Connect with us

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Toronto FC: Final Score 2-1 as the Lions End the Streak

James O’Connor’s homecoming leads to a win, his first, and a happy house.



Deon Cooper, The Mane Land

Head Coach James O’Connor’s homecoming could not have ended any better, maybe with the exception of a shutout. Chris Schuler scored his first goal as a Lion and Dom Dwyer doubled the lead as Orlando City (7-11-1, 22 points) snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over Toronto FC (4-11-4, 16 points) — just the club’s second win against the Reds.

“Obviously delighted that we were able to win. It’s really important that we got a win,” O’Connor said after the match. “First and foremost I’m really pleased for the players, the supporters and for the ownership group to be able to get that win. There were some lovely passages of play, but there’s lots of things that I think we can be sharper on, we want to be sharper on. But it’s going to take a little bit of time. ”

Staring down a schedule of five games in 15 days, including Wednesday’s USOC match against the Philadelphia Union, O’Connor came out with a few surprises in the Starting XI.

Earl Edwards Jr. got his first MLS start of the year and second overall, with Tony Rocha starting at left midfield. Notable to most was Justin Meram missing from the 18. Shane O’Neill suited up for the first time as a substitute. Of interest from the visitors, Jozy Altidore made the trip and started the match as an available sub.

Having Yoshi Yotún back in purple was huge from the very start of the match. He seemed to be playing with a bit of extra intensity, almost as thought his stint in Russia triggered a little something extra. Schuler also played with a different look, starting with a beautiful cutting run to intercept Sebastian Giovinco before he could make a break alone on goal.

Things got a little shaky in the sixth minute, as Schuler went shoulder to shoulder with Justin Morrow approaching the box, with Morrow going down and drawing the foul. Schuler was booked, but thankfully nothing came of the free kick, and the ball was cleared. The next few minutes were a bit uneasy, as the Lions continued to try to find their feet, but things changed rather quickly.

In the ninth minute, Rocha hit a solid shot towards goal, but it was blocked by a Toronto defender. That created a bit of chaos in the box, but the Lions could not capitalize. For the next several minutes, one thing that continued to stand out was the hustle of Chris Mueller and Yoshi. The Lions were plagued by misplaced passes. Mueller and Yotún crossed the pitch endlessly in recovery mode, working to win the ball back, fill passing lanes, and generally disrupt the Toronto midfield. The effort was obviously getting to some Toronto players, as Giovinco received a stern lecture from the referee after a late tackle, one of those frustration tackles, in the 15th minute on Yotún.

The Lions continued to look dangerous. Yotún tried to catch Alex Bono off guard when he sent a shot from just inside the Toronto half on goal that Bono flubbed, earning the Lions a corner. Unfortunately, the chance was a bit wasted as no one was on the far post when the corner was taken.

Edwards looked comfortable, coming off his line in the 24th minute to pounce on a cross into the box that could have been dangerous. Edwards also continued something that we saw from him during his play with OCB — those long throws to streaking players to start counters. He had a great leading ball to Sacha Kljestan, who found a streaking Mueller, who unfortunately took one touch to many and couldn’t get the ball out from under himself to get a solid shot on goal.

In the 25th, Morrow put a classic spin move on Schuler — possibly Schuler’s one big mistake of the night — to free himself to make a run into the box and find a wide open Giovinco. Thankfully, the Italian’s shot was not well taken and the threat was over. This was not the last time we heard from Giovinco, though. The next big chunk of minutes saw Toronto sustain some good possession, and take a bit of control of the game, including another shot from the Italian. The Lions were giving up possession way too easily at this point in the match, and Toronto was closing down the passing lanes with ease.

Dwyer finally got to go one on one with a center back in the 31st, beat him on the left side of the box, and got a shot off, but it was saved by Bono. Mueller almost got to the rebound, but it was cleared by the defense. A few more chances were generated by the Lions, but it appeared as though the nerves of needing a win might be present. Rocha had a great chance to bring the ball down and regain control with City in a good offensive position, but rushed to head the ball back into play, leading to Toronto gaining possession.

In the 34th, Yotún was fouled from behind by Michael Bradley. The free kick was taken somewhat quickly to Dwyer, who immediately sent a hard shot at goal. Bono punched the shot, and Schuler leaped to head the ball into the net, notching his first goal of the season and his first with Orlando City.

“I knew [Bono] wouldn’t be able to hold on to it so I just made a run through it expecting the rebound and it kind of worked out,” said Schuler.

