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Intelligence Report: Orlando City at Colorado Rapids

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The Pablo Mastroeni era is finally over for the Colorado Rapids, who went across the world to find their replacement in English manager Anthony Hudson. The former New Zealand boss has used his knowledge of the All Whites to bring in some Kiwi flair to Colorado, bringing in three members of the New Zealand national side this off-season. While the Mastroeni defensive mindset still has some holdover in the new regime, there are plenty of new faces wearing burgundy in 2018.

Orlando City will look to continue its unbeaten run both in the league and against the Rapids. Colorado is one of the few sides the Lions have yet to lose to since the club’s jump to Major League Soccer in 2015, with OCSC holding the series lead at 2-0-1.

Managing editor Abbie Lang of SB Nation’s Burgundy Wave took some time to drop some knowledge on this weekend’s home side from the Mile High City. I also answered some questions and you can find those over at their place.

How have the Rapids changed under new boss Anthony Hudson? What kind of playing style can we expect to see out of him this weekend at home?

Abbie Lang: The 2018 Rapids squad is very different than what we’ve seen in the past. Besides new head coach Anthony Hudson and several other new technical staff members, they’ve added a bunch of new players and Hudson runs a 3-5-2 formation. Historically, the Rapids have been known as a very defensive side, but this year they’re off to a good start with the attack, averaging 1.5 goals per game. The Rapids are getting more guys up and into the box, and wingback Edgar Castillo and midfielder Johan Blomberg have been clutch in their delivery, touch, and pace.

Colorado has had a reasonably strong start to 2018, earning results in four of their last five against some quality opposition. What has been the key to the team’s early success?

AL: The Rapids have really overhauled their entire system and way of thinking, and brought in some players that are solid footballers. Guys like the aforementioned Castillo (from Liga MX), Blomberg (from Sweden’s first division), and players with significant experience in the English Championship, like Jack Price and Joe Mason, have made a huge difference. When everyone is healthy, more than half of the starting lineup is new faces. 

Hudson’s coaching style is also different than what we’ve seen in the past. Practices are more organized and focused on specific drills that directly translate to the game. He adapts and makes changes as needed throughout the game instead of sticking to his original plan no matter what. Hudson uses a formation that we haven’t seen in Colorado, and brought in players who fit into that system well. 

What do you see as the key match-up in this game that could decide the outcome?

AL: Anytime Dom Dwyer is on the field, it’s a challenge to shut him down. If Axel Sjoberg plays, he’s familiar with Dwyer, but none of our other CBs have played against him before. On the other end, Dominique Badji has four goals in six games and if Joe Mason is back (he has two goals in three games), these two could be a challenge for OCSC’s defense.

What injuries/suspensions will keep players out this weekend and what is your projected lineup?

AL: Out due to injury: D – Kortne Ford (left MCL sprain), M – Marlon Hairston (knee surgery).

Out due to suspension: GK – Tim Howard (red card from last game).

Questionable: D – Danny Wilson, F – Joe Mason.

Projected Lineup:

Zac MacMath; Deklan Wynne, Danny Wilson, Tommy Smith; Dillon Serna, Enzo Martinez, Jack Price, Johan Blomberg, Edgar Castillo; Dominique Badji, Joe Mason.


Thanks again to Abbie for fielding these questions about the ‘Pids.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. D.C. United: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions look for their first road result of the season when they visit Audi Field.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night matchup between Orlando City and D.C. United at Audi Field (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the first of the two scheduled MLS matches this season between the Lions (1-3-2, 5 points) and the Black and Red (2-1-4, 10 points). D.C. United will make the return trip to Orlando on Saturday, July 6.

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

History

The Lions are 6-9-2 against D.C. in the all-time league series since the club joined MLS, and 6-9-3 in all competitions. Orlando is just 2-5-1 in MLS road matches against D.C. and 2-5-2 away to United in all competitions. The Black and Red have managed four consecutive results in the series (3-0-1), while Oscar Pareja is 5-6-2 in his managerial career against D.C.

The last meeting between the teams came in Orlando on April 22, 2023, with D.C. scoring twice in the second half to snap a 1-1 deadlock and win, 3-1. Taxiarchis Fountas, Donovan Pines, and Christian Benteke scored for D.C. to more than offset Duncan McGuire’s strike.

