sunday as they face the Rapids in Colorado at 4 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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