Connect with us

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Montreal Impact: Final Score 3-0 as Lions Still Can’t Finish

The Lions couldn’t overcome a slow start in Montreal.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City has now matched its six-game winning streak earlier this season with a six-game losing streak after falling on the road to the Montreal Impact, 3-0. The Lions (6-8-1) were unable to score, despite forward Dom Dwyer returning to the starting lineup for the first time since May 13. Meanwhile, the Impact improved to 5-11-0 and will try to begin to climb back up the Eastern Conference standings.

Impact forward Ignacio Piatti scored a brace in the match — including from the spot to set the tone early — continuing his dominance over Orlando with seven goals in eight appearances. Montreal’s second goal came off an own goal after left back Daniel Lovitz sent in a low cross that bounced off Amro Tarek and beat Joe Bendik.

Orlando had plenty of chances to answer, but poor finishing, bad passing, and dumb luck cost them yet another game.

Here’s the lineup Head Coach Jason Kreis fielded, with Jonathan Spector getting his first start in an MLS game since April 8:

Montreal started the game with its foot on the gas and Orlando City didn‘t look like it was ready for the match. Orlando City nemesis Piatti and Raheem Edwards spent the early minutes of the match causing mayhem and it didn’t take long for the pressure to cause Orlando City to crack. Montreal’s moment came after a corner caused by an Edwards’ shot that Joe Bendik had to deflect out of play.

In just the fifth minute, Cristian Higuita made a grave mistake while desperatley trying to stop Montreal’s Saphir Taider and clipped him inside the box. The referee took little time to give Montreal a penalty for the foul as Orlando City got off to perhaps its worst start of the season, which is saying something given how sluggish Orlando is to start games.

Piatti converted the penalty, with Bendik diving the opposite direction and Montreal taking an early 1-0 lead.

Down a goal, Orlando City began to see more and more of the ball as the team searched for an equalizer. But the Lions weren‘t able to make anything happen with the ball at their feet. Any time the Lions looked dangerous, the target was always Dwyer. The forward was chasing every long ball and cross sent his way and was close many times.

A chance came in the 11th minute when Justin Meram found Tony Rocha out wide and the left back delivered a pass that danced in front of Montreal’s net. Dwyer slid to try to get on the end of it but was inches away from making contact, possibly due to the wet field that caused the ball to quickly skid past the center of goal.

Frustration seemed to set in for Dwyer after the miss and he picked up a yellow card after a late, and frankly, unnecessary, tackle. Higuita then followed up Dwyer’s performance with one of his own, giving a signature hard foul and being issued a yellow card as well. But unlike Dwyer, Higuita’s yellow card will now have him sitting out of Orlando’s next MLS game thanks to accumulation.

Orlando City‘s first shot didn’t come until the 31st minute, when Dwyer got his head on the end of a cross by Oriol Rosell. Dwyer had to come back to the ball to make contact, sacrificing some power behind the attempt and Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush comfortably collected the shot.

Gaining some confidence on the pitch, the Lions had another opportunity in the 34th minute with a set of nifty passes between Meram and Sacha Kljestan that ended with an open shot outside of the box from Rosell that sailed just wide of the goal. It would‘ve been unexpected for Rosell to score from that far out, but it was a nice sign to see from the trailing Lions desperate to end their losing streak.

In the 42nd minute, the Lions were given a chance to level the game before the half after Dwyer was fouled just outside the box. After earning the foul, Dwyer fired a curving shot from the set piece that curled over the wall and beat Bush but wasn’t able to dip into the goal.

That was the last real chance the Lions had before the break, finishing the first half ahead in possession (51%) after finding a good amount of momentum and looking the better team outside of the first 15 or so minutes. Despite looking like the better team for the latter stages of the first half, the Lions finished with just three shots.

Orlando City started the second half right where it left off with a sense of urgency, but momentum came to a halt in the 49th minute when Rosell slid in for a ball and was issued a yellow card and the game was stopped by the referee and he went to video review to see if the challenge was worthy of more discipline. After probably taking the rainy conditions (and common sense) into account, the referee decided a yellow was enough and the game continued.

