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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Montreal Impact: Final Score 3-0 as Lions Roar Past Impact in Canada

Nani scored his 100th professional goal and Orlando dominated north of the border.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City scored three times in the first half to take full control, beating the Montreal Impact, 3-0 at Stade Saputo. For the Lions (5-7-3, 18 points), it snapped a six-match winless streak against the Impact (7-7-3, 24 points) and improved them to 4-6-2 in the all-time series and 2-8-1 in Canada.

Nani, Tesho Akindele, and Will Johnson provided the offense, but everyone on the team chipped in something good in this one, as the Lions controlled the game from about the 20-minute mark onward.

Dom Dwyer, who suffered a hamstring issue in the team’s final training session before traveling north, was not in the lineup. Sebas Mendez did start, as he wasn’t with his Ecuador teammates in Miami to face Venezuela in a friendly — his national team is in its final preparation for the upcoming Copa America. James O’Connor went with the same exact lineup he used against the LA Galaxy.

An extremely boring first 25 minutes was exactly what Orlando City needed. Both teams stayed organized on defense and waited for the other to make a mistake. As the first half wore on, the Lions started winning the game in the midfield and it paid off.

Akindele forced the first good save of the game with a laser blast that Evan Bush fought off for a corner. On the ensuing set piece, Zakaria Diallo got his arm up while defending Lamine Sané and the handball was seen by referee Chris Penso, who immediately pointed to the spot.

Despite missing penalties in each of the last two games, Nani stepped up and slotted home to make it 1-0 in the 27th minute. It was his 100th career professional goal, as well as his team-leading eighth of the season.

Montreal tried to get forward more just after the goal but a pair of excellent defensive plays by left back Joao Moutinho kept the Impact at bay. He got tangled up with Bacary Sagna on the second such tackle and the veteran fullback was injured on the play, having to be subbed off for Zachary Brault-Guillard.

Chris Mueller tried to double the lead six minutes after Nani’s penalty, cutting inside on his right foot and forcing a save from Bush. Three minutes later, Orlando had its second goal. Cristian Higuita stole the ball in the midfield and sent Mueller down the left side of the area. Mueller crossed to Akindele, who tapped it in to make it 2-0 in the 36th minute.

With five goals now on the season, Akindele is just two shy of his career high of seven.

Montreal’s only shot of the half came in the 38th minute, when Robin Jansson blocked an effort from Anthony Jackson-Hamel. Brian Rowe went high in the air with confidence to catch an ensuing corner to keep the Lions’ lead at 2-0.

Orlando then built on that lead in the 42nd minute. A prolonged possession by the Lions eventually worked its way up the left side of the pitch, with Moutinho and Mueller working the ball back and forth to send the Orlando left back up the outside channel. Moutinho then crossed a ball into the box that found the head of a diving Johnson, who got it on frame and it bounced in to make it 3-0.

Because Bush got a touch on the cross, there were no assists awarded, but the passing of Orlando on the play was the story of the third goal.

That was all the scoring, despite Mueller winning a free kick in a dangerous spot late in the half. Nani tried to play a low ball across the area but Montreal was wise to it and broke away on the counter. Mendez was able to snuff out the counter attack and the Lions took their 3-0 lead to the break.

First half possession was just about even at 50% apiece, with Montreal slightly ahead by a couple tenths of a percentage point. Shots were 7-1 to Orlando (5-0 on goal), with the Impact slightly ahead in passing accuracy, 87%-85%, but most of Montreal’s possession was in its own half, with the Lions only picking up the pressure after the Impact crossed midfield.

The Lions primarily focused on seeing out the game in the second half and didn’t push forward much at all. City stayed compact and organized and the Impact simply couldn’t break the Lions down. But despite Montreal seeing more possession in the attacking half, the Impact couldn’t do much with the ball.

Montreal out-shot the Lions 8-3 in the second half, but only a few were even remotely dangerous, as the Impact only forced one save from Rowe.

The bulk of the play was between the boxes in the second period. The first decent chance for the Impact came in the 65th minute, when Daniel Lovitz made a good, quick move to get past Johnson and sent a cross into the box. Jackson-Hamel flicked it toward goal but it stayed wide.

Orlando had a good opportunity to add a fourth goal through Akindele in the 71st minute, after the ball bounced around in traffic at the top of the Montreal area. It eventually found its way left to Akindele but the Canadian got caught leaning back and drove his shot over the bar from close range.

The Impact’s best chance to grab a consolation goal came in the 84th minute when a cross found Saphir Taider right in front of goal. Rowe was able to reach out a hand to make a spectacular save to preserve the team’s third clean sheet of the season.

The Lions were able to see out the match and win for the second time in three outings as the team heads into the Concacaf Gold Cup break. Montreal held a slim 52%-48% advantage in possession and an edge in passing accuracy, 86%-83%. The Lions led in shots (10-9) and shots on goal (5-1).

It was largely the tireless work of Johnson, Higuita, and Mendez in the midfield that made the win possible, although it truly was a team effort, with individual brilliance from every player on the pitch at one time or another, and it’s the kind of performance O’Connor can hopefully build on the rest of the season.

