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Orlando City vs. Minnesota United: Final Score 1-1 as Lions Drop Points Deep in Stoppage

A long throw into the box deflected perfectly for Minnesota to equalize with the Lions just moments from victory.

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Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Orlando City was about 120 seconds from its biggest win of the season only to see Abu -Danladi equalize deep in stoppage time in a 1-1 draw against Minnesota United in the Lions’ first trip to Allianz Field. Orlando (9-11-7, 34 points) got a second-half goal from the penalty spot from Nani and would have had a second penalty if Tesho Akindele had been a couple feet further from goal in the dying seconds, but the late goal from Danladi prevented the Loons (12-8-6, 42 points) from falling at home for just the second time all year.

In the midst of a four-match segment against some of the league’s top teams, Orlando could have used all three points against the Western Conference’s second-place team. But instead, the Lions will have to try to build on another standout defensive performance and one of Brian Rowe’s best games of the year. However, the Lions did stretch their current unbeaten streak to four games (2-0-2).

James O’Connor didn’t bring Chris Mueller on the trip, but he did bring Mauricio Pereyra, who came on in the second half to make his MLS/Orlando City debut. The back line in front of Rowe remained the same as it was on Wednesday against Sporting Kansas City. Will Johnson and Sebas Mendez returned to the starting lineup, flanking Nani in the midfield. The forward line consisted of Benji Michel, Dom Dwyer, and Robinho.

Minnesota’s pressure was good in the first half, leading to several turnovers, and the Lions played their part by being sloppy with the ball — even when not under pressure. The Loons sent a warning shot off the crossbar four minutes in. Darwin Quintero, who was well offside, touched over to Ethan Finlay for a blast off the woodwork. The flag didn’t go up, but video review likely would have overturned it had it gone in.

Four minutes later, Angelo Rodriguez scored but the flag was up for offside this time. The play looked close on replay but the Minnesota striker was just offside.

The Minnesota press forced the wings to play deeper and deeper and it isolated Dwyer up top. Any long balls to him were easily knocked away by Ike Opara and Michael Boxall.

Opara nodded wide of goal off a corner kick cross in the 13th minute and Jan Gregus fired wide from distance two minutes later as the Loons continued to probe for an opener. Rodriguez headed wide off a quick free kick after a handball outside the box on Kamal Miller in the 20th minute.

Rodriguez pulled up on a 2-v-2 break with an apparent hamstring injury and was replaced by Danladi in the 28th minute.

A minute later, the Lions finally got their first shot attempt. Benji Michel broke to his right at the top of the area and sent one on goal but right at Vito Mannone, who made the easy save.

Rowe made an incredible save in the 30th minute to deny Quintero and keep the game scoreless.

Moments later, Finlay nutmegged Miller, rounded the rookie and smashed either a cross or a bad shot through the area and out for a throw.

Michel picked out Robinho with a cross in the 34th minute but hit it with so much pace that the Brazilian couldn’t get his shot anywhere near on frame after it took a hop in front of him.

A couple of shots wide by Quintero and Hassani Dotson finished off the first-half chances and the teams went to the locker room scoreless and the Lions were fortunate to be level at the break.

The Loons led in shots (15-3), shots on goal (3-1), possession (52%), and passing accuracy (84%-80%). Orlando was second best all over the pitch and Nani wasn’t able to influence the match at all. In fact, he was part of the problem, with only a 68% passing accuracy in the opening half and even some of the passes that were accurate put his teammates into a bad spot, as they were already closed down when they received it and were dispossessed easily.

Pereyra entered the game at halftime in place of Robinho and took Nani’s spot in the middle, pushing the captain out to the wing, where he immediately looked more comfortable. Just two minutes after the break, he sent in a dangerous cross that Opara got a foot on to prevent a good scoring chance. Another cross in from Nani found Dwyer two minutes later, but the ball bounced just in front of the striker on a brutal area of the field and he couldn’t bring it in. The pitch in front of the “Wonderwall” was coming up all night.

Gregus was invited to shoot from 30+ yards away a couple of times around the hour mark and he obliged, sending a screamer right at Rowe and another shot well wide of the target moments later.

Rowe made his best save of the night in the 65th minute. A Romain Metanire cross deflected perfectly into the path of second-half sub Robin Lod, who got all of the ball on his shot and Rowe went down with one hand to knock it away.

Akindele, who came in for Dwyer, could have been in on goal in the 66th, but he checked up his run for some reason and was eventually dispossessed. But two minutes later, he made up for that decision with an excellent ball that sent Nani in behind the defense. The Portuguese star dribbled into the penalty area and then went down under contact from behind by Opara. A penalty was signaled immediately.