The break was apparently all Montreal needed to put itself back in the driver’s seat. Montreal started to see more of the ball and found the back of the net for the second time when Piatti found open space down the left side, cut toward the middle and sent Lovitz down the left. Orlando couldn’t close in on him before he whipped a ball into the box. Neither Bendik nor Montreal‘s Matteo Mancosu got on the end of the ball. Instead, it was Tarek who made the slightest bit of contact and caused an own goal, giving Montreal a 2-0 lead in the 55th minute and making the uphill climb for Orlando that much steeper.

Down two, Kreis made his first substution of the match by putting Jose Villarreal in for Higuita in the 57th minute. The midfielder had an immediate impact, his first touch of the game being a cross to Dwyer that was just behind the forward and making him unable to get enough power to drive the ball into the goal yet again.

Villarreal delivered another good ball, finding Rocha down the left side as the left back weaved his way towards the goal but the final pass just wasn’t good enough and the chance was lost. I bet you’re starting to see a theme here.

But Orlando City didn’t stop pressing forward. Meram was finally able to give Dwyer a cross he wanted in the 65th minute, but the shot went inches wide and the scoreline remained the same.

After having little impact on the match for the most part, Josué Colmán’s opportunity finally came in the 66th minute as the Young Designated Player chased down a long ball. The Paraguayan was able to fight past two defenders but he couldn’t hit his shot cleanly and sent it harmlessly wide and over the bar.

Seeing enough, Kreis took Colmán out immediately after the missed shot, electing to put rookie Chris Mueller into the game for an injection of energy. That move was followed by a similar one as Meram came off for Stefano Pinho.

In a night full of bad, there was at least something to smile about in the 70th minute when Piatti was in a one-on-one situation with Spector and the American center back was able to hold his own against the potent attacker. He may not have been able to stop the onslaught of three goals, but it’s nice to have Spector back in the lineup.

Like every chance it had in the game, Orlando City simply couldn’t catch a break in 78th minute when Rosell had a wide open shot that was sure to go in but was accidentally deflected by Pinho right into the belly of Bush, who was down on his side.

Orlando City’s assualt continued just minutes later when Dwyer got on the end of a cross for his best scoring chance of the night but the header went off target and Orlando remained scoreless.

Another chance came shortly after with Pinho making contact with the ball directly in front of the net, but the shot somehow went high and over the bar. It would be almost comical how close Orlando was to scoring if not for the frustration that comes from Orlando City squandering opportunities yet again.

Bendik was able to stop Montreal from extending its lead on two occasions late in the game, with two big saves where he had to come out and make the stop. However, third time was the charm for the Impact when Piatti caught the tired Orlando City defense sleeping. Alone behind the defense with the ball after a through ball, Piatti dribbled around Bendik and easily tucked the ball into the goal to secure his brace and put Montreal up 3-0.

A few late chances by Dwyer and Pinho were unsuccessful and the Lions were shut out for the third time this season.

The chances were there for Orlando City, but like so many games during this six-game losing streak, the Lions simply weren’t able to score. Orlando City ended the game with 57% possession and led Montreal in shots, 12-11. Both teams had four shots on target but the game obviously came down to finishing with Orlando City unable to score.

The Lions continue their five-game road trip with only a U.S. Open Cup victory to show for it so far. Orlando City will hope to keep its run in the tournament alive on the road against D.C. United next Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. The Lions will then look to end their MLS skid at home a week from Saturday in a rematch against Montreal on June 23.

Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Alex Freeman

We start our Orlando City player reviews with a look at a Homegrown fullback who made his MLS debut this season.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Orlando City signed fullback Alex Freeman to a Homegrown Player contract on February 15, 2022. He became the Lions’ 12th Homegrown signing and his deal runs through the 2025 season with a club option for 2026, but the youngster did not see action in Major League Soccer last season. With the departure of Ruan, there was an opportunity for Freeman to win a job with the first team in camp but he wasn’t quite ready to make the jump, instead playing an important role with Orlando City B throughout the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season.

Let’s take a look back at Freeman’s 2023 campaign.

Statistical Breakdown

Freeman made his MLS debut on April 29 in a 2-0 home win over the LA Galaxy. It was not just his debut with the first team, but it was also his only appearance with the senior squad in 2023, although he did make the substitutes’ bench a few times after that. Officially, he logged only one minute, entering in the 93rd minute. He was only on the pitch a matter of seconds, so it’s unsurprising that he registered nothing on the stats sheet.

