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Orlando City vs. New York City FC: Final Score 2-2 as Lions Rally From Two Down

Another controversial video review goes against Orlando City late.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City recovered from giving up two first-half goals but could have won had yet another controversial video review not gone against the Lions. Maxime Chanot’s handball on a Dom Dwyer attempt was not called and then not overturned on video review, as the Lions drew New York City FC 2-2 at Orlando City Stadium. The Lions (0-0-1, 1 point) snapped a four-game losing streak to NYCFC (0-0-1, 1 point) and are now 5-5-3 in the all-time series.

“We felt we didn’t deserve to be two-nil down, but we were two-nil down,” said Head Coach James O’Connor after the game. “So, like we said, you either sit and feel sorry for yourself or you get out and you keep believing and you keep pushing and you keep doing the things that we’d spoken about. And I think we were very unfortunate not to go on and win the game at the end. I think there was some kind of controversy or some handball or something, so we go from two-nil down to having a real opportunity to go and win the game.”

O’Connor opted to start mainly the same team that faced NYCFC two weeks ago in the Orlando City Invitational. With Nani having missed a few days of training and flying back a day before the match, the Portuguese star began the game on the bench. He was alongside Dwyer, who was fit enough to be available but not 90-minute match fit after missing the bulk of preseason. Lamine Sané didn’t even make the 18, as O’Connor’s back line featured rookie Kamal Miller, newcomer Alex De John, and Shane O’Neill.

City began the game with good spells of possession but the Lions weren’t really able to generate a lot of clear-cut chances, as the New York City defense and midfield kept the lads in purple away from goalkeeper Sean Johnson. Still, the first shot of the half came five minutes in when Will Johnson fired just inches wide of the post.

New York scored in the 13th minute through Ebenezer Ofori, who was given too much space about 25 yards out, straight above the penalty area. Sebas Mendez was slow to close Ofori down and his shot was hit with power and was well placed just inside Brian Rowe’s post to make it 1-0.

Chris Mueller should have tied the game two minutes later. He was slipped into the top of the area by O’Neill and had either side to choose from but he fired wide of the right post in a chance he’ll no doubt want back.

A minute later, Sacha Kljestan shot from just inside the top of the area but didn’t get all of it and hit it right at Sean Johnson.

Will Johnson (no relation) took a nice layoff pass from Kljestan above the area in the 25th minute but got under it and fired well over the bar, as the Lions missed the net on seven of their eight first-half shot attempts. Eventually the attack started to become just lumping the ball over the top for Tesho Akindele, but he was a lone wolf against three defenders most times, and that was never going to work.

Assistant referee Kevin Klinger appeared to pull a hamstring late in the half and had to switch out with the fourth official in an incident you don’t see every day.

Orlando was lucky not to give up a goal in the 41st minute when Chanot’s free header on a corner kick was sent wide of goal. But the Pigeons got a second just before halftime through Alexander Ring, who took a pass from Alexandru Mitrita, which nutmegged De John, and got in behind the defense before beating Rowe to make it 2-0.

Minutes later, the first half mercifully ended. Orlando City held 62% of the possession to just 38% for NYCFC, but the Lions had little purpose in their attack, despite also being the better passing side (82%-75%). Shots were 8-6 Orlando (1-3 on target, however).

“I thought we were extremely unlucky to be going in two-nil down,” O’Connor said. “I think when you look at the balance of play first half, we had a lot of possession, we were camped in their half, we had multiple good opportunities — I think we were all a little frustrated to go in two-nil down.”

The tide turned in the second half, but it took a few minutes. Kyle Smith had the first good opportunity of the second half, forcing a good Sean Johnson save in the 51st minute. De John got under the cross on the ensuing corner and couldn’t direct Mueller’s pass on frame, as it was just a bit high.

But Mueller pulled the Lions back into the game in the 59th minute. After Kljestan was pulled down out on the left side, just above the penalty area, Mueller stepped up to the ball. The second-year player delivered a dangerous ball into the box that took a bounce and found its way inside the back post. The delivery forced Sean Johnson to decide between playing the oncoming attackers or the ball, and he could only watch as Mueller made it 2-1.

“I just wanted to put it into a dangerous area,” Mueller said. “And I made sure that if no one got a touch onto it, it would creep into that back post area and that’s exactly what ended up happening. So it was good to get the team back into the game.”