Referee Jair Marrufo consulted with VAR Edin Juresivic but did not go to the monitor himself. There looked to be no clear and obvious error and Opara was curiously shown a yellow card, even though he was the last defender and Nani was denied a scoring opportunity. While the rule changed in recent years to award a yellow instead of a red for many DOGSO opportunities, the rule does state that the player should be sent off if the infraction is for holding, pulling, or pushing. Opara’s foul appeared to be the latter with a forearm to the back.

Nevertheless, the captain calmly stepped to the spot in the 70th minute and beat Mannone, who guessed correctly but there was too much quality on the shot.

It was Nani’s ninth goal of the season to draw him level with Akindele for the team lead. It was also the first goal the Loons have surrendered at home since July 3 against San Jose, after which they posted four consecutive shutouts at Allianz Field.

Orlando was the better side for the next 15 minutes or so, yielding no real threatening chances and keeping the ball a bit better. The Lions nearly doubled the lead in the 84th minute. Akindele got in behind and fired a shot from the right that Mannone was able to parry away to keep the score at 1-0. It turned out to be a huge save.

Minnesota finally got a shot off in the 91st minute when Danladi created some space, turned and fired well off target. But a minute later he got his goal when a seemingly harmless throw-in turned into an equalizer. A long throw-in from Metanire went into the scrum and took a glancing touch off the back of Opara’s head, causing it to slightly change direction. It then hit Robin Jansson’s body before deflecting perfectly to Danladi, who swept it home to tie the game in the 92nd minute.

It was the suckerest of sucker punches to the Lions, who were on the cusp of doing something only one team had ever done — take all three points out of Allianz Field with them as the visitors.

In the dying seconds, Orlando nearly got a break the other way when a ball in to Akindele was passed on for Pereyra and hit Chase Gasper’s hand on the way through the box. A penalty was signaled but the play went to video review, where the replay showed that Akindele was just offside when receiving the previous pass from Pereyra.

Minnesota dominated the stat sheet, out-shooting Orlando, 22-5 (6-3 on target), keeping 54% of the ball, and out-passing the Lions (82%-80%), but the Lions implemented their game plan. It isn’t pretty, but it has been mostly effective. It took a bad hop off of Jansson — who played a magnificent game yet again — for the Loons to level things up just when it appeared that the Lions would finally beat Adrian Heath and finally put together consecutive league wins in 2019.

Alas.


The Lions return home and things get spicier with Atlanta United coming to Exploria Stadium on Friday night.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions meet the Herons in the first Tropic Thunder battle of 2024.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday afternoon Tropic Thunder matchup between Orlando City and the team’s Publix Enemies, Inter Miami CF at Chase Stadium (4:30 p.m., FOX, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). It’s the first of two scheduled meetings between the sides this season with the return leg in Orlando set for Wednesday, May 15. It is the only scheduled meeting in Fort Lauderdale.

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

History

Orlando City is 5-4-4 in the series in all competitions, 2-3-0 on the road in the MLS regular season, and 2-4-0 away in all competitions. The most recent meeting resulted in a 1-1 draw in Orlando on Sept. 24, 2023. Duncan McGuire brought Orlando back from a 1-0 deficit after David Ruiz had given the Herons a 1-0 lead early in the second half.

The most recent meeting in South Florida took place on Aug. 2 of last year in Leagues Cup action. The Herons were fortunate to not see Lionel Messi sent off with a second yellow late in the first half and even more fortunate to get a soft penalty call on Antonio Carlos as they won, 3-1. Messi opened the scoring after being ignored in the box early. Cesar Araujo made up for his uncharacteristic defensive lapse by scoring 10 minutes later. Josef Martinez put Miami back on top with the Downy-soft penalty just after halftime and Messi sunk in the dagger in the final 20 minutes.

The teams also met in Fort Lauderdale in MLS play on May 20, 2023, with Orlando City winning, 3-1. Ercan Kara’s early goal was canceled out by Leonardo Campana shortly before the hour mark, but Martin Ojeda and Rafael Santos found the net in the second half to power the Lions.

Inter Miami won at home, 4-1, on Oct. 5, 2022. Campana scored in the game’s first minute and Orlando City never settled in. Gonzalo Higuain added two goals — one from the spot — and Ariel Lassiter also scored before Kara pulled one back to spoil the shutout.

The first regular-season meeting of 2022 resulted in a 1-0 Orlando City win at Exploria Stadium on July 9, as a stoppage-time own goal by Damion Lowe was the difference between the Lions earning just one point or all three. The ball was sent into the box by Jake Mulraney.

