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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.

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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.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions do in their scoreless draw against CF Montreal?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City kicked off its 10th MLS season Saturday night, drawing CF Montreal 0-0 in downtown Orlando. The team was poor in the first half, but much better in the second 45 minutes. The Lions had multiple chances to win it late, hitting the woodwork and having a goal disallowed for offside. However, they claim a point to start the season and are in a great position to advance in the Concacaf Champions Cup Tuesday night.

Here’s how the Lions did individually in the scoreless draw.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 8 (MotM) — The Peruvian number one has been the most dependable Lion over the past few years and this game was no different. He was active in the first half, making four saves, but was bored in the second half until Kwadwo Opoku got in on goal in the second minute of stoppage time. Gallese came out and made a huge stop with his right leg, ensuring Orlando City would get a point. In total, the goalkeeper had five saves and completed 91.7% of his 24 passes, including four of his six long balls, while claiming his 34th clean sheet as a Lion.

D, Rafael Santos, 5.5 — After a rocky first outing in Canada, Santos had a much better game in the league opener with a team-high 108 touches. Defensively, the left back had one tackle, three interceptions, and one clearance in a clean sheet performance. Going forward, he completed 84.2% of his 76 passes, including a key pass. However, he only completed two of his seven crosses, a problem throughout the night for the Lions.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — It wasn’t a bad game for the Orlando City captain, but he wasn’t as effective as fans have come to expect. The Swede had an interception and block, but no clearances. He completed 90.2% of his 61 pass attempts and four of his eight long balls (50%). 

D, David Brekalo, 7 — Saturday night saw the long-awaited debut of Brekalo, Orlando City’s new starting center back. It was a solid performance for the defender, who recorded two tackles, two clearances, and a team-high four interceptions. Additionally, his three aerial duels were tied for the team high. He completed 86.4% of his 66 pass attempts and two of his three long balls. The new arrival took two dribbles and two shots, putting one on target. Overall, Brekalo was a bright spot in this game for the Lions before being replaced by Kyle Smith in the 77th minute.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Thorhallsson was one of several players that were much better in the second half than the first. Most of his passes in the first 45 minutes were left short or long balls too far, but he ended up completing 88.3% of his 60 passes with a team-high three key passes. He completed one of his two crosses and one of his five long balls. He took a team-high four shots, only putting one on target. Additionally, he one clearance defensively, but little else on that end of the field in 90 minutes of action.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 5.5 — It was a short night for Cartagena, who was taken off at halftime for Martin Ojeda after picking up a yellow in the first half. The Peruvian completed 90.5% of his 42 passes and both of his long balls. However, he did little defensively in this game and only had one dribble going forward. It wasn’t a bad performance overall, but the Lions couldn’t afford to go down a man if he got booked a second time.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 7 — Araujo displayed his usual dependability for the Lions in this game. His 87 touches were third on the team and he completed 89.7% of his 68 passes, including two key passes. He failed to connect on his lone cross, but completed all eight of his long balls. Unfortunately, neither of his two shots were on target. Defensively, the defensive midfielder was active, recording two tackles, two interceptions, and a clearance.

MF, Facundo Torres, 5 — Torres is usually the best attacking player for the Lions, but he had a difficult game Saturday night. The attacking midfielder completed 81.3% of his 48 passes and didn’t connect on any of his five crosses. He had one shot that was on target, and could’ve had a goal when he and Felipe and converged on a late header off the crossbar but they were offside. He also had a tackle defensively, but this will be a game to forget for the Uruguayan.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6 — One of two Lions to make their competitive home debuts, Lodeiro started in his natural number 10 position. His 89 touches were second-most on the team and he completed 86.7% of his 75 passes with a key pass. Two of his five crosses were accurate and he completed three of his seven long balls. He took one shot on the night, but it was off target. Lodeiro was somewhat active defensively, recording a tackle, an interception, and a clearance before being replaced by Felipe in the 77th minute.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 5 — Angulo was less active than usual in this game, only recording 42 touches and not taking any shots. He completed 83.9% of his 31 pass attempts and didn’t connect on his only cross. He had two tackles defensively but didn’t do much else before being replaced by Ramiro Enrique in the 68th minute.