Mueller’s goal was the first scored by any Lion in a competitive game against NYCFC since Cyle Larin’s second goal in a 2-1 win on April 23, 2017.

The teams battled back and forth, mostly in the middle of the pitch, for the next 10 minutes or so, and then the game changed again when O’Connor sent Dwyer and Nani onto the pitch in exchange for Smith and Mendez.

“You could hear it, couldn’t you, in the stadium?” Mueller said when asked if he could feel the energy change when Nani and Dwyer checked in. “It got pretty loud in the stadium and I think that just gave us a little bit of an extra boost. Guys were getting tired and they came on and they created a very nice goal together. It was awesome.”

Just five minutes after coming on, Nani — on one of his first few touches as a Lion — unlocked the NYCFC defense with one long pass, sending Dwyer behind the back line on the left. Dom drew Johnson over toward him and slipped a centering pass to Akindele, who tapped it in to open his Orlando City account.

“I thought they came in and they made a huge impact,” Akindele said of Nani and Dwyer entering the game. “I think one of Nani’s first touches was the pass to set Dom through. One of Dom’s first touches was an assist. So that just shows the quality they bring and the depth we have up top.”

Akindele had to leave the game after the goal but said he was just cramping up due to the heat and the effort put into the match.

“I was like, happy (after scoring the goal), but then my body was cramping, so it was kind of weird,” he said, laughing. “I was trying to be like real happy and celebrate but I couldn’t. So, next time maybe I’ll have a better celebration.”

With the game tied, Orlando looked for the winner and it appeared the Lions had their chance to grab it in the 80th minute. Mueller sent in a good cross that Dwyer knocked toward goal. The ball hit Chanot’s arm and Dwyer emphatically screamed for a penalty. Once there was a stop in play, video assistant referee Jose Carlos Rivero buzzed down to referee Baldomero Toledo, who stopped the game and reviewed the play on a monitor.

Although replays show Chanot’s hand out away from his body and moving in a way so as to block the flight of the ball, Toledo did not overturn the play and no penalty was awarded. Following the game, the game officials issued this statement to the pool reporter covering the game:

“The VAR recommended a review for a potential handling in the penalty area. After review, the referee determined that the defender did not deliberately handle the ball.”

O’Connor clarified that he hadn’t seen a good replay of the incident in the box but several players had told him it was a clear-cut handball.

The Pigeons had one more good opportunity, but Rowe was able to deny Mitrita from a tight angle late in the game, and, after 90 minutes plus four minutes of stoppage time, neither team had a win.

Shots for the match were even at 13 apiece, with New York City putting six on frame to Orlando’s four. The Lions held 58% of the possession to NYCFC’s 42%, and Orlando connected on 80% of its passes to the visitors’ 73%.

“I felt like overall the team’s performance was really good. It definitely hurts not to get the three points on the first day but I think that we showed a lot of character fighting back.,” Mueller said.

“I think it’s cool to see the response but obviously you don’t want to put yourself in a position where we go down at all,” Akindele said. “And to be honest, I think that start to finish, I think we outplayed them. I think they had two chances against the run of play that they did really well, that they took advantage of, but honestly I think we completely outplayed them.”

Nani said after the game that he was feeling the effects of the travel but he hopes to be able to start “after a very good week of training.” O’Connor said he went through several instances in his mind of when he’d bring in Nani and Dwyer, who hadn’t trained much with the team this preseason.

“I think if I’m being honest I didn’t envision the two lads getting the minutes that they did,” O’Connor said of his plan on when to use Nani and Dwyer. “But I knew in the back of my mind if we needed a goal or we needed something to change the game, then them two were going to go on. They both deserve a lot of credit because they’ve not done a lot of training. To go on and impact the game like they did, some of the play and the heart that they showed was really encouraging.”

With yet another first-game draw, the Lions are now 1-0-4 in their opening day matches since joining the league.


Orlando City will be back in action next Saturday at the Chicago Fire. Game time is 1 p.m.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/29/24

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight, Kaká to be honored, Pride linked to Grace Chanda, and more.

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Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. It’s match day for Orlando City as the Lions travel to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Fire. Orlando City looks to get back to its winning ways in the midweek matchup and we will have all the coverage you need during the match on our Twitter account, and after the match right here at The Mane Land.

