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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.

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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.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/23/24

Ivan Angulo makes Team of the Matchday bench, Americans in action, Sergino Dest to miss Copa America, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It was an excellent weekend for Orlando’s soccer teams, as the three sides took seven of the nine points on offer. There’s no rest for the wicked this week as the Orlando Pride travel to play the Washington Spirit on Friday, Orlando City hosts Toronto FC on Saturday, and Orlando City B finishes things up at home against Toronto FC II on Sunday. Let’s take a look at today’s links.

Ivan Angulo Earns Recognition

Ivan Angulo has been named to the bench of the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. The Colombian got the start on Saturday up in Montreal, and had a good game, going the distance and completing 82% of his passes and putting one of his two shots on target. That shot was an important one, as it gave the Lions a late equalizer and helped them salvage a valuable point on the road. Sean Rollins gave him a grade of 6 in his player grades from the match, a rating that likely would have been higher had Martin Ojeda’s pass been accurate enough to allow Angulo to grab a possible winner just a few minutes after he equalized. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Americans in Midweek Action

There are a number of Americans taking part in big games this week, and the good people over at Stars and Stripes FC have you covered with the whole rundown. First up, Weston McKennie, Tim Weah, and Juventus will try to advance to the Coppa Italia final this afternoon, as they enter the second leg of the semifinal against Lazio with a 2-0 lead on aggregate. Tomorrow sees Monaco and Folarin Balogun meet Lille in Ligue 1 action, while Chris Richards and Crystal Palace host Newcastle United in the Premier League. Things wrap up on Friday in Serie B when Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessman, and third-place Venezia face Cremonese as they try to overtake Como and finish in one of Serie B’s two guaranteed promotion places.

Sergino Dest Sidelined Long Term

Following up on a story from yesterday’s Lion Links, The Athletic is reporting that the knee injury suffered by Sergino Dest will keep him out of Copa America, and sideline him for the rest of the year. That would be a big blow for the United States Men’s National Team, as Dest has been the nailed-on starter at right back since winning a place in the team during the qualifying cycle for the 2022 World Cup. The Yanks aren’t without options at the position, as Joe Scally could step in for Dest, or Gregg Berhalter could try deploying Weah there, but neither of the two possesses Dest’s level of offensive threat.

Inter Milan Wins Serie A

Inter Milan dispatched rival AC Milan 2-1 guaranteed that Inter will win its 20th Serie A title in club history. Fikayo Tomori’s goal in the 80th minute was the closest Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah’s club could get to leveling the score, and Inter is now a whopping 17 points clear of AC Milan with five games left to play. Inter has been imperious on its way to a 20th Scudetto, scoring the most goals in the league while also conceding the fewest and losing only once this season.

Free Kicks

  • The Orlando Pride and Orlando City hosted a clean-up effort in honor of Earth Day on Monday.

That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with CF Montreal?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City / Mark Thor

Orlando City scored in second-half injury time for the second consecutive weekend to claim points. However, this time it was an equalizer as the Lions drew CF Montreal 2-2 north of the border. The Lions ended their two-game road trip with four points and extended their points streak to four games after dropping three straight. It’s an improvement as they look to climb up the Eastern Conference standings.

Here’s how I saw the individual performances in the draw.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 5.5 — Gallese conceded a pair of goals in this game, though neither were necessarily his fault. The first was a breakaway after Robin Jansson kept Mason Toye onside and the second was blocked wide, but Kyle Smith was caught flat-footed. However, he did concede twice while saving three of Montreal’s five shots on target. Additionally, the Lions’ goalkeeper completed 55.6% of his 27 passes, including eight of his 20 long balls.

D, Kyle Smith, 5.5 — Smith had a solid game other than one specific play. The left back had a team-high 86 touches and completed 78.3% of his 60 passes, including five of his 12 long balls. Defensively, he recorded two tackles, two clearances, an interception, and a blocked shot. Unfortunately, his most impactful play was getting caught watching on a Gallese block while Ariel Lassiter beat him to the rebound to give the hosts a late lead. That play lowers his grade for this otherwise quality performance.