These teams squared off in D.C. just a few weeks before that in D.C., splitting the points in a 1-1 draw at Audi Field on March 11. McGuire scored his first MLS goal but Chis Durkin leveled things late in a match that was sandwiched between Orlando City’s two legs of Concacaf Champions League play against Tigres UANL.

D.C. swept the season series in 2022, despite being a terrible team that “won” the league’s Wooden Spoon by no small margin. The meeting in D.C. that year took place July 31 and saw Orlando City dominate the first half but miss multiple glorious chances to put the game away early. The Lions were wasteful and took only a 1-0 lead into stoppage time, thanks to Junior Urso’s first-half goal, only to fall 2-1 on stoppage-time strikes by Durkin and Fountas.

The teams also met on Independence Day at Exploria Stadium, with D.C. putting together a performance out of nowhere in a 5-3 road win. Fountas netted his first MLS hat trick and Kimarni Smith and Nigel Robertha added their first goals of the season. Facundo Torres, Ercan Kara, and Alexandre Pato scored for Orlando, threatening to bring the Lions back, but Orlando could never get on level terms.

The teams met twice in 2021, including Oct. 2 at Exploria Stadium. Daryl Dike scored deep in stoppage to lift the Lions to a 2-1 home victory. Robin Jansson scored a first-half goal off a corner kick scramble to offset an early Julian Gressel strike. The first match of 2021 took place on May 16 in D.C., with the Lions winning 1-0 on an early Mauricio Pereyra goal. That win snapped United’s 3-0-1 streak in the series in league play and 3-0-2 in all competitions dating back to City’s previously most recent win over D.C. back in 2017.

The teams did not meet in what was an odd 2020 season.

D.C. United swept the season series in 2019, winning 1-0 at Audi Field back on June 26, 2019. Wayne Rooney’s wondergoal from his own half of the pitch caught Brian Rowe napping and served as the only scoring in that match. The Lions fell 2-1 at home on March 31, 2019, with set pieces ruining the night for Orlando. You might recall the controversy that surrounded the winning goal, with then-coach James O’Connor visibly upset after the match. Steve Birnbaum scored the first on a set piece and Rooney scored the second on a free kick that he took from wherever the hell he wanted rather than where the foul occurred. Frederic Brillant bulldozed Rowe on the play as the ball sailed into the net.

D.C. was 1-0-2 in three total meetings (two in league play) in 2018. Orlando swept the two league meetings in 2017, the teams split two lopsided games in 2016 — with each team winning at home — and the Black and Red went 2-1-0 in the first three meetings back in 2015.

Match Overview

Orlando City is coming off an unsatisfying 1-1 draw against the New York Red Bulls at home two weeks ago. The overall performance was good, but the Lions continue to waste scoring chances and make mistakes in their own end. Kyle Smith conceded a penalty, allowing Lewis Morgan to score from the spot. The Lions got an own goal late to at least claim a point when the combination of Ivan Angulo’s wicked cross and Jack Lynn’s run forced Noah Eile to deflect the ball past his own goalkeeper. Orlando has at least managed two straight results (1-0-1).

However, the Lions have been dreadful away from home to start the season. Orlando City is 0-2-0 after two road matches, getting outscored 7-0 in visits to Inter Miami and Atlanta United.

D.C. is off to a solid start to the season under Head Coach Troy Lesesne. The Black and Red are 1-0-2 in their last three matches, including a 1-1 draw at defending champion Columbus a week ago. D.C.’s only loss came at home, however, as the club is 2-1-0 at Audi Field in 2024. That loss came against Inter Miami on March 16.

The Lions will need to be aware of where Christian Benteke is at all times. The former Crystal Palace, Liverpool, and Aston Villa man leads D.C. in goals (5), shots (23), and shots on target (11). D.C. looks for him often and from everywhere, and he’ll be a handful on set pieces. Polish international Mateusz Klich is another D.C. player that Orlando City will need to keep an eye on. Klich has a goal and a pair of assists on the year.

“I’ve seen a [D.C. United] team that’s very organized,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “[Lesesne] has modeled the defense. I recognize in prior matches with him and his systems. But the nature of his players, D.C.’s players are dynamic, organized, and very bold defensively. I’ve seen the games they’ve played this season and I notice they are a team that is organized, and we have to be organized.”

