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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Final Score 2-0 as Lions Finally Win in Columbus

Chris Mueller and Tesho Akindele scored the goals.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City scored goals on two of its three shots and Lamine Sané and Robin Jansson were ridiculously good, as the Lions beat the Columbus Crew 2-0 on the road at Mapfre Stadium. The Lions got their first win ever in Columbus in five tries (1-3-1) and improved to 3-5-3 in the all-time series behind goals by Chris Mueller and Tesho Akindele, with Nani assisting both.

The Lions (6-8-3, 21 points) may have been clinical in converting two of their three shot attempts into goals on the night but the real stars of the show were center backs Sané and Jansson, who cleared everything that came into the box with either their heads or their feet.

With the loss, the Crew (5-11-2, 17 points) are now winless in their last six matches (0-5-1) and have won only once in 12 tries (1-10-1). Orlando closes with a 2-1-0 June record in league play and a 4-1-0 record in all competitions.

James O’Connor went with only two changes to the lineup from Wednesday’s starting XI, pushing Ruan and Carlos Ascues to the bench, inserting Danilo Acosta and Uri Rosell, and moving Kyle Smith over to the right side of the back line.

The first half wasn’t exactly a thing of beauty. Orlando struggled to maintain control of the ball beyond midfield and poorly weighted and offline passes kept giving the ball back to Columbus. The Crew didn’t exactly take advantage, managing just one weak, offline shot by Robinho until a late flurry off a handful of set pieces in first-half stoppage time.

The teams had a hydration break at the half-hour mark and afterward Orlando kept losing the ball in its own half, but the Crew couldn’t find anyone with a cross or final pass. The one-way traffic suddenly shifted in the 41st minute.

Acosta drove from the sideline toward the middle and slipped a ball to Nani at the edge of the area. The captain flicked the ball through to Mueller, who got his shot off quickly and finished past Jon Kempin to score his career-high fourth goal of the season.

Up to that point, Orlando’s best chance to score was a headed back pass from Gaston Sauro that nearly threatened his own goal.

The Crew came close a few times late in the half, sending a few dangerous set piece crosses into the area. One hit Jansson in the jaw and sent the Beefy Swede to the sideline to get checked by the trainers. Sané, who had an excellent first half, clearing everything in sight, smashed it out of the box. A corner cross pinballed around and hit the right post in stoppage time and eventually the halftime whistle took off the heat.

Columbus led in shots (4-1, with each team getting one on target), possession (56%-44%), and passing accuracy (82%-77%) but the Lions led on the scoreboard.

The second half was much like the first. Orlando was loose with the ball in traffic and spent a lot of time defending but did well to force the Crew to the outside and send crosses into the box, where Jansson and Sané were waiting to either nod or smash them away.

The Crew pushed forward and kept coming. In the 54th minute, Columbus victimized Acosta, who was beaten twice in succession, but Rosell swooped in to bail him out and clear the ball out for a corner. Columbus, which had 13 corner kicks on the night to Orlando’s two, nearly scored in the 55th minute when a ball popped out to Robinho at the top of the box. He tried an audacious bicycle kick and got a lot of pace on it but Brian Rowe made a diving one-handed save to keep the Crew off the board. Nani was bowled over without a call on the play so it’s a good thing Rowe kept the ball out.

Arturo sent a shot over the bar seconds later as Columbus continued to probe for an equalizer.

The game continued in that vein for about another 10 minutes before Nani turned things back in Orlando’s favor. After a superb tackle by Jansson turned Columbus over in the Orlando defensive end, the ball found Nani on the left side. He dribbled into the attacking third, drew the defenders in, and sprayed a pass between two players to Akindele. The Canadian picked out his spot and fired a perfect shot inside the post to make it 2-0 in the 66th minute.

Akindele’s sixth goal of the season puts him just one shy of his career high of seven, set back in 2014.

From there it was just a matter of seeing the game out by continuing to defend resolutely. The Lions only got forward for one more shot attempt, which Nani put on goal but right at Kempin. It was more about preventing anything dangerous from threatening Rowe’s goal and Orlando was able to see it out and capture its third road win of the season and its fifth road result in nine games in 2019. Orlando now has 11 road points in 2019 after earning only six all of last season.

The Crew had the advantage in shots (10-3, with each team getting three on target), possession (59%-41%), and passing accuracy (81%-74%), but nothing matters but the final score and getting the team’s first ever win in Columbus.

The marathon stretch of games continues next week with a home-and-home against the Philadelphia Union, starting Wednesday at 7:30 at Exploria Stadium before shifting to Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday night.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 12/8/23

Orlando City will play Flamengo in preseason friendly, Kylie Strom signs new deal, USMNT’s Copa America group draw, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Friday! The work week is almost over and I’m really looking forward to the weekend. I’ll be celebrating a friend’s birthday and knocking out most of the holiday shopping that I haven’t gotten around to just yet. Hopefully the malls aren’t too chaotic. Regardless, it should be a nice next few days. But for now, let’s get to the links!

