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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Toronto FC: Final Score 1-1 as Lions Fail to Make Up Ground in Playoff Race

Orlando led but then conceded late as the Lions still haven’t won at BMO Field.



Orlando City scored first, but the BMO Field hex continued, as a fortunate bounce on a set piece fell perfectly for Toronto FC to equalize in an unsatisfying 1-1 road draw. Benji Michel came off the bench to give the Lions (8-11-6, 30 points) a 1-0 advantage in the 69th minute, only to be called for a penalty that was overturned after video review. Patrick Mullins scored on the ensuing set piece anyway, and Orlando made up no ground on Toronto (9-10-6, 33 points) in the playoff race.

City is just 0-4-2 at BMO Field in six games there and remains three points behind Montreal for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

James O’Connor kept a lot of his full-strength side intact despite the heavy fixture schedule, showing the importance of every league match the rest of the way. Nani slid back into the midfield with Carlos Ascues and Uri Rosell, behind a front line of Chris Mueller, Dom Dwyer, and Robinho. The starting central defense tandem of Robin Jansson and Lamine Sané were flanked by Kamal Miller and Kyle Smith in front of goalkeeper Brian Rowe.

Orlando City started a bit on the back foot but didn’t allow Toronto much room in the defensive third. Tsubasa Endoh got the game’s first shot six minutes in but he fired it wide after gathering in a wayward pass from Smith.

The Lions then won a couple early corner kicks but did nothing with them as they were either taken short and fell apart quickly, or the crosses in were poor. Nani got Orlando’s first shot attempt at the 22-minute mark. Quentin Westberg made a diving stop to knock it out for a corner but it was drifting just wide anyway.

The most dangerous opportunity of the half came 29 minutes in, when Alejandro Pozuelo was given too much space and he picked out a chip pass intended for Jozy Altidore. It was just over the U.S. international striker’s head and skipped wide of the far post.

Nani sent another shot wide in the 40th minute and that was about it for the opening half, as neither team did a whole lot in the final third. Orlando was too hesitant to get balls into the area or botched their crosses after making good moves to get free in wide spaces. Some more quality on crosses would have perhaps given the Lions more threat in the attack.

Toronto led in first-half shots (4-3), shots on goal (1-0), and passing accuracy (86%-84%). Orlando had 51% of the ball. Neither team was particularly dangerous but the hosts seemed the likelier team to score in the opening 45 minutes.

The Reds came out with a lot more jump after the break, pressed relentlessly and held onto the ball through much of the second half. Toronto’s first good opportunity came in the first minute of the second half, with Pozuelo finding Marky Delgado down the right. Delgado’s cross for Altidore was picked off by Rosell at the last second.

Former Lion Richie Laryea, who won several 1-v-1 battles all night against his former teammates, got into the area in the 53rd minute and went down easily, then got up and fired a shot that Rowe saved.

Five minutes later, Laryea lifted a cross to the back post for Altidore but Smith did just enough to head it toward the sideline. Endoh then fired onto the roof of the net in the 59th minute after a nice pass from Chris Mavinga and a dummy from Altidore freed up his chance from the top of the area.

Toronto kept coming, winning corners and keeping the ball. Pozuelo fired a shot off the back post after a short corner as the warning bells continued to chime for Orlando.

The Lions finally got a shot on target in the 64th when a long cross from Nani found Dwyer’s head and the striker directed one right at Westberg.

Toronto then had the ball pinballing around Orlando’s area in the 66th after Delgado smashed a tough-angle shot off of Rowe that was parried into the middle of the six. A blocked shot later and the Lions cleared.

Michel came on in the 68th minute for Robinho, who pitched in well defensively but didn’t do much on the attacking end. The rookie made an impact immediately.

A ball fell to Dwyer’s feet at midfield and the striker turned and played Mueller into space down the right. Mueller surveyed the field and crossed a ball that Ascues let go through to the onrushing Michel, who took a touch and then passed the ball into the far corner past Westberg to make it 1-0 in the 69th minute.

The Reds almost pulled that back three minutes later. Rowe made a good save in tight on Altidore and the ball fell to Laryea with the whole net to shoot at. The former Lion missed the target badly with his shot.

Two minutes later, Laryea got around Michel, who grabbed him and gave him a tug before letting go. Laryea went to ground inside the area and referee Kevin Stott pointed to the spot in front of an incensed group of Orlando players. Stott went to video review, which showed a clear error, as Michel both made the grab and released Laryea outside the area.

It didn’t end up mattering that it wasn’t a penalty, because Toronto scored anyway on the free kick. Pozuelo pushed the ball out to Michael Bradley outside the area and the USMNT midfielder fired a shot that was blocked in front. Unfortunately, the rebound squirted just behind the defensive line and set up perfectly for Mullins to turn and fire home in the 77th.

Altidore tried to find a game winner on a free kick in the 84th from just outside the area, but he fired his shot over the bar. Time wound down and the teams entered six minutes of stoppage time.