The teams also met at Exploria Stadium on May 25, 2022 in U.S. Open Cup action, with the two sides needing extra time after a scoreless 90 minutes. In extra time, Miami got a goal from Jean Mota against the run of play, but Facundo Torres quickly equalized for Orlando. The match ended 1-1 and Orlando won the ensuing penalty shootout, 4-2. Bryce Duke was denied by Mason Stajduhar and DeAndre Yedlin missed the net during the spot kicks, while all four Orlando shooters scored.

The intrastate rivals played to a scoreless draw in Orlando on Aug. 27, 2021. Tesho Akindele missed a penalty in the match, but the Lions had several other good opportunities to score (but didn’t) in a wasteful performance. Orlando and Miami battled to a 1-1 draw at Exploria Stadium on Aug. 4, 2021. Carlos scored in first-half stoppage time but was knocked into concussion protocol on the play by Kelvin Leerdam. Kieran Gibbs equalized in the 66th minute on a header in front of a less-than-attentive Ruan. Akindele had a goal called back after video review for being offside and the teams split the points. Earlier in the season, the Lions came from behind in Fort Lauderdale to win 2-1 on a pair of brilliant goals by Chris Mueller and Nani on June 25, 2021.

In the final meeting of 2020, the Lions saw their 12-match unbeaten streak end on Oct. 24 in a 2-1 road loss in Fort Lauderdale. Miami defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez’s header in the 89th minute was the difference after a Daryl Dike goal and an own goal off Robin Jansson saw the game tied up at halftime. The teams met in Orlando on Sept. 12, 2020 with Orlando battling to a 2-1 win on Mauricio Pereyra’s goal. The Lions had taken the lead on an own goal by Andres Reyes. Former Lion Brek Shea tied things up in the 65th, before Pereyra answered with a nice goal off the left post in the 69th minute.

The first meeting in Fort Lauderdale opened Phase 1 of Major League Soccer’s return to regular-season play after the MLS is Back Tournament. That one was an uncharacteristically sloppy match for the Lions, who fell 3-2 in Inter Miami’s first-ever home match. It was Miami’s first franchise win after an 0-5-0 start. Orlando trailed by more than one goal for the first time all season in that game. Dike and Nani provided the offense for Orlando, but Julian Carranza’s brace and Rodolfo Pizarro’s insurance goal were enough to lift the Herons.

The first Tropic Thunder match went Orlando City’s way, with Nani scoring late to lift the Lions to a 2-1 win over the upstarts from South Florida in the opening match of the MLS is Back Tournament. Despite it being a tournament match, it was also a league game. Juan Agudelo opened the scoring for the Herons, but Mueller equalized, setting the stage for Nani’s 97th-minute winner.

Overview

The Lions are coming off a 3-1 win over Canadian Premier League side Cavalry FC Tuesday. That victory gave Orlando City a 6-1 aggregate score across two legs and the Lions advanced to the Round of 16 in Concacaf Champions Cup. Despite heavy rotation, Orlando got goals from Nico Lodeiro, Ramiro Enrique, and Kyle Smith to advance.

Orlando City last played in a regular-season match a week ago at home against CF Montreal, drawing 0-0. Tonight’s match represents Orlando’s first road game of the 2024 MLS season.

Inter Miami is coming off a 1-1 draw on the road against the LA Galaxy last Sunday. The Herons (stop me if you’ve heard this before) got an enormous break when Mark Delgado was sent off with a second yellow in the 87th minute. Messi scored five minutes later against the shorthanded Galaxy and Miami claimed a point. Delgado’s second yellow was, of course, overturned unanimously by the MLS Disciplinary Committee, but the damage has been done.

The Herons are 1-0-0 at home, having dispatched Real Salt Lake 2-0 in Inter Miami’s home opener Feb. 21.

Miami is one of the favorites in 2024 and is playing confidently under Gerardo Martino and is one of the league’s heavy favorites to win MLS Cup. The Lions must do what they can to limit Messi’s involvement as much as possible. Miami’s attack is formidable enough that it helps the team’s defense, as it is often difficult to dispossess the Herons and maintain extended spells of possession long enough to get at Inter Miami’s back line. That’s exactly what the Lions love to do, so today’s match will be an interesting battle of wills.

It’s a rivalry game, so anything can happen. History suggests it’ll be tight.

