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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.

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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 vs. Cavalry FC, Concacaf Champions Cup: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions play their first competitive match of 2024 north of the border in the Concacaf Champions Cup.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to your match thread for a Wednesday night Concacaf Champions Cup matchup between Orlando City and Cavalry FC of the Canadian Premier League at Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia at 10 p.m. (FOX Sports 2, TUDN). It’s the first meeting ever between the teams and Orlando City’s first ever match against a CPL team.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.

History

There isn’t any. These teams have never met, nor has Orlando City faced anyone in the Canadian Premier League before.

The Lions will be experiencing their fourth international cup competition and their second foray into Concacaf Champions League/Cup, having drawn twice against Tigres UANL last season. Orlando bowed out of last year’s competition due to the away goals tiebreaker. Orlando City has also competed twice in Leagues Cup.

Overview

Both teams will be playing their first competitive match of the 2024 season. Orlando City is coming off a 4-0-1 preseason, drawing 1-1 against Flamengo before reeling off four straight wins against Rhode Island FC, the New England Revolution, the Houston Dynamo, and the Colorado Rapids. City reached the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 2023 and is looking to build on its most successful season to date in MLS.

Cavalry FC is coming off a season in which it finished top of the table in the regular season, but fell 2-1 after extra time in the CPL championship match against Forge FC. As far as CPL teams go, the Lions will be facing one of the league’s best, as you’d expect in a competition called “Champions Cup.”

“We’re very proud and very happy to bring Orlando City to this beautiful city and this excellent competition,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “(We’re) Feeling proud of playing in Champions Cup in Concacaf and obviously aiming for the best prize, and here we are starting the season with obviously a very competitive game.”

Pareja is suspended for tonight due to his red card in the second leg against Tigres in 2023.


Projected Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Michael Halliday.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Nico Lodeiro, Facundo Torres.

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

Cavalry FC (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Marco Carducci.

Defenders: Bradley Kamdem, Daan Klomp, Eryk Kobza, Fraser Aird.

Defensive Midfielders: Charlie Trafford, Jesse Daley.

Attacking Midfielders: William Akio, Sergio Camargo, Ali Musse.

Forward: Myer Bevan.

Officials:

REF: Juan Gabriel Calderon (Costa Rica).
AR1: William Arrieta (Costa Rica).
AR2: Henri Pupiro (Nicaragua).
4TH: Keylor Herrera (Costa Rica).
VAR: Oscar Mejia (Mexico).
VAR1: Erick Miranda (Mexico).


How to Watch

Match Time: 10 p.m.

Venue: Starlight Stadium — Langford, British Columbia.

TV: FOX Sports 2, TUDN.

Streaming: The match can be streamed on FOX Sports GO, the FOX Sports app TUDN.com, and the TUDN app.

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).


Enjoy the match. Go City!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/21/24

Orlando City takes on Cavalry FC tonight, Lions sign Jeorgio Kocevski, USWNT wins in Concacaf W Gold Cup, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you in Florida as we get to watch the Lions in action tonight in the Concacaf Champions Cup. There’s not much new with me this week other than staying busy covering high school basketball and hockey. Let’s wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Takes on Cavalry FC Tonight

Orlando City will be in action tonight in the first round of the Concacaf Champions Cup, as it takes on Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium at 10 p.m. This matchup will be the Lions’ first competitive match of 2024, with their MLS season opener against CF Montreal set for Saturday. The Lions were knocked out by Tigres due to away goals in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. Cavalry FC will make its debut in this competition tonight and qualified by winning the 2023 Canadian Premier League Shield. The second leg between these two sides will be on Feb. 27 in Orlando.

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signed 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a contract through the 2024 season with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. Kocevski scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time in Orlando’s final preseason match against the Colorado Rapids this past weekend. The midfielder was selected 21st overall in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft by the Lions in December. He played four years for Syracuse, recording seven goals and 18 assists in 71 matches. Kocevski is the only player the club has signed from the Lions’ 2024 draft class and will likely get some minutes with Orlando City B this season.

