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.
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.
Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids
Familiarize yourself with the Colorado Rapids, courtesy of someone who knows them best.
Another Orlando City game is almost upon us, as the Lions look to both extend their five-match unbeaten run and pick up two wins in a row. This week sees the Colorado Rapids come to town for the first home game of June.
A match with the Rapids means I spoke to Matt Pollard, of Burgundy Wave. That’s another site that has gone independent and the folks over there are continuing to provide great coverage of the Rapids, so make sure to check them out!
What were some of the big incoming and outgoing transfers for the Rapids ahead of this season?
Matt Pollard: The three biggest incoming players in terms of expectations were Kévin Cabral, Connor Ronan, and Andreas Maxsø.
Cabral is probably the highest-risk, highest-reward signing when it comes to the Rapids going after distressed assets. So far, it hasn’t panned out. He presses well, but that’s about it. The same issues he had at LA Galaxy (getting called offside, not finishing) are present here in Colorado. The difference is, he’s the focal point instead of the third player opposing defenses worry about.
Ronan and Maxsø have been great. Ronan was brought in to play alongside Jack Price. When Price went down for the season, Ronan stepped into the No. 6 role and adjusted well. He’s tidy at the back, works hard off the ball, and is one of the better assist providers on the team. Maxsø has been good defensively in the air and good at emergency defending. The Rapids typically give up goals by making a series of small errors. Rarely is the Great Dane one of those players who makes a mistake on a goal.
It’s hard to say if there were any significant departures from last year’s team. Most fans weren’t surprised or bummed out when Gyasi Zardes signed for Austin FC. The left back position has been an issue, so maybe Lucas Esteves. But he had some attitude issues and was hot headed. Robin Fraser’s such a culture guy, he wasn’t worth the headache.
It’s been a difficult start to the season for Colorado, what has been the biggest reason for the team’s struggles?
MP: Injuries. Injuries. Injuries. Price went down for the season in his second appearance. Diego Rubio has had three separate injuries. Maxsø was under concussion protocol for two games. I’ve lost count of how many players have had hamstring issues. As I’ve written about previously for Burgundy Wave, the infrastructure at Dick’s (Sporting Goods Park) is showing its age. The team had a really bad stretch in March and April with practice fields and winter sticking around. They’ve missed key players. They’ve had limited depth. All while playing eight games in May. Hopefully a full week of training has them healthy and refocused for Saturday.
With plenty of games left to play and only sitting six points out of the play-in spots, the Rapids are far from dead and buried. What needs to happen for Colorado to turn the season around?
MP: Get healthy and get going offensively. Rubio is still their only reliable chance creator. All their goal scorers have been streaky. If Rubio comes back healthy and can give the Rapids the production he had last year (a club-record 16 goals and seven assists), that would be fantastic. Add in Cabral, Jonathan Lewis, and Braian Galván having a good finishing streak, and they could be ok. Orlando fans should be wary of Michael Barrios coming off the bench tomorrow. All 12 of his goals for the Rapids have come in the second half.
Are there any players who will be unavailable for selection due to call-ups, injuries, suspensions, etc? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?
MP: The injury report just came out and there are only four players on it. That’s tied for the lowest of the season! Rubio is questionable, and Fraser’s been really cautious with his key players coming back from injury. I can’t see him getting more than 20 minutes Saturday. Moïse Bombito is suspended for a harsh second yellow against San Jose, so expect Lalas Abubakar to start at center back. Price is out, as mentioned previously. Max Alves is still removed from team activities as he’s under investigation for participation in a sports gambling scheme in his native Brazil.
Marko Ilic; Danny Wilson, Andreas Maxsø, Lalas Abubakar; Sam Nicholson, Keegan Rosenberry; Connor Ronan, Bryan Acosta, Cole Bassett; Jonathan Lewis, Darren Yapi.
I think Orlando wins a tight, ugly game. Oscar Pareja knows how to poop-house the Rapids. 1-0, Facundo Torres scores. I do think we’ll see one of the better performances from the Rapids of this winless stretch for what that’s worth.