The son of former NFL receiver Antonio Freeman, Alex starred with OCB in 2023. In MLS NEXT Pro play, Freeman appeared in 24 of OCB’s 28 matches, starting 22, and logging 1,855 minutes. He finished tied for third on the squad in goals (4), adding three assists and passing at a 79.1% success rate. Freeman attempted 25 shots, putting 11 on target, and contributed 10 key passes. He committed 22 fouls, drew 27 on the opposition, and was booked four times. He also started OCB’s playoff match at Columbus, playing 89 minutes in the Young Lions’ 2-1 road loss. Freeman didn’t contribute a goal or assist or attempt a shot in the match, but he passed at an 88% rate, created one scoring chance, and committed one foul.

Best Game

With only one MLS appearance to his credit, the default best game for Freeman came on April 29 in Orlando City’s 2-0 home win over the LA Galaxy. Freeman didn’t even officially touch the ball in the game, but it’s not every day a teenager gets to play in an MLS match, and I’m sure it was a special moment for him. It was certainly a milestone in his professional soccer career.

2023 Final Grade

As Freeman fell well short of the minimum 450 minutes played mark to receive a rating on our 1-10 scale, The Mane Land has no choice but to mark his grade as incomplete for the 2023 season. There are areas of Freeman’s game that need a bit of refining, but at the same time, it’s easy to see why he landed a Homegrown contract, why Orlando City would find him an intriguing prospect, and why he’s been getting called up by the United States for U-20 international duty. His attacking presence was huge for OCB in 2023 and he was one of the key players that led the Young Lions to the postseason.

2024 Outlook

I would expect Freeman to get more seasoning at OCB in 2024, although he’ll be given opportunities in preseason camp to show whether he’s closed the gap on the likes of Michael Halliday and Kyle Smith (assuming both return). If the club moves on from both Halliday and Smith, it’s not hard to picture Freeman starting the season providing depth at right back for the first team. Having just turned 19 in August, Freeman has a lot of potential and he should start to unlock that within the next year or so.

This is the first of our 2023 Orlando City Season in Review articles. Every player who played minutes this past season and who finished the year on the club roster will be reviewed (exceptions may be made for players let go when the club officially announces its roster moves). Players who logged fewer than 450 minutes (combined regular season plus playoffs, Concacaf Champions League, U.S. Open Cup, and Leagues Cup) will receive a composite score between 1 and 10 as determined by a panel of The Mane Land writers, while those who did not reach that threshold will receive an incomplete grade.

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/29/23

Orlando Pride players called up by Brazil, MLS announces 2023 Best XI, latest MLS roster moves, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers I hope all is well down in Florida. I’ve been very busy working throughout the holiday weekend at Under Armour. This week I’ll be working at Wrigley Field for Winterland while getting ready to cover high school wrestling tomorrow night. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Pride Players Called Up By Brazil for Friendlies

Orlando Pride defender Rafaelle and forwards Marta and Adriana have been called up to the Brazil Women’s National Team for its upcoming friendlies.

Brazil will play two matches against Japan on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 in Sao Paulo before playing Nicaragua on Dec. 6 at Estadio Fonte Luminosa in Araraquara.

MLS Announces the 2023 Best XI

Major League Soccer announced its 2023 Best XI, recognizing the league’s top players at each position. There were no Orlando City players selected for the team and eight players received the honor for the first time. Those players are St. Louis City’s Roman Burki and Tim Parker, FC Cincinnati defender Matt Miazga, Atlanta United duo Thiago Almada and Giorgos Giakoumakis, Houston Dynamo midfielder Hector Herrera, LAFC’s Denis Bouanga, and Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez. Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar made the Best XI for the third consecutive time, while teammate Walker Zimmerman was named to it for the fifth time. MLS MVP Luciano Acosta of FC Cincinnati rounds out the list.

Latest MLS Off-season Roster Moves

The Colorado Rapids announced their latest roster changes as they prepare for the the 2024 season under new Head Coach Chris Armas. The club exercised its options for defender Andrew Gutman, midfielder Ralph Priso, and forward Calvin Harris. The Rapids declined contract offers to seven players, with the most notable names being defender Steven Beitashour and goalkeeper William Yarbrough, although the Rapids are in discussions about re-signing Yarbrough. Elsewhere, the New England Revolution exercised the permanent transfer option on forward Tomas Chancalay, signing him to a Designated Player contract through 2026, with a club option for the 2027 season.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