“We’re very optimistic after advancing in the Champions Cup and in the performance that we had (at home) in the opener,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “We’re very confident to keep going in this journey. I know we’ll be busy in the next few weeks, but the boys are ready. We’re ready to compete. Now, we’re refocusing on going to Miami, the first time against our rival and getting a result there. Then we’ll think about the game on Tuesday (against Tigres), but first is focusing on our next rival. We already have our feedback, already have our reviews in, but now we’re ready.”

The Lions don’t have any players listed on the team’s availabilitly report. Miami will be without Benjamin Cremaschi (sports hernia), Facundo Farias (knee), Ian Fray (knee), Franco Negri (knee), and Robbie Robinson (medical evaluation), while Ryan Sailor (oblique) is questionable.

Match Content


Official Lineups:

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, Facundo Torres.

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Kyle Smith, Michael Halliday, David Brekalo, Felipe, Jeorgio Kocevski, Nico Lodeiro, Ramiro Enrique, Luis Muriel.

Inter Miami (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: Drake Callender.

Defenders: Jordi Alba, Tomas Aviles, Nicolas Freire, DeAndre Yedlin.

Midfielders: Diego Gomez, Sergio Busquets, Julian Gressel.

Forwards: Robert Taylor, Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi.

Bench: CJ dos Santos, Ryan Sailor, Sergii Kryvtsov, Shanyder Borgelin, Jean Mota, Lawson Sunderland, David Ruiz, Noah Allen, Leonardo Campana.

Referees:

REF: Jaime Herrera.
AR1: Bruno Rizo.
AR2: Regis Cardoso.
4TH: Ivan Cid Cruz.
VAR: Sandro Ricci.
AVAR: TBA.


How to Watch

Match Time: 4:30 p.m.

Venue: Chase Stadium — Fort Lauderdale.

TV/Live Stream: FOX, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English), Acción 97.9 FM, 810 AM (Spanish).

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


Enjoy the game. Go City!

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Orlando City

Luis Muriel Flashed Playmaking Ability vs. Cavalry FC

Luis Muriel showed signs of what he can do with a strong performance in his Orlando City debut.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Luis Muriel is the newest man to wear the no. 9 shirt for Orlando City, taking over for Ercan Kara after the big Austrian left the City Beautiful for the Turkish top flight last summer. Muriel arrived just before the season officially got underway, and we had to wait until the third game of the year against Cavalry FC to see him take the field, as the necessary paperwork had to be completed first.

Once he was on the field, he was a joy to watch. While Cavalry isn’t the toughest opposition that OCSC will face this year, the Canadians (et al) aren’t slouches either, and the Colombian gave them all sorts of trouble as soon as the game got underway. With 14 minutes gone, he directed a header on target, and moments later he broke through the defense with a great run, and only last-gasp closing down from two defenders and an excellent save from Marco Carducci denied him a goal on his debut. He also fizzed a dangerous shot just outside the post with a little under 30 minutes played, continuing his high level of involvement to start the match.

He wasn’t limited to just taking shots though. When Muriel’s signing was announced, Luiz Muzzi went out of his way to highlight the striker’s “…ability to combine with and make his teammates better.” That’s something that we got to see quite a bit of on Tuesday night, as the no. 9 repeatedly dropped into the midfield in search of the ball, showing up as far back as the defensive midfielders at times. Doing so pulled Cavalry players out of position, opened up space in the center, and made it easier for him to either connect with teammates or drive at the defense once he had collected the ball. He spoke after the game about how he liked to go find the ball and get into unexpected areas, and he certainly did a lot of that.

Muriel’s playmaking chops eventually paid dividends on the scoreboard when the Lions grabbed the opening goal of the game. He collected the ball on the right side of the box, and cut onto his left foot where he could have had a shot at goal. Instead, he picked his head up and squared a perfect ball for Nico Lodiero at the top of the 18-yard box, who made it look easy as he hit the well-weighted ball first time and put it off the inside of the left post and into the back of the net.

If you did your research, you had a pretty good idea of what the Lions would be getting when they signed the Colombian international to a three-year deal. Per FBref.com, in the last year, Muriel is in the 99th percentile for passes attempted per 90, progressive passes per 90, expected assisted goals per 90, shot-creating actions per 90, and successful take-ons per 90. He’s in the 98th percentile for shots per 90, and the 86th percentile for non-penalty goals per 90. Those numbers all paint the picture of a forward who scores but is also comfortable as a playmaker, doesn’t hesitate to get his teammates involved, and does so at a high level.

His numbers on Tuesday night only served to reinforce what the scouting told us. Muriel finished with three shots, two of which were on target, and completed 87% of his passes while recording a key pass and an assist — in his first competitive minutes with his new teammates. It was a well-rounded performance that allowed more traditional playmakers like Facundo Torres and Lodeiro to be limited to substitute appearances, helping to preserve their legs at a time when fixture congestion is high.