The 92nd minute was a crazy one, with both teams getting an excellent shot at a winner. First, Altidore got behind the defense and tried to chest down a cross but his touch was too heavy and Rowe collected. Then, on the other end, the ball found second-half sub Ruan, who crossed to fellow substitute Tesho Akindele. The Canadian flicked the ball toward the back post but couldn’t keep it on frame.

Rosell fired way off frame in the 93rd and then Toronto saw Laryea, Omar Gonzalez, and Bradley all fail to hit the target with shots before the final whistle blew.

Toronto out-shot Orlando 18-8 (5-2 on target), and won the possession (56%-44%) and passing (87%-82%) battle as well.

The Lions return home to Exploria Stadium for a Wednesday night match-up with Sporting Kansas City at 7:30 p.m.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Photo Gallery

An album of images from Orlando City’s hard-fought draw at home against the Herons.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

The Lions brought much more roar on Sunday night to face their southern rivals but had trouble finding the net, allowing the Herons to nick a point even while short staffed. None of Miami’s high-priced talent traveled for the match after facing Toronto midweek, and physicality ensued, firing up the sold-out crowd at Exploria Stadium.

Talking with some of the other photographers on the sideline who had flown in for this match, they rated the Orlando atmosphere top-notch; in their experience, other cities don’t compare to the in-stadium fan enthusiasm.

The Lions were in “the net is lava” mode, with Duncan McGuire and Iván Angulo each missing prime one-on-one chances with Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender in each half, McGuire leaving it straight at Callendar, and Angulo badly missing the net after a missed first touch. So of course Miami struck first, with David Ruíz scoring early in the second half.

This fired the Lions up even more and Martín Ojeda pinballed McGuire in behind the Miami back line, allowing Duncan to do what Duncan does to draw the score level. The Lions generally looked the more dangerous team for most (but not all) of the night. However, it is scorin ggoals that actually counts, leaving both teams unchanged in their respective Eastern Conference standings. Orlando remains second at 14-7-9, while Miami stays in 14th at 9-15-5.

The Lions continue to control their own destiny in terms of getting a top-four finish as they look to lock up home field advantage for a best-of-three matchup in the MLS Cup playoffs.

With home dates left against Montreal and a sputtering-but-dangerous New England remaining, there’s still plenty of time to be part of that world-class gameday atmosphere by going out to support the team as they push for a strong finish.

We hope that you enjoy these images from a hard-fought, come-from-behind draw against Inter Miami at Exploria Stadium.

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Five Takeaways

Here’s what we learned from Orlando City’s 1-1 draw at home against Inter Miami.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City returned to Exploria Stadium after a midweek loss to New York City FC and had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Inter Miami. The Lions did well to equalize after conceding first, but will likely feel that they left opportunity knocking as the Eastern Conference remains tight near the top. Here are my five takeaways from the third Tropic Thunder clash this year.

Lack of Execution Plagues the Lions

Orlando’s offense struggled to put the ball in the back of the net in this match. That’s not to say they didn’t create quality chances, as the Lions served up good crosses and dangerous long balls throughout the match. Only three of Orlando’s 16 crosses found their mark in the end. The execution just wasn’t there when it came to finishing attacks, whether it be poor decision-making when the time came to play the final ball or just missing the target completely. Of Orlando’s 13 shots, six were on target and only a couple of those gave Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender much difficulty. Ivan Angulo missing the goal entirely after Dagur Dan Thorhallsson picked out a perfect pass for him stands out. Expecting every promising attack to end with a goal is unfair, but weak finishing cost the Lions from claiming a big win at home.

Corner Kicks Gave the Lions Headaches

While the Lions didn’t have any corner kicks in the match, Inter Miami had seven and created some of its best chances with them. In the 61st minute, a corner kick taken by Robert Taylor found Leonardo Campana all alone in the center of the box. The Ecuadorian forward’s header mercifully went wide, but it was indicative of how Orlando had its hands full on set pieces. Pedro Gallese had to come up with a remarkable save in the first half as well after Campana barreled through Cartagena to head the ball at goal. Even though the Lions didn’t concede from a set piece, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s something focused on this week just to ensure the team is organized enough to overcome uncalled fouls without needing its star goalkeeper or some luck.

Plenty of Physicality in Rivalry Match

It was easy to tell these two teams didn’t care much for each other, as they both fought hard on and off the ball. There were 27 fouls and seven yellow cards handed out by referee Armando Villarreal. Miami committed 16 of those fouls and received five of the yellow cards as they did whatever it took to slow down Orlando’s progress. Facundo Torres suffered the brunt of it and was fouled four times so that he couldn’t work his magic against Miami’s defense. It was the kind of physical match that can be expected of two rivals and made for an intense match that will likely have players from both sides seeking an ice bath. The Lions did well to stay composed for a majority of a very chippy match.

