Connect with us

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Portland Timbers: Final Score 1-1 as Lions Stay Mentally Tough on Road

Out-shot 26-2 on the road against Portland’s A-team, the backup Lions fought heroically for a point.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Orlando City continued to show its mental toughness in the middle of a brutal July, grinding out a 1-1 draw against the Portland Timbers in a late Thursday night affair at Providence Park. Santiago Patino’s goal didn’t quite hold up to take all three points, but with a fullback playing center back, a midfielder playing right back, and three rookies on the field, that’s a much better point for the Lions (7-9-5, 26 points) than the Timbers (7-8-4, 25 points), who ran out their first-choice squad with a Cascadia matchup at Seattle looming over the weekend.

The Lions improved to 3-1-1 in the all-time league series against Portland (1-1-1 at Providence Park) and survived a game without any of its Designated Players, no first-choice defenders on the field, backups in the midfield, and two rookies and a guy making his first appearance in purple on the forward line. Orlando also survived an early injury to a starting center back — with no replacement central defenders on the bench — and an inexplicable seven minutes of second-half stoppage time, given for reasons known only to possibly some high roller in Vegas and God himself.

James O’Connor rotated the squad heavily, giving Robinho his first start as a Lion and resting several key starters a few days ahead of Sunday’s home match vs. the New York Red Bulls. Nani, who missed Saturday’s win over Columbus due to food poisoning, did not travel, making this the third game on artificial turf without him (out of three). As a result, the looming trip to play resurgent New England next week will bear watching.

So few regulars dressed that three goalkeepers were in uniform, with Greg Ranjitsigh getting the start between the sticks on his birthday. Danilo Acosta and Kyle Smith flanked Kamal Miller and Alex De John on the back line. Sacha Kljestan returned from suspension and joined Dillon Powers and Uri Rosell in the midfield, with rookies Benji Michel and Patino up top next to Robinho. Joao Moutinho returned from injury to make the 18.

As one might expect from the lineup, Orlando’s strategy was to dig in defensively and look to spring opportunities the other way. The Timbers owned the ball and the territorial advantage throughout the opening half but Orlando defended with determination.

Defending became more difficult early on. De John was kicked in the face in just the eighth minute and went down, seemingly unconscious before he hit the ground. Brian Fernandez was booked for the high boot — which was unintentional but incredibly dangerous — and De John went off officially in the 12th minute, replaced by Will Johnson. Smith slid into central defense and Johnson played right back.

Immediately after the change, Portland fashioned its first good scoring chance. Cristhian Paredes fired just over the bar from the top of the area in the 13th minute. Four minutes later, Sebastian Blanco fired just a couple feet wide of the right post as the Timbers probed for an opening goal.

Diego Valeri fired just wide of the far post in the 23rd minute after being given too much space on the left side.

Five minutes later, Valeri broke down the left side of the area but Johnson blocked his shot out for a corner. Claude Dielna headed over the bar on the ensuing corner kick.

Michel won Orlando’s first corner kick in the 31st minute and seconds later Johnson fired wide on Orlando’s first shot attempt of the game.

Blanco’s header hit the crossbar in the 37th minute and nearly bounced in off Ranjitsingh’s back but the goalkeeper was able to turn and grab the ball before it could cross the line.

Just minutes later, Ranjitsingh made a good save to deny Fernandez from just left of the penalty spot.

Orlando opened the scoring a minute later. Robinho made a good hustle play to keep the ball in play on the sideline, then crossed in for Michel. Jorge Moreira knocked the ball away from one Lions rookie, but sent it right to another. Patino hit the ball first-time past Steve Clark to give Orlando a 1-0 lead against the run of play.

The Lions survived a late header by Dielna that sailed just inches over the crossbar off a corner and took their slim advantage into the locker room at halftime.

Portland’s commanding statistical advantage was not represented in Orlando’s 1-0 halftime lead. The Timbers led in shots (10-2), shots on target (2-1), possession (62%-38%), and passing accuracy (87%-78%).