The Lions’ next game will be in U.S. Open Cup play, as they’ll visit Memphis 901 FC on June 12 at 8:30 p.m. ET. The next league game for Orlando will be June 26 at D.C. United.

Orlando City

Orlando City at D.C. United: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn its first away victory of the season?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

Orlando City is back in action this Saturday night against D.C. United at Audi Field. Despite coming off back-to-back results, the off-week was well timed for the Lions. A little extra rest for the squad, plus giving players time to recuperate from various knocks should mean a nearly full strength Orlando City.

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points on the road against its Eastern Conference rivals?

The Dynamic Duo Return

Cesar Araujo returned to the Orlando City lineup against the New York Red Bulls, meaning the Lions should finally have their top choice defensive midfield pairing back together. The timing couldn’t be more perfect given Orlando City will be dealing with D.C. United striker Christian Benteke. He has five goals in five matches, which is half of the 10 goals D.C. United has scored all season.

So far this regular season, every match in which the Lions give up more than one goal has resulted in a loss. Keeping Benteke and the rest of D.C. United off of the score sheet is critical to getting a result. Orlando City can concede one goal and still walk away with points on the road, but only if the Lions manage to accomplish the next key below.

Goals are the Goal

To say Orlando City has been wasteful in front of goal is a bit of an understatement. So far this regular season, the Lions have 93 shots, with 27 on target, but only five goals. Orlando City has created scoring opportunities, but failed to convert them in anything close to an efficient manner. Of the five goals scored, Duncan McGuire has two, Nico Lodeiro has one, and Jack Lynn has one. The other was credited as an own goal on Lynn’s backheel attempt.

The list of players who haven’t scored yet this season is too long to type, but I don’t need goals from the defenders — though I will take them. I just need Facundo Torres, Ivan Angulo, Luis Muriel, and Martin Ojeda to get something going. Ideally, all four of them score in this match, but I’ll take whatever goals we can get.

End the Trend

Orlando City hasn’t fared well against D.C. United recently. Nearly a year ago, the Lions lost at home 3-1 to the visitors. The last trip to Audi Field was a 1-1 draw in which Orlando City gave up a goal in the 80th minute to settle for a single point. In 2022, Orlando City lost both matches to D.C. United. It’s time to get things going in the right direction.

The Lions also need to stop losing on the road. Losses to Inter Miami and Atlanta both came on the road, with Orlando City yet to find any points away from home. Last season, the Lions were veritable road warriors. The team needs to find that form again as it was a major reason the club finished second in the Supporters’ Shield race.

That is what I will be looking for this weekend as Orlando City takes on D.C. United. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/11/24

Learning more about Morgan Gautrat, OCB plays tonight, Champions League action, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I’m having a fairly stressful but great week after adopting my first cat and getting him all set up here. It may take a few weeks to turn him into a loyal Orlando soccer fan, but I have high hopes. Regardless, I’m looking forward to the gauntlet of games with Orlando City B playing today, the Orlando Pride tomorrow, and Orlando City on Saturday. Let’s get to the links!

Getting to Know Morgan Gautrat

Orlando Pride midfielder Morgan Gautrat was the latest player to field questions as part of the video series for fans to learn more about the players who wear purple. She weighed in on how she changed her game once she transitioned to the United States Women’s National Team at age 19, going from a playmaking attacker to a player who slots in deeper in the midfield. Gautrat brings leadership, experience, and a strong skillset to a young Pride team that’s built a strong culture around it. She also spoke on how Florida is her soccer home, what her spirit animal is, and the team’s aspirations this season.

Orlando City B Takes On Philadelphia Union II

The Young Lions are on the road today at 4 p.m. for an MLS NEXT Pro match against Philadelphia Union II. OCB last played in Chester, PA in last year’s season opener, winning 3-1 in an impressive victory. The team will hope for a similar result tonight to get back on track after a loss to Inter Miami II earlier this month. Philadelphia has yet to lose in regulation this season and has won both of its home matches. It should be a tough match for the Young Lions, but a great chance to climb back up the Eastern Conference standings for them.

Assessing USWNT After SheBelieves Cup Win

The United States Women’s National Team is moving towards the Olympics with plenty of momentum after winning the SheBelieves Cup and Concacaf W Gold Cup. There were plenty of parallels between the SheBelieves Cup final and the Gold Cup semifinal against Canada, one was just a bit more waterlogged. Canada used a late penalty to send the game to penalty kicks, Sophia Smith scored, and Alyssa Naeher stood on her head in the penalty shootout. The key differences were that Mallory Swanson has given the attack some needed dynamism after returning, and the defense struggles without Naomi Girma to anchor it. It was also Twila Kilgore’s final game as the USWNT’s interim head coach, and now attention will turn towards how Emma Hayes can elevate the team once she takes over.