Thank you to Matt for the excellent info and helping get us up to speed on the Rapids. Vamos Orlando!
Lion Links: 6/9/23
Orlando City gets ready for the Colorado Rapids, OCB faces FC Cincinnati 2 on Sunday, U-20 World Cup final is set, and more.
How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Friday finds you well as we gear up for a weekend filled to the brim with Orlando soccer. My friends are taking me out for teppanyaki and scorpion bowls tonight, so it should be a pretty nice day on my end. Hopefully your Friday goes smoothly as well. Now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.
Orlando City Prepares for the Colorado Rapids
The Lions are on a five-game unbeaten run as they get ready for a home match tomorrow night against the Colorado Rapids. Facundo Torres scored twice in the team’s 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls last weekend. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling against a Colorado team that’s allowed 25 goals this season and sits last in the league in points per game, with just two wins in 17 matches. Pedro Gallese also recorded his 26th clean sheet for Orlando in last week’s win, and could make his 100th appearance as a Lion tomorrow night. The Lions will have to keep an eye on Irish midfielder Connor Ronan, who has six assists in his first season with the Rapids.
Orlando City B Aims to Bounce Back at Home
After a 3-0 defeat to Toronto FC II in Canada this past weekend, Orlando City B will look to right the ship on Sunday at home against FC Cincinnati 2. The Young Lions are unbeaten at home this season, winning four of their six games at Osceola Heritage Park. The last time these two teams played was in August of last year, with Cincy winning in the penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw. Although he didn’t score in that match, OCB forward Jack Lynn scored three goals against Cincinnati last year and currently leads OCB with six goals this season. Sunday’s match should be a good opportunity for OCB’s offense to bounce back against a leaky Cincy defense.
USMNT Players Focused Despite Coaching Search
With European seasons over, American players who have been plying their trade abroad are back in the U.S. to prepare for the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup this month. The team will be coached by B.J. Callaghan in an interim capacity while the search for a head coach continues. Although not having a permanent head coach for these tournaments isn’t ideal, Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman spoke on how the team still knows how to get the job done.
“We’re a team that has a very strong team chemistry, strong culture within our group. And we know that for us, not much has changed right now,” said Zimmerman. “We know the same principles, style of play, expectations, accountability – all those things are the same. So I think that’s player-driven, to hold each other accountable to the standards that we’ve set over the past four years. BJ, he’s on top of it. He’s knowledgeable about what we want to do, how we’re going to go about these games.”
The roster includes many of the players who featured in the World Cup last year, but the striker position is one to watch due to the new faces involved. Folarin Balogun is with the team for the first time and it will be interesting to see how he measures up against Ricardo Pepi, Alex Zendejas, and Jesus Ferreira. We will get to see who spearheads the USMNT’s attack next Thursday, when the Yanks take on Mexico in Las Vegas.
Italy and Uruguay Reach U-20 World Cup Final
Only two teams remain in the U-20 World Cup after Italy and Uruguay each won their semifinals. Uruguay, which beat the U.S. in the quarterfinals, beat Israel 1-0, thanks to a goal in the second half from Anderson Duarte. In Italy’s semifinal against South Korea, Cesare Casadei’s terrific tournament continued as he gave Italy the lead in the 14th minute. South Korea equalized soon after with a penalty kick, but 17-year-old forward Simone Pafundi scored a nice free kick to send Italy into the final.
The final will take place on Sunday at 5 p.m., with the third-place match set for 1:30 p.m. It will be Italy’s first time playing in a U-20 World Cup final, while it will be Uruguay’s third time after losing in 1997 and 2013.
- American defender Josh Wynder is headed to Benfica. The Portuguese club signed the 18-year-old from USL Championship club Louisville City for a reported $1.2 million transfer fee, which would be a record amount for a USL player.
- FC Cincinnati and the Houston Dynamo will host in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Both matches will be on Aug. 23, with the Dynamo playing Real Salt Lake and Cincinnati facing Inter Miami.
