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Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids: Player Grades and Man of the Match

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The Lions traveled not only west, but up, to battle the Colorado Rapids at altitude today. It was looking a bit scary for the first 10-15 minutes, but once the boys settled down a bit, it was certainly a match dictated by the Lions. They held 56% of possession, and led in almost every other statistical category. These were three big road points, and not just to extend the winning streak to five matches.

So without further ado, lets dig into how the Lions fared this evening:

Starters

GK, Joe Bendik, 7.5 — Joe got some help from the post in the 18th minute, and had some great saves. Had a big save from distance in the 23rd minute, and what could only be considered a superhuman effort in the 64th minute. Was a definite contender tonight for MotM, but a few mistakes, primarily in distribution, kept him out of the final running.

D, Mohamed El-Munir, 8.5 (MotM) — You should have known the day he was planning to have while watching him dribble through four defenders in the 10th minute. Mo was all over the pitch, all match, leading the team in touches and making the left side extremely dangerous for most of the game. His perfectly timed sliding save in the 92nd minute stopped what was probably a tying goal to help maintain the lead and hold on for that 2-1 victory.

D, Amro Tarek, 7.5 — After what looked to be a tough fall in the 14th minute after being undercut on a header, he settled nicely into position and played fantastic. In the 20th minute, after a tragic giveaway, tracked back to make a great defensive recovery and win the ball back. Picked up a yellow in the 86th, for a play I definitely question, but did not let that affect him for the limited time left in the match. He had some nervy minutes late, as did many of his teammates.

D, Lamine Sane, 7 — Had moments of greatness, had moments that left me scratching my head. Had some amazing defensive play, and then could have been the body that kept Dominique Badji onside. This obviously was something on his mind the remainder of the match as he worked hard to make up for the mistake. Solid performance, especially on the road, from the Lions’ central defense pair.

D, Will Johnson, 6.5 — Johnson was just as consistent as he typically is. His work ethic cannot be questioned, although there may have been a few times he found himself out of position. Overall, he played the right back position as best as we could expect.

MF, Cristian Higuita, 8 — Rough start for Cristian, and by start I mean the first 10 minutes. After that, and I will need to re-watch the match, something switched on and he became a completely different player. He was a force in the midfield, and not the force of old that we were all just waiting to get a card. This Higuita is a controlled, precise, defensive midfielder. If he had played a full 90, I am positive he would have been an even bigger contender for MotM. The central midfield position is getting more and more competitive by the week, and Higuita is making a strong case for continuing to start every week.

MF, Yoshimar Yotun, 8 — As with Higuita above, Yoshi was looking to make an impact today. With an unbelievable 96% passing efficiency, and a heat map that shows him all over the pitch, Yoshi was another solid contender for MotM. I was honestly a bit surprised when he grabbed the ball and placed it on the spot for the penalty, but after he buried it, I understood why. His game is only improving, and the team needs to maximize his time before Russia 2018.

MF, Justin Meram, 7 — Meram played very well today. Like so many other Lions, the first 10-15 minutes were spotty. At some points in the first half, it looked as though he was trying a bit to hard to force a pass, take one to many dribbles, or get just a bit too fancy and give up the ball. That being said, he still proved to be extremely dangerous, constantly drawing multiple defenders when he had the ball in the attacking third. He came close to opening his Orlando City account again with a diving Zac MacMath save off the post the only thing standing between him and the score sheet. He should have had an assist on a cross to Sacha Kljestan but the latter smashed his shot right at MacMath. And it was his heel flick into the box that led to the foul on Yoshi. The magic that he has shown is starting to show, and will only improve with time.

MF, Sacha Kljestan, 7 — Thoughts on Sacha mirror thoughts on Meram. It is obvious that for both of these veterans, when things get a bit tough, muscle memory takes over and the results may not look good. They may not look good yet. Just hold on everyone, because the 200-foot drop that leads into the epic double loop is looming. Eight matches is not enough for the entire midfield to have that psychic knowledge, but if this is the result this early, you will get no complaints from me. He notched the assist on Higuita’s goal, and looks more comfortable every match.

MF, Chris Mueller, 7 — Welcome to MLS, rookie. This seemed to be the message that the Rapids were trying to send to Mueller from the first whistle. The one thing that stood out to me was he handled it extremely well. He was the target of at least two defenders all match, and was professionally fouled more times than I could count. His demeanor never changed, he was all over the pitch, and he had some absolutely critical moments. His blocked shot and clearance off a 79th minute corner at the top of the box was amazing, and his dribble into the box and look at goal in the 82nd minute was close, just missing right as he tried the near post.