F, Duncan McGuire, 5.5 — McGuire scored in his first game back after an uncertain off-season, so there was a lot of excitement heading into the home opener. The young striker took two off-target shots but was solid with his hold-up play, winning a team-high three aerial duels. He wasn’t able to get too involved, with only 26 touches, and he completed 64.3% of his 14 passes. He also had one key pass, one inaccurate cross, and one clearance.

Substitutes

MF, Martin Ojeda (46′), 6.5 — Ojeda came on at halftime for Cartagena and made a big impact on a much better second half. He completed 90.9% of his 22 passes with three key passes, and he was accurate on three of his seven crosses and both long balls. Additionally, one of his two shots was on target. He also helped out defensively, recording a tackle and a clearance.

F, Ramiro Enrique (68’), 5 — Enrique joined the game in the 68th minute, replacing Angulo, but didn’t make much of an impact. He only had 14 touches in 22 minutes while playing in the midfield. The attacker completed 77.8% of his nine passes without any key passes and failed to complete his lone cross. It was his header in the 80th minute that hit the crossbar and was redirected in by Felipe, but it was ruled out for offside.

D, Kyle Smith (77’), 5.5 — Smith came on for Brekalo to help see out the clean sheet alongside Jansson. Defensively, he had one clearance at center back, but no other defensive stats. He completed 78.6% of his 14 passes, including a key pass and completed his one cross.

MF, Felipe (77’), 6 — Felipe played well in the final 13 minutes of the game after replacing Lodeiro, recording an interception and a clearance and completing 90% of his 10 passes with one key pass. His most noteworthy moment came in the 80th minute when Enrique’s header off the crossbar was knocked in, but he was judged to be offside.

F, Jack Lynn (90’), N/A — Lynn came on for the final minutes of the game, replacing McGuire up top. He had four touches and won an aerial duel, a flick-on header near midfield, while completing one of his three passes (33.3%). He also had one accurate cross.


This is how I saw the individual performances of Orlando City’s first game of the 2024 MLS regular season. How did you see the game? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to vote on your Man of the Match.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/26/24

Orlando City draws Montreal, USWNT to play Mexico, USMNT news, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers. I know that we’re all a little disappointed with the draw in the home opener, but a point is a point, and we go again tomorrow night. It hasn’t taken long for the matches to come fast and furious with Orlando City and the USWNT playing this week. I could not be happier.

We also want to wish a happy birthday to the Orlando Pride’s Morgan Gautrat and OCB’s Dominic Pereira from all of us at The Mane Land.

Orlando City Draws Montreal

It wasn’t the best match Orlando City ever played, but it also wasn’t the worst. The Lions couldn’t find the last bit of quality to get the winning goal despite having most of the possession and plenty of shots. VAR also played a part, though both offside calls were correct, if unfortunate. Pedro Gallese kept the Lions in the match to earn the first point of the season. Check out our match recap.

Lions React to the Result

David Brekalo made his first start for Orlando City and while he acquitted himself well, given his limited time with the team, he is still confident that things will get better with time. He was also impressed with the level of play in MLS and with the Orlando City facilities. Oscar Pareja was disappointed with the result but was understanding of some of the reasons for it. Now, Orlando City gets ready for the two matches this week.

USWNT vs. Mexico

The USWNT takes on Mexico at 10:15 p.m. tonight in the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup. The U.S. is already through to the knockout stages of the Gold Cup but is trying to win Group A with a victory over Mexico. Former Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan is with the team and has scored in the competition. The U.S. has a 16-match winning streak over Mexico and will be looking to extend that to 17.

