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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Final Score 2-1 as Lions Convert Two Penalties to Win

Orlando City scores twice from the spot to come from behind.



Carlos Romero, The Mane Land

Finally, the Lions got some luck. Orlando City scored twice from the penalty spot, including one six minutes into stoppage time to defeat the Columbus Crew and snap a 13-game winless streak. Yoshimar Yotún and Sacha Kljestan converted from the spot after Federico Higuain had staked the visitors to a 1-0 lead off a free kick in front of an announced crowd of 23,642 in the home finale at Orlando City Stadium.

The method of victory was ironic, given the result the last time these two teams met, when Columbus was erroneously awarded a penalty that allowed the Crew to tie the game late and win it in stoppage time.

“Obviously delighted to get the win,” Head Coach James O’Connor said. “I think it was very important today just to try to win. For the players, especially the supporters, it was important that we give a good performance and get three points. So, pleased that we were able to do that.”

It was just the second win under James O’Connor and the club’s second win in the last 24 matches. The Lions scored more than one goal in a game for the first time since a Sept. 1 draw against Philadelphia, seven games ago.

O’Connor played a similar lineup to Wednesday, bringing Mohamed El-Munir and Yotún into the lineup, pushing Will Johnson into the midfield in place of Tony Rocha, and removing Chris Mueller to make way for Yoshi.

The graphic above aside, the Lions played a three-man back line of Shane O’Neill, Lamine Sané, and Carlos Ascues, with Scott Sutter and El-Munir playing as wingbacks in the midfield.

Former Lion Justin Meram did not play in the match due to a gentleman’s agreement made when the winger was sent back to Columbus from Orlando earlier this season.

The game began slowly with a ton of back passes by both teams as they probed for openings in each other’s defense. Uri Rosell launched a shot from distance that fizzed over the net in the second minute and Columbus looked to be in good shape two minutes later on a terrible back pass from Sacha Kljestan that the defense was able to break up before it became a Crew scoring opportunity.

Yotún tried to catch Zack Steffen off his line in the 14th minute, but his shot from midfield wasn’t close.

The Crew then fashioned a ton of corner kicks and Adam Grinwis made a terrific save in the 16th minute to deny Jonathan Mensah’s header from point-blank range. That save became necessary only because Grinwis’ punch attempt on the corner cross from Higuain was not effective and popped right back up in the air in the penalty area.

Two minutes later, off another corner, Gyasi Zardes fired a shot that Grinwis saved and Sutter cleared off the line as it trickled toward the goal.

In the 19th minute, a good buildup through midfield led to Kljestan sending Sutter down the right and his shot was just wide of goal. Dom Dwyer did well to hold up play for Kljestan to release Sutter on the play but the shot went awry. Steffen made a great diving save to stop a Johnson shot from outside the area in the 22nd minute.

El-Munir gifted Zardes a scoring chance in the 27th with a poor pass attempt, but O’Neill did well to make a sliding block to shield Grinwis from having to make a save.

The game got a bit chippy in the late stages of the first half, starting with a Mensah yellow card for an elbow to Dwyer’s face, which cut the Orlando striker open. The play probably should have gone to review but it didn’t appear any video review took place. A few minutes later, after Dwyer was fouled again, he got a yellow of his own for throwing a shoulder into Mensah as he ran past the Crew defender.

El-Munir forced a Steffen save in the 38th minute on a half-volley shot from the left.

Artur’s weak shot from distance right at Grinwis was the last chance for either side in a scoreless first half. The Crew held a 54%-46% advantage in possession and a 6-5 edge in shots (3-2 on target).

The first good opportunity of the second half came in the 50th minute, when El-Munir cut into the area, but instead of shooting, he peeled back and the Lions eventually lost the ball. The Lions were ruing that chance moments later when Higuain put the Crew up.

O’Neill committed a foul just above the area and Higuain stepped up to take the free kick. Grinwis set up his wall to defend the near post and he defended the back post. The kick sailed just inches over Uri Rosell’s head — the Spaniard didn’t jump on the play — and curled just inside the near post to give the visitors a 1-0 lead in the 54th minute.