D, Robin Jansson, 5.5 — Similar to Smith, Jansson had a solid game apart from one play. He had 72 touches and completed 79.7% of his 59 passes, including a key pass and three of his 14 long balls. He added a tackle, an interception, a blocked shot, and a team-high seven clearances to his stat sheet. But his failure to step up in the 16th minute enabled Toye to get behind the back line and score the opening goal, lowering his grade.

D, David Brekalo, 6 — Brekalo has proven himself to be the first-choice partner for Jansson and he was arguably the better center back in Montreal. The Slovenian international had 53 touches and completed 85.1% of his 47 passes, including two of his five long balls. The defender recorded two tackles, an interception, and three clearances defensively in a strong performance.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Thorhallsson was in his usual right back position for this game, playing 90 minutes and recording 44 touches. He completed 82.8% of his 29 passes, but only one of his four long balls and neither of his two crosses. He cleared the ball twice and didn’t really get into the attack, but was solid in his defensive duties.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 6.5 (MotM) — This was possibly Cartagena’s best performance of the season. His 85 touches were second-most on the team and he completed 76.5% of his team-high 68 passes, including a key pass and two of his six long balls. It was his shielding of Nathan Saliba and strong pass forward for Duncan McGuire that started the last goal, though he didn’t get an assist. The defensive midfielder was also active defensively with five tackles and three interceptions, and he won a pair of aerial duels. His overall performance earns him my Man of the Match.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6.5 — Araujo had a similar performance to Cartagena, but fewer touches and more accurate passing. He recorded 55 touches and completed 93.9% of his 49 passes, including a key pass. He was less active than his partner defensively, recording three tackles, and was booked in the 63rd minute.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — Angulo had one of his better performances in this one, recording 48 touches and completing 82.1% of his 39 passes. His biggest impact on the game came two minutes into second-half stoppage time, when he connected with an excellent Martin Ojeda cross to even the game at 2-2. He nearly scored a winner five minutes later, but the pass from Ojeda was just a bit too far for him. His goal was one of his two shots and the only one on target.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6 — Lodeiro’s 45 touches were the fewest of the Orlando City midfield, but he did the most with them. The playmaker completed 91.4% of his 35 passes, including a key pass, but couldn’t connect on his long ball or either of his two crosses. He was also caught offside and dispossessed twice before being replaced by Ojeda in the 77th minute.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6 — Torres’ 65 touches were the most in the Lions’ midfield and the fourth most on the team. He completed 83.7% of his 49 passes, but didn’t connect on his two crosses or four long balls. The attacker took three shots and put one on target. In the 22nd minute, the midfielder stepped up and buried his second penalty of the season and ninth as a Lion, continuing her perfect record from the spot.

F, Luis Muriel, 6 — While Oscar Pareja had previously been starting Muriel behind McGuire, the forward got the start alone up top for the second consecutive game. He had 34 touches and completed 68.4% of his 19 passes, including his lone long ball but neither of his two crosses. His biggest impact on the game came in the 20th minute, when he tipped the ball past Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois, drawing the penalty that resulted in the first equalizer. He also had a shot of his own, but it was off target.

Substitutes

F, Duncan McGuire (63’), 6 — McGuire came on in the 63rd minute for Muriel. He had 16 touches in 27 minutes, completing eight of his 10 passes (80%) with a key pass. His lone shot came in the 90th minute, when Jansson headed the ball over to him and he probably should’ve equalized, but his volley was just wide. The striker also won three aerial duels.

MF, Martin Ojeda (77’), 6.5 — Ojeda came on in the 77th minute for Lodeiro and, similar to Lodeiro last week, made a big difference. He had 15 touches and completed four of his six passes (66.7%), including a key pass. Two minutes into second-half injury time, his excellent cross found Angulo, who touched it in for the equalizer. Five minutes later, he had another great cross that nearly found Angulo for the winner, but was just out of his reach.

