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Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids: Final Score 4-3 as Nani Powers Lions to First Home Win

Nani’s brace led Orlando to a pair of comebacks in a wild, rain-soaked affair.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

The Lions finally got a home win in 2019, but it was anything but easy. Orlando needed to come from behind twice against the Colorado Rapids to grab a late 4-3 victory at Orlando City Stadium in front of 22,450 on a rainy night.

The Rapids (0-4-2, 2 points) grabbed leads of 1-0 and 3-2 in the match but the resilient Lions were a threat to score all night and eventually put enough goals on the board to win the match when Nani converted a penalty in the 89th minute to lift City (2-2-2, 8 points) to the team’s first home win of the season. Orlando is still unbeaten in the series with the Rapids, improving to 4-0-1 in five meetings (3-0-0 in Orlando).

“You don’t want to be conceding three goals,” said Head Coach James O’Connor after the match. “As exciting and entertaining as it is for everybody to win — and it is, it’s great — but we don’t want to be like that every week. I certainly don’t.”

“Tonight was fantastic because we had so many opportunities and most of them we put inside the goal,” said Nani.

O’Connor made a few changes to the lineup, dropping center back Shane O’Neill and pushing Carlos Ascues to right center back. Tesho Akindele returned from his hamstring issue to start up top next to Dom Dwyer at forward. Nani slid back to the midfield alongside Sebas Mendez, Sacha Kljestan, and wingbacks Ruan and Joao Moutinho.

After the first six minutes were played between the penalty areas, both teams started attacking. Moutinho’s cross into the box in the sixth was the first good opportunity of the game, but it was knocked out for a corner by the defense. Two minutes later, Ruan sent a dangerous cross into the box that was deflected out by a defender but only as far as Kljestan, who had his shot blocked.

A minute later, the Rapids took the lead. Kei Kamara (who else?) pounced to make it 1-0. Dillon Serna’s cross into the box went about an inch over the head of a leaping Sané. Jansson didn’t expect the ball to get through and it bounced off his head and fell in behind, where Kamara won the race to the loose ball and poked it past Brian Rowe in the ninth minute.

The teams then exchanged set piece opportunities. After Dwyer saw a header blocked at the back post, the Rapids nearly scored on a direct free kick, but Keegan Rosenberry’s effort went just wide.

Orlando kept attacking up the wings and nearly scored in the 21st. Moutinho got to the end line and crossed in for Dwyer, but Deklan Wynne deflected it off his own goal post. Shortly after that, the Lions changed shape after Ascues went down with an apparent leg injury. Uri Rosell came on and slotted into the midfield with Orlando going four at the back.

The Lions equalized in the 31st minute, as Nani opened his Orlando City account. Ruan somehow nutmegged teammate Akindele just a couple yards in front of goal with a sizzling cross. Moutinho gathered it at the other side of the area and crossed it in for Nani to head home .

Colorado tried to pull that goal back quickly, earning a corner kick in the 33rd minute. But it was Orlando City that capitalized. The Lions cleared the cross out to Ruan, who blazed down the pitch on the counter attack. He crossed to Dwyer, who fired and saw his shot well saved by a diving Tim Howard, but it fell to the feet of Akindele, who roofed the ball just under the crossbar to make it 2-1 with his second goal of the season.

The Ruan Show continued for the rest of the half. First, he turned Nicolas Mezquida inside out with a dribble (the man has a family, Ruan!) and then drew a yellow card on Kamara, who tried to pull him back by the shirt. Then the speedy Brazilian blew past Serna, only to overcook his cross, hitting it over everyone.

Moutinho’s long ball in the 43rd minute sent Nani down the left. The Portuguese star found Dwyer in the box. Dom had trouble digging the ball out of his feet, but did manage to turn and shoot, but it was blocked. Two minutes later, Dwyer found space at the top of the area and got his shot on frame, but Howard made another diving save, sticking out a palm to keep it 2-1 at the break.

Orlando led in shots at the break, 7-5 (4-2 on target). Colorado had the edge in possession (54.5%-45.5%) and passing accuracy (82.1%-74.9%).

