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Orlando City vs. Houston Dynamo: Final Score 0-0 as Lions Held Scoreless for Third Straight Game

Orlando City is now 1-16-3 in its last 20 matches.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City (7-18-4, 25 points) continued a couple of trends tonight after drawing against the Houston Dynamo (8-13-8, 32 points), 0-0, in front of 23,723 fans in Orlando City Stadium. No Orlando City player has ever scored a goal against a Texas team in MLS — the lone goal for Orlando was a Tyler Deric own goal against Houston in a 1-0 Orlando City win in 2015. Orlando has now also failed to score in three straight games dating back to Sept. 1 off of Scott Sutter’s 91st-minute equalizer against the Philadelphia Union.

The Lions did break their losing streak, snapping it at just two, although this now makes one win in the last 20 matches for Orlando (1-16-3). The Lions also managed just their second clean sheet of the season, and the first since April 13 — a 2-0 win over the Union.

“I think there were some lovely passages of play,” Orlando City Head Coach James O’Connor said. “I think the intensity was better. I think the final third just eluded us today. I thought we had some half-decent chances. I thought we were the better team tonight. Obviously, some positives, keeping the clean sheet gives us a strong foundation to hopefully go on and build from.”

The starting XI that came out was one that former head coach Jason Kreis wished he had, but injuries forced him to go different routes. The back four was the ideal first choice since the off-season, with Mohamed El-Munir and Sutter as fullbacks and Jonathan Spector and Lamine Sané — who made his first start since June 30 — as center backs. This forced Carlos Ascues to move into a defensive midfield role, partnering with Uri Rosell. 

The biggest surprise was in net. Joe Bendik was on the bench, but instead of Earl Edwards taking the starting role, Adam Grinwis made his first ever MLS start. Edwards was out of the 18 due to a “coaches decision.” Grinwis had a great debut, picking up a clean sheet, making three total saves, and was a key part in helping the Lions earn a point.

“There were some nerves, definitely,” Grinwis said. “Once the whistle blew it was the same game that I’ve always played. I’ve played on this field a lot of times. I’ve actually had my debut with Saint Louis FC last year in a 0-0 draw against OCB so it was kind of cool to come back here and make my MLS debut and have a similar result.”

The first exciting part of the match came in the 15th minute. Grinwis received a ball off a Dynamo player and took his time controlling it outside the box as Romell Quioto closed in on him. Grinwis got back into the box and fell on it. Quioto kicked it away, then put the ball into the back of the net. It was originally ruled a goal on the field, but the decision got reversed after a video review and Grinwis was lucky to still have his clean sheet. 

“I felt like I got on top of it and all of a sudden it squeaked out,” said Grinwis. “I was confused because I thought I had control of it. I really wasn’t concerned about it. Obviously, it’s a nervy moment and I’m sorry for everyone else that had to go through that with me but that would’ve been a real black eye on the debut so I’m really happy that justice was served on that one.”

In the 24th minute, the Lions connected on a good bit of passing that brought Orlando City from inside its own third into an attacking area, before a turnover ended the threat. Houston went on the counter and Spector made a perfect tackle on Quioto just outside the 18. However, referee Baldomero Toledo called a foul and gave Spector a yellow for added measure. On the free kick, Quioto hit the ball right into the wall. 

In the 31st, the Lions had their best scoring chance of the half. Rosell popped a ball over the top for Ascues, who cut it back for Sacha Kljestan. Sacha hit it toward the net, forcing a diving save from Joe Willis.

Towards the end of the half, the Lions had a few chances. Yoshimar Yotún played a good through ball to Kljestan, who slid but didn’t make good connection on it. El-Munir played a good ball in to Dom Dwyer, but the striker’s header went over the bar. In the 41st minute, Will Johnson tried a shot from distance that forced Willis to make a diving save. Two minutes later, Yoshi, from the right wing, put a great ball in but Dwyer could not control it.

The first half ended with no goals. Orlando looked comfortable for much of the half and had a few good passing spells. When Houston got the ball, the Dynamo were quick to counter and almost caught the Lions a few times. Orlando had more possession (54%-46%), shots (6-4), shots on target (3-1), and corners (2-1), but continuously stalled in the final third. The play was good in non-threatening areas, yet when Orlando got into scoring positions the play became too slow and too predictable, combined with a poor half from Dwyer. 

“I think tonight we had a lot of good passages of play and we did trouble their back four,” said Spector. “Maybe just the final decision or the final ball was lacking a little bit of quality but at times we were able to cut through them from back-to-front.”

The second half started the same way as the first ended, but even fewer chances were created from each team. The ball was played largely in the middle of the field and neither team was able to break into the attacking areas. Houston sat back and defended, then went on the counter. Orlando held possession, built the play up, but was still too slow into the final third. 

The best chance for Houston in the game came in the 58th minute. Quioto made a good run and got one-on-one with Grinwis. The ‘keeper stayed big, closed down the angle, and made a one-handed save. Houston got the ball back and shot toward the open net as Grinwis ran back into position but Spector was there to make the save with a diving header.