- Speaking of FC Cincinnati, the club is reportedly close to signing Gabonese forward Aaron Boupendza as a Designated Player for a $7 million transfer fee. Boupendza had 11 goals in 17 appearances for Al-Shabab in the Saudi Pro League this past season.
- Brooklyn will be home to a USL League One team, which will begin playing in the 2025 season.
- Liverpool agreed to buy back its Melwood training ground with the intention of turning it into a training facility for its women’s team.
- Czech police stated that 23 West Ham and Fiorentina fans were arrested for their actions while in Prague for the Europa Conference League.
- Liverpool signed midfielder Alexis Mac Allister to a contract through 2028. The 24-year-old had 12 goals and three assists last season for Brighton.
That’s all I have for you today. Have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!
Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids: Three Keys to Victory
What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points at home against the Rapids this Saturday night?
Orlando City is back home in Exploria Stadium and hosting the Colorado Rapids this Saturday night. The Lions are coming off a big road win over the New York Red Bulls, and will want to extend the five-match unbeaten streak. What does Orlando City need to do to secure all three points at home this weekend?
Survive the First Half
Colorado has been better in the first half of matches this season than in the second half. The Lions can expect the Rapids to come out strong, looking for an early goal. If Orlando City can play smart on defense, maintain possession, and limit Colorado’s chances for the first 45 minutes, plus stoppage time, the odds of winning at home go up.
I’m most worried about the first 15 minutes and the last five minutes of this half. It’s going to be contingent upon the effective midfield pairing of Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena to break down the Rapids’ attack. Araujo was in training this week despite going off injured in the last match, indicating it wasn’t that serious and he may be available. Cartagena has quietly been fantastic the last few matches, and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue.
Behind that pair is another line of defense, including Robin Jansson and Antonio Carlos, that can clean up anything else that gets through. Carlos has mostly been great, although he’s had a few less-than-stellar matches, and Jansson has been excellent. If Orlando City weathers the first half in good shape, I’ll feel better about the Lions getting three points.
Ride the Hot Feet
Oscar Pareja has trotted out the same starting lineup the last couple of matches, and I don’t expect he will mess with the success. After the last match, Ivan Angulo and Facundo Torres will be feeling pretty good, and we don’t want those confidence-boosting performances to be wasted. There will be plenty of time to let them rest if they can help provide the team with a two-goal lead after the 60 minute mark.
The same goes for Ercan Kara. No he didn’t have a goal last match, but that had more to do with dealing with the New York Red Bulls press than anything else. His last goal was three matches ago against Inter Miami, but he is putting the work in regardless, and I think he’s primed to find the back of the net against Colorado.
Regardless of the scoreline, look for Pareja to bring on Martin Ojeda and Duncan McGuire to either put the match away or look for a positive result. Duncan can be a terror against a team that doesn’t play well in the second half, and Ojeda seems due for a goal. He certainly isn’t shy about taking chances, and eventually one of them is going to result in a goal.
Too many times in Orlando City history, the Lions have played a team on a winless streak — the Rapids haven’t won in their last six matches — and been the team to let the opposition get back on track. The Lions are also riding a five-match undefeated streak heading into Saturday’s match. It’s the type of match that tends to worry scarred Orlando City supporters, and I have those bad thoughts and feelings as well. As Michael Scott said on The Office, “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.” If Orlando City could not feed into that phenomenon, it would be great.
I think that sometimes the Lions want to give the home crowd a win so badly that they get nervous and end up pressing too hard, or trying to slip a pass into too tight of a window. When that happens, the natural flow of an offense that is looking better, passing better, and scoring goals will give the ball away cheaply. My suggestion is for the players is to just relax. Pretend it’s a road match if necessary, but just keep calm and let the match develop naturally.
That’s what I’ll be looking for this Saturday night from my seat in Exploria Stadium. Since I’ll be down for this one, please make sure to say hello if you see me.
Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids
PawedCast Episode 351: Colorado Rapids Preview, the Miami Messi Mess, and More
Lion Links: 6/9/23
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