Orlando Will Face Flamengo in 2024 FC Series

Orlando City’s first preseason game will take place on Jan. 27 when it takes on Flamengo at Camping World Stadium as part of the 2024 FC Series, which was previously known as the Florida Cup. Going up against one of Brazil’s powerhouses should be great preparation for the Lions after a record season in 2023 that earned them a spot in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup. It will be the second meeting between the two sides after a 2015 friendly in Brazil that Flamengo won 1-0. It will be nice to see the Lions in action at Camping World Stadium again and the kickoff time for next month’s match will be unveiled at a later time.

Kylie Strom Signs New Deal With Pride

Defender Kylie Strom, who was a free agent following the 2023 season, will return to the Orlando Pride after signing a three-year deal with the club. She joined the Pride in the summer of 2021 from Atletico Madrid and started in 26 games this past year, holding down the left back position. The Pride now retain their starting back line heading into 2024 and have full protection in Tuesday’s expansion draft. Although the defense struggled at times, it improved as the season wore on and the Pride nearly made the playoffs. Jordyn Listro is now the only free agent left from last year’s squad.

NWSL Announces Blueprint for 2024 Schedule

The framework for the 2024 NWSL season was revealed and the 182-match regular season has been formatted so that NWSL games don’t take place during international breaks. The biggest change is that the NWSL Challenge Cup is no longer a tournament and now just a match between the NWSL Shield winner and the NWSL champion, meaning San Diego Wave FC will play NJ/NY Gotham FC on March 15. However, there will be a weekend tournament organized by the league for all 14 teams during a break in the regular season while the Summer Olympics take place. The playoffs will feature eight teams and won’t include byes this year, with the quarterfinals starting on Nov. 9 and the NWSL Championship set for Nov. 23. Clubs can begin their preseason camps as early as Jan. 22 and no later than Jan. 29.

Copa America Teams Learn Their Groups

The United States Men’s National Team will take on Uruguay, Panama, and Bolivia in its group in the 2024 Copa America. Uruguay was one of the strongest opponents the U.S. could get drawn against, as the South American team has scored 13 goals so far in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. The important match between the USMNT and Uruguay will take place on July 1 in Kansas City. We’ll see how much Orlando City winger Facundo Torres plays for Uruguay in the tournament. As for Orlando’s Peruvian pair of Pedro Gallese and Wilder Cartagena, Peru is in a tough group against Argentina, Chile, and whichever nation prevails between Canada and Trinidad & Tobago.

We also have a clearer idea on which teams will be playing in Orlando. Two games will take place at Exploria Stadium, with Chile playing either Canada or Trinidad & Tobago on June 29 before Bolivia and Panama face off on July 1.

Gisele Thompson Signs With Angel City FC

Angel City FC signed young defender Gisele Thompson to a three-year contract that had this year count as the first year, with an option for an additional year in 2026. She turned 18 earlier this month and turned down an offer to play at Stanford to instead sign with Angel City, meaning the club did not need to use a draft pick for her to join. Gisele is the sister of Alyssa Thompson, who Angel City traded up to select with the first pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft. They are the youngest players on Angel City’s roster and will become the second pair of sisters to play in the league.

Free Kicks

  • The Colorado Rapids are reportedly in talks with American goalkeeper Zack Steffen to sign him from Manchester City.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Favian Loyola

The Homegrown midfielder spent most of the year with OCB but made his MLS debut in July.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City signed midfielder Favian Loyola to a Homegrown Player deal through 2025 on Dec. 2, 2022, with club options for 2026 and 2027. The OCSC Academy product became the club’s 13th all-time Homegrown signing and it was no surprise after his fantastic 2022 season. The Camp Lejeune, NC, was coming off a breakout year in the club’s youth system, which culminated with his selection to the 2022 MLS NEXT All-Star Game, in which he was named MVP. After starting the 2022 season on an academy contract, Loyola earned an MLS NEXT Pro deal, signing it last August. When he signed his Homegrown deal in December he became the first player to climb the club’s developmental ladder from the academy, to the current OCB setup in MLS NEXT Pro, to the first team.

Let’s take a look back at Loyola’s 2023 campaign, which was abbreviated due to surgery on his arm to remove a blood clot on Aug. 27.

Statistical Breakdown

Loyola played in just one MLS match with the Lions, making his first-team debut July 1 in a 3-1 home win over the Chicago Fire. The 18-year-old came on as a substitute in the third minute of stoppage time for Facundo Torres and is officially credited with one minute played, although that match went to nine minutes of stoppage. In that short amount of time he managed six touches and attempted six passes, completing all of them — one of them being a key pass. Loyola did not attempt a shot or record any defensive stats, but he did commit one foul, but he was not booked for it.

