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Orlando City vs. LA Galaxy: Final Score 4-3 as Lions Can’t Handle Zlatan

Orlando City blew three separate leads and Zlatan Ibrahimović’s hat trick brought the Galaxy from behind.



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Orlando City just did not have the firepower to outscore the LA Galaxy. In a game that saw a total of 42 shots, with 15 of those shots hitting the target, the Galaxy powered from behind past the Lions, 4-3 at the StubHub Center. Orlando led three times, including a 2-1 advantage at halftime, but could not keep Zlatan Ibrahimović at bay.

The loss was the eighth in a row away from home for the Lions (7-14-1, 22 points) and a tough pill to swallow despite playing so well offensively. Ibrahimović scored his first MLS hat trick and added an assist for the hosts while Cristian Higuita and Dom Dwyer saw themselves on the score sheet for the Lions.

James O’Connor sent out this group of lads in the losing effort.

Giovani Dos Santos nearly scored in the second minute on a beautiful pass from Ibrahimović, but Mohamed El-Munir deflected his shot away from goal. The Galaxy (10-7-5, 35 points) dominated possession in the opening minutes, pressing the Orlando defense.

Earl Edwards Jr. made his first save in the eighth minute against Ibrahimović. Yoshimar Yotún fed El-Munir a great through ball in the ninth minute as that forced David Bingham to make a beautiful save. Kljestan took an unmarked header on the ensuing corner but couldn’t punish LA for its poor defense in the box just moments later.

Ola Kamara snuck behind the Orlando defense in the 13th minute but sent his shot well wide of the right post as the Lions dodged another bullet early on.

Kljestan again set up an attacking chance in the 15th minute with Yotún sending a powerful shot well over the crossbar from distance. Kljestan, along with the rest of the midfield, began to dictate the tempo of the match and limit the Galaxy’s chances.

Orlando took the lead in the 19th minute as Kljestan held the ball in front of the Galaxy defense and sent Higuita into the box to put Orlando up 1-0. The goal was Higuita’s fourth goal of the season and his sixth over his MLS career.

Ibrahimović tried to answer just two minutes later but Edwards Jr. made a solid play and got some help from Chris Schuler to shut down the attack.

The Lions continuously stole possession from the Galaxy in the midfield and final third throughout the first 25 minutes, as the opposition rarely saw good chances after the early pressure. PC got a nice ball from Yotún on the wing and sent El-Munir into a nice position but his shot was deflected to force a corner in the 30th minute. Dwyer nearly got open following the corner but the Galaxy defense managed to escape the danger.

Kamara decided to not go to goal as he sent a ball out of play just out of the reach of Ibrahimović to force a goal kick in the 31st minute. The Swedish striker even pointed to Kamara on where exactly he wanted the ball. Kamara followed up with a solid header near the far post on a corner but it flew just outside to force a goal kick.

Again Yotún and El-Munir connected on the wing in the 36th minute as the Libyan international sent his shot wide with Dwyer in the box. El-Munir again worked the wing well against David Romney and put another shot on goal that was easily saved by Bingham.

LA brought the game level as Ibrahimović outplayed Schuler in the box to head the ball to dos Santos, who worked his way past the Orlando defense and fired his shot into the bottom corner past Edwards. The play all started on a beautiful service to Ibrahimović and Tony Rocha’s poor defense led to dos Santos creating the space he needed to level the match in the 39th minute at a goal apiece.

Edwards Jr. made a beautiful one-handed save on Kamara’s shot in the 43rd minute to keep the game level.

Orlando regained the lead on a beautiful counter-attack as Kljestan worked himself into the box again. His pass for Yotún forced Michael Ciani into an own goal against the hosts.

The Lions took their 2-1 lead into the break. Orlando held the advantage in shots, 9-7 (but LA got more on target, 3-2), and possession (53%) over the Galaxy through 45 minutes. El-Munir took four shots, while Kljestan picked up and assist and forced the own goal.

As the second half began, Orlando immediately put the pressure back on the LA Galaxy defense as Yotún tried to find the corner on another shot outside of the box but just missed. It was a costly miss, as LA responded immediately, with Ibrahimović scoring his 13th goal of the season in the 47th minute on a cross from dos Santos. Edwards Jr. decided to not come off of his spot and it cost him, as the big striker was marked by much smaller defenders on the far post.