Unfortunately, Mother Nature reared her ugly head at the half, with a delay due to lightning in the area lasting an hour before the game restarted.

The Rapids were by far the more energetic team after the long delay, holding possession, winning balls off sloppy midfield passes, and trying to hit quickly on the counter. Rowe stopped a header from Kellyn Acosta in the 47th minute.

Orlando fizzed a couple crosses dangerously through the box after that, but defender Axel Sjoberg blocked Ruan’s pass and Nani’s went harmlessly out the other side as no Lions made a run after he mesmerized the defense out on the left side.

Rowe made a big save to deny Kamara in the 59th off a dangerous cross by Keegan Rosenberry on a play that should have — but didn’t — serve as a warning sign for the Orlando defense in the second half. Two minutes later, Rosenberry got down the right channel on the counter and picked out Mezquida, who scored on a free header in the 61st minute to make it 2-2.

Ten minutes later, the visitors took the lead. Benny Feilhaber played a ball across left to right to Cole Bassett, who faked as if he would drive to his right. Once Jansson committed, Bassett cut back inside on his left foot and curled a shot around Rowe to make it 3-2 Colorado.

As the game moved into the late stages, Nani went down in the penalty area after contact with Acosta. Referee Jair Marrufo saw no foul there, and a heated exchange took place between the two midfielders, but ultimately it was much ado about nothing.

Dwyer headed a ball right at Howard from just a few yards out in the 79th, and it started to look like Orlando would fall at home again. But then O’Connor introduced Chris Mueller for Mendez in the 80th, and he once again lifted the team with his energy.

A minute after coming on, Mueller scored. Moutinho threw in the ball in the final third. It took a high bounce and Nani headed it toward goal. Akindele stuck out a leg and helped it on with a back heel and Mueller collected it, then slotted it home through Howard to tie the game at 3-3 in the 81st minute.

“I just tried to stay alive,” Mueller said. “The ball kind of floated into the box. I think it was Tesho that went up with one of the defenders. It kind of took a weird bounce. I took it down and just kept the ball low, tried to get it on target, and it ended up going right through the goalie’s legs.”

O’Connor spoke after the game about his decision to bring Mueller off the bench as a sub yet again.

“We sat down with Chris and I just said to him, ‘Listen, you’re not going to start this one,’” O’Connor said. “I said, ‘You’re really unlucky.’ But we just felt that there was potential for Chris to be able to come off the bench and impact the game like he has. And when you have a weapon like that and you look at the way the game may go or may not go, the biggest decision for us is, do we start him?

The easiest thing for us to do is start Chris tonight. Everyone would have expected it, including them (the Rapids) to start the game. But when we looked at it, we thought we needed to be brave and we needed to maybe follow what our gut instinct was and bring him off the bench. Now when he goes and he does something like that (score), it’s incredible.”

The goal only urged the Lions on even more. Two minutes after Mueller’s goal, Ruan flashed a cross through the area that was just inches out of Dwyer’s reach at the back post, with a wide-open net in front of him. Four minutes later, another Ruan cross turned the game in Orlando’s favor. The Brazilian sent one into the area that Sjoberg tried to block with his head, but it ended up hitting his arm as well and Marrufo pointed to the spot even as Dwyer improbably missed an empty net from just a couple yards away. Nani stepped up to the spot, sent Howard the wrong way, and coolly completed his brace in the 89th minute, putting Orlando up, 4-3.

“It’s always good to score goals for the team,” said Nani shortly after netting his first two as a Lion. “It’s always good to help, but obviously it’s not the most important. We wanted to win for our fans. What they’ve been doing all (these) weeks is fantastic. I never saw that in my life. I’ve been playing for many teams, and when the things are not going well, everyone knows how the fans normally react. These fans, they are special, so I wanted so badly to help the team to win and tonight we are very happy because we did and it was a great game, a fantastic game for our team.”

The Lions saw out the final minute, plus four minutes of injury time, without allowing Colorado an opportunity to equalize, and the whistle signaled the end of Orlando’s first 2019 home victory.