F, Dom Dwyer, 6.5 — Two moments stand out. The bicycle attempt, and how he handled himself after getting cup checked. It was a tough day for Dom, and it was obvious that the central defense pair from the Rapids were not going to let Dom back flip. Unfortunately for Dom, sometimes you need to realize this and find another way to impact the match, and he did. I give a ton of credit to him, because I am not sure I would keep my head after someone tried to ruin my chances of having another child. I guess we will all have to wait one more week to see number 101.

Substitutes

MF, Oriol Rosell (67’), 6.5 — Uri is starting to see more and more minutes, and it is getting more and more interesting to watch. He played a solid 23 minutes, but to be honest, he came in for a player that was on fire, so the grading is even more difficult. I am truly looking forward to seeing what Uri can do for a solid 90 minutes.

MF, Stefano Pinho (83’), N/A — Coming on for Meram with seven minutes left doesn’t give us much time to grade. He was in the box for a number of late Colorado corners, and his height was appreciated.

D, RJ Allen (91’), N/A — Again, not a lot of time to grade, but considering the outcome of the match didn’t change, job well done.


What else can I say, folks? That is five wins in a row, Orlando City currently sits third in the East, and the team has won two straight road matches for the first time since 2015. The boys just went a month undefeated and untied, and I cannot think of a better time, unless they can repeat in May. Let me know your thoughts below in the comments, and who you feel the Man of the Match was in the poll below.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Joe Bendik7
Cristian Higuita71
Mohamed El-Munir70
Yoshimar Yotún68
Sacha Kljestan3
Other (comment below)3

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Cavalry FC, Concacaf Champions Cup: Final Score 3-0 as Torres Brace Leads Lions to Road Win

The Lions are in the driver’s seat after a comprehensive victory over Cavalry FC in western Canada.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Duncan McGuire opened the scoring and Facundo Torres added a brace to lead Orlando City SC to a comfortable 3-0 win over Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia in the first leg of Concacaf Champions Cup play. Orlando scored their first road goals in the competition and have a huge advantage heading into next week’s return leg.

“It’s very good for the team. The clean sheet is very important for us and scoring three goals is a good score for returning home,” Orlando City Assistant Coach Diego Torres said after the match. “Cavalry is a good team. The Canada league is a good league. All of our team respects all rivals. The team came here serious for the game.”

With Oscar Pareja sidelined due to suspension for a red card after the second leg against Tigres in 2023, Diego Torres’ lineup was made up mostly of presumed starters for the 2024 season, with Pedro Gallese starting in goal behind a back line of Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena took their usual spots in the central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, and Facundo Torres with McGuire up top. Presumed starters Rafael Santos, Nico Lodeiro, David Brekalo, and Luis Muriel were not in the lineup, with the latter two new Lions not in the matchday squad.

Center back Daan Klomp was positioned on the line and was able to get in front of Araujo’s header on frame. On the ensuing corner, Schlegel got under his header and sent it well over the bar.

Cavalry’s defense again denied a shot off a corner moments later. This time it was Callum Montgomery knocking it away. The Lions recycled and a shot appeared to go out off the goalkeeper but a goal kick was awarded.

Araujo again got forward in the 13th minute and the defense again blocked it, although this time it was outside the six-yard box rather than on the line. Moments later, McGuire had a go from a tough angle on the left but he mishit his shot and it went out on the other side for a throw-in. Torres then fired from the top of the box in the 19th minute but his effort was always rising and sailed well over the bar.

The Lions found the breakthrough moments later. Cartagena sent the ball wide to Angulo on the left and the Colombian sent Ojeda down the flank. The Argentine sent a great cross into the area and McGuire redirected it past Cavalry goalkeeper Marco Carducci to make it 1-0 in the 21st minute.

Orlando stayed on the front foot and in the 27th minute it was Angulo dancing through the defense and sending a lethal-looking cross through the six. Unfortunately, none of his teammates were making runs on the far side and it skipped harmlessly through.

Cavalry then nearly fashioned something out of nothing when a ball into the area nearly found Sergio Camargo right in front. However, the ball got through to Gallese, who scooped it up.

Thorhallsson, who had a terrific first half, nearly sent in Angulo in the 28th minute on a quick counterattack and then sent a dangerous cross over Carducci in the 32nd that just needed a touch from a teammate but didn’t get one.

No matter though, the Icelandic fullback got his assist in the 38th minute. Tucking inside for much of the night, he sent Torres wide on the right. The Uruguayan cut inside from the right at the top of the box and sent a shot on target. The ball bounced off the artificial turf in front of Carducci, who got a hand on it but couldn’t knock it wide of the post. Torres’ strike made it 2-0.

Cavalry won a late corner but sent the cross right at Gallese at the end of the half and that was it as far as the scoring chances. The Lions took their 2-0 advantage to the locker room.