Columbus didn’t have the lead long. Johnson headed a cross into the area in the 56th minute and defender Gaston Sauro had his arm out away from his body. The ball hit his hand as he swiped at Dwyer running past him and Kevin Stott immediately pointed to the penalty spot. Yotún stepped up to the ball and chipped a cheeky shot over Steffen to make it 1-1 at the 57-minute mark.

“This was my third PK on the season and I had already done one on each side,” Yotún said after the match through an interpreter. “I know that goalkeepers pay attention ahead of games to the players that do PKs, as well as what sides they tend to go through. So I just made a decision and it went through.”

The Lions then controlled much of the second half, turning the possession around and out-shooting the Crew, 11-2, after halftime (5-1 on target).

Amro Tarek replaced Ascues a minute later, as the Peruvian was experiencing some quad tightness by halftime and was struggling in the second half. As well as Ascues was playing, Tarek was just as good, making several vital defensive plays as the Crew — needing points to clinch a playoff spot — pressed to regain the lead.

Yotún made the pass of the game with a long ball in the 63rd minute to El-Munir that completely unlocked the defense. Mo centered the ball for an oncoming Kljestan, who saw his shot get partially blocked and roll in on Steffen, who smothered it before any Lions could pounce on the loose ball.

Johnson sent a shot on frame in the 68th that forced a good diving stop from Steffen. It was Johnson’s last involvement as he departed for Mueller in the 72nd minute.

Higuain had a golden opportunity to fire the Crew back into the lead in the 74th minute. A cross from the left side was deflected through the area and fell for the Argentine, who chested it down and fired on the half volley. However, Higuain didn’t hit his shot cleanly and sliced it well over the bar.

Yotún sent a curling effort on goal in the 78th that again required a diving save from Steffen, who saw Orlando take 10 shots from outside the box. El-Munir (wide) and Mueller (right at Steffen) wasted shots in the 81st minute, as Orlando controlled play and Columbus looked to counter.

The game seemed destined for a draw when a laser blast from Sutter hit the woodwork in the 90th minute. Steffen may have gotten a touch to it before it found the frame.

Sutter then had a free header in the 93rd off a corner kick but sent his shot wide.

The four minutes of stoppage time indicated by the fourth official had just expired when Mueller — who had a tough game, to be honest — paid off his hard work by drawing a second penalty. The rookie drove toward the end line and then cut back, getting caught by Crew and USMNT midfielder Wil Trapp and Stott again immediately signaled to the spot.

Kljestan wanted this one and in the 96th minute he sent Steffen the wrong way and scored the game-winning goal.

“I wanted to take the first one, but Yoshi said he wanted it,” Kljestan said of the two penalties. “He’s been successful and I’ve missed one already this season. So, I gave him the ball and he scored a beautiful one. Second one I just stepped up, the goalie went the wrong way and I just passed it in the corner.”

The Lions and Crew finished just about even on possession for the game (Columbus with a slight edge at 50.2% to 49.8%) and Orlando City led in shots (16-8), shots on goal (7-4), and passing accuracy (85.5%-83.1%).

Both O’Connor and Kljestan said after the match that the Lions didn’t make any real second-half adjustments. They just played better.

“I think when you look at the second half we were getting into some areas that were causing them some problems,” O’Connor said.

Orlando City is now 3-1-0 in home finales during the MLS era.

“It was a nice feeling for us to give back to the fans,” Kljestan said. A lot of the fans stuck by us through the whole season. Let’s be honest, it was a pretty miserable year. So, for them to come out, be loud again today, be very supportive and behind the team and for us to win, it just felt good for us to give them back something.”

The Lions will close out their season next Sunday on the road against Kljestan’s old team, the New York Red Bulls.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Photo Gallery

An album of images from Orlando City’s hard-fought draw at home against the Herons.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

The Lions brought much more roar on Sunday night to face their southern rivals but had trouble finding the net, allowing the Herons to nick a point even while short staffed. None of Miami’s high-priced talent traveled for the match after facing Toronto midweek, and physicality ensued, firing up the sold-out crowd at Exploria Stadium.

Talking with some of the other photographers on the sideline who had flown in for this match, they rated the Orlando atmosphere top-notch; in their experience, other cities don’t compare to the in-stadium fan enthusiasm.