Orlando’s first shot on target in the second half came in the 70th minute. Yotún put an out-swinging corner right to Dwyer on the top of the six-yard box. It was a powerful redirect, but the header went right into the hands of Willis. The Yoshi-Dwyer connection was attempted again three minutes later. Yotún hit a ball over the top of Houston’s defense but it was too powerful, and Dwyer couldn’t bring it down. 

The last 15 minutes of the game, Houston finally started get into the attack. The Dynamo had a couple of corners, but the Lions were able to defend them. Just after the 80th minute, Orlando had three corners in a row but was unable to get any shots off from them. 

In the 90th minute it looked – for a moment – like the Cardiac Cats were back. Stefano Pinho played a great ball to Yoshi that started a counter. The Peruvian got down the field, cut inside, and passed it back to Pinho. The Brazilian took a shot right at the Houston defender, though, and the chance was over. 

“The positive is the clean sheet,” O’Connor said. “That’s the second this year and it’s nice to get that and it gives a platform to hopefully spring from. I think that the movement in the midfield was good and we created some openings. On another night I think we get maybe a few decisions that maybe, I don’t want to say too much, but I think on another night we get little more luck. And equally the decision making in the final third can we just get the last bit off quality to go finish it off.”

The match ended goalless but Orlando City led in almost every statistical category. The Lions finished with more shots on target (4-3), passes (446-376), possession (54%-46%), and corners (7-4). Orlando also had a very impressive passing accuracy percentage of 88%, but the team struggled once when it entered the final third of the field.


Orlando City has next week off and then plays again on Oct. 6 against FC Dallas in Toyota Stadium.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Cavalry FC, Concacaf Champions Cup: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions play their first competitive match of 2024 north of the border in the Concacaf Champions Cup.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to your match thread for a Wednesday night Concacaf Champions Cup matchup between Orlando City and Cavalry FC of the Canadian Premier League at Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia at 10 p.m. (FOX Sports 2, TUDN). It’s the first meeting ever between the teams and Orlando City’s first ever match against a CPL team.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.

History

There isn’t any. These teams have never met, nor has Orlando City faced anyone in the Canadian Premier League before.

The Lions will be experiencing their fourth international cup competition and their second foray into Concacaf Champions League/Cup, having drawn twice against Tigres UANL last season. Orlando bowed out of last year’s competition due to the away goals tiebreaker. Orlando City has also competed twice in Leagues Cup.

Overview

Both teams will be playing their first competitive match of the 2024 season. Orlando City is coming off a 4-0-1 preseason, drawing 1-1 against Flamengo before reeling off four straight wins against Rhode Island FC, the New England Revolution, the Houston Dynamo, and the Colorado Rapids. City reached the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 2023 and is looking to build on its most successful season to date in MLS.

Cavalry FC is coming off a season in which it finished top of the table in the regular season, but fell 2-1 after extra time in the CPL championship match against Forge FC. As far as CPL teams go, the Lions will be facing one of the league’s best, as you’d expect in a competition called “Champions Cup.”

“We’re very proud and very happy to bring Orlando City to this beautiful city and this excellent competition,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “(We’re) Feeling proud of playing in Champions Cup in Concacaf and obviously aiming for the best prize, and here we are starting the season with obviously a very competitive game.”

Pareja is suspended for tonight due to his red card in the second leg against Tigres in 2023.


Projected Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Michael Halliday.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Nico Lodeiro, Facundo Torres.

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

Cavalry FC (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Marco Carducci.

Defenders: Bradley Kamdem, Daan Klomp, Eryk Kobza, Fraser Aird.

Defensive Midfielders: Charlie Trafford, Jesse Daley.

Attacking Midfielders: William Akio, Sergio Camargo, Ali Musse.

Forward: Myer Bevan.

Officials:

REF: Juan Gabriel Calderon (Costa Rica).
AR1: William Arrieta (Costa Rica).
AR2: Henri Pupiro (Nicaragua).
4TH: Keylor Herrera (Costa Rica).
VAR: Oscar Mejia (Mexico).
VAR1: Erick Miranda (Mexico).


How to Watch

Match Time: 10 p.m.

Venue: Starlight Stadium — Langford, British Columbia.

TV: FOX Sports 2, TUDN.

Streaming: The match can be streamed on FOX Sports GO, the FOX Sports app TUDN.com, and the TUDN app.

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).


Enjoy the match. Go City!

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Lion Links: 2/21/24

Orlando City takes on Cavalry FC tonight, Lions sign Jeorgio Kocevski, USWNT wins in Concacaf W Gold Cup, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you in Florida as we get to watch the Lions in action tonight in the Concacaf Champions Cup. There’s not much new with me this week other than staying busy covering high school basketball and hockey. Let’s wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Takes on Cavalry FC Tonight

Orlando City will be in action tonight in the first round of the Concacaf Champions Cup, as it takes on Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium at 10 p.m. This matchup will be the Lions’ first competitive match of 2024, with their MLS season opener against CF Montreal set for Saturday. The Lions were knocked out by Tigres due to away goals in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. Cavalry FC will make its debut in this competition tonight and qualified by winning the 2023 Canadian Premier League Shield. The second leg between these two sides will be on Feb. 27 in Orlando.