The Galaxy nearly took the lead in the 49th minute as Chris Pontius saw dos Santos on a trailing run. The Mexican international blasted his shot off the crossbar as the Galaxy created chance after chance to start the second half.

Bingham was forced to make a save against Dwyer on a counterattack as Orlando looked for an answer to its slow start in the second half. LA answered with a counterattack of its own as Rocha had to force a corner that was shut down by the Lions’ defense.

Kljestan fired a shot from distance right at Bingham when no one closed him down in the 54th minute. Moments later, El-Munir sent in a beautiful cross after a great individual effort and found Dwyer, who made a difficult header look easy as Orlando regained the lead in the 54th minute, 3-2. It was Dwyer’s 70th career MLS goal.

Amro Tarek‘s poor clearance led to a Galaxy chance, but Jonathan Dos Santos sent his shot well over the crossbar. Orlando was visibly starting to tire and had trouble keeping the ball at this point in the game.

Higuita’s poor tackle gave the Galaxy a free kick in dangerous territory just outside of the penalty area in the 64th minute. Ibrahimović blasted his shot into the stands. He nearly scored moments later but Edwards made the save.

Orlando was caught sleeping on defense as Kamara and Ibrahimović found themselves in a two-on-two situation against the Lions’ center backs. Ibrahimović easily won a header from Tarek, then beat the center back into the area and scored a header on the service from Kamara to pick up his second goal of the match and level things at 3-3 in the 67th minute.

Tarek made another vital mistake as his attempted clearance went directly to an unmarked Ibrahimović and Edwards had no chance on the blast. PC was out of position, which allowed Ibrahimović to be so open in the penalty area. He completed his hat trick in the 71st minute and gave LA a 4-3 lead with less than 20 minutes to play.

The defense began to seem lost for Orlando as Ibrahimović forced Edwards into another good save. The Swedish striker stole the ball from Schuler and almost scored again but Tarek finally cleared the ball out of the defensive third.

El-Munir, who caused problems on the wing was subbed off for Stéfano Pinho in the 80th minute as the Lions looked for some offense to find an equalizer. Following the substitution, LA continued to press the tired and confused Orlando defense, but again the Lions managed to keep the game in reach with 10 minutes to play.

Pinho found himself in a wonderful spot in the 88th minute but sent his free header over the bar. Bingham then made an easy save on Josué Colmán in the 89th minute as the LA defense gave him way too much space.

In the 93rd minute, Kljestan sent a cross to the far post but Colmán could do nothing with it as he couldn’t place the ball into a dangerous area.

After four minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle blew on Orlando’s 12th loss in 13 MLS matches. LA turned around the possession in the second half, finishing with 55%, and out-shot the Lions, 23-19 (10-5 on target). LA had a slight advantage in passing accuracy (86%-83%).

Orlando is back in action next Saturday against the New England Revolution at Orlando City Stadium.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/29/23

Orlando City prepares for CF Montreal, learning more about Duncan McGuire, Jack Lynn named to MLS NEXT Pro Best XI, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

It’s Friday, which means we’re just one day away from a pretty busy weekend of Orlando soccer. It should be a pretty fun next few days, with Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Orlando City B all in action. I don’t have many weekend plans beyond working and getting some writing and reading done. Let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Prepares for CF Montreal

Orlando City hosts CF Montreal tomorrow night in a showdown between two Eastern Conference teams with just four games remaining this season. It’s the second match between the two teams this year, with Montreal beating the Lions 2-0 in Canada on May 6. In the time since that game, the Lions have only lost three games this season and have not been defeated at home since April 22. Orlando’s next win will be Head Coach Oscar Pareja’s 60th with the Lions, and tomorrow’s match could also break club records for most wins and points in a season. A win for the Lions would be massive to put some breathing room between them and the other top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Get to Know Duncan McGuire

Orlando forward Duncan McGuire was the latest to go under the microscope as part of the club’s video series to learn more about the players. The rookie spoke on his upbringing as a middle child, as well as how he turned to soccer after struggling in other sports. McGuire also talked about his acrobatic goal celebrations and a clip is included of a time he didn’t quite stick the landing after scoring for Creighton. It’s a pretty fun interview, as he gave some details on how Mason Stajduhar is a quick learner when it comes to golf and how he wants to go out to dinner with Ana de Armas.