The Lions were in “the net is lava” mode, with Duncan McGuire and Iván Angulo each missing prime one-on-one chances with Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender in each half, McGuire leaving it straight at Callendar, and Angulo badly missing the net after a missed first touch. So of course Miami struck first, with David Ruíz scoring early in the second half.

This fired the Lions up even more and Martín Ojeda pinballed McGuire in behind the Miami back line, allowing Duncan to do what Duncan does to draw the score level. The Lions generally looked the more dangerous team for most (but not all) of the night. However, it is scorin ggoals that actually counts, leaving both teams unchanged in their respective Eastern Conference standings. Orlando remains second at 14-7-9, while Miami stays in 14th at 9-15-5.

The Lions continue to control their own destiny in terms of getting a top-four finish as they look to lock up home field advantage for a best-of-three matchup in the MLS Cup playoffs.

With home dates left against Montreal and a sputtering-but-dangerous New England remaining, there’s still plenty of time to be part of that world-class gameday atmosphere by going out to support the team as they push for a strong finish.

We hope that you enjoy these images from a hard-fought, come-from-behind draw against Inter Miami at Exploria Stadium.

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Five Takeaways

Here’s what we learned from Orlando City’s 1-1 draw at home against Inter Miami.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City returned to Exploria Stadium after a midweek loss to New York City FC and had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Inter Miami. The Lions did well to equalize after conceding first, but will likely feel that they left opportunity knocking as the Eastern Conference remains tight near the top. Here are my five takeaways from the third Tropic Thunder clash this year.

Lack of Execution Plagues the Lions

Orlando’s offense struggled to put the ball in the back of the net in this match. That’s not to say they didn’t create quality chances, as the Lions served up good crosses and dangerous long balls throughout the match. Only three of Orlando’s 16 crosses found their mark in the end. The execution just wasn’t there when it came to finishing attacks, whether it be poor decision-making when the time came to play the final ball or just missing the target completely. Of Orlando’s 13 shots, six were on target and only a couple of those gave Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender much difficulty. Ivan Angulo missing the goal entirely after Dagur Dan Thorhallsson picked out a perfect pass for him stands out. Expecting every promising attack to end with a goal is unfair, but weak finishing cost the Lions from claiming a big win at home.

Corner Kicks Gave the Lions Headaches

While the Lions didn’t have any corner kicks in the match, Inter Miami had seven and created some of its best chances with them. In the 61st minute, a corner kick taken by Robert Taylor found Leonardo Campana all alone in the center of the box. The Ecuadorian forward’s header mercifully went wide, but it was indicative of how Orlando had its hands full on set pieces. Pedro Gallese had to come up with a remarkable save in the first half as well after Campana barreled through Cartagena to head the ball at goal. Even though the Lions didn’t concede from a set piece, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s something focused on this week just to ensure the team is organized enough to overcome uncalled fouls without needing its star goalkeeper or some luck.

Plenty of Physicality in Rivalry Match

It was easy to tell these two teams didn’t care much for each other, as they both fought hard on and off the ball. There were 27 fouls and seven yellow cards handed out by referee Armando Villarreal. Miami committed 16 of those fouls and received five of the yellow cards as they did whatever it took to slow down Orlando’s progress. Facundo Torres suffered the brunt of it and was fouled four times so that he couldn’t work his magic against Miami’s defense. It was the kind of physical match that can be expected of two rivals and made for an intense match that will likely have players from both sides seeking an ice bath. The Lions did well to stay composed for a majority of a very chippy match.

Duncan McGuire Shakes Off the Rust

Forward Duncan McGuire got back to his scoring ways with a crucial equalizer for his ninth goal of the MLS season. It was an important goal for reasons beyond the scoreline as well, as McGuire had squandered a golden opportunity to score earlier in the match by not being able to get his shot past Callender. He was also kicking himself for not getting on the end of a few other chances as well. His 84 minutes on the field were the most from him in one game this season, and the Lions will need him more often now that Ercan Kara is in Turkey. It was the rookie’s first goal since July and, although not perfect, the kind of performance to build upon moving forward.