Champions League Quarterfinals Roll On

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona both won in their first legs of the Champions League quarterfinals, although neither match was a blowout. Atletico Madrid hosted Borussia Dortmund and scored twice in the first half. Dortmund brought one back in the second half, but Atletico Madrid held on to secure a 2-1 win. The road team completed the comeback in the other match though, with Barcelona winning a 3-2 thriller against Paris Saint-Germain that included four goals in the second half. All in all, this was a great round of quarterfinal first legs filled with plenty of goals, and the second legs next week should be pretty entertaining.

Free Kicks

  • Andrew Wiebe was the latest analyst to dive into Orlando’s attacking woes this season. I personally think things will naturally improve once the team gets some rest under its belt and Luis Muriel settles in. I agree with Wiebe though that Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo must return to form.
  • The Champions League shouldn’t overshadow a strong slate of Europa League quarterfinals today. My favorite matchup of the four would have to be the Italian showdown between AC Milan and Roma.
  • English forward Rachel Daly announced that she is retiring from international soccer. The 32-year-old scored 22 goals last season with Aston Villa and has scored 16 goals in 84 appearances with England.
  • Midfielder Dillon Serna is hanging up his cleats at age 30 after a career that included time with the Colorado Rapids and Colorado Springs Switchbacks.
  • Manchester City’s Rodri is feeling the wear and tear of his team’s pursuit for silverware. Rest may be hard to come by for him during a congested schedule, and he hasn’t lost in the past 66 games he’s played in.
  • Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy shared the struggle he had after retiring, providing details on his drug addiction and the despair felt after he quit playing.

That’s all I have for you today on this fine Thursday. Treat yourself to something you deserve, check in with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, and have a great day!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/10/24

MLS Earth Day kits are in, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson gets noticed, U.S. wins SheBelieves Cup, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. Time to start your day with some tasty links. Orlando City and the Pride are back in action this weekend, and OCB has a match tomorrow. That means plenty of goodness to end the week. Three straight days of Orlando matches is something for which to be grateful. Let’s get to the links.

Orlando City’s Greener Goals

Orlando City joins the other clubs in MLS in celebrating Earth Day with the Greener Goals week of service. Each club will volunteer time to help the environment. The club has two cleanups scheduled, including one in the area around the stadium in which fans can contribute to the effort. Additionally, all the clubs will have special One Planet pre-match kits. The kits are made from recycled materials and represent either soil, woods, or water. I’m guessing that the Orlando City kit is of the soil variety.

Dagur Dan is Da Man

The Mane Land PawedCast isn’t the only outfit noticing that Dagur Dan Thorhallsson is a force to be reckoned with. To be fair, he had some struggles during Orlando City’s hectic start to the season. Once he was rested, he was back in form and others outside of Orlando are taking notice. It’s not particularly surprising given his very nice right foot on crosses, his ability to take on opponents, and his ability to get back on defense. I’m looking forward to more from him because I don’t want no Fop! I’m a Dagur Dan man!

Barbra Banda Sends Zambia to the Olympics

After a 2-1 loss to Morocco in the first leg, Zambia bounced back with a 2-0 road win in the second leg to qualify for this summer’s Olympics. Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda scored twice in the match, including a penalty in extra time to secure the win on aggregate. It’s the second straight trip to the Olympics for Zambia, with Banda scoring six goals in the group stage of the last Olympics. This year, Zambia is in a tough group against the U.S., Germany, and Australia, but has the talent to make a run.

Once Upon a What?

Once Upon a Coconut is now the official coconut water sponsor of Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Inter&Co Stadium. If you’re like me, your first response was, “I was unaware that official coconut water sponsors were a thing.” Well, they are, and now the club is a leader in this exciting new frontier. All kidding aside, sponsors mean money for the club, which is a good thing, and the product will be available to sample in the Mane Street Plaza Fan Zone. Drink up, me hearties!

USWNT Wins the SheBelieves Cup

It took the USWNT all the way to penalty kicks to finally win the 2024 SheBelieves Cup, defeating Canada 2-2 (5-4). Canada struck first before the U.S. took the lead on a Sophia Smith brace. Canada equalized late on a soft penalty conceded by Crystal Dunn, and the match went to spot kicks to decide things. Despite missing the first shot, the U.S. eventually won, thanks to three saves by Alyssa Naeher, who also contributed a goal in the shootout.

In the third-place match, Brazil and Japan also went to penalty kicks, with Brazil winning the shootout 3-0 after a 1-1 draw, with Lorena saving all three of Japan’s penalty kicks. Cristiane scored the equalizer for Brazil in the 71st minute to ultimately send the game to penalties. The Orlando Pride’s Angelina and Marta played for Brazil.

Racial Abuse in El Trafico

Following LAFC’s 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy Saturday, the Galaxy’s Ghanaian forward, Joseph Paintsil, was the victim of online racial abuse. Reportedly, an LAFC fan used a derogatory slur and criticized Paintsil’s performance in the match. MLS, the Galaxy, and LAFC all condemned the incident. The parties are continuing to work with local authorities to hold the person accountable.

To be very clear, as far as I’m concerned, there is no room for this in soccer or anywhere. No racism, no homophobia, no transphobia — just stop being horrible.

Free Kicks

That will do it for today. Remember to check back daily as we get you ready for all the upcoming matches. Vamos Orlando!

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