City out-shot the Rapids, 16-10 (8-6 on target), with possession finishing about evenly split at 50/50. Colorado did pass slightly better (80%-76%) in the game.

O’Connor praised his star man after the match following Nani’s two-goal, one-assist performance.

“When you look at Nani, he’s a world-class player. We’re blessed to have somebody like that,” he said. “I think it shows you his professionalism and his mentality to have a reaction like that tonight. He’s got a phenomenal leap first half, scored a great header. And then the composure to take the penalty. He was cool as a cucumber and just slid it into the corner. I think when you look at his play and his experience and the way he’s trying to help the players it’s — as we’ve always said — very, very encouraging. It’s not just the technical aspect. It’s the leadership that he shows as well.”

Orlando City will travel west next weekend to take on Real Salt Lake in Utah on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 10/3/23

Facundo Torres named to MLS Team of the Matchday, Orlando Pride beat Angel City FC, MLS midweek matchday preview, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s been a mixed bag for Orlando soccer over the last few days. Orlando City breezed past CF Montreal on Saturday, the Orlando Pride won to boost its playoff push, and Orlando City B dropped a heartbreaker to Columbus Crew 2 in the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs. As usual, there’s plenty to talk over this morning, so let’s get started.

Facundo Torres Makes Team of the Matchday

Facundo Torres has been named to the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday following his efforts in Orlando City’s 3-0 win over CF Montreal on Saturday. Facu forced the own goal that opened the scoring, was involved in the buildup for the second tally, and bagged the final goal of the night himself. Beyond the stats, he was simply involved the whole game, constantly drifting into dangerous areas inside the fullbacks and causing Montreal’s defense all sorts of problems. He now has 13 goals and four assists in league play this year and is absolutely vital to the way the Lions want to play when in the attacking third. Marcus Mitchell rightly gave him Man of the Match honors in our player grades, and it’s nice to see him get recognition at the national level too. Here’s hoping he keeps it up.

Orlando Pride Win On the Road

The Orlando Pride beat Angel City FC 1-0 in a massive win on the road. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but the Pride scored in the first half and held on to win their ninth game of the season and remain in the playoff hunt. Following the win, Orlando sits in seventh in the league standings with two games to go. The Pride now control their own destiny and will clinch a spot in the postseason with wins against Racing Louisville and the Houston Dash to close out the season. Things remain incredibly tight in the standings, but the result made the Kansas City Current the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention this season.

Looking Ahead to Pivotal MLS Midweek Games

There are a number of big games taking place tomorrow during the 36th matchday of this MLS season. Obviously, Orlando City’s game against Nashville SC takes priority around these parts, as the Lions need a result against a team that’s given them fits if they want to maintain second place in the Eastern Conference. Another game with big ramifications for OCSC is the Philadelphia Union’s home game against Atlanta United. A victory for Philadelphia could see the Union draw level with the Lions if Orlando can’t get a result on the road, so that’ll be one to watch very closely. Finally, the New England Revolution are facing the Columbus Crew. A win for the Revs could see them leapfrog the Lions into second depending on how Orlando fares in the Music City, so there’s plenty at stake during tomorrow’s midweek slate.

Andre Blake Criticizes Heavy Matchload

If you play in Major League Soccer these days, you’re going to be putting a lot of miles on your legs. A sharp uptick in the number of matches played, combined with rosters that aren’t exactly in the deep end of the pool, means that guys are logging some serious minutes. Union goalkeeper Andre Blake was not shy in criticizing MLS for the number of matches that teams are playing this year. He has called the situation “ridiculous”, saying that the players are suffering and that the quality of the league will decrease as a result of injuries due to the overloaded schedules. Blake has an excellent point, particularly because many of the league’s top players will also play international fixtures in addition to club games, further adding onto an already untenable workload.

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  • Marta, Adriana, and Rafaelle have all been called up for Brazil’s upcoming friendlies.