We would also like to wish Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines a very happy birthday! Frankly, it’s the least we can do given everything he has done so far this NWSL season. For now, let’s get to the links.

Lions Prepare for the Fire

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Soldier Field. The Lions will look to extend a three-match winning streak over the Fire. Facundo Torres has been particularly effective against Chicago, so hopefully he can start scoring some more goals as well. We will have our match preview a little later today.

Legends Terrace Coming to Inter&Co Stadium

Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are creating a “Legends Terrace” at Inter&Co Stadium to permanently honor those that have made a lasting impact with either club. Unsurprisingly, the first inductee will be the one and only Kaká. The ceremony will take place following the July 6 match against D.C. United. There will also be a concert featuring Latin performer Jota Quest in the Publix Mane Street Plaza outside the stadium prior to the match.

Orlando Pride Linked With Grace Chanda

Do you like Barbra Banda and what she has done since joining the Pride? Do you find yourself wondering, “got anymore of those Zambian strikers?” Well, it just so happens that the Orlando Pride are reportedly interested in signing Zambian forward Grace Chanda. According to the report, the San Diego Wave, Racing Louisville, and the Pride are all interested in signing Chanda. Given the Pride are serious about contending for a title this season, another quality striker is a good move. Let’s hope the rumor is true.

Pride Schedule Adjusted

The Olympics won’t be the only women’s soccer competition this summer, as the inaugural NWSL x LIGA MX Femenil Summer Cup will start on July 19. We have learned that the Orlando Pride match against C.F. Monterrey at Inter&Co Stadium has been moved up from Sunday, July 28 to Saturday, July 27. The move does not affect Orlando City’s schedule, as the Lions play a rare Friday match that week. You can check out more information on the competition here.

Free Kicks

  • I know that there are those upset with the Leagues Cup as it definitely impacted the U.S. Open Cup this year. However, if you do decide to go to a match, at least part of the ticket price will go to a good cause.
  • Congratulations to Felipe Martins. That is a lot of matches and we appreciate him being with our beloved Orlando City.
  • Congratulations also go out to Orlando City academy player Camilio Guerrero for earning a call up to a U.S. U-14 national talent identification camp.
  • USMNT winger Tim Weah is making money moves in the Big Apple.

That will do it for today. We will see you on the other side of the match tonight. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/28/24

Yutaro Tsukada earns recognition, Americans in midweek action, European coaching updates, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you all had a restful holiday weekend, and if you didn’t, then I hope you’re well on the way to recovery. We’ve got an exciting schedule this week, with two Orlando City games before an Orlando City B game on Sunday. It’s also OCB forward Yeiler Valencia’s birthday today, so let’s wish him well and jump into today’s links!

Yutaro Tsukada Earns MLS NEXT Pro Honors

OCB winger Yutaro Tsukada was named MLS NEXT Pro Player of Matchweek 11 for his performance in the team’s 5-0 home win against Huntsville City FC. The 22-year-old provided the assist on OCB’s first goal after using some nice skill on the ball to shake his defender. Tsukada then scored a goal of his own off of a free kick in the second half. The rookie has been electric for the Young Lions this season, recording four goals and four assists so far. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling when OCB faces Inter Miami II this Sunday.

Major League Soccer Stock Watch

Every week gives us a better idea of each MLS team’s capabilities, so let’s check in on how things are looking following the latest matchday. LAFC is on a great trajectory, as it’s won three consecutive league games and five straight in all competitions. Elsewhere in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake scored three goals in the final 30 minutes of play to stretch its unbeaten streak to 11 games, and Cristian Arango didn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting. At the other end of things, the New England Revolution have lost three straight games, and six of their last seven. Likewise, the shine looks to have worn off from St. Louis City’s expansion season, as the team has also lost three straight games and simply doesn’t look the same as last year.

Americans in Midweek Action

With most of the European club seasons having concluded, there aren’t as many United States Men’s National Team players in action during the working week, but there are still some important games to make note of. Chief among those is Venezia’s game against Cremonese on Thursday. Tanner Tessmann, Gianluca Busio and Venezia will take on Cremonese over two legs, with the winner gaining promotion to Serie A. Left back Jonathan Gomez may take the field tomorrow morning in Real Sociedad’s friendly against Tokyo Verde as well.