RJ Allen went down on the pitch in the 37th minute, and it did not look good. Thankfully, after working with the trainers for a minute, he was able to return to play. It almost looked as though he was cramping already. It was good he was able to return as he had a distinct impact a few minutes later in the 44th when he was part of a great chance for City.

Rocha put a great ball in to Dwyer, who found Mueller streaking down the right side. The rookie once again had trouble getting the ball out from his feet, and his shot was blocked, falling to Allen. The right back put his laces through the ball, but the shot went just wide of the near post and into the side netting.

The Lions came out in the second half just as they had ended the first, looking solid and confident. In the 48th, Mueller found Dwyer with a perfect ball to the middle. Dom stood the defender up, got the ball onto his left foot, and smashed the ball low and away from Bono into the back of the net for another back flip and a 2-0 lead.

Toronto had some solid chances, but the Orlando back line and Edwards were up to the challenge. There were a few scary moments in the 58th when Toronto’s Jay Chapman picked up a stray ball at the top of the box. The defense was caught a little flat, but Edwards was able to make the save. In the 59th, Giovinco got in alone for the first time all night on a gorgeous long ball from Bradley but Earl made a point-blank stop to protect the two-goal advantage.

For the next 12 minutes, the Lions looked a bit shaky again, as tired legs looked to be taking hold. It wasn’t until the 70th minute when the tide swung back towards the Lions’ favor. Will Johnson stole the ball, drove into the box, and earned a corner. The corner was taken short, like so many during the match, ending up at the feet of Dillon Powers, who had subbed in for Rocha in the 56th. Powers put a beautiful cross into the box, but the linesman flagged Dwyer as offside. Many players from both sides looked tired as the evening heat was taking an obvious effect.

The next best chance happened in the 85th, when Mueller picked up a missed ball from behind the Toronto center backs, charged the box, and sent a strong cross over to a streaking Mohamed El-Munir, but the cross was too strong and just out of his reach. Mueller found himself with another golden opportunity in the 90th after a great pass from Kljestan that he should have buried, but again could not get the ball out from under his feet and sent a low shot straight at Bono.

The 92nd minute saw the last real attacking chance for the Lions, when Yotún had a beautiful turn, only to be fouled to stop the attack at the top of the box. Sacha stepped up for the free kick, and didn’t miss the top corner over the wall by much. Unfortunately, two minutes later Toronto pulled one back. After what appeared to be a fairly innocent collision at the top corner of the box involving Amro Tarek, the ensuing free kick by Giovinco led to Nick Haggland getting inside of El-Munir and getting a foot on it to send it inside the far corner.

That was just about the last kick of the game. The whistle blew seconds later and the Lions had mercifully ended their nine-game losing streak.

Orlando out-shot Toronto, 18-16 (7-4 on target) and the Reds held the possession advantage, 54%-46%. Toronto completed 90% of its passes compared to 85% for the Lions. Much of Toronto’s possession came in the middle part of the second half while Orlando nursed its 2-0 lead.

“It’s been a while,” Dwyer said of the win. “Obviously we put in a good performance tonight. We’re trying not to live in the past so much and move forward, it was a big result for us tonight. I wouldn’t say we are at our best but we are improving. I think we are back on track, which is important for us and we’ll keep moving forward.”

Orlando City will be back in action Wednesday in Philadelphia, facing the Union in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals.

Orlando City

Orlando City at New York Red Bulls: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points on the road at Red Bull Arena this Saturday night?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City is back on the road this Saturday with a match against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. The Lions have four results in the last four matches, but only one win. That needs to change if this team is going to be a serious contender once the playoffs come around. 

Orlando City defeated the Red Bulls 1-0 to begin the 2023 MLS regular season at Exploria Stadium. Now the Lions have a chance to sweep the Eastern Conference rival in the regular season with another victory. What does Orlando City need to do to get all three points on the road this weekend?

Take Advantage of Tired Legs

The Red Bulls are coming off a midweek away match against Inter Miami, and a flight back to New Jersey. That means that new Red Bulls skipper Tony Lesesne won’t have as much time to game plan as Oscar Pareja will with a full week between matches. It also means that there may be some tired legs on the Red Bulls’ side of the pitch.

If Orlando City can get through the first half with either the lead, or at least even on the scoreboard, it will be tougher for New York in the second half, especially once the hour mark hits. Use possession and passing to make the Red Bulls run as much as possible and then hit them with the fresh legs of Duncan McGuire to finish them off.