The only player on Orlando City’s availability report heading into the weekend is Ramiro Enrique (ankle), who remains out. D.C. lists Steven Birnbaum (knee), Russell Canouse (unspecified non-injury reason), Theodore Ku-Dipietro (hip), and Tyler Miller (shoulder) as out for the match, while Garrison Tubbs (thigh) is listed as questionable.

Mandatory Match Content


Projected Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, David Brekalo, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Facundo Torres, Martin Ojeda.

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

D.C. United (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Alex Bono.

Defenders: Connor Antley, Lucas Bartlett, Christopher McVey, Aaron Herrera.

Defensive Midfielders: Jackson Hopkins, Mateusz Klich.

Attacking Midfielders: Cristian Dajome, Gabriel Pirani, Jared Stroud.

Forward: Christian Benteke.

Referees

REF: Guido Gonzales Jr.
AR1: Adam Garner.
AR2: Justin Howard.
4TH: Joshua Encarnacion.
VAR: David Barrie.
AVAR: Joshua Patlak.


How to Watch

Match Time: 7:30 p.m.

Venue: Audi Field — Washington, D.C.

TV/Streaming: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Mega 97.1 FM (Spanish).

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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Orlando City

Flashback Friday: April 13, 2018 — Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union

Hop in the time machine as we reminisce about a classic Orlando City game from six years ago.

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Carlos Romero, The Mane Land

During the two-week break we’ve had since Orlando City’s last competitive match, I’ve had some time to go back and revisit some of the matches that the team has played in the past. What better thing to do when considering the heavy emphasis that the club has placed on its 10th season as a member of Major League Soccer?

So, before the Lions take on D.C. United tomorrow, let’s hop in the time machine and reminisce about a game that OCSC played six years ago — almost to the day.

The date was Saturday, April 13, 2018, and the Lions found themselves on the road in Philadelphia. The Jason Kreis-coached team had won two games on the bounce and entered the contest with a record of 2-2-1 (7 points), while the Union sat at 1-1-2 (5 points). The Orlando team sheet on the day looked wildly different from what we’re used to seeing these days, as no one on that gameday roster is still with the club. Kreis deployed his team in a 4-2-3-1, which will be plenty familiar to Orlando fans by now, but that was where the similarities ended.

Philadelphia’s XI had a few familiar faces however, with Andre Blake in goal, Jack Elliot at center back, Matt Real at left back, and Alejandro Bedoya in midfield.

The Union began the game strong, with Keegan Rosenberry getting off a shot from long distance, and David Accam beating RJ Allen down the right and delivering a dangerous cross that fortunately didn’t have any teammates attacking it. Despite the slow start, Orlando almost opened the scoring just inside 10 minutes when Amro Tarek had a shot cleared off the line after being picked out by Yoshi Yotun from a corner.

Philadelphia continued to be dangerous, and Orlando’s task got more difficult when Allen went down with a hamstring issue in the 21st minute. The Lions were already missing Jonathan Spector through concussion and Scott Sutter with the dreaded lower body injury, so Cristian Higuita entered the fray while Will Johnson moved to right back.

The Lions’ resilience paid dividends a few minutes before halftime. Dom Dwyer timed a perfect run to stay level with Real, and Sacha Kljestan delivered him the ball by way of an outstanding lifted pass. Dwyer showed outstanding invention to settle the pass using his back, and then turned to curl the ball beyond Blake for the game’s first goal and the 99th of his career.

The goal seemed to unlock something in the good guys, as the first-half-fun didn’t end there. The second goal of the night had a bit of fortune to it, as Chris Mueller collected the ball in midfield and drove toward the box. A heavy touch meant he lost the ball, but Philadelphia couldn’t clear its lines and the ball came right back to him off the foot of Elliot. From there, it was a simple matter of taking a touch to settle himself and then firing low and hard past Blake and into the far corner.

The Lions took that 2-0 lead into halftime, but after the restart they once again found the Union streaming forward toward their goal. Bendik made his second big save of the night in the 53rd minute from a Fafa Picault shot, and it wasn’t the last time he was called on, as he denied Bedoya in the 62nd minute.