USMNT News

The USMNT and Juventus were both dealt a blow when Weston McKennie dislocated his shoulder in the 3-2 win over Frosinone on Sunday. Prior to the injury, McKennie contributed two assists, allowing Juventus to stay in second place in Serie A. Now we wait to hear how long McKennie will be out. Check out his assists.

American Striker Folarin Balogun scored a high difficulty goal in Monaco’s 3-2 victory over Lens in Ligue 1. Of course, he also missed a penalty kick later in the same match. Fortunately, Takumi Minamino scored a stoppage-time goal to secure the victory. Take a look at the nice goal.

Free Kicks

  • Liverpool defeated Chelsea 1-0 to win the Carabao Cup on an extra time header by captain Virgil van Dijk. It was the 10th trophy won with Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager. Liverpool was missing 11 top players to start the game and lost Ryan Gravenberch during the match.
  • Olivia Moultrie and Jaeden Shaw are making an impact with the USWNT despite being two of the younger players on the team. The impact came in the form of goals for each Moultrie and Shaw.
  • Naomi Girma has impressed for the USWNT in her time so far, but she wants to do more as a part of the newer generation of stars.
  • Brazil defeated Italy 6-4 in the Beach Soccer World Cup on Sunday. The competition took place in Dubai.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the match tomorrow night against Cavalry and the trip to Ft. Lauderdale to take on the hated Herons. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Five Takeaways

Here are five lessons learned from Orlando City’s 0-0 draw with Montreal.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City drew CF Montreal 0-0 in Inter&Co Stadium to start the MLS regular season. Heading into this match, the Lions had looked pretty good during the preseason and in the Concacaf Champions Cup match against Cavalry. Unfortunately, Orlando City wasn’t able to maintain its scoring form against Montreal, settling for a point at home.

Here are my five takeaways from Orlando’s draw with Montreal.

An Ugly First Half

Orlando city held 61% possession with four shots and only one on goal in the opening period. Add to that 10 fouls and a couple of yellow cards for Duncan McGuire and Wilder Cartagena and you end up with an ugly first half. Oscar Pareja put out a first-choice lineup, including many players who put in significant minutes in Wednesday’s Concacaf Champions Cup match against Cavalry in Canada. Despite having the best players on the field, Orlando City was not sharp and it showed in the stats and in the eye test.

El Pulpo Impresses

While the Lions were finding their footing to start the match, Pedro Gallese provided the cover the club needed with four saves in the first five minutes. After that, Orlando City settled down and kept more of the possession. Montreal didn’t get another shot on target the remainder of the half and so Gallese wasn’t called into service again. Fortunately, those first four saves were everything the Lions needed to start things off. He also made an incredible one-on-one save in stoppage to keep Montreal off the board.

Offside Ruins Chance, Part 1

Orlando City supporters thought the winning and only goal went in when Felipe put in the ball off a rebound from the bar. The initial shot came from Ramiro Enrique, who hit the crossbar. Both Martins and Facundo Torres were there and the ball went in but Felipe was in an offside position when Enrique took the shot. It was a frustrating call, even if it was ultimately the correct call.

A Game of Inches

Orlando City had 15 shots with four on target throughout the match. Of the 11 that weren’t on target, many were only inches from being so. Of the shots on target, all were either directly to Jonathan Sirois or without enough power to make him have to work to keep it out. There were also plenty of passes that were just off by a couple of inches that either gave the ball back to Montreal or stalled potential attacks.

Offside Ruins Chance, Part 2

In stoppage time, Torres drew a foul as he took a pass into the box. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and it looked like Orlando City would get the chance to score a winner on a penalty kick. Unfortunately, the offside flag had gone up again thanks to Jack Lynn being offside, as he strayed behind the last defender by a step in the buildup before the foul. Video review confirmed the call and Orlando City supporters were left wanting a second time.


That is what I saw in the match. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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