Score First, Score Second

We saw what happens when Orlando City doesn’t find a way to get a second goal in the last match against Atlanta United. They don’t call them the Cardiac Cats for nothing. The Lions must get the early lead to make New York chase the match, but they also need to get a second goal before the Red Bulls can get their first.

If Orlando City can go up by two goals, it will be demoralizing for a team that is playing twice in four days, and will have the tired legs mentioned above. It will also give the Lions the mental confidence to potentially get a third goal, as the club did against Inter Miami. Finishing the chances and putting the match to bed early is a big key to victory.

Keep a Clean Sheet

The Red Bulls haven’t scored a ton of goals this season, nor do they have any player lighting things up on the offensive side of the ball. Orlando City hasn’t earned a clean sheet since the April 29 match against the LA Galaxy. The Red Bulls are the type of opponent that could help the Lions solve that dilemma.

Doing so will mean Pedro Gallese must continue being one of the best keepers in MLS. Many of the goals conceded this season are not on him — not all, but certainly many. Michael Halliday will still be with the USMNT U-20 squad this weekend and we might see Oscar Pareja employ three at the back in his absence. If so, it will be contingent upon whoever is lined up on the right to deal with John Tolkin when he presses up the pitch, which he will. 

If  the three center backs do their job, and if Cesar Araujo plays like he usually does, then the attack will likely come from the flanks. It is contingent upon the wingbacks to make sure they don’t neglect the defense, especially later in the match.

That is what I will be looking for this Saturday night as the Lions look for a fifth straight result. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/1/23

MLS All-Star voting is underway, midweek MLS results, Sevilla wins Europa League, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to June, Mane Landers! I hope May treated you well as we get ready for another month filled to the brim with soccer. The Florida summer is heating up, so make sure to stay hydrated out there as we break out the beach umbrellas and dust off the grills. But for now, let’s jump into today’s links!

MLS All-Star Voting Begins

Voting is underway for the 26 players who will be selected for the MLS All-Star Team this summer. Of those 26 players, 12 will be chosen from a combined vote from fans, media, and current players. Orlando City defensive midfielder Cesar Araujo was noted as a candidate who could make this year’s team. Personally, I think goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, center back Robin Jansson, and forward Ercan Kara have a real shot at playing in the All-Star Game if they keep up their form. This year’s MLS All-Star Game will take place against Arsenal in the nation’s capital, with D.C. United Head Coach Wayne Rooney at the helm.

MLS Midweek Action Brings Plenty of Goals

The Lions weren’t in action for this midweek round of games, but there was still plenty of soccer to enjoy from the other MLS teams. Atlanta United and the New England Revolution battled to a 3-3 draw at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Carles Gil and Bobby Wood gave the Revs a 2-0 lead heading into halftime. Atlanta then scored three times in the second half, only for Gil to find an equalizer in stoppage time. It wasn’t the only high-scoring game of the evening either, as the Columbus Crew won 3-2 over the Colorado Rapids thanks to a goal and two assists from midfielder Lucas Zelarayan. Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, FC Cincinnati beat New York City FC 3-1 and D.C. United and CF Montreal played to a 2-2 draw. Orlando City’s next opponents, the New York Red Bulls, won 1-0 at Inter Miami.

Sevilla Wins Seventh Europa League Title

It took a penalty shootout to decide the winner of this year’s Europa League final, with Sevilla beating AS Roma in Budapest. It was the Spanish club’s seventh time lifting the Europa League trophy. This win salvaged a rough La Liga season for Sevilla and it will play in the Champions League next year. Paulo Dybala gave Roma the lead in the first half, but an own goal levelled things in the 55th minute. Chris Smalling nearly gave Roma the win in extra time, but his header hit the crossbar. It was Jose Mourinho’s first defeat in six European finals and Roma will aim to qualify for the Europa League again when it takes on Spezia in its final Serie A game of the season on Sunday.

More Teams Claim Spots in U-20 World Cup Quarterfinals

Host Argentina was bounced from the U-20 World Cup after a 2-0 loss to Nigeria in the U-20 World Cup. After a scoreless first half, Nigeria struck twice and will face either Ecuador or South Korea in the next round. The other South American nations in action fared a bit better than Argentina, with Brazil cruising past Tunisia, 4-1, in a match that included three goals in stoppage time, and Colombia beating Slovakia, 5-1. In a clash between European sides, Italy won 2-1 over England after Cesare Casadei scored from the spot in the 87th minute. In the quarterfinals, the U.S. will face the winner of today’s match between Gambia and Uruguay.