St. Louis City and Philadelphia Union Win in Champions Cup

Orlando City isn’t the only MLS team kicking off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign this week. St. Louis City edged out the Houston Dynamo 2-1, with rookie Hosei Kijima scoring the winner in stoppage time. The Philadelphia Union were on the road in Costa Rica to face off against Deportivo Saprissa and won 3-2, thanks to a hat trick from Julian Carranza in the second half. As for other tournament matches this week, the New England Revolution face Independiente in Panama tonight, with Nashville playing Moca FC in the Dominican Republic and FC Cincinnati taking on Jamaica’s Cavalier SC tomorrow.

USWNT Beats the Dominican Republic in W Gold Cup

The United States Women’s National Team got its Concacaf W Gold Cup campaign off to a great start with a 5-0 win against the Dominican Republic in Group A. Olivia Moultrie scored her first USWNT goal to give her team an early lead, with Lynn Williams giving the U.S. another goal before halftime. Moultrie scored another in the second half to earn her brace, and Jenna Nighswonger converted a penalty for her first USWNT goal as well. Former Pride forward Alex Morgan replaced Mia Fishel on the roster due to injury and scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time. The USWNT’s next game will be against Argentina on Friday at 10:15 p.m.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

The UEFA Champions League had plenty of drama as the round of 16 continued. Inter Milan won 1-0 in its first leg against Atletico Madrid at home, with Mark Arnautovic scoring the only goal in the match. In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund played to a thrilling 1-1 draw. The second legs for both matchups will be played on March 13. There is more Champions League action today, as FC Porto hosts Arsenal while Napoli takes on Barcelona.

Free Kicks

  • The latest MLS power rankings are out just before the regular season begins. Orlando City begins the season in the fifth spot.
  • Orlando City and the Orlando Pride announced fan experience upgrades at Inter&Co Stadium featuring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in merchandise shops, stadium Wi-Fi upgrades, and a jersey history experience.
  • The MLS Players Association released a statement on the ongoing referee lockout.
  • Here is the list of MLS Season Pass commentator assignments for opening week.

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signs its first-round draft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a one-year deal with three option years.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City SC announced the signing of first-round 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski today. The deal is through the upcoming 2024 season with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. The Lions selected the Syracuse midfielder with the 21st overall pick in the draft in December.

“Jeorgio has had a really strong preseason camp with us, demonstrating everything we saw in him when we were scouting him and analyzing his game in college,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “He’s done well working his way into the group, even starting in our friendly against Flamengo and holding his own against some of the best in Brazil, and we’re excited to have him with us this season.”

The box-to-box midfielder made three appearances this preseason, starting against Brazilian club Flamengo and the following scrimmage against USL Championship side Rhode Island FC. He came on at halftime against the Colorado Rapids last weekend, scoring the winning goal in the 90th minute.

Prior to being selected by the Lions, the Liverpool, NY, native made 71 appearances with 65 starts and logged 5,599 minutes for Syracuse in four years. He scored seven goals and recorded 18 assists, putting 33 of his 93 shots on frame. Additionally, he was part of Syracuse’s 2022 NCAA national championship team, playing 90 minutes in the 2-2 draw, but missing in the team’s victorious shootout over Indiana.

Kocevski had a breakout junior year, being named to the United Soccer Coaches’ All-South Region third team, All-ACC third team, NCAA All-Tournament team, and ACC All-Tournament team. During his senior year, he wore the armband for the Orange and was named All-ACC first team and ACC Co-Midfielder of the Year.

What It Means for Orlando City

Kocevski was the most likely pick from this most recent draft to be signed by Orlando City. The departure of club captain Mauricio Pereyra left a spot in the midfield and Head Coach Oscar Pareja seemed to feel the rookie could fill it from early on. His start against Flamengo was in the place of regular starter Cesar Araujo, who was on international duty with the Uruguay U-23 national team. He played against Flamengo’s best lineup and did quite well in almost an hour on the field in his first minutes of play at the professional level.

While a spot was open for the signing of Kocevski, he likely won’t see much of the field for the first team this season. In addition to being behind starters Araujo and Wilder Cartagena, the defensive midfielder will be behind Felipe on the depth chart. In all likelihood, the rookie will slot in with Orlando City B in MLS NEXT Pro to get some minutes, but there is room for him to start regularly with that team.

Kocevski is currently the only player signed by the club from the Lions’ 2024 draft class. West Virginia midfielder Yutaro Tsukada, Pittsburgh midfielder Filip Mirkovic, and Charlotte midfielder Riyon Tori remained unsigned, with the latter opting to return to school for his senior season.

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