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signed 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a contract through the 2024 season with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. Kocevski scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time in Orlando’s final preseason match against the Colorado Rapids this past weekend. The midfielder was selected 21st overall in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft by the Lions in December. He played four years for Syracuse, recording seven goals and 18 assists in 71 matches. Kocevski is the only player the club has signed from the Lions’ 2024 draft class and will likely get some minutes with Orlando City B this season.

St. Louis City and Philadelphia Union Win in Champions Cup

Orlando City isn’t the only MLS team kicking off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign this week. St. Louis City edged out the Houston Dynamo 2-1, with rookie Hosei Kijima scoring the winner in stoppage time. The Philadelphia Union were on the road in Costa Rica to face off against Deportivo Saprissa and won 3-2, thanks to a hat trick from Julian Carranza in the second half. As for other tournament matches this week, the New England Revolution face Independiente in Panama tonight, with Nashville playing Moca FC in the Dominican Republic and FC Cincinnati taking on Jamaica’s Cavalier SC tomorrow.

USWNT Beats the Dominican Republic in W Gold Cup

The United States Women’s National Team got its Concacaf W Gold Cup campaign off to a great start with a 5-0 win against the Dominican Republic in Group A. Olivia Moultrie scored her first USWNT goal to give her team an early lead, with Lynn Williams giving the U.S. another goal before halftime. Moultrie scored another in the second half to earn her brace, and Jenna Nighswonger converted a penalty for her first USWNT goal as well. Former Pride forward Alex Morgan replaced Mia Fishel on the roster due to injury and scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time. The USWNT’s next game will be against Argentina on Friday at 10:15 p.m.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

The UEFA Champions League had plenty of drama as the round of 16 continued. Inter Milan won 1-0 in its first leg against Atletico Madrid at home, with Mark Arnautovic scoring the only goal in the match. In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund played to a thrilling 1-1 draw. The second legs for both matchups will be played on March 13. There is more Champions League action today, as FC Porto hosts Arsenal while Napoli takes on Barcelona.

Free Kicks

  • The latest MLS power rankings are out just before the regular season begins. Orlando City begins the season in the fifth spot.
  • Orlando City and the Orlando Pride announced fan experience upgrades at Inter&Co Stadium featuring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in merchandise shops, stadium Wi-Fi upgrades, and a jersey history experience.
  • The MLS Players Association released a statement on the ongoing referee lockout.
  • Here is the list of MLS Season Pass commentator assignments for opening week.

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signs its first-round draft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a one-year deal with three option years.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City SC announced the signing of first-round 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski today. The deal is through the upcoming 2024 season with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. The Lions selected the Syracuse midfielder with the 21st overall pick in the draft in December.

“Jeorgio has had a really strong preseason camp with us, demonstrating everything we saw in him when we were scouting him and analyzing his game in college,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “He’s done well working his way into the group, even starting in our friendly against Flamengo and holding his own against some of the best in Brazil, and we’re excited to have him with us this season.”

The box-to-box midfielder made three appearances this preseason, starting against Brazilian club Flamengo and the following scrimmage against USL Championship side Rhode Island FC. He came on at halftime against the Colorado Rapids last weekend, scoring the winning goal in the 90th minute.

Prior to being selected by the Lions, the Liverpool, NY, native made 71 appearances with 65 starts and logged 5,599 minutes for Syracuse in four years. He scored seven goals and recorded 18 assists, putting 33 of his 93 shots on frame. Additionally, he was part of Syracuse’s 2022 NCAA national championship team, playing 90 minutes in the 2-2 draw, but missing in the team’s victorious shootout over Indiana.

Kocevski had a breakout junior year, being named to the United Soccer Coaches’ All-South Region third team, All-ACC third team, NCAA All-Tournament team, and ACC All-Tournament team. During his senior year, he wore the armband for the Orange and was named All-ACC first team and ACC Co-Midfielder of the Year.

What It Means for Orlando City

Kocevski was the most likely pick from this most recent draft to be signed by Orlando City. The departure of club captain Mauricio Pereyra left a spot in the midfield and Head Coach Oscar Pareja seemed to feel the rookie could fill it from early on. His start against Flamengo was in the place of regular starter Cesar Araujo, who was on international duty with the Uruguay U-23 national team. He played against Flamengo’s best lineup and did quite well in almost an hour on the field in his first minutes of play at the professional level.

While a spot was open for the signing of Kocevski, he likely won’t see much of the field for the first team this season. In addition to being behind starters Araujo and Wilder Cartagena, the defensive midfielder will be behind Felipe on the depth chart. In all likelihood, the rookie will slot in with Orlando City B in MLS NEXT Pro to get some minutes, but there is room for him to start regularly with that team.

Kocevski is currently the only player signed by the club from the Lions’ 2024 draft class. West Virginia midfielder Yutaro Tsukada, Pittsburgh midfielder Filip Mirkovic, and Charlotte midfielder Riyon Tori remained unsigned, with the latter opting to return to school for his senior season.

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