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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union: Final Score 2-2 as Sutter Scores Late to Rescue Draw

Lions fell behind late but responded to earn a point.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

It looked like it was going to be the same story as most of the season. Orlando City (7-16-3, 24 points) was playing well, but couldn’t capitalize on its chances, and allowed a late goal to lose the match. This was almost the situation tonight, as the Philadelphia Union (12-12-3, 40 points) scored the go-ahead goal in the 88th minute. The Lions kept their heads up and Scott Sutter scored his second goal in as many games just three minutes later to rescue a draw in front of 22,912 fans in Orlando City Stadium.

“Obviously, the finish was, well, pleasing that we ended up getting a point so late on,” Orlando City Head Coach James O’Connor said. “The one aspect that disappointed me was our movement. I think Chris Mueller, [Stéfano] Pinho, and the subs when they came on gave us a good bit of energy and burst, but when you concede a goal in the 88th minute and then get a goal to get back into it, it’s fantastic. So great credit to the players for fighting back and getting a point there at the end.”

O’Connor, celebrating his 39th birthday, made a few surprises with his starting XI. Carlos Ascues moved from the midfield into the back line. To make room for this, Jonathan Spector started as the left back, with Shane O’Neill and Sutter filling in the rest of the back line. Mueller began the game on the bench, and Cristian Higuita started at right wing. Sacha Kljestan and Yoshimar Yotún returned to the lineup after both missed the previous two games.


This lineup led to there essentially being no left midfielder for Orlando. Yotún continuously moved to the middle of the field. When this happens, the left back should typically push up the field and make an overlapping run, but due to Spector’s lack of pace, there was nobody to make that run tonight. To compensate for this, Sutter often got high up the field on the other side and it looked like Orlando was playing a three-back system while on the attack, at times.

It was all Philly to start the match and the Union got off two shots in the first five minutes, with a few more chances. Then, in the eighth minute, Sutter and Will Johnson played down the right wing with each other and won a free kick. Yotún took the service and Dwyer did the rest to put the Lions up, 1-0. 

The goal gave Orlando momentum but it only lasted for about two minutes or so, and the game stared to level out until the Union won a corner in the 23rd minute. It was a good routine, straight from the training ground. Alejandro Bedoya, after losing Johnson, was left wide open at the back post. Fortunately for Orlando, Bedoya somehow missed the frame completely. 

The Lions immediately went on the counter and should have gone up 2-0. Spector played a good long ball that just missed the outstretched leg of Dwyer. The ball fell to Higuita, who had the goal wide open because Andre Blake was on the ground trying to defend Dwyer, but the Colombian hit the post and it somehow fell right into the hands of Blake. 

Philly made the most of the lucky moment and tied the game in the 32nd minute. Borek Dockal had time and space and put in a cross to the back post. Cory Burke outmuscled O’Neill and headed the ball into the back of the net. Immediately after the goal Orlando almost went down 2-1 when Fabrice-Jean Picault hit the crossbar. 

There were not many more chances in the remainder of the first half. Orlando City held a good amount of possession but it was all in its own half and not threatening. The Lions looked to try to build out of the back and not force anything, which led to many backward passes. 

The game went into halftime tied 1-1 with Orlando holding 55% possession. Philly out-shot the Lions (9-4) and Orlando’s sole shot on goal ended up in the back of the net. Almost every attack in the first 45 minutes came through Yoshi and he finished as the only Lion to create a chance — he had four — and 89% passing accuracy on 27 passes. 

The second half started out pretty slowly, as both teams started to feel each other out again. The Union had more chances though, and Orlando struggled to get into the other half of the field. The few times that the Lions did break across the center line, poor decisions led to turnovers. Philadelphia had a couple of chances but could not direct the ball on frame.

“I think the energy levels need to be better, need to be higher,” O’Connor said. “In the second half there needs to be way more movement. Our expectation is for the guy with the ball to come up with something and he should have four, five options and that’s something we need to do a way better job at. I think decision making, and when to keep the ball, at times, particularly in the second half, we give it up way too cheaply.”

A few of the Union’s chances came from bad plays by Higuita, almost gifting the visitors a goal, and he was replaced in the 57th minute by Josué Colmán. Higuita had an excellent first half, so this drop in performance was surprising. The team as a whole was poor coming out in the second half, and O’Connor stressed that the energy needed to be higher.

“I think there was a drop in energy all across the field [to start the second half],” said Dwyer. “It’s hot, it’s tough conditions — but I don’t think that’s an excuse for it. We were working through the game and there were moments when we slowed down a little bit and we showed a lot of fight and character to come back in the end.”

A scary moment came just after the hour mark. Ascues played the ball back to Bendik after a goal kick. Burke was right there and nearly put Bendik’s clearance in the back of the net. Philly was able get the ball back but the shot was poor and Bendik caught it. Orlando quickly got down the field and had a chance but Kljestan’s pass to Dwyer was too long. 

After the Union played a midweek game it would be expected that they would be the team that was tired. However, that was not the case, and for the last 30 minutes Orlando was on its back heels. Yoshi particularly looked gassed, with good reason. He was the best player on the field tonight for the Lions and hasn’t played a game since Aug. 4. O’Connor opted to keep the Peruvian in the game, however, and subbed out Kljestan and Johnson for Mueller and Pinho in the 76th minute. 

“The role of the substitute is really important,” said O’Connor. “You need a sub to come in and impact the game. Sometimes you’re winning it and you expect a sub to come in and help out defensively. I thought Chris [Mueller] did an exceptional job going forward and defending. Josué [Colmán] showed glimpses of movement. Pinho at times was a threat. It’s pleasing to see players coming on and impacting the game.”