D, Rafael Santos (85’), 6 — Santos came on in the 85th minute for Torres as the Lions looked to see out a point. He had nine touches and completed two of his three passes (66.7%), but didn’t connect on his cross or long ball. Coming on to assure the defense, Santos did his job as he recorded a tackle, an interception, and two clearances.


This is how I saw Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with CF Montreal. Let us know how you saw the game and don’t forget to vote for your Man of the Match.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/22/24

Orlando City draws CF Montreal, Pride and OCB win, FA Cup drama, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. Orlando City drew, while the Pride and OCB both won over the weekend. I had friends in town, so I went to Wrigley Field to check out a Cubs game and show them around Chicago. Let’s wish former Orlando City midfielder Kaka and Pride defender Brianna Martinez a happy birthday! There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Draw at CF Montreal

Orlando City again had to overcome a 2-1 deficit on the road when it faced CF Montreal Saturday night. The Lions needed a late stoppage-time goal from Ivan Angulo to walk out of Stade Saputo with a 2-2 draw. Orlando has now picked up points in each of the last four matches. Orlando City will face CF Montreal again on July 26 in the MLS Leagues Cup during the competition’s group stage. The Lions’ next match will be Saturday at Inter&Co Stadium as it takes on Toronto FC.

Orlando Pride Defeat San Diego Wave

The Orlando Pride shut out the San Diego Wave 1-0 on Friday at Inter&Co Stadium and got their second consecutive win with that same scoreline. Summer Yates scored the lone goal in the first half to seal the win for Orlando. Zambian international striker Barbra Banda made her debut for the Pride, coming off the bench in the second half. The Pride remain undefeated through five league matches and are fifth in the NWSL table with nine points. The team will be on the road to face the Washington Spirit Friday.

OCB Wins on the Road at Crown Legacy FC

Orlando City B got a 2-0 win against Crown Legacy FC at the Sportsplex at Matthews on Friday. Alex Freeman and Shak Mohammed scored for the Young Lions, and Javier Otero made six saves. OCB completed its two-match road trip, securing four out of a possible six points, and has kept its unbeaten streak on the road alive at four matches. OCB is in fifth in the MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference with nine points, while Crown Legacy is winless in five matches. OCB will be back in action this Sunday as it hosts Toronto FC II at Osceola County Stadium.

Manchester United and Manchester City Advance to FA Cup Final

Manchester United won 4-2 on penalties after a 3-3 draw against Coventry City in the FA Cup semifinals to advance to the final. It was a thrilling match at Wembley as United had a 3-0 lead before Coventry City rallied to get back into the match. USMNT forward Haji Wright scored the equalizer to tie the match 3-3 late into stoppage time. Coventry City thought it scored the game-winning goal late into extra time from Victor Torp, but it was ruled offside after video review. Casemiro missed his penalty for United, while Wright and Torp gave Coventry City a 2-1 advantage. United converted four straight penalties while Coventry City missed two to seal the win for the Red Devils. Manchester City edged past Chelsea 1-0 in their semifinal matchup, with Bernardo Silva scoring the lone goal in the second half. The FA Cup final will be played at the end of May and will feature a Manchester Derby for the second consecutive time.

Free Kicks

  • In case you missed it, check out this video on Orlando City’s social media page on Ivan Angulo’s equalizer to tie the match in stoppage time against CF Montreal on Saturday.

According to OptaJack, the Pride have secured the most points at home during the regular season since last May, with 26.

  • USMNT defender Sergino Dest suffered a knee injury during training with PSV Eindhoven over the weekend. Dest will miss the remainder of the Eredivisie season and could miss the 2024 Copa America this summer.
  • Real Madrid came back from being 2-1 down to defeat Barcelona 3-2 and stay ahead of its rivals by 11 points with six league matches left.
  • Bayer Leverkusen extended its unbeaten run to 45 matches after scoring a late goal from Josip Stanisic in stoppage time to get a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund.
  • Serie A side Udinese is reportedly set to hire former Juventus and Real Madrid player Fabio Cannavaro as its next head coach.

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

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