The second half was a bit more lopsided, in that the Lions attempted not a single shot and Portland attempted 16. While the Timbers helped by not being clinical, Orlando sufficiently gummed up the middle of the pitch in front of Ranjitsingh’s goal to make life difficult for Valeri and Blanco to find Fernandez and neither could get many clean looks from outside the area.

Portland started fast, looking to push the pace, nearly finding Fernandez over the top off the second-half kickoff. Seconds later, Blanco blazed down the left channel but shot wide. Fernandez one-timed a cross from the right in the 51st minute but didn’t hit it cleanly and Ranjitsingh was able to cover it.

Orlando’s best chance of the second half came at the hour mark. Robinho beat Zarek Valentin down the wing and opted to fire an aerial cross, but he hit it too hard and it sailed past Patino and Michel. A hard cross on the turf may have yielded better results. Nevertheless, that half chance was the Lions’ best second-half opportunity.

In the 67th, Larrys Mabiala was booked for elbowing Michel in the face, which was a red card on Saturday when done by the smaller player against the larger player but it was not a red on Thursday when the larger man did it to the smaller. Go figure.

In the 70th minute, Paredes headed a cross right at Ranjitsingh as the Timbers kept coming. Dielna headed wide off a set piece in the 78th minute and Powers was shaken up on the play. Powers was replaced by Tesho Akindele in the 80th.

Just eight minutes shy of the end of normal time, the Timbers equalized. Orlando was in good shape, looking to break out of its own end with possession. Patino sent a soft pass to his left intended for Michel but under-hit it, allowing Valeri to make a sliding challenge to take possession. Valeri’s ball found Moreira, who crossed in to Fernandez. The Argentinian headed it on to the back post, where Jeremy Ebobisse was waiting to nod it in off the left post, tying the match in the 82nd minute.

The goal looked to be coming all game long but it still felt like a sucker punch to come so late.

Orlando did a good job of managing the rest of the game. The Lions didn’t look much for the game winner so much as they tried to hold on for a point. Both Akindele and Kljestan had opportunities to perhaps play Patino in as the Timbers pushed numbers up the field, but neither looked up to see the rookie.

After an interminable seven added minutes of injury time — almost twice what De John required in the first half — the whistle mercifully blew on another road result for Orlando. The Lions are 3-4-4 on the road in 2019.

In addition to a 26-2 advantage in shot attempts, Portland led in shots on target (4-1), possession (63%-37%), corners (8-3), crosses (41-10!!!), and passing accuracy (86%-73%). To say that the Lions were under siege throughout the match would be an understatement. Credit to Ranjitsingh and O’Connor’s makeshift back line of Johnson, Smith, Miller, and Acosta — as well as Powers, Rosell, and Kljestan in the midfield — for keeping Orlando from getting pounded into Portland’s artificial turf.

The Lions are right back at it again on Sunday at home against the Red Bulls at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/29/23

Orlando City prepares for CF Montreal, learning more about Duncan McGuire, Jack Lynn named to MLS NEXT Pro Best XI, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

It’s Friday, which means we’re just one day away from a pretty busy weekend of Orlando soccer. It should be a pretty fun next few days, with Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Orlando City B all in action. I don’t have many weekend plans beyond working and getting some writing and reading done. Let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Prepares for CF Montreal

Orlando City hosts CF Montreal tomorrow night in a showdown between two Eastern Conference teams with just four games remaining this season. It’s the second match between the two teams this year, with Montreal beating the Lions 2-0 in Canada on May 6. In the time since that game, the Lions have only lost three games this season and have not been defeated at home since April 22. Orlando’s next win will be Head Coach Oscar Pareja’s 60th with the Lions, and tomorrow’s match could also break club records for most wins and points in a season. A win for the Lions would be massive to put some breathing room between them and the other top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Get to Know Duncan McGuire

Orlando forward Duncan McGuire was the latest to go under the microscope as part of the club’s video series to learn more about the players. The rookie spoke on his upbringing as a middle child, as well as how he turned to soccer after struggling in other sports. McGuire also talked about his acrobatic goal celebrations and a clip is included of a time he didn’t quite stick the landing after scoring for Creighton. It’s a pretty fun interview, as he gave some details on how Mason Stajduhar is a quick learner when it comes to golf and how he wants to go out to dinner with Ana de Armas.