In a pair of friendlies on Friday, Mexico plays Bolivia and Uruguay takes on Costa Rica. With the USMNT set to face both Bolivia and Uruguay in group play of this summer’s Copa America, the two matches present a good chance to better gauge the Yanks’ opponents.

European Coaching Updates

Several notable European club teams have coaching vacancies to fill this summer, and there are some updates on a few of those positions. Chelsea has reportedly made an approach for Leicester City’s Enzo Maresca, and has requested permission to talk to the manager who guided the Foxes back to the Premier League in his first year with the club. Meanwhile, despite interest from Manchester United, Kieran McKenna is reportedly set to stay at Ipswich Town, and has had talks about extending his contract. Finally, Aston Villa has extended Unai Emery’s contract, with his new deal keeping him at the club until 2029.

Transfer Rumor Roundup

Transfer season is kicking into gear, and we have several rumors to sift through this morning. Up first, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich are reportedly all in hot pursuit of Stade Rennais winger Desire Doue. Casemiro reportedly has a deal lined up with a team in the Saudi Pro League, and may have played his last game for Manchester United. Newly promoted Southampton is reportedly interested in signing Adam Lallana as a free agent. Finally, Paris Saint-Germain is said to have entered the race to sign Bruno Guimaraes, and will face stiff competition from Manchester City and Arsenal.

Free Kicks


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

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. the Columbus Crew: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in a 2-0 loss at home against Columbus?

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Rafael Santos Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

The Lions returned home riding a three-game unbeaten streak but a bizarre video review call moments before halftime set the tone for a physical match against the Columbus Crew. Ultimately, Orlando fell to the Crew 2-0. Here’s how I saw each individual Lion’s performance in Orlando’s fourth loss at home on the season.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 6 — The Peruvian No. 1 saw a relatively quiet first half come to a close in a fury as he was forced into action to face a penalty kick before halftime. Gallese guessed correctly, but Diego Rossi’s placement was just above Gallese’s outstretched trailing hand. The Crew put three of their eight shot attempts on target and Gallese was credited with one save on the night. He completed 94.1% of his 17 passing attempts, including two accurate long balls out of three attempts.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 7 (MotM) — Schlegel continued to fill in for injured starter Robin Jansson and has now strung a few solid performances together on the back line. Defensively, he put out multiple fires for Orlando City. He tied Wilder Cartagena for the team lead with five clearances. Schlegel also added three tackles and one blocked shot. He committed one foul while he suffered three throughout the match. He completed 93.1% of his 58 passing attempts, including two key passes. He also completed one of his three long-ball attempts on the night. For his total effort throughout the game he is our Man of the Match.

D, Wilder Cartagena, 6.5 — The Peruvian international continued to function as a center back in the squad’s 3-5-2 lineup. Defensively, he tied for the team lead with five clearances and added three tackles and a blocked shot. He won two aerial duels and was whistled for two fouls on the night. He completed 91.7% of his 48 passes, including two successful long balls out of four attempts. Offensively, Cartagena put one of his two shot attempts on target and completed one successful dribble.

D, David Brekalo, 6 — Brekalo continued to perform well in the back as he has become more comfortable in his role, leading the team with four total tackles and chipping in one clearance. He completed 91.3% of his 46 passes and was successful on both long balls that he sent up the field. He committed one foul in the match. Offensively, he did not contribute any statistics.