Duncan McGuire Shakes Off the Rust

Forward Duncan McGuire got back to his scoring ways with a crucial equalizer for his ninth goal of the MLS season. It was an important goal for reasons beyond the scoreline as well, as McGuire had squandered a golden opportunity to score earlier in the match by not being able to get his shot past Callender. He was also kicking himself for not getting on the end of a few other chances as well. His 84 minutes on the field were the most from him in one game this season, and the Lions will need him more often now that Ercan Kara is in Turkey. It was the rookie’s first goal since July and, although not perfect, the kind of performance to build upon moving forward.

Orlando Showcased Its Depth and Versatility

Head Coach Oscar Pareja switched things up at halftime, replacing Cesar Araujo with Martin Ojeda and having Mauricio Pereyra sit a bit deeper in the midfield to potentially create chances on the break a bit quicker using his service. Although Ojeda didn’t get a goal or an assist, his presence was notable on both sides of the ball and he played a key role in Orlando’s goal. Having a player of his caliber able to come off the bench has been a boon for Orlando this season, letting Pareja really kickstart the changes he wants to make to the team. Similar things could be said about Orlando’s other substitutes: Junior Urso, Ramiro Enrique, Gaston Gonzalez, and Michael Halliday. Their energy and skill kept Orlando pushing for more and gave the sense that a winner would have come had the game lasted a bit longer.

That’s what I took away from Orlando’s 1-1 draw with Inter Miami. Let me know what you gathered from the match in the comments below

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/25/23

Orlando City draws with Inter Miami, Viviana Villacorta out for the season, OCB wins last game of the regular season, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Last night’s Orlando City match wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst either. It’s a pretty fitting feeling on a Monday, as we all get back into the swing of the work week after a nice weekend of soccer. There are plenty of ups and downs from a rollercoaster Sunday, so let’s dive right into today’s links!

Orlando City Draws With Inter Miami

In the latest edition of the Tropic Thunder rivalry, Orlando City and Inter Miami split the points at Exploria Stadium in a 1-1 result. Miami struck first, but the Lions did well to find an equalizer, even though they couldn’t find a winner in the end. It wasn’t Orlando’s best game by any means, but it was a decent response to a 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC. Orlando now has 51 points, tying its club record for the most points in a season, set in 2021. The Lions will have a chance to break that record on Saturday when they host CF Montreal.

Viviana Villacorta Out for the Season

Orlando Pride midfielder Viviana Villacorta will miss the remainder of the NWSL season after suffering an ACL tear in her left knee during training. The 24-year-old was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft, but was not able to make her debut until 2022 due to sustained an ACL tear in her right knee that kept her out for all of the 2021 season. This year, she has 21 appearances across all competitions for the Pride and notched the first assist of her career in a big road win against the San Diego Wave on April 29. This is a tough blow to the Pride’s midfield with just three games remaining as she has ended her season early due to injury for the third straight year. The Pride are only a point out of a playoff spot and are back in action on Oct. 2 against Angel City FC.

Orlando City B Wins On Decision Day

On the final day of the MLS NEXT Pro regular season, Orlando City B won 2-1 at home over FC Cincinnati 2. The Young Lions had already clinched a spot in the postseason heading into this match, but the win secured their spot as the fifth seed. Jack Lynn briefly held the Golden Boot lead after scoring, but ended up tied at 19 goals with New York City FC II’s Matt Myers and Colorado Rapids 2’s Remi Cabral. The trio ended in a three-way tie for the league’s Golden Boot honors. OCB will hit the road for its first MLS NEXT Pro playoff game, although the opponent is not yet known thanks to the new rule where higher seeds choose which team they want to face.

USWNT Wins in Megan Rapinoe’s Final Match

The United States Women’s National Team beat South Africa in a 2-0 win at Soldier Field. Trinity Rodman and Emily Sonnett scored and the defense did well to secure its second shutout against South Africa after a 3-0 win this past Thursday. This game also marked forward Megan Rapinoe’s final game with the USWNT, with the 38-year-old subbed off for the last time in the 54th minute. These were solid wins from the USWNT following the World Cup and it will aim to keep the momentum rolling next month in a pair of friendlies against Colombia.

Free Kicks

  • Three Orlando City academy sides came up with shutout victories this weekend.
  • Before the USWNT’s friendly with South Africa, U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker stated that plans remain in place for a new head coach to be at the helm in time for the training camp in December
  • American midfielder Yunus Musah did well in his AC Milan debut, playing all 90 minutes in a 1-0 win over Verona.
  • A match in the Netherlands between Ajax and Feyenoord had to be abandoned due to fans throwing fireworks onto the field while Feyenoord led 3-0. According to police, tear gas had to be used to stop unrest outside the stadium after the match, and Ajax later fired Sven Mislintat, its director of soccer.
  • Newcastle became the first English Premier League team to have eight different players score in a match after crushing Sheffield United, 8-0.
  • Atletico Madrid ended Real Madrid’s perfect start to the season by beating its rival 3-1, with Alvaro Morata bagging a brace.

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have an easy Monday and rest of your week!

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