Jack Lynn Makes MLS NEXT Pro Best XI

Orlando City B forward Jack Lynn was named to the MLS NEXT Pro’s Best XI for the second straight year. Lynn fueled OCB’s offense this season, scoring 19 goals to help the Young Lions claim a spot in the playoffs. No MLS NEXT Pro player has scored more goals since the league’s inaugural season last year than Lynn, who has 34 goals under his belt. The 23-year-old is joined on the front line of this year’s Best XI with the two players he tied with for the Golden Boot, New York City FC II’s Matt Myers and Colorado Rapids 2 forward Remi Cabral.

Orlando City B Takes On Columbus Crew 2 This Sunday

The Young Lions will play their first MLS NEXT Pro playoff game this Sunday when they face Columbus Crew 2 on the road at 5:30 p.m. It will be the third and final match between the two sides this year, with each claiming a big win over the other earlier in the season. No team that qualified for the playoffs has lost more road games than OCB this season, which may be why Columbus elected to face Orlando. However, Orlando’s offense has been electric at times this year thanks to Lynn, Shak Mohammed, Wilfredo Rivera, and others. Sunday may be another wild game with the Young Lions involved and you can check it out on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Tahir Reid-Brown Called Up for Training Camp

United States U-17 Men’s National Team Head Coach Gonzalo Segares called up 20 players for a training camp in Brazil to prepare for the U-17 World Cup in November. OCB defender Tahir Reid-Brown was the lone Orlando representative called up for this camp. The 17-year-old was called up to the U-17 team earlier this April for a training camp in Florida. He’s had an impressive year, earning a spot in the MLS NEXT All-Star Game and making 10 appearances for OCB. The U.S. will take on Brazil on Oct. 4 and Oct. 6 in a pair of friendlies during this camp.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City center back Rodrigo Schlegel unveiled the meaning behind his tattoos, including the ones for his parents and his biggest moments as a Lion.

That’s all I have for you today. Hopefully the weather plays nice this weekend and you’re able to do everything you have planned. Have a great Friday!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points against CF Montreal this Saturday in Exploria Stadium?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City hosts CF Montreal in the second-to-last home match of the 2023 MLS regular season at Exploria Stadium this Saturday night. The Lions have already secured a spot in the playoffs but are now fighting for home field advantage. Montreal is currently sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and is fighting for a playoff spot.

What does Orlando City need to do to secure three important points against the Canadian Club Foots?

Time to Make the Donuts

It had been a minute since Duncan McGuire scored a goal for Orlando City — and by a minute I mean since July 29. McGuire had a few opportunities against Inter Miami and managed to get one to equalize for the Lions and ensure a point at home. I do think he might have scored on another of those chances if he was fully back in form after his injury time, but I’ll take the goal. 

My hope is that getting that goal will remind him that he can score goals when given the opportunity, and he will be better about finishing the chances he gets against Montreal. Sometimes it just takes getting that first goal to open up the muscle memory and to unlock the confidence needed in a striker. It’s time for Duncan to score more goals, and the match against Montreal is the first and best opportunity to do so since Montreal starting center back Joel Waterman will be serving a red card suspension.

Switch up the Lineup

I propose a change to the starting lineup — something Oscar Pareja does not do very often. Due to injuries and other factors such a move wasn’t possible earlier in the season, but I think it could work now. I have a ton of respect for Mauricio Pereyra, but he could probably use a rest to be fresh for the playoffs as the regular season winds down. 

I suggest letting Martin Ojeda get the start in the 10 spot, moving Dagur Dan Thorhallsson up the wing, and having Michael Halliday take over at right back. Ojeda’s play as of late has been much improved, and with Halliday healthy again, why not take advantage of Dagur Dan’s versatility along the wing. I think this move provides energy, a surprise for opposing defenses, and allows Facundo Torres more freedom. 