WB, Facundo Torres, 5.5 — Torres again slotted in at wingback, which limits the number of looks he gets at goal, but it’s nice to see a Designated Player willing to change positions for the good of the team. The Uruguayan logged one tackle, one clearance, and one interception on defense. He committed one foul and earned a foul as well. He completed 91.5% of his 47 passes, which included two key passes. He completed three of his eight crossing attempts on the night and was successful on one of two long balls. Offensively, he logged one shot, which was off target, and completed one successful dribble.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6.5 — Lodeiro played solidly throughout the match and was asked to do a little bit of everything during the game. Defensively, he contributed three tackles and one interception. He led the team with 77 total touches and completed 84.8% of his team-high 59 passing attempts, including one key pass. He successfully completed one of his five crosses and both of his long-ball attempts. Offensively, he put one of his two shot attempts on target. He was whistled for being offside once. Lodeiro saw his night come to an end in the 66th minute when he was replaced by Martin Ojeda.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6 — Returning from suspension for yellow card accumulation, Araujo functioned as the only true defensive midfielder. Araujo’s effort on the night will ultimately be remembered for the jersey tug and subsequent yellow card recieved for the “foul” on Aidan Morris, which resulted in a penalty kick attempt for the Crew (instead of Orlando City) after a confusing and frustrating video review. Araujo finished the night quietly from a statistical standpoint with one interception as his only defensive stat. He committed four fouls total, including the aforementioned “foul.” He completed 96.3% of his 27 passes, including two successful long balls on two attempts. Offensively, Araujo was credited with one successful dribble. He was subbed out of the match in the 58th minute as Orlando chased the game.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6.5 — Angulo slotted into the midfield for the second straight game. Defensively, he contributed one tackle. He completed 86.5% of his 52 passes, including a team-high three key passes. He also completed his lone through ball attempt. Offensively, he did not log a shot attempt, but he did complete two dribbles and was fouled once. Angulo was able to use his speed to get into dangerous positions throughout the match but continued to lack precision when it came to the final pass or dribble.

WB, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Thorhallsson joined Torres as the wingback on the opposite side in the 3-5-2 system and seemed to be an afterthought throughout much of the match as the team played down the left side of the field for the majority of the game. Defensively, he contributed three total tackles and one clearance while also winning one aerial on the night and did well to deny the speedy Yaw Yeboah multiple chances to get inside him on give-and-go plays. He completed 83.3% of his 24 total passing attempts. He was unsuccessful on both crossing attempts but completed one of his two long balls. Offensively, as a byproduct of much of the action happening opposite his side of the field, he failed to record an offensive statistic. He was subbed out of the match in the 58th minute.

F, Luis Muriel, 6.5 — Muriel put in a good effort on a night when the scoreboard unfortunately would not reflect it. His effort to get in on goal — and subsequently be taken down from behind — earned what everyone thought at the time to be a penalty attempt for the Lions, although it was taken away by the referee after the review. Defensively, Muriel was credited with one interception. He completed 88% of his 25 passes and was successful on his lone crossing attempt. He won one aerial and offensively put one of his three shot attempts on target while completing three successful dribbles and suffering one foul.

F, Jack Lynn, 5.5 — With the injury to Duncan McGuire, the hero of the Lions’ last match, Lynn made Orlando’s starting lineup. Defensively, Lynn contributed one clearance. He completed 81.8% of his 11 passes. Lynn was unsuccessful on his lone crossing attempt. Offensively, Lynn failed to record a shot attempt but was credited with one successful dribble while being whistled for offside twice. He was subbed off in the 58th minute for Ramiro Enrique.

Substitutes

MF, Felipe, (59′), 5.5 — Brought on for Araujo just before the hour mark, Felipe looked to help control the midfield. Defensively he logged one tackle and one clearance while committing one foul, which landed him a yellow card. He completed 89.5% of his 19 passes, including one key pass and two successful long balls on two attempts. Offensively he did not record a shot attempt.

WB, Rafael Santos, (59′), 6 — Santos came on for Thorhallsson but went over to fill the left wingback role, sending Torres forward and Angulo to right wingback. He recorded one interception on the defensive end. Santos completed 84.2% of his 19 passes, which included one successful long ball on his one attempt. He was fouled once and was whistled for offside once.

F, Ramiro Enrique, (60′), 6 — Making his return from an extended absence due to injury, Enrique came on for the final half hour in the hopes of providing an offensive spark. He got into good areas but struggled to finish on some of Orlando’s best scoring chances of the night. Enrique completed 66.7% of his six passes and was unsuccessful on his lone cross. In a little over 30 minutes of game time, Enrique managed to tie Muriel for the most shot attempts, with three, and put two of them on target, albeit right at the goalkeeper. Despite the poor overall outcome of the match, it was good to see Enrique return to the pitch.

MF, Martin Ojeda, (67′), 5.5 — Designated Player Ojeda came off the bench to replace Lodeiro as Orlando faced a two-goal deficit. Defensively, Ojeda logged one interception. He completed all eight of his pass attempts, with two key passes, and three of his five crosses. Ojeda attempted one shot, which was off target.


How did you see the individual performances in this game? Make your voice heard down in the comments, and be sure to vote in our Man of the Match poll. Vamos Orlando!

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