That’s all I have for you today. Y’all stay safe out there!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 10/2/23

Orlando City’s trophy aspirations, the Orlando Pride playoff hunt, OCB falls to Columbus Crew 2, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! Though I’m still reveling in the huge win over CF Montreal, I’m also looking ahead to a big week for both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride. It’s such a great time of the year with MLS and NWSL matches, plus the European leagues, and American football. So much to watch, so little sleep to be had. Let’s get to the links.

Lions Looking for Hardware

Orlando City set a record for wins and points in a season with the win over CF Montreal on Saturday night. Hopefully it’s a record that will be extended over the final three matches of the regular season. The coaches and the players certainly think that Orlando City has an opportunity to win the MLS Cup. Where the Lions finish in the standings will go a long way towards reaching the final and that all starts Wednesday night.

The Pride’s Playoff Push

The Orlando Pride continue their push to make the NWSL playoffs for the first time since the 2017 season with a trip across the country to take on Angel City FC later tonight. It is the first of two away matches this week — the last road games of the regular season. The Pride sit just above Angel City in the standings with the clubs in seventh and eighth places, respectively. The game will be Marta’s 100th match over all competitions. Securing three points over Angel City would make a big difference in the Pride’s race to the playoffs. Keep an eye out for our preview later today.

OCB Penalized Out of the Playoffs

On The Mane Land PawedCast, we often describe Orlando City B matches as being “drunk.” OCB’s 2-1 playoff loss to Columbus Crew 2 will definitely be described as such. There were three red cards, two penalties, and Jack Lynn didn’t score a goal for once. There were some questionable calls by both the refs and by OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman, but conceding only from the penalty spot while outscoring the hosts in the run of play won’t (and shouldn’t) sit well with the Young Lions. While the result is disappointing, one should remember that OCB is a development squad, and one that made the playoffs to boot.

USMNT Players in Action Abroad

USMNT players made some noise this weekend. Christian Pulisic played 82 minutes and scored AC Milan’s winning goal in the club’s 2-0 victory over Lazio. It was one of two shots on target for the American. Striker Folarin Balogun missed not one, but two penalty shots in Monaco’s match against Marseille. Fortunately, Balogun scored an equalizer in the run of play and his teammate secured the 3-2 win. The win moves Monaco to the top of Ligue 1.

Over in the Eredivisie, Malik Tillman got his first start for PSV. Tillman provided an assist and scored the game winner late in second-half stoppage time to give PSV a 3-1 win over FC Volendam. It was a Man of the Match performance by the American. In less good news, Tyler Adams will miss more time with AFC Bournemouth as he has had a setback with his hamstring injury. How long he will be out is still to be determined.

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That will do it for today. It’s a busy week coming up with Pride matches tonight and on Friday, and the Lions playing on Wednesday and Saturday. Check back for all of our coverage of your favorite teams. 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’s 3-0 home win over CF Montreal?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City returned to its winning ways with a convincing 3-0 victory at home against CF Montreal. An own goal by Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois got the scoring started in the first half. Facundo Torres and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson each scored nice team goals in the second half as the Lions cruised to victory against a Montreal side that hasn’t won since Aug. 26. The win set club records for both most points (54) and most wins (15) in a season since the Lions joined MLS in 2015.

Here’s how I saw each individual performance in Orlando’s dominant win at Exploria Stadium.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 6.5 — The Peruvian had one of his quietest nights of the season and didn’t have to make a save until the second half. That first save was a great one though, as he parried away a sudden shot from Mason Toye with little room to spare in the 76th minute. His only other save was an easy catch shortly after off of a Mathieu Choiniere from outside the area. Gallese completed 61.8% of his 34 passes and seven of his 20 long balls found their man. El Pulpo likely won’t have many complaints about a slow night at the office as he earned his ninth clean sheet of the season, which ties his high in an MLS season, set last year.