Jack Lynn Makes MLS NEXT Pro Best XI

Orlando City B forward Jack Lynn was named to the MLS NEXT Pro’s Best XI for the second straight year. Lynn fueled OCB’s offense this season, scoring 19 goals to help the Young Lions claim a spot in the playoffs. No MLS NEXT Pro player has scored more goals since the league’s inaugural season last year than Lynn, who has 34 goals under his belt. The 23-year-old is joined on the front line of this year’s Best XI with the two players he tied with for the Golden Boot, New York City FC II’s Matt Myers and Colorado Rapids 2 forward Remi Cabral.

Orlando City B Takes On Columbus Crew 2 This Sunday

The Young Lions will play their first MLS NEXT Pro playoff game this Sunday when they face Columbus Crew 2 on the road at 5:30 p.m. It will be the third and final match between the two sides this year, with each claiming a big win over the other earlier in the season. No team that qualified for the playoffs has lost more road games than OCB this season, which may be why Columbus elected to face Orlando. However, Orlando’s offense has been electric at times this year thanks to Lynn, Shak Mohammed, Wilfredo Rivera, and others. Sunday may be another wild game with the Young Lions involved and you can check it out on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Tahir Reid-Brown Called Up for Training Camp

United States U-17 Men’s National Team Head Coach Gonzalo Segares called up 20 players for a training camp in Brazil to prepare for the U-17 World Cup in November. OCB defender Tahir Reid-Brown was the lone Orlando representative called up for this camp. The 17-year-old was called up to the U-17 team earlier this April for a training camp in Florida. He’s had an impressive year, earning a spot in the MLS NEXT All-Star Game and making 10 appearances for OCB. The U.S. will take on Brazil on Oct. 4 and Oct. 6 in a pair of friendlies during this camp.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City center back Rodrigo Schlegel unveiled the meaning behind his tattoos, including the ones for his parents and his biggest moments as a Lion.

That’s all I have for you today. Hopefully the weather plays nice this weekend and you’re able to do everything you have planned. Have a great Friday!

Continue Reading

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points against CF Montreal this Saturday in Exploria Stadium?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City hosts CF Montreal in the second-to-last home match of the 2023 MLS regular season at Exploria Stadium this Saturday night. The Lions have already secured a spot in the playoffs but are now fighting for home field advantage. Montreal is currently sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and is fighting for a playoff spot.

What does Orlando City need to do to secure three important points against the Canadian Club Foots?

Time to Make the Donuts

It had been a minute since Duncan McGuire scored a goal for Orlando City — and by a minute I mean since July 29. McGuire had a few opportunities against Inter Miami and managed to get one to equalize for the Lions and ensure a point at home. I do think he might have scored on another of those chances if he was fully back in form after his injury time, but I’ll take the goal. 

My hope is that getting that goal will remind him that he can score goals when given the opportunity, and he will be better about finishing the chances he gets against Montreal. Sometimes it just takes getting that first goal to open up the muscle memory and to unlock the confidence needed in a striker. It’s time for Duncan to score more goals, and the match against Montreal is the first and best opportunity to do so since Montreal starting center back Joel Waterman will be serving a red card suspension.

Switch up the Lineup

I propose a change to the starting lineup — something Oscar Pareja does not do very often. Due to injuries and other factors such a move wasn’t possible earlier in the season, but I think it could work now. I have a ton of respect for Mauricio Pereyra, but he could probably use a rest to be fresh for the playoffs as the regular season winds down. 

I suggest letting Martin Ojeda get the start in the 10 spot, moving Dagur Dan Thorhallsson up the wing, and having Michael Halliday take over at right back. Ojeda’s play as of late has been much improved, and with Halliday healthy again, why not take advantage of Dagur Dan’s versatility along the wing. I think this move provides energy, a surprise for opposing defenses, and allows Facundo Torres more freedom. 