The game started to pick up after this and there were a good chances for both teams. First, the Union had a free kick from about 25 yards out but hit the wall. Orlando got down to the other end, but Pinho couldn’t get on the end of Yoshi’s cross. Yotún had a shot around the 80th minute that was hit one hundred miles an hour but missed wide of the net. 

In the 85th minute, there were cries around the stadium for a penalty kick. Dwyer got a shot away and missed and Auston Trusty was right on him. Dwyer went down but it looked like a nominal amount of contact happened after the shot and it was a good no-call from Chris Penso. 

As the game was inching closer and closer to a draw, Picault created something out of nothing and put the visitors up 2-1 in the 88th minute. Picault got by Yotún and Uri Rosell and shot. The ball deflected off of O’Neill, and caught Bendik on the wrong foot ending in the back of the net. 

Three minutes after the goal, a long ball fell to Colmán. He tried some nifty footwork before playing it off to an overlapping Sutter. The right back hit it first time and the ball beat Andre Blake and ended up in the back of the net to tie the game at 2-2.

“At the end of it we are happy that we got a draw,” Sutter said. “it’s definitely not the result that we wanted, not the result that we expected. I think we invest a lot in the moment and get a little back in return and I think we controlled the game for large patches of the game and one or two half chances gives them goals and in the end we managed to get a goal and we are lucky to get a point.”

It looked like the Lions might get another goal and earn their first win since July but it would not be so. Dywer was called offside, and after a few turnovers Penso blew the full-time whistle and the players looked gutted not to win this match.

Orlando finished the game with 53% possession. The Lions had 11 shots but only three were on target. Yoshi led the team with seven chances created, 88 touches, and 58 passes in his return.

“[One point] is not enough,” Sutter said. “Football is only fun if you win and you’re playing. If you don’t play, you’re not happy and if you don’t win you’re not happy. We’re not winning. I haven’t gone to The Wall and raised my hands like we won, like we did at the beginning of the season, and that hurts. that’s what we’re here for, that’s what we train for everyday, and at the moment it’s just disappointing.”

The Lions have won just one time in the last 17 games (1-14-2) and will try to get back in the win column next Saturday night at Sporting Kansas City. They’ll have to do it without Yotún, Mohamed El-Munir, and Amro Tarek, who will all be away on international duty.

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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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/27/23

Orlando City falls in power rankings, OCB will take on Columbus Crew 2 in MLS NEXT Pro playoffs, U.S. Open Cup final preview, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. There’s not much new with me, I’m just staying busy at work lately and hoping to catch some soccer this weekend. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Drops Two Spots in Power Rankings

The latest MLS power rankings have been released and Orlando City fell two spots to fourth. The Lions lost their midweek matchup 2-0 on the road against New York City FC last Wednesday and closed out the weekend with a 1-1 draw against rival Inter Miami at Exploria Stadium. It wasn’t all bad this past week for the Lions, as Duncan McGuire scored his 11th goal of the year across all competitions. Despite losing to NYCFC a week ago, the Lions remain in second place in the Eastern Conference and are two points ahead of the Columbus Crew, Philadelphia Union, Atlanta United, and the New England Revolution.

OCB Will Take On Columbus Crew 2 in MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs

Orlando City B’s opponent for the first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs was announced on Tuesday, as it will go on the road to take on defending champion Columbus Crew 2 on Oct. 1 at Historic Crew Stadium. As part of the new playoff format that lets higher seeds choose their opponents, Columbus chose to host OCB in the quarterfinals. The Young Lions closed out their regular season this past weekend with a 2-1 win against FC Cincinnati and finished fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Columbus Crew 2 finished its regular season with a 3-2 win against Atlanta United 2 to place third. The clubs split the regular season series, with OCB winning 4-1 on Aug. 27 and Columbus winning 4-0 on May 14. The conference semifinals will be on the following weekend, and the MLS NEXT Pro Cup final is set for Oct. 22.

U.S. Open Cup Final Preview

The 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will conclude tonight with the final at DRV PNK Stadium as Inter Miami takes on the Houston Dynamo. The match will kick off at 8:30 p.m. and you can watch the match on Paramount+ or CBS Sports Network. Inter Miami’s journey included edging out Nashville SC 2-1 in the Round of 16 and needing to go all the way to penalties to knock out FC Cincinnati after a thrilling 3-3 draw in the semifinals. The Houston Dynamo began their run with a pair of 1-0 wins against the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Sporting Kansas City. Since the Round of 16, the Dynamo cruised past Minnesota United, the Chicago Fire, and Real Salt Lake to get to the final. Houston was on a seven-match unbeaten run before losing to Sporting Kansas City this past weekend. The Dynamo will look to add another U.S. Open Cup title after winning it back in 2018. Lionel Messi will reportedly be a game-time decision for tonight’s final after he didn’t play in Miami’s draw with Orlando.

Spain Wins First Home Match Since World Cup Victory

Spain’s women’s national team won its first match since lifting the World Cup trophy last month, cruising to a 5-0 win against Switzerland in a UEFA Nations League matchup. After dealing with the fallout of former Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales and players boycotting call-ups to the national team before a deal was reached last week, the team wore wristbands that read “Se Acabo,” meaning “this is over,” and players from both teams held a banner with the same phrase before the match. Spain celebrated its win in front of a record-breaking crowd of 14,194 fans that came out to support the team at Nuevo Arcangel Stadium.

Free Kicks

  • Carrie Lawrence and the Orlando Pride were hard at work preparing for the match on Monday against Angel City FC.
  • Angel City exercised its club option to extend former Pride forward Sydney Leroux’s contract through the end of the 2024 NWSL season.
  • The Canadian Women’s National Team defeated Jamaica 4-1 on aggregate to book a spot in next summer’s Olympics.
  • The Seattle Sounders have unveiled their new crest for next year.

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

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