D, Rafael Santos, 7.5 — The Brazilian left back was dangerous from start to finish in one of his best games as a Lion. He notched his third assist of the campaign with a low cross that zipped through traffic and found fellow fullback Thorhallsson’s run. It was a chance he sparked himself by winning the ball in the midfield before booking it out wide. His cross on the first goal was just as good, as he was both patient and clinical to find Torres open in the box. Of his four crosses, two were successful and the misses had some venom on them as well. He also completed three of his five long balls and had 51 passes at an 82.4% success rate. Santos was defensively sound, leading the Lions with four tackles, making an interception as well, and winning two of his three aerial duels. Santos flourished once Orlando had its wingers switch sides, allowing him to work in tandem with Torres with overlapping runs and room to work.

D, Robin Jansson, 7 — The Beefy Swede was as strong as always in the center of Orlando’s defense, although he didn’t have to put out as many fires in this one thanks to his defensive midfielders. Jansson had a tackle, an interception, and a clearance as he broke up plays and kept Montreal’s offense in check. His only miscue was a worrying turnover in the second half that he promptly rectified with a surgical sliding tackle in the box. A few charges forward and connecting on four of his nine long balls kept Montreal’s defense on its toes as well. He completed 86% of his 50 passes and didn’t commit a single foul in an efficient outing.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 7 — Schlegel bounced back from a few underwhelming recent performances with a solid game in this shutout. His four clearances were the most on the team and he won both of his aerial duels. The center back also had a tackle and blocked a shot to make sure Montreal couldn’t get back in the match. His 62 passes were the second-most on the team and he completed 88.7% of them, while also succeeding on two of his four long balls. It was nice to see him calm, cool, and collected as he continues to fill in for Antonio Carlos.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 7.5 — Thorhallsson got the start again at right back and spent plenty of time in Orlando’s attack. That was more than evident shortly after halftime, when he made a superb run to bury a ball that skipped across the front of goal to double Orlando’s lead. He was credited with one shot (on target) but what must have been ruled a cross from a tight angle also appeared to be an on-target shot. The versatile player is improving with each match played at right back and completed all but one of his 33 passes for an excellent 97% success rate. Although neither of his two crosses were accurate, his lone long ball found its mark and he had a key pass as well. Defensively, he had just one interception, which is in part because of how much time he spent in the thick of things on offense. It was a great game from Thorhallsson, who was subbed out in the 82nd minute for Michael Halliday.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 7.5 — Araujo was a Swiss army knife of sorts for Orlando, doing a little bit of everything to give the Lions an edge all over the field. The 22-year-old directed traffic while on the ball, covered for his defenders as needed, and won a team-high four fouls. His lone shot was a headed effort that went wide, but he got involved on offense by succeeding on four of his nine long balls, with two of those marked as key passes. Araujo’s 76 touches were the most on the team and he was accurate on 88.1% of his 59 passes. He served the role of defensive midfielder well, helping out with two tackles, an interception, a clearance, and plenty of pressure to make life as difficult as possible for Montreal.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 7.5 — Cartagena did well on both sides of the ball. The Peruvian was credited with an assist for springing Ivan Angulo forward on the third goal, and he had a key pass for setting Torres up for a chance on the volley soon after that with a quick ball out wide. He almost had a goal himself when a free kick found him open in the box, but his header went high for his only shot of the evening. Cartagena’s 63 passes were the most on the team and he completed 93.7% of them while also connecting on four of his five long balls. Defensively, Cartagena didn’t give Montreal’s players much breathing room and blocked a shot.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — The winger struggled when attacking for a majority of his time on the field before coming off in the 64th minute. A lack of vision and execution while on the ball, particularly in the first half, led to some squandered chances that Orlando didn’t end up regretting in the end. Both of his shots were in quick succession, the first saved in a chance he should have done better with and the second fired wide from outside the box with better options available. He scored an easy header on a play from an obviously offside Torres that was correctly flagged after the ball went in. It was far from horrendous from the Colombian though, as he often put himself in good positions to jump on errant passes, provide an outlet for teammates, or demand attention from Montreal’s defenders. His assist came in the second half after he made a nicely timed run and then unselfishly laid the ball off for Torres rather than going for goal himself. It salvaged a fairly forgettable performance that included 38 touches and 28 passes at a strong 89.3% success rate, and an inaccurate cross.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6.5 — The captain was often swarmed when on the ball and had little room to make some of the backbreaking passes he’s shown over the years. He completed four of his five long balls, one of his three crosses, and 83.7% of his 43 passes. Pereyra didn’t have any shots himself, but had two key passes and did well as a facilitator in tight areas to keep Orlando in possession. His free kick that found Cartagena’s head in the box was a good one and he was subbed off for fresher legs while leading.