Free Kicks

  • St. Louis City midfielder Eduard Löwen won MLS Goal of the Matchday for his free kick goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

That’s all I have for today. I hope you all have a wonderful start to June!

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/31/23

Nani will return to Exploria Stadium for celebrity match, Amanda Allen scores again for Canada, U-20 USMNT defeats New Zealand, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. There’s not much new with me up here in Chicago. Now that high school sports have finished up for the school year, I’ll be busy this summer working at Wrigley Field. There is plenty to get to today, so let’s get to the links.

Nani Will Return to Exploria Stadium for Celebrity Match

Former Lion captain Nani will return to Exploria Stadium on June 23 to participate in the celebrity soccer match called The Beautiful Game. The 36-year-old expressed his thoughts on his return to Orlando and taking part in this match next month.

“For me it is an honor to be back in Orlando and be with the fans one more time,” said Nani. “I can’t wait to see my friends from the club, The Wall and all Orlando City supporters again. I’m thankful for this opportunity to play one more time with Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho, and so many legends.”

Nani played three seasons for the Lions, recording 28 goals and 23 assists in 77 appearances for the club. The match will feature icons such as Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, Carlos Valderrama, Javier Mascherano, and Rivaldo as well. The match will also have halftime entertainment, and more additions to the rosters set to be announced at a later date.

Amanda Allen Scores Again in Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship

Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen made the starting lineup again for Canada in the 2023 Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship in the Dominican Republic. In Canada’s final group stage match against the U.S., Allen converted a penalty kick for Canada’s first goal in what finished as a 5-2 loss for her side.

It was Allen’s second goal of the tournament, but she was injured in this match as well. Canada finishes second in the group, with the U.S. on top. On Friday, the U.S. will play Costa Rica and Canada will face Mexico in the semifinals.

U-20 USMNT Advances to World Cup Quarterfinals

Orlando City defender Michael Halliday came on as a substitute in the 71st minute for the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team in its U-20 World Cup match against New Zealand. The U.S. shut out New Zealand 4-0 to advance to the quarterfinals in Argentina. That victory gives the U.S. its fourth-consecutive shutout in the tournament. Austin FC midfielder Owen Wolff, San Jose Earthquakes forward Cade Cowell, FC Dallas defender Justin Che, and Hajduk Split midfielder Rokas Pukstas all scored for the Americans. In the quarterfinals on Sunday, the U.S. will face the winner of tomorrow’s match between Gambia and Uruguay.

Interim Head Coach Anthony Hudson Leaves USMNT

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced that Anthony Hudson is leaving his role as the USMNT’s interim head coach to pursue a new opportunity. Hudson is reportedly set to take a head coaching role with a club in the Middle East. He was the head coach of the U.S. U-20 team in 2020 and had been an assistant under Gregg Berhalter for the USMN before being named interim head coach in January. Hudson will be replaced by B.J. Callaghan, who will be the interim head coach for the USMNT for the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup competitions this summer. Callaghan has been an assistant coach with the USMNT over the last four years and was previously an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Union.

USMNT Will Host Ghana and Germany for October Friendlies

The USMNT will play two international friendlies in October against Germany and Ghana. The U.S. will take on four-time World Cup Champion Germany on Oct. 14 in East Hartford, CT. The last time the USMNT played Germany was in 2015, with the Yanks winning 2-1. On Oct. 17, the USMNT will face Ghana in Nashville. The Black Stars will look to get their first win on American soil against the Stars and Stripes. Ghana eliminated the Americans in the World Cup in 2006 and 2010, but the U.S. defeated Ghana in the group stage at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The last time these two sides met was in 2017, when the USMNT edged Ghana, 2-1.

Free Kicks

  • The LA Galaxy parted ways with President Chris Klein. Head Coach and Sporting Director Greg Vanney will remain with the club. The Galaxy have missed the playoffs in four of the last six seasons.
  • Former Netherlands forward Quincy Promes will be prosecuted for his involvement in drug trafficking. Promes is accused of allegedly smuggling 1,360 kilos of cocaine in 2020.
  • Juventus is reportedly emerging as the leader in the race to acquire Christian Pulisic on a transfer from Chelsea. Pulisic has one-year remaining on his contract with the English Premier League side.
  •’s James Nalton shared his insights on five potential USMNT players to watch during the U-20 World Cup .
  • An arrest warrant has reportedly been issued in Brazil for LA Galaxy midfielder Douglas Costa for unpaid child support.
  • Is it just me or did The Athletic forget to mention our beloved Lions’ U.S. Open Cup run last year?

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

Continue Reading