Champions League action returned in Europe, as we get close to wrapping up the group stage in a couple of weeks. Manchester City overcame a two-goal deficit to beat RB Leipzig 3-2 and win Group G. Newcastle United had a chance to qualify for the round of 16 but gave up a late penalty to Paris Saint-Germain, which Kylian Mbappe converted to end the match in a 1-1 draw. Borussia Dortmund beat AC Milan 3-1 to book its spot in the knockout stage. PSG, Newcastle, and AC Milan are all still alive in Group F heading into the final matchday in December. Shakhtar Donetsk won 1-0 against Royal Antwerp and also still has a shot to advance on the final matchday. Lazio, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and Young Boys all won their respective matches as well. Today’s matches include Manchester United on the road against Galatasaray, Real Madrid taking on Napoli, and Sevilla facing off with PSV Eindhoven.

Free Kicks

  • Concacaf has announced that BMO Stadium, Dignity Health Sports Park, Shell Energy Stadium, and Snapdragon Stadium will be the four venues that will host matches for the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.
  • Barcelona midfielder Gavi will be sidelined for up to 10 months after undergoing knee surgery after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee.
  • The International Football Association Board approved a trial for sin bins, meaning players punished for dissent or specific tactical offense would be temporarily removed from the match for a set amount of minutes.
  • You have got to see this goal from Cwrt Rawlin FC in the Welsh seventh division.

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

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/28/23

Luciano Acosta named MVP, Americans in action, scheduling news for U.S. national teams, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I’m dragging a little today after having an extended period of time off for the Thanksgiving holiday, but there’s no rest for the wicked and the only way out is through. With that being the case, let’s get into today’s news.

Luciano Acosta Wins MLS MVP

In a piece of news that plenty of people likely saw coming from several miles away, Luciano Acosta has been named Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Player. Acosta racked up 34 goal contributions during the regular season, finishing the 2023 campaign with 17 goals and 14 assists as the driving force behind his team’s run to the Supporters’ Shield. He was voted the best player in the league by quite some margin and won the award in a landslide, taking 60.37% of the votes to Denis Bouanga’s 14.97% and Thiago Almada’s 6.46%.

American Stars in Midweek Action

There are a number of United States Men’s National Team players that will be in action this week, with several UEFA Champions League clashes highlighting the viewing slate. Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah and AC Milan will face Giovanni Reyna’s Borussia Dortmund today in a game with huge ramifications for both teams. Malik Tillman, Ricardo Pepi, and Sergino Dest may play in PSV Eindhoven’s match with Sevilla tomorrow, and a win would likely go a long way to securing a place in the Round of 16. Additionally on Wednesday, Brenden Aaronson and Union Berlin have a chance to make a big move towards a place in the Europa League, as a win over Braga would leapfrog the German club into third place in Group C.

USMNT & USWNT Scheduling News

The USMNT will open its 2024 slate of games with a match against Slovenia on Jan. 20 in San Antonio. The match will fall outside of an international window, meaning that the January camp roster will largely be made up of domestic-based players. The USMNT has faced Slovenia twice before, with the most recent time being a 3-2 win in Ljubljana courtesy of a Jozy Altidore penalty kick.

While we already knew that the United States Women’s National Team would play China PR on Dec. 5 in Frisco, we now know that one of the team’s legends will be honored before the game. The U.S. Soccer Federation has announced that former Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger, who stated in March that she will retire following the NWSL season, will be honored before the match. Krieger played 108 games for the USWNT and is a two-time World Cup winner with the team.

Notable Women’s Players to Miss International Matches

A pair of high profile women’s players will miss upcoming international games. First up, Sam Kerr will not feature in Australia’s back-to-back friendlies against Canada due to a foot injury. Kerr has struggled with injuries this year and her availability was limited during this summer’s World Cup.

Alexia Putellas will miss Spain’s two Nations League matches against Sweden and Italy after picking up a left knee injury. Putellas had missed Euro 2022 due to an ACL tear, but was back to help her side win the World Cup several months ago. Fortunately for Spain, the team is well positioned atop its group and has enough players in the squad that it shouldn’t feel her absence too keenly.

Free Kicks

  • A pair of Willian penalties and an early Alex Iwobi goal helped Fulham beat Wolverhampton, with American defenders Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream also starting.
  • New York Red Bulls forward Tom Barlow is reportedly headed to the Chicago Fire.

That’s all I’ve got for you this morning. Y’all stay safe out there.

Continue Reading