Tuesday night was a nice preview of what fans can expect when Muriel is on the field. His tendency to go looking for the ball and willingness to bring his teammates into play means that Orlando has the sort of striker that the club hasn’t really had before. It gives the team more options and tactical flexibility, and that’s going to be something to watch as the season continues. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 3/1/24

Orlando’s girls teams playing in national event this weekend, USWNT will face Colombia, Paul Pogba banned for four years, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to March! It always feels like a good sign when a month starts on a Friday. Spring may not officially be here, but it definitely feels like winter is truly behind us. I plan on getting plenty of spring cleaning done this weekend before a fairly busy month. Let’s get this month started with today’s links!

ECNL Girls National Event Kicks Off Today

Some of the best youth soccer players are coming to Florida this weekend for the Elite Club National League’s spring event at Lakewood Ranch. It’s a great chance for clubs to play teams outside of their conference and there are plenty of scouts to impress as well. Orlando City will have four youth teams take part and each team will play at least three games over the three days. Orlando’s G07 squad has notably won five of its eight games in conference play and will take on Real Colorado National today. Orlando’s squads in the other age groups have some strong opponents lined up as well, so it should be a great experience for the club.

USWNT Will Face Colombia in Concacaf W Gold Cup

After finishing second in its group after a loss to Mexico, the United States Women’s National Team will take on Colombia this Sunday in the Concacaf W Gold Cup quarterfinals. The U.S. and Colombia squared off in friendlies last fall, with the teams playing to a scoreless draw in Utah before the U.S. won 3-0 in San Diego a few days later. Colombia also finished second in its group, conceding just once so far this tournament. The winner of Sunday’s match will play whichever team advances from tomorrow’s game between Canada and Costa Rica. On the other side of the bracket, Orlando Pride players square off when Rafaelle, Adriana, and Brazil play Mariana Larroquette and Argentina tomorrow. The winner of that match will play the victor between Mexico and Paraguay.

Portland Timbers Cut Ties With Jersey Sponsor

The Portland Timbers have dropped DaBella Exteriors as their jersey sponsor amid allegations that the company’s CEO, Donnie McMillan, Jr., sexually harassed employees. The accusations did not become public until Feb. 23 and the Timbers have removed DaBella’s image from their website as well. It makes sense that the Timbers would want to distance themselves from this. There was an investigation by U.S. Soccer in 2022 regarding former Portland Thorns head coach Paul Riley, and the club was also fined by MLS for not reporting an incident of alleged domestic violence involving former Timbers player Andy Polo in a timely manner. DaBella replaced Alaska Airlines as the team’s shirt sponsor for this season and the Timbers will now go without one until a new sponsor is chosen.

Paul Pogba Banned for Four Years

After testing positive for testosterone while playing for Juventus, French midfielder Paul Pogba was banned for the maximum four years by Italy’s anti-doping court. In response to the ruling, Pogba stated that the verdict was “incorrect” and that he will appeal this decision.

“I am sad, shocked and heartbroken that everything I have built in my professional playing career has been taken away from me,” Pogba said. “When I am free of legal restrictions the full story will become clear, but I have never knowingly or deliberately taken any supplements that violate anti-doping regulations.”

It’s fair to wonder just where this news leaves his career if his appeal is denied and he serves the full ban. Pogba turns 31 later this month and he is still under contract with Juventus through 2026, although this ban may obviously change that. Injuries have limited him in recent years as well, as he missed out on the most recent World Cup with France.

Free Kicks

  • Toronto FC signed English midfielder Matty Longstaff to a contract through the 2025 season. Longstaff has previous played for Newcastle United and should help improve a Toronto team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2020.
  • LA Galaxy midfielder Mark Delgado’s second yellow card he received in his team’s opener has been rescinded and he’s eligible for Saturday’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes. Delgado was sent off while the Galaxy were up against Inter Miami, and the Herons then went on to score and leave with a point.
  • The New England Revolution beat Independiente to advance to the Concacaf Champions Cup’s round of 16.
  • Bay FC forward Racheal Kundananji had to exit Zambia’s Olympic qualifier against Ghana due to an injury.
  • The United States Men’s National Team’s next away kit was reportedly leaked and it sure is something. It’s like a Bomb Pop got mixed into the team’s laundry.
  • The USL Super League’s Fort Lauderdale United unveiled its branding and the colors are pretty nice. However, the logo has a bit too much alphabet soup going on for my liking.

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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