Same Old Effective Defense

Orlando City’s defense has only allowed 37 goals this season — which is good enough to tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. On the flip side, Montreal has only scored 30 goals so far — which is only better than Toronto at 24 goals. Montreal has a goal differential of -15.If the Lions play their normally solid defense in front of the outstanding goalkeeping of Pedro Gallese, Montreal should not get too many opportunities to score. There’s no doubt that we will see Robin Jansson and Rodrigo Schlegel paired together with Rafael Santos on the left and either Dagur Dan — or Michael Halliday as I suggested — on the right. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena can stop most attacks before they get to the back line. If Orlando City plays defense as well as the club did against Miami, things should be fine.

That is what I will be looking for this Saturday as the Lions take on the boys from North of the border. Vamos Orlando!

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/28/23

Ajax is reportedly scouting Facundo Torres, Orlando Pride focus on upcoming matches, Houston Dynamo win U.S. Open Cup, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this work week has gone smoothly for you as we get ready to bid farewell to September. It’s been a hectic week for me, but I started and then promptly devoured all of Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. It was a nice read, albeit a bit intense at times. I’m not sure what I’ll read next as most of my reading list is packed up for a move, but if you have any recommendations then let me know in the comments below. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Ajax Reportedly Interested in Facundo Torres

Orlando City forward Facundo Torres has reportedly garnered the interest of Dutch club Ajax according to Fabrizio Romano.

It’s not too surprising that Ajax, which currently sits in 14th in the Eredivisie with just seven goals from five games, has scouts keeping tabs on Torres. The 23-year-old has scored 12 goals this season, powering Orlando to second in the Eastern Conference. It wouldn’t be the first time Torres has received attention from European clubs and likely won’t be the last as he continues to impress with the Lions

Orlando Pride Focus During Playoff Push

The Orlando Pride are back in action on Monday for a crucial road match with Angel City FC. Both teams have 25 points this season, one point from the sixth and final playoff spot currently held by the Washington Spirit. It will be the first of three remaining games for the Pride this season, with matches against fellow playoff hopefuls Racing Louisville and the Houston Dash set for later in October. As a result, there’s not much margin for error if the Pride wish to make the playoffs and Kylie Strom talked about how the team is focused for these games.

MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs Begin This Weekend

The first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs kicks off this weekend with six matches that can all be watched on MLS Season Pass. Unlike last year, Orlando City B will be taking part and is set to face off with Columbus Crew 2 on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Although the Young Lions have struggled on the road against Columbus, Jack Lynn and Shak Mohammed can make things difficult for the hosts. Hopefully we’ll see OCB make Columbus regret its choice of opponent in the postseason. I like the wrinkle and mind games to the playoffs the new rule gave and am interested to see which of the lower seeds plays with a chip on their shoulder. The playoffs begin on Friday when Sporting Kansas City II hosts Austin FC II in a battle between the third and fourth seeds of the Western Conference.

Houston Dynamo Win U.S. Open Cup

The Houston Dynamo have lifted the U.S. Open Cup trophy after winning 2-1 on the road against Inter Miami. A pair of goals in the first half were enough for Houston to win its second U.S. Open Cup title after also winning in 2018. A goal in stoppage time from Josef Martinez made things interesting, but the Dynamo defense did well to secure the win and deny Miami its second tournament title this year. It was a strong end to a solid tournament campaign from the Dynamo, as they beat four MLS sides before taking down Miami in the final.

Albertin Montoya Hired as Bay FC Head Coach

Ahead of its inaugural NWSL season next year, Bay FC named Albertin Montoya as the club’s first head coach. Montoya, who has lived in California for most of his life, served as the interim coach for the Washington Spirit in 2022 and also coached the U.S. U-17 women’s national team in 2011. Bay FC General Manager Lucy Rushton spoke on how Montoya’s name came up often while the club searched for a head coach, as well as how his skill at developing players will help build the club’s foundation.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja called for the supporters to continue filling Exploria Stadium and pushing the Lions forward for the team’s remaining home games this season.
  • St. Louis City midfielder Njabulo Blom won MLS Goal of the Week for his winner against Minnesota United. It was also the 23-year-old’s first professional goal.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

Continue Reading