The bulk of Loyola’s 2023 season was spent with Orlando City B in MLS NEXT Pro, where he was a key player off the bench for Martin Perelman’s side. He appeared in 20 of the team’s 28 matches, starting seven, and logging 732 minutes. He scored two goals and added three assists, putting 10 of his 21 shots on target during the year. Loyola completed 80.3% of his passes with OCB, served up seven key passes and six successful long balls, and completed three crosses. He recorded four tackles and three interceptions, committed 11 fouls while drawing 10, and was booked three times.

Best Game

With just the one MLS match to his credit, Loyola’s MLS debut against Chicago was his best game of the 2023 Major League Soccer Season. It was a memorable match, as he subbed on for Torres, who set the tone for the Lions with a brace that night, and it was also the game in which Mauricio Pereyra made his 100th appearance with Orlando City. Loyola made the most of his short amount of time on the pitch, despite committing a foul during his first minute of MLS play. He settled in and completed all six of his passes and created a scoring chance just seconds after his foul, when he sent a ball to Ramiro Enrique, although the Argentine had his shot attempt blocked from a tight angle.

2023 Final Grade

As Loyola came up short of the minimum total of 450 minutes played to receive a rating on our 1-10 scale, The Mane Land has no choice but to mark his grade as incomplete for the 2023 season. If his meteoric growth continues, Loyola will likely have much more than one appearance next season as his skills at passing and finding pockets of space translate well to the next level. He wasn’t able to return to the pitch after the surgery for his blood clot, but he should be ready to go for 2024.

2024 Outlook

With Loyola being just 18 years old and the club having him under contract, I would expect his role to be the same in 2024. He’ll be learning the ropes with OCB, playing most of the season with the club’s reserve side in MLS NEXT Pro, where he will continue to be a key player. However, if he continues to develop his game, he could push for more late substitute appearances with the first team or even get a start if the Lions draw a lower-league team in the U.S. Open Cup. One thing Loyola will need to work on is controlling the ball, as he turned the ball over 15 times with OCB in 2023.

Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)

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Orlando City

Orlando City to Play Friendly vs. Brazilian Side Flamengo

The Lions will face the Brazilian giants for the first time since November 2015.



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Orlando City announced its first preseason match of the 2024 season this morning. The Lions will square off against Brazilian Serie A side CR Flamengo in a friendly on the afternoon of Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024 to kick off the team’s preparations for the 2024 MLS season. The match, which will take place at the club’s former home grounds at Camping World Stadium, will be OCSC’s second meeting with Flamengo and is part of the 2024 FC Series (formerly known as Florida Cup). Kickoff time will be officially announced later this month.

“This is both an exciting way to open the new year for our supporters and a great test for our team, as we look toward a 2024 that also includes Concacaf Champions Cup early on,” Orlando City SC Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “We’re excited to have the eyes of the Nação on Orlando during this time and are hopeful that this match will be the springboard for a very successful 2024 for our team and fans.”

“We are thrilled to return to our traditional January preseason window focused on top South American clubs,” FC Series / Florida Cup CEO Ricardo Villar said in the press release. “We look forward to delivering a first-class experience to Flamengo while in town and welcoming the Orlando City fans back to Camping World Stadium, where the club’s MLS campaign began back in 2015.”

The two sides met after the MLS season in 2015, when the Lions traveled to Rio de Janeiro on Nov. 15 of Orlando City’s inaugural season in Major League Soccer. Flamengo claimed a 1-0 win at the Maracana that day on a goal by Luis Antonio on a free kick that deflected off of Orlando City midfielder Darwin Ceren and left trialist goalkeeper Thierry Graca unable to recover. That match could have gone differently had Lions striker Bryan Rochez converted a first-half penalty, but he had a weak effort saved.

The match should serve as a good early test for the Lions, who are coming off their most successful season in Major League Soccer play and reached extra time all square with MLS Cup finalist Columbus despite being down a man in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Flamengo is one of Brazil’s most storied clubs, having won eight Serie A championships, three Copa Libertadores titles, four Copa do Brasil crowns, and one Intercontinental Cup.

“This preseason in the United States, including games with MLS (conference) semifinalists, is a great opportunity to grow the Flamengo brand inside the very important American market, where we will play in the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup,” Flamengo Vice President for Communications and Marketing Gustavo Oliveira said in the press release. “With the 2026 FIFA World Cup and the investments that are being made by the country, world football has in the United Stated, a new, enormous point of attention. Flamengo, as major European clubs, are alert to this and will, more and more, reinforce their presence in the country, may that be with work on social media focused on the American public, may it be by way of in-person events of the Flamengo brand, as this pre-season will be.”

Ticket information for groups and individuals can be found at Public tickets go on sale Tuesday, Dec. 12. Orlando City Season Ticket Members will have a match ticket presale and will be contacted directly by their ticket representative at a later date.

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