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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. FC Dallas: Five Takeaways



It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor!

The theme song from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood has been perpetually stuck in my head since the release of the trailer for the new bio pic starring Tom Hanks, but it’s fitting after last night’s match. The walk down Church Street just felt so much friendlier after a home win. Here’s a handful of thoughts I had following last night’s win:

Sweet Atmosphere 

The cotton candy sky that served as a backdrop for the win wasn’t the only sweetness at Exploria Stadium last night. The announced attendance was 22,479 and everyone was into the match. The people who sit around us week in and week out are usually less animated than I am, but that first goal from Tesho Akindele in the 13th minute seemed to light a fire under everyone. The supporters kept the chants coming and section 118 was bouncing. Did we need the win? Absolutely, but the win at home was critical for our beloved Lions. 

Has the Curse Been Lifted? 

Zero is the number of goals Orlando had scored against FC Dallas before last night. Not only did Orlando City score twice on Dallas, but Brian Rowe and his back line helped keep a clean sheet. I’m not saying that the Lions have been cursed when it comes to playing Dallas, but I think you’d have a hard time proving they haven’t been. One could argue that perhaps bizarro Sacha Kljestan (FC Dallas’ Ryan Hollingshead) was messing with the timelines across the multiverse. Am I the only one thinking that? I’ll leave now. 

But more importantly, I’m talking about losing the lead in extra time. As it always seems to go when Orlando City is up 1-0 in the 90th minute, the fourth official will undoubtedly indicate a minimum of seven minutes of added time, and as sure as rain, seven minutes were added. Now this is typically when the opponent will score in the dying to minutes to rob Orlando City of the three points, but last night it was OCSC scoring in stoppage time to solidify the win. Could this match be the key to breaking the cycle? I sure hope so.

These Lions can Take a Beating

Before Dallas fell behind in the 13th minute, Dom Dwyer had been hit in the head twice — both in the first three minutes! A petty Dallas, down to Orlando City early in that match, started to play pretty rough. The 16 fouls, four yellows, and Will Johnson having been thrown around like a rag doll all support the claim. The difference in my opinion, is that the Lions on the pitch last night got up and tried to keep going instead of rolling around for a bit, even with the lead. A hard shove from behind threw Robin Jansson to the ground unnecessarily as the game was dying down. It went uncalled but was a clear tell of Dallas’ frustration.

Confidence Boost  

I don’t know what James O’Conner is saying in that locker room, but something has seemed to click. Confidence across the starting XI seemed to be at an all-time high. Tesho’s first touches weren’t terrible for a change and Dom looked to be in control of his body and the ball, not to mention that bicycle clearance!

Bringing out the 🚲 for the clear! #ORLvFCD | #VamosOrlando

— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) August 4, 2019

Carlos Ascues tends to grab the ball and panic like he’s not sure what to do with it, but that wasn’t the case last night. He was a menace and didn’t hesitate to take the ball from Dallas instead of watching for their next move. He was all over the place and his goal in stoppage time was just something of which dreams are made, sealing the deal for Orlando.

The first in purple for @carlos_ascues and what a beauty it is! #VamosOrlando

— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) August 4, 2019

Ruan played so much better than we’ve seen as of late and didn’t seem to be clutching his back so much. Whatever O’Connor has done to get these guys healthy and confident, please let him keep it up. This was just the burst of positivity the guys needed as they head into the U.S. Open Cup match this Tuesday against Atlanta United.

A New Villain for OCSC

The greatest thing about Orlando City, despite what some outlets will tell you after the MLS All-Star Game, is the supporters. One thing that continues to drive me insane is when a ball goes up into the stands, and instead of carefully passing it back down, someone feels they must toss it and we end up with two balls on the field in the middle of play. FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez was also annoyed as he angrily launched the extra ball straight into The Wall. From then on, anytime he touched the ball the supporters booed with extreme aggression. It’s like they all just knew, “This is what we do now,” and it spread from there. You could hear the booing from every side of the stadium. It’s safe to say that he did not make any friends at Exploria Stadium and I’m here for it!

That’s what I took away from this match. What are your thoughts on the 2-0 win over Dallas? I’ll be riding this positivity through my first official days back to work next week. See you all Tuesday!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/12/24

Orlando Pride play in Utah tonight, Orlando City B earns a point, Europa League quarterfinals begin, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Friday! I hope this week has gone smoothly for you as we gear up for even more Orlando soccer tonight and tomorrow. It should be a nice next few days, even if I’m working for most of it. I don’t have many plans outside of work beyond bonding with my cat and trying a new stuffed bread recipe. Let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world!

Orlando Pride Play the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride are on the road tonight for a showdown with the Utah Royals at 9:30 p.m., and you can catch the game on NWSL+ or through Bally Sports if you’re local. Although the Royals are an expansion team this year, the Pride last squared off against the previous Royals back in 2019, with Orlando losing all three games to Utah that season. This season, the Pride are riding a three-game unbeaten streak. However, they are also still on the hunt for their first win after three consecutive draws. While the offense awaits the arrival of Zambian striker Barbra Banda, the Pride have managed to score off of a set piece in each of their three games so far. While a draw on the road wouldn’t be awful by any means, hopefully the Pride can get a solid tally in the win column tonight.

Orlando City B Draws Philadelphia Union II

OCB went on the road to take on Philadelphia Union II and earned a single point after a 1-1 draw and penalty shootout. The two teams traded goals in the first half, but the Young Lions were on the back foot for most of the second half. While Orlando’s offense sputtered, the defense survived chance after chance from Philadelphia to send the game to a shootout. Orlando lost the lengthy shootout, 7-6, claiming just one point, but at least the Young Lions didn’t leave Pennsylvania empty handed. Hopefully OCB can return to its winning ways when it faces off with Crown Legacy FC on April 19.

New York City FC Stadium Plans Finally Approved

Plans to build a soccer-specific stadium in Queens for new grounds for New York City FC were approved by New York City officials. It will be a $780 million stadium expected to open in 2027 and serves as the centerpiece of a redevelopment project in the neighborhood. The 25,000-seat stadium will be right next to Citi Field, which has been one of the many home venues for NYCFC over the years since joining as an expansion side alongside Orlando City in 2015. It’s a bit wild that this stadium is set to open 10 years after Orlando christened its own soccer-specific stadium back in 2017. At least the Lions won’t have to play road games at baseball stadiums for much longer.

Europa League Quarterfinals Kick Off

The Europa League quarterfinals are underway, with the remaining eight teams squaring off in the first legs of their matchups. In England, Atalanta leaned on a brace from Gianluca Scamacca and stellar defense to win 3-0 against Liverpool. Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten streak stretched to 42 games after it beat West Ham United 2-0, thanks to a pair of late goals. The first match between Italian clubs AC Milan and Roma went to the visitors, as Roma scored early on and held on for a 1-0 win at San Siro. The only quarterfinal that wasn’t a shutout took place in Portugal, with Benfica beating Marseille, 2-1. The second legs will all take place at the same time next week, which should make for an exciting Thursday afternoon of soccer.

Free Kicks

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

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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