Justin Meram provided some moments of danger as the half wore on, and probably should have had an assist as the clock struck 90 minutes, but Dwyer fired his shot off target. Bendik had to make one big final save in the 94th minute to stop Borek Dockal’s effort, and when the whistle blew for full time the Lions’ had escaped with a 2-0 win.

The home side finished with 55% of the ball to Orlando’s 45%, and outshot OCSC by a whopping 20-8, but a lack of clinical finishing proved to be the Union’s undoing (sound familiar?).

That win meant the good guys had won three on the bounce, and a strong start to the season continued as that streak ultimately stretched all the way to six victories in a row. Sadly, the good vibes didn’t last. The last league win of that six-game streak came on May 6 in a 3-1 home victory over Real Salt Lake, and then the bottom fell out. The Lions lost nine straight league games, Kreis lost his job after the sixth of those losses, and Orlando only won two more league games for the remainder of the season.


Ultimately, the 2018 season proved to be the most difficult that the club has endured since joining MLS. OCSC’s total of 28 points is the lowest that the team has ever finished with in a season, and only a truly woeful San Jose side prevented the Lions from claiming the Wooden Spoon. Still, the win over Philadelphia — and the win streak that it was part of — were bright spots early in the year, and it’s always fun to look back on those. With a little luck, the Lions will get a similar result on the road against D.C. United tomorrow. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links: 4/12/24

Orlando Pride play in Utah tonight, Orlando City B earns a point, Europa League quarterfinals begin, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Friday! I hope this week has gone smoothly for you as we gear up for even more Orlando soccer tonight and tomorrow. It should be a nice next few days, even if I’m working for most of it. I don’t have many plans outside of work beyond bonding with my cat and trying a new stuffed bread recipe. Let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world!

Orlando Pride Play the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride are on the road tonight for a showdown with the Utah Royals at 9:30 p.m., and you can catch the game on NWSL+ or through Bally Sports if you’re local. Although the Royals are an expansion team this year, the Pride last squared off against the previous Royals back in 2019, with Orlando losing all three games to Utah that season. This season, the Pride are riding a three-game unbeaten streak. However, they are also still on the hunt for their first win after three consecutive draws. While the offense awaits the arrival of Zambian striker Barbra Banda, the Pride have managed to score off of a set piece in each of their three games so far. While a draw on the road wouldn’t be awful by any means, hopefully the Pride can get a solid tally in the win column tonight.

Orlando City B Draws Philadelphia Union II

OCB went on the road to take on Philadelphia Union II and earned a single point after a 1-1 draw and penalty shootout. The two teams traded goals in the first half, but the Young Lions were on the back foot for most of the second half. While Orlando’s offense sputtered, the defense survived chance after chance from Philadelphia to send the game to a shootout. Orlando lost the lengthy shootout, 7-6, claiming just one point, but at least the Young Lions didn’t leave Pennsylvania empty handed. Hopefully OCB can return to its winning ways when it faces off with Crown Legacy FC on April 19.

New York City FC Stadium Plans Finally Approved

Plans to build a soccer-specific stadium in Queens for new grounds for New York City FC were approved by New York City officials. It will be a $780 million stadium expected to open in 2027 and serves as the centerpiece of a redevelopment project in the neighborhood. The 25,000-seat stadium will be right next to Citi Field, which has been one of the many home venues for NYCFC over the years since joining as an expansion side alongside Orlando City in 2015. It’s a bit wild that this stadium is set to open 10 years after Orlando christened its own soccer-specific stadium back in 2017. At least the Lions won’t have to play road games at baseball stadiums for much longer.

Europa League Quarterfinals Kick Off

The Europa League quarterfinals are underway, with the remaining eight teams squaring off in the first legs of their matchups. In England, Atalanta leaned on a brace from Gianluca Scamacca and stellar defense to win 3-0 against Liverpool. Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten streak stretched to 42 games after it beat West Ham United 2-0, thanks to a pair of late goals. The first match between Italian clubs AC Milan and Roma went to the visitors, as Roma scored early on and held on for a 1-0 win at San Siro. The only quarterfinal that wasn’t a shutout took place in Portugal, with Benfica beating Marseille, 2-1. The second legs will all take place at the same time next week, which should make for an exciting Thursday afternoon of soccer.

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That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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