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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. CF Montreal: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions do in their scoreless draw against CF Montreal?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City kicked off its 10th MLS season Saturday night, drawing CF Montreal 0-0 in downtown Orlando. The team was poor in the first half, but much better in the second 45 minutes. The Lions had multiple chances to win it late, hitting the woodwork and having a goal disallowed for offside. However, they claim a point to start the season and are in a great position to advance in the Concacaf Champions Cup Tuesday night.

Here’s how the Lions did individually in the scoreless draw.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 8 (MotM) — The Peruvian number one has been the most dependable Lion over the past few years and this game was no different. He was active in the first half, making four saves, but was bored in the second half until Kwadwo Opoku got in on goal in the second minute of stoppage time. Gallese came out and made a huge stop with his right leg, ensuring Orlando City would get a point. In total, the goalkeeper had five saves and completed 91.7% of his 24 passes, including four of his six long balls, while claiming his 34th clean sheet as a Lion.

D, Rafael Santos, 5.5 — After a rocky first outing in Canada, Santos had a much better game in the league opener with a team-high 108 touches. Defensively, the left back had one tackle, three interceptions, and one clearance in a clean sheet performance. Going forward, he completed 84.2% of his 76 passes, including a key pass. However, he only completed two of his seven crosses, a problem throughout the night for the Lions.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — It wasn’t a bad game for the Orlando City captain, but he wasn’t as effective as fans have come to expect. The Swede had an interception and block, but no clearances. He completed 90.2% of his 61 pass attempts and four of his eight long balls (50%). 

D, David Brekalo, 7 — Saturday night saw the long-awaited debut of Brekalo, Orlando City’s new starting center back. It was a solid performance for the defender, who recorded two tackles, two clearances, and a team-high four interceptions. Additionally, his three aerial duels were tied for the team high. He completed 86.4% of his 66 pass attempts and two of his three long balls. The new arrival took two dribbles and two shots, putting one on target. Overall, Brekalo was a bright spot in this game for the Lions before being replaced by Kyle Smith in the 77th minute.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Thorhallsson was one of several players that were much better in the second half than the first. Most of his passes in the first 45 minutes were left short or long balls too far, but he ended up completing 88.3% of his 60 passes with a team-high three key passes. He completed one of his two crosses and one of his five long balls. He took a team-high four shots, only putting one on target. Additionally, he one clearance defensively, but little else on that end of the field in 90 minutes of action.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 5.5 — It was a short night for Cartagena, who was taken off at halftime for Martin Ojeda after picking up a yellow in the first half. The Peruvian completed 90.5% of his 42 passes and both of his long balls. However, he did little defensively in this game and only had one dribble going forward. It wasn’t a bad performance overall, but the Lions couldn’t afford to go down a man if he got booked a second time.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 7 — Araujo displayed his usual dependability for the Lions in this game. His 87 touches were third on the team and he completed 89.7% of his 68 passes, including two key passes. He failed to connect on his lone cross, but completed all eight of his long balls. Unfortunately, neither of his two shots were on target. Defensively, the defensive midfielder was active, recording two tackles, two interceptions, and a clearance.

MF, Facundo Torres, 5 — Torres is usually the best attacking player for the Lions, but he had a difficult game Saturday night. The attacking midfielder completed 81.3% of his 48 passes and didn’t connect on any of his five crosses. He had one shot that was on target, and could’ve had a goal when he and Felipe and converged on a late header off the crossbar but they were offside. He also had a tackle defensively, but this will be a game to forget for the Uruguayan.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6 — One of two Lions to make their competitive home debuts, Lodeiro started in his natural number 10 position. His 89 touches were second-most on the team and he completed 86.7% of his 75 passes with a key pass. Two of his five crosses were accurate and he completed three of his seven long balls. He took one shot on the night, but it was off target. Lodeiro was somewhat active defensively, recording a tackle, an interception, and a clearance before being replaced by Felipe in the 77th minute.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 5 — Angulo was less active than usual in this game, only recording 42 touches and not taking any shots. He completed 83.9% of his 31 pass attempts and didn’t connect on his only cross. He had two tackles defensively but didn’t do much else before being replaced by Ramiro Enrique in the 68th minute.

