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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. D.C. United, U.S. Open Cup: Final Score 1-1 with Lions Advancing on Penalties

The Lions are through to the quarterfinals!



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

After 120 minutes, Orlando City and D.C. United played to a 1-1 draw in U.S. Open Cup round of 16 action at the Maryland SoccerPlex. But the Lions advanced on penalties, winning the shootout 4-2 after Josué Colmán’s spot kick clinched it for Orlando.

Justin Meram canceled out Luciano Acosta’s early goal and both teams came within inches of finding a second, but neither could quite do it and so the lightning-delayed match went deep into the night before City came through in penalties.

Earl Edwards Jr. set the tone by saving Yamil Asad’s first attempt after Will Johnson had started the Lions with a penalty kick goal in the shootout. Edwards is no stranger to U.S. Open Cup shootouts, having outlasted the Charleston Battery deep into spot kicks back in 2015. That was the last time the Lions reached the quarterfinals, which they have done now for the third time in club history. Orlando will face the Philadelphia Union next.

Sacha Kljestan and Chris Mueller also hit their penalties for Orlando.

Bobby Murphy used his first ever lineup that wasn’t a 4-2-3-1 to start an MLS match, getting weird by playing a 3-4-3. Lamine Sané returned to the starting lineup for the first time in a few weeks, with Amro Tarek to his left and Jonathan Spector to his right. This was surprising, given that the team has a match Saturday against Montreal. Mohamed El-Munir and RJ Allen lined up as the wingbacks outside of midfielders Kljestan and Cristian Higuita, with a forward line of Meram, Stefano Pinho, and Mueller from left to right. Dom Dwyer did not dress, but right back Scott Sutter was in the 18 just days after returning to full training.

The game was just over five minutes old when the Maryland SoccerPlex’s obnoxious lightning alarm sounded, sending the game into a delay that lasted just over an hour and a half.

Once the game restarted, D.C. United came out flying and it didn’t take the hosts long to score. Darren Mattocks crossed in for Acosta in the 10th minute and no one tracked his run — Kljestan was busy pointing out the danger of Ian Harkes to his teammates while Acosta slipped by — allowing him to easily smash home the pass into the top of the net to make it 1-0.

United nearly doubled the lead a couple of times. In the 13th minute, Zoltan Stieber smashed a shot just wide of the post. Then, in the 14th minute, El-Munir misplayed the wet ball and allowed Stieber to get in behind but his shot was blocked on a fine save by Earl Edwards Jr.

The Lions struck back three minutes later. RJ Allen played the ball into the middle for Kljestan. Sacha laid a pass off for Meram, who blasted one toward net. It was right at Steve Clark, but the goalkeeper couldn’t handle the wet ball and it squirted in behind to tie the score at 1-1.

In the 19th minute, Kljestan played a superb through ball to Pinho, but the Brazilian hit his shot poorly and it went well wide of the target. A minute later, Mueller had a shot blocked by Steve Birnbaum at the top of the penalty area.

El-Munir stole a pass in the 23rd minute and was nearly off to the races, but he was brought down from behind by Oniel Fisher, who was booked for the foul. Nothing came of the set piece or an ensuing corner, however.

In the 28th minute, D.C. United won a corner and then the world went dark as the game stream died for everyone. It returned in the 43rd minute with the game still tied at 1-1. During the stoppage, Mattocks was played in behind the defense but the offside flag was up.

Late in the half, United was forced to make a change when Joseph Mora went down with an injury. Jalen Robinson came on and played right back, with Fisher moving to left back.

No further damage was done by either side and the teams went to the break all even. The Lions led in shots, 5-3 (1-2 on target, however), with D.C. owning 52% of the possession and an advantage in passing accuracy (84%-79%).

Neither team could find the net in a cagey second half, although both teams had excellent chances to do so. Kljestan sent a shot from above the area over the bar in the 61st on a powerful strike that he couldn’t keep down. Pinho nodded a header just inches wide in the 69th minute off a cross from Allen. Two minutes later, Allen had a go himself after cutting inside and again the attempt fizzed just wide of the post.

If Orlando was the more dangerous side from minutes 60 through 75, it was almost all D.C. United in the final 15 minutes of normal time. Acosta sent one shot just wide and hit the post with another attempt. He also forced a save in the 80th.

Asad was in on goal after a terrible giveaway by Sane in the 83rd, but Edwards made the save. Three minutes later, Fisher nearly got in on the back side but he was offside.

That was the last good opportunity of the second half and the teams went into extra time.