At the break, the Lions held the advantage in shots (9-2), shots on target (3-0), passing accuracy (97.3%-73.5%), and corners (3-2).

Cavalry started the second half with more energy. Smith did well to win a goal kick to thwart an early attack and Schlegel got a head to a dangerous cross in the 49th to clear Orlando’s lines.

Orlando’s first decent chance of the second period came in the 53rd minute when Araujo stole a ball in the attacking third on the press. He found Ojeda on the left and the Argentine sent a cross in front, however, the defense again cut it out for a corner. The Lions couldn’t do anything with the set piece.

The game got a little chippy after that, with Cavalry’s Charlie Trafford picking up a yellow card for stepping on McGuire’s foot during a challenge. Moments later, a worse-looking challenge by Trafford on Thorhallsson went unpunished with a second yellow, despite being a worse foul.

Torres was then taken down on a rough challenge by Montgomery, who was booked. Ojeda went for goal from distance on the set piece, but Carducci made the save at the hour mark.

Gallese nearly got crossed up in the 61st minute when a fluttering ball fooled him and he had to fight it off to avoid an embarrassing situation. That was the start of a couple of chances for the hosts, sandwiching the Orlando City debut of Lodeiro, who subbed on for Ojeda.

In the 62nd minute, Cavalry created something off a throw-in, sending a ball into the box for Jesse Daley, who sent his weak effort right at Gallese on a wasted opportunity. Moments later, Jansson conceded a free kick and Cavalry nearly paid it off. Klomp got his head to the service but sent it just inches over the crossbar.

Cartagena nearly scored a surprising goal in the 68th minute when he sent a chip towards Carducci’s goal. The Cavalry goalkeeper was backpedaling and had to tip the shot over his crossbar.

Five minutes later, substitute Ramiro Enrique set up Lodeiro in the box but the midfielder sent his shot off the crossbar in the 73rd minute. Angulo followed with a shot that was blocked by the defense for a corner.

Two minutes later, the Lions put the game to bed. A fantastic sequence set up Torres’ brace. Enrique did well to send Angulo in behind the defense on the left. The Colombian sent a perfect cross to the back post and Torres sent a diving header off of Carducci’s hands and in to make it 3-0 in the 75th minute.

Cavalry got back on the front foot for a few minutes after the third goal. Camargo sent a shot right at Gallese in the 79th minute

Orlando should have scored again seconds later. Another excellent buildup play from Enrique and Angulo ended up on Araujo’s foot right in front of goal, but the midfielder couldn’t dig it out of his feet and the defense arrived to knock it away.

A poor giveaway by substitute Rafael Santos on the left sideline gave Cavalry a chance in the 82nd minute. The cross in front was deflected out to the top of the area. Diego Gutierrez smashed a shot toward goal, but Felipe took one for the team and blocked it out for a corner. Klomp was nearly sent in behind on the recycle of the ensuing set piece but the defender was either offside or was judged to have fouled Gallese and Orlando was awarded a free kick. Gallese then scooped up a one-hopper off a shot from a tight angle to his right in the 88th minute.

That was the last half chance for either side and the Lions saw out three minutes of injury time to claim their first Concacaf Champions Cup victory.

The final statistics were more flattering for the hosts than the halftime numbers. Orlando led in shots (13-9), shots on target (5-4), passing accuracy (85.1%-82%), and corners (6-4).

“Now we prepare for the next leg at home,” Diego Torres said. “I know this game is very important. And the next game now is very important.”

“I wanted the players to be brave, and there’s certainly things that we can learn from it,” Cavalry Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon said. “I don’t think it was a three-nil game. I think between both boxes we matched up with them very, very well. I think they probably defended better in there’s and they finished better in ours, and that’s the difference.”


Orlando City will host Cavalry FC next Tuesday night in the second leg. Prior to that, the Lions have a quick turnaround ahead of Saturday’s MLS opener at home against CF Montreal at 7:30 p.m.

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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: Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

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

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Rafael Santos, Michael Halliday, Thomas Williams, Abdi Salim, Felipe, Jeorgio Kocevski, Favian Loyola, Nico Lodeiro, Ramiro Enrique, Shak Mohammed, Jack Lynn.

Cavalry FC (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Marco Carducci.

Defenders: Callum Montgomery, Daan Klomp, Eryk Kobza, Shamit Shome.

Defensive Midfielders: Charlie Trafford, Jesse Daley.

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

Forward: Tobias Warschewski.

Bench: Mitchell Barrett, Bradley Kamdem, Tom Field, Michael Harms, Lucas Dias, Fraser Aird, Mael Henry, Diego Gutierrez, Lleyton Brooks.

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 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 in Orlando.

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 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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