F, Duncan McGuire, 5.5 — McGuire scored in his first game back after an uncertain off-season, so there was a lot of excitement heading into the home opener. The young striker took two off-target shots but was solid with his hold-up play, winning a team-high three aerial duels. He wasn’t able to get too involved, with only 26 touches, and he completed 64.3% of his 14 passes. He also had one key pass, one inaccurate cross, and one clearance.

Substitutes

MF, Martin Ojeda (46′), 6.5 — Ojeda came on at halftime for Cartagena and made a big impact on a much better second half. He completed 90.9% of his 22 passes with three key passes, and he was accurate on three of his seven crosses and both long balls. Additionally, one of his two shots was on target. He also helped out defensively, recording a tackle and a clearance.

F, Ramiro Enrique (68’), 5 — Enrique joined the game in the 68th minute, replacing Angulo, but didn’t make much of an impact. He only had 14 touches in 22 minutes while playing in the midfield. The attacker completed 77.8% of his nine passes without any key passes and failed to complete his lone cross. It was his header in the 80th minute that hit the crossbar and was redirected in by Felipe, but it was ruled out for offside.

D, Kyle Smith (77’), 5.5 — Smith came on for Brekalo to help see out the clean sheet alongside Jansson. Defensively, he had one clearance at center back, but no other defensive stats. He completed 78.6% of his 14 passes, including a key pass and completed his one cross.

MF, Felipe (77’), 6 — Felipe played well in the final 13 minutes of the game after replacing Lodeiro, recording an interception and a clearance and completing 90% of his 10 passes with one key pass. His most noteworthy moment came in the 80th minute when Enrique’s header off the crossbar was knocked in, but he was judged to be offside.

F, Jack Lynn (90’), N/A — Lynn came on for the final minutes of the game, replacing McGuire up top. He had four touches and won an aerial duel, a flick-on header near midfield, while completing one of his three passes (33.3%). He also had one accurate cross.


This is how I saw the individual performances of Orlando City’s first game of the 2024 MLS regular season. How did you see the game? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to vote on your Man of the Match.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/26/24

Orlando City draws Montreal, USWNT to play Mexico, USMNT news, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers. I know that we’re all a little disappointed with the draw in the home opener, but a point is a point, and we go again tomorrow night. It hasn’t taken long for the matches to come fast and furious with Orlando City and the USWNT playing this week. I could not be happier.

We also want to wish a happy birthday to the Orlando Pride’s Morgan Gautrat and OCB’s Dominic Pereira from all of us at The Mane Land.

Orlando City Draws Montreal

It wasn’t the best match Orlando City ever played, but it also wasn’t the worst. The Lions couldn’t find the last bit of quality to get the winning goal despite having most of the possession and plenty of shots. VAR also played a part, though both offside calls were correct, if unfortunate. Pedro Gallese kept the Lions in the match to earn the first point of the season. Check out our match recap.

Lions React to the Result

David Brekalo made his first start for Orlando City and while he acquitted himself well, given his limited time with the team, he is still confident that things will get better with time. He was also impressed with the level of play in MLS and with the Orlando City facilities. Oscar Pareja was disappointed with the result but was understanding of some of the reasons for it. Now, Orlando City gets ready for the two matches this week.

USWNT vs. Mexico

The USWNT takes on Mexico at 10:15 p.m. tonight in the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup. The U.S. is already through to the knockout stages of the Gold Cup but is trying to win Group A with a victory over Mexico. Former Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan is with the team and has scored in the competition. The U.S. has a 16-match winning streak over Mexico and will be looking to extend that to 17.

USMNT News

The USMNT and Juventus were both dealt a blow when Weston McKennie dislocated his shoulder in the 3-2 win over Frosinone on Sunday. Prior to the injury, McKennie contributed two assists, allowing Juventus to stay in second place in Serie A. Now we wait to hear how long McKennie will be out. Check out his assists.

American Striker Folarin Balogun scored a high difficulty goal in Monaco’s 3-2 victory over Lens in Ligue 1. Of course, he also missed a penalty kick later in the same match. Fortunately, Takumi Minamino scored a stoppage-time goal to