MF, Facundo Torres, 8 (MotM) — Torres played like a man possessed, doing everything right and more in a dominant performance. Torres’ first of a team-high four shots (two on target) ended up with the ball in the back of the net, as his strike hit the post and then bounced off Sirois and in for an own goal. On his goal, he did well to control Angulo’s pass and slot it past Sirois for his 13th of the season. His movement in the buildup of Thorhallsson’s goal was also commendable, as he made a good run, quickly circled back onside, then slowed the pace of the play down for Santos to make his overlapping run before feeding him. Between those attacking moments and chasing down opponents while up three goals, it was easy to see why European teams are keeping an eye on him. He completed 82.8% of his 29 passes and connected on two of his four crosses, while both of his long ball attempts were unsuccessful. It’s hard to believe he only had 44 touches given the massive impact he had on the field.

F, Duncan McGuire, 7 — The rookie put in a strong performance up top and was credited with an assist for a subtle touch on Thorhallsson’s goal. McGuire made a cutting run to peel Gabriele Corbo towards the end line and then flicked Santos’s cross into the path of charging runs by Angulo and Thorhallsson. He also chested down a long ball from Gallese to Cartagena in transition to help set up Torres’ goal. His only shot of the match was flicked wide, but he had two key passes and showed some prowess in making small passes in the box for his teammates to have open looks. He had 19 touches and 12 passes at a 58.3% success rate, doing well enough in terms of hold-up. McGuire made great runs to keep defenders on their toes, applied pressure to pin Montreal in its own half, and helped out defensively by blocking a shot and clearing the ball on a corner kick.


MF, Martin Ojeda (64′), 6.5 — Ojeda came off the bench with Orlando up three goals and did his part in keeping Montreal’s defense honest, even if he didn’t wind up on the scoresheet. He completed all 15 of his passes and was accurate on both of his long balls. His only shot of the game was an attempt to get the better of Sirois from a tight angle in the box, but the goalkeeper came up with the save. All in all, it was an efficient outing from the Designated Player off the bench.

F, Ramiro Enrique (64′), 6.5 — Enrique came on alongside Ojeda and brought plenty of energy with him to keep the Lions in the driver’s seat. Both of Enrique’s shots were from outside the box, with one blocked and the other saved by Sirois. He completed four of his seven passes and finished the game with 13 touches. Despite his size, he won two of his three aerial duels as well. Enrique received a curious yellow card after beating Nathan Saliba to a sliding challenge and winning the ball.

MF, Gaston Gonzalez (75′), 6 — The winger received some more minutes and did well enough while on the field. He had eight touches and completed all three of his passes. Although he didn’t have any shots, crosses, or long balls, he did record a key pass for setting up a shot for Enrique. He didn’t make many runs forward, likely due to Orlando’s lead, but looked strong on the ball when he did and wasn’t afraid to take defenders on.

D, Michael Halliday (82′), N/A — The right back replaced Thorhallsson and did well on both sides of the ball. Halliday made a few sprints upfield to give Orlando’s attack another option, but was resolute on the defensive end, even though he didn’t record any stats for his efforts there. He was accurate on three of his four passes and finished with seven touches.

MF, Junior Urso (83′), N/A — The Bear made another cameo off the bench for Orlando. He had six touches and was successful on four of his six passes. Urso wasn’t on the field long enough to warrant a grade, but it was nice to see him get a run out at Explorias Stadium with just one home game remaining.

That’s how I saw the individual performances by the Lions. Let me know where you agree and disagree in the comments below and make sure to vote for your Man of the Match in our poll below.

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