Orlando had several scoring opportunities in extra time but just couldn’t get it done. Mueller sent a high, arching header on frame but Clark scrambled back to catch it just two minutes into the extra period.

D.C.’s best opportunity in extra time came in the 98th minute off a corner kick, when Frederic Brillant’s header deflected off Meram and nearly squirted through Edwards’ legs, but he stopped it right on the line.

Substitute Colmán had a great opportunity in the 99th when he rounded Clark and shot from a tight angle, but he missed the net by inches. D.C. midfielder Chris Durkin was booked for the second time for a foul behind the play and United were down to 10 men for the remainder of the match. That allowed City to control the rest of extra time.

Colmán sent a curling effort on frame that forced Clark’s best save of the night, as he palmed it away at the last second to prevent the goal. It was the last action of the first half of extra time.

Orlando continued to be dangerous after the short break. Meram’s cross in the 107th minute found Johnson’s head, but the effort skipped off his noggin and out for a goal kick. In the 109th minute, Allen sent a dangerous cross whistling through the six but no teammates could get a touch on it. Then, in the 110th minute, there was a bizarre play in the box when a United defender went down under pressure from Allen. No whistle blew and Allen dug the ball out but it was deflected away and then Allen fell over Clark.

In the 112th minute, Meram got onto a header by Mueller but his shot was blocked by a defender, with Clark well out of the flight path of the ball. El-Munir was lucky not to be sent off for a foul in the closing moments, after which he kicked the ball at a D.C. player. He was booked but not shown a second yellow.

Colmán whistled a shot just over the bar in the 120th minute after a prolonged spell of possession by the Lions and that was the final chance for either side to find a winner before the game went to penalties.

Johnson sent Clark the wrong way on the first kick, and Edwards stretched to his left to keep Asad off the board on D.C.’s first shot.

Kljestan got cheeky and went down the middle, but scored, before Acosta hit the crossbar on United’s second-round effort. With a bit of a gap opening up, Mueller made it 3-0 before Harkes got D.C. on the board. Extra time sub Jose Villarreal saw his shot well saved by a diving Clark to keep United in it, and Patrick Mullins then beat Edwards.

Then Colmán stepped to the spot and calmly finished to send Orlando through, sending Clark the wrong way.

D.C. ended up with 54% of the possession, which is surprising since Orlando seemingly had it most of the extra period. The Lions out-shot United, 21-11, but D.C. got more on target (6-3). Orlando passed at a sloppy 77% to D.C.’s 84% for the game.

In the end, the only statistic that matters is that Orlando is through to the quarterfinals.

Orlando City will visit the Philadelphia Union on July 18 in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, with the winner taking on either the Chicago Fire or Louisville City FC. The Lions are back in MLS action on Saturday night at home against the Montreal Impact at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/12/24

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



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.

Free Kicks

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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Orlando City

Orlando City at D.C. United: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn its first away victory of the season?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

Orlando City is back in action this Saturday night against D.C. United at Audi Field. Despite coming off back-to-back results, the off-week was well timed for the Lions. A little extra rest for the squad, plus giving players time to recuperate from various knocks should mean a nearly full strength Orlando City.

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points on the road against its Eastern Conference rivals?

The Dynamic Duo Return

Cesar Araujo returned to the Orlando City lineup against the New York Red Bulls, meaning the Lions should finally have their top choice defensive midfield pairing back together. The timing couldn’t be more perfect given Orlando City will be dealing with D.C. United striker Christian Benteke. He has five goals in five matches, which is half of the 10 goals D.C. United has scored all season.

So far this regular season, every match in which the Lions give up more than one goal has resulted in a loss. Keeping Benteke and the rest of D.C. United off of the score sheet is critical to getting a result. Orlando City can concede one goal and still walk away with points on the road, but only if the Lions manage to accomplish the next key below.

Goals are the Goal

To say Orlando City has been wasteful in front of goal is a bit of an understatement. So far this regular season, the Lions have 93 shots, with 27 on target, but only five goals. Orlando City has created scoring opportunities, but failed to convert them in anything close to an efficient manner. Of the five goals scored, Duncan McGuire has two, Nico Lodeiro has one, and Jack Lynn has one. The other was credited as an own goal on Lynn’s backheel attempt.

The list of players who haven’t scored yet this season is too long to type, but I don’t need goals from the defenders — though I will take them. I just need Facundo Torres, Ivan Angulo, Luis Muriel, and Martin Ojeda to get something going. Ideally, all four of them score in this match, but I’ll take whatever goals we can get.