Same Old Effective Defense

Orlando City’s defense has only allowed 37 goals this season — which is good enough to tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. On the flip side, Montreal has only scored 30 goals so far — which is only better than Toronto at 24 goals. Montreal has a goal differential of -15.If the Lions play their normally solid defense in front of the outstanding goalkeeping of Pedro Gallese, Montreal should not get too many opportunities to score. There’s no doubt that we will see Robin Jansson and Rodrigo Schlegel paired together with Rafael Santos on the left and either Dagur Dan — or Michael Halliday as I suggested — on the right. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena can stop most attacks before they get to the back line. If Orlando City plays defense as well as the club did against Miami, things should be fine.

That is what I will be looking for this Saturday as the Lions take on the boys from North of the border. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/28/23

Ajax is reportedly scouting Facundo Torres, Orlando Pride focus on upcoming matches, Houston Dynamo win U.S. Open Cup, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this work week has gone smoothly for you as we get ready to bid farewell to September. It’s been a hectic week for me, but I started and then promptly devoured all of Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. It was a nice read, albeit a bit intense at times. I’m not sure what I’ll read next as most of my reading list is packed up for a move, but if you have any recommendations then let me know in the comments below. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Ajax Reportedly Interested in Facundo Torres

Orlando City forward Facundo Torres has reportedly garnered the interest of Dutch club Ajax according to Fabrizio Romano.

It’s not too surprising that Ajax, which currently sits in 14th in the Eredivisie with just seven goals from five games, has scouts keeping tabs on Torres. The 23-year-old has scored 12 goals this season, powering Orlando to second in the Eastern Conference. It wouldn’t be the first time Torres has received attention from European clubs and likely won’t be the last as he continues to impress with the Lions

Orlando Pride Focus During Playoff Push

The Orlando Pride are back in action on Monday for a crucial road match with Angel City FC. Both teams have 25 points this season, one point from the sixth and final playoff spot currently held by the Washington Spirit. It will be the first of three remaining games for the Pride this season, with matches against fellow playoff hopefuls Racing Louisville and the Houston Dash set for later in October. As a result, there’s not much margin for error if the Pride wish to make the playoffs and Kylie Strom talked about how the team is focused for these games.

MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs Begin This Weekend

The first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs kicks off this weekend with six matches that can all be watched on MLS Season Pass. Unlike last year, Orlando City B will be taking part and is set to face off with Columbus Crew 2 on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Although the Young Lions have struggled on the road against Columbus, Jack Lynn and Shak Mohammed can make things difficult for the hosts. Hopefully we’ll see OCB make Columbus regret its choice of opponent in the postseason. I like the wrinkle and mind games to the playoffs the new rule gave and am interested to see which of the lower seeds plays with a chip on their shoulder. The playoffs begin on Friday when Sporting Kansas City II hosts Austin FC II in a battle between the third and fourth seeds of the Western Conference.

Houston Dynamo Win U.S. Open Cup

The Houston Dynamo have lifted the U.S. Open Cup trophy after winning 2-1 on the road against Inter Miami. A pair of goals in the first half were enough for Houston to win its second U.S. Open Cup title after also winning in 2018. A goal in stoppage time from Josef Martinez made things interesting, but the Dynamo defense did well to secure the win and deny Miami its second tournament title this year. It was a strong end to a solid tournament campaign from the Dynamo, as they beat four MLS sides before taking down Miami in the final.

Albertin Montoya Hired as Bay FC Head Coach

Ahead of its inaugural NWSL season next year, Bay FC named Albertin Montoya as the club’s first head coach. Montoya, who has lived in California for most of his life, served as the interim coach for the Washington Spirit in 2022 and also coached the U.S. U-17 women’s national team in 2011. Bay FC General Manager Lucy Rushton spoke on how Montoya’s name came up often while the club searched for a head coach, as well as how his skill at developing players will help build the club’s foundation.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja called for the supporters to continue filling Exploria Stadium and pushing the Lions forward for the team’s remaining home games this season.
  • St. Louis City midfielder Njabulo Blom won MLS Goal of the Week for his winner against Minnesota United. It was also the 23-year-old’s first professional goal.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

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