Orlando Showcased Its Depth and Versatility

Head Coach Oscar Pareja switched things up at halftime, replacing Cesar Araujo with Martin Ojeda and having Mauricio Pereyra sit a bit deeper in the midfield to potentially create chances on the break a bit quicker using his service. Although Ojeda didn’t get a goal or an assist, his presence was notable on both sides of the ball and he played a key role in Orlando’s goal. Having a player of his caliber able to come off the bench has been a boon for Orlando this season, letting Pareja really kickstart the changes he wants to make to the team. Similar things could be said about Orlando’s other substitutes: Junior Urso, Ramiro Enrique, Gaston Gonzalez, and Michael Halliday. Their energy and skill kept Orlando pushing for more and gave the sense that a winner would have come had the game lasted a bit longer.

That’s what I took away from Orlando’s 1-1 draw with Inter Miami. Let me know what you gathered from the match in the comments below

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/25/23

Orlando City draws with Inter Miami, Viviana Villacorta out for the season, OCB wins last game of the regular season, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Last night’s Orlando City match wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst either. It’s a pretty fitting feeling on a Monday, as we all get back into the swing of the work week after a nice weekend of soccer. There are plenty of ups and downs from a rollercoaster Sunday, so let’s dive right into today’s links!

Orlando City Draws With Inter Miami

In the latest edition of the Tropic Thunder rivalry, Orlando City and Inter Miami split the points at Exploria Stadium in a 1-1 result. Miami struck first, but the Lions did well to find an equalizer, even though they couldn’t find a winner in the end. It wasn’t Orlando’s best game by any means, but it was a decent response to a 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC. Orlando now has 51 points, tying its club record for the most points in a season, set in 2021. The Lions will have a chance to break that record on Saturday when they host CF Montreal.

Viviana Villacorta Out for the Season

Orlando Pride midfielder Viviana Villacorta will miss the remainder of the NWSL season after suffering an ACL tear in her left knee during training. The 24-year-old was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft, but was not able to make her debut until 2022 due to sustained an ACL tear in her right knee that kept her out for all of the 2021 season. This year, she has 21 appearances across all competitions for the Pride and notched the first assist of her career in a big road win against the San Diego Wave on April 29. This is a tough blow to the Pride’s midfield with just three games remaining as she has ended her season early due to injury for the third straight year. The Pride are only a point out of a playoff spot and are back in action on Oct. 2 against Angel City FC.

Orlando City B Wins On Decision Day

On the final day of the MLS NEXT Pro regular season, Orlando City B won 2-1 at home over FC Cincinnati 2. The Young Lions had already clinched a spot in the postseason heading into this match, but the win secured their spot as the fifth seed. Jack Lynn briefly held the Golden Boot lead after scoring, but ended up tied at 19 goals with New York City FC II’s Matt Myers and Colorado Rapids 2’s Remi Cabral. The trio ended in a three-way tie for the league’s Golden Boot honors. OCB will hit the road for its first MLS NEXT Pro playoff game, although the opponent is not yet known thanks to the new rule where higher seeds choose which team they want to face.

USWNT Wins in Megan Rapinoe’s Final Match

The United States Women’s National Team beat South Africa in a 2-0 win at Soldier Field. Trinity Rodman and Emily Sonnett scored and the defense did well to secure its second shutout against South Africa after a 3-0 win this past Thursday. This game also marked forward Megan Rapinoe’s final game with the USWNT, with the 38-year-old subbed off for the last time in the 54th minute. These were solid wins from the USWNT following the World Cup and it will aim to keep the momentum rolling next month in a pair of friendlies against Colombia.

Free Kicks

  • Three Orlando City academy sides came up with shutout victories this weekend.
  • Before the USWNT’s friendly with South Africa, U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker stated that plans remain in place for a new head coach to be at the helm in time for the training camp in December
  • American midfielder Yunus Musah did well in his AC Milan debut, playing all 90 minutes in a 1-0 win over Verona.
  • A match in the Netherlands between Ajax and Feyenoord had to be abandoned due to fans throwing fireworks onto the field while Feyenoord led 3-0. According to police, tear gas had to be used to stop unrest outside the stadium after the match, and Ajax later fired Sven Mislintat, its director of soccer.
  • Newcastle became the first English Premier League team to have eight different players score in a match after crushing Sheffield United, 8-0.
  • Atletico Madrid ended Real Madrid’s perfect start to the season by beating its rival 3-1, with Alvaro Morata bagging a brace.

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have an easy Monday and rest of your week!

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