End the Trend

Orlando City hasn’t fared well against D.C. United recently. Nearly a year ago, the Lions lost at home 3-1 to the visitors. The last trip to Audi Field was a 1-1 draw in which Orlando City gave up a goal in the 80th minute to settle for a single point. In 2022, Orlando City lost both matches to D.C. United. It’s time to get things going in the right direction.

The Lions also need to stop losing on the road. Losses to Inter Miami and Atlanta both came on the road, with Orlando City yet to find any points away from home. Last season, the Lions were veritable road warriors. The team needs to find that form again as it was a major reason the club finished second in the Supporters’ Shield race.

That is what I will be looking for this weekend as Orlando City takes on D.C. United. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/11/24

Learning more about Morgan Gautrat, OCB plays tonight, Champions League action, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I’m having a fairly stressful but great week after adopting my first cat and getting him all set up here. It may take a few weeks to turn him into a loyal Orlando soccer fan, but I have high hopes. Regardless, I’m looking forward to the gauntlet of games with Orlando City B playing today, the Orlando Pride tomorrow, and Orlando City on Saturday. Let’s get to the links!

Getting to Know Morgan Gautrat

Orlando Pride midfielder Morgan Gautrat was the latest player to field questions as part of the video series for fans to learn more about the players who wear purple. She weighed in on how she changed her game once she transitioned to the United States Women’s National Team at age 19, going from a playmaking attacker to a player who slots in deeper in the midfield. Gautrat brings leadership, experience, and a strong skillset to a young Pride team that’s built a strong culture around it. She also spoke on how Florida is her soccer home, what her spirit animal is, and the team’s aspirations this season.

Orlando City B Takes On Philadelphia Union II

The Young Lions are on the road today at 4 p.m. for an MLS NEXT Pro match against Philadelphia Union II. OCB last played in Chester, PA in last year’s season opener, winning 3-1 in an impressive victory. The team will hope for a similar result tonight to get back on track after a loss to Inter Miami II earlier this month. Philadelphia has yet to lose in regulation this season and has won both of its home matches. It should be a tough match for the Young Lions, but a great chance to climb back up the Eastern Conference standings for them.

Assessing USWNT After SheBelieves Cup Win

The United States Women’s National Team is moving towards the Olympics with plenty of momentum after winning the SheBelieves Cup and Concacaf W Gold Cup. There were plenty of parallels between the SheBelieves Cup final and the Gold Cup semifinal against Canada, one was just a bit more waterlogged. Canada used a late penalty to send the game to penalty kicks, Sophia Smith scored, and Alyssa Naeher stood on her head in the penalty shootout. The key differences were that Mallory Swanson has given the attack some needed dynamism after returning, and the defense struggles without Naomi Girma to anchor it. It was also Twila Kilgore’s final game as the USWNT’s interim head coach, and now attention will turn towards how Emma Hayes can elevate the team once she takes over.

Champions League Quarterfinals Roll On

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona both won in their first legs of the Champions League quarterfinals, although neither match was a blowout. Atletico Madrid hosted Borussia Dortmund and scored twice in the first half. Dortmund brought one back in the second half, but Atletico Madrid held on to secure a 2-1 win. The road team completed the comeback in the other match though, with Barcelona winning a 3-2 thriller against Paris Saint-Germain that included four goals in the second half. All in all, this was a great round of quarterfinal first legs filled with plenty of goals, and the second legs next week should be pretty entertaining.

Free Kicks

  • Andrew Wiebe was the latest analyst to dive into Orlando’s attacking woes this season. I personally think things will naturally improve once the team gets some rest under its belt and Luis Muriel settles in. I agree with Wiebe though that Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo must return to form.
  • The Champions League shouldn’t overshadow a strong slate of Europa League quarterfinals today. My favorite matchup of the four would have to be the Italian showdown between AC Milan and Roma.
  • English forward Rachel Daly announced that she is retiring from international soccer. The 32-year-old scored 22 goals last season with Aston Villa and has scored 16 goals in 84 appearances with England.
  • Midfielder Dillon Serna is hanging up his cleats at age 30 after a career that included time with the Colorado Rapids and Colorado Springs Switchbacks.
  • Manchester City’s Rodri is feeling the wear and tear of his team’s pursuit for silverware. Rest may be hard to come by for him during a congested schedule, and he hasn’t lost in the past 66 games he’s played in.
  • Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy shared the struggle he had after retiring, providing details on his drug addiction and the despair felt after he quit playing.

That’s all I have for you today on this fine Thursday. Treat yourself to something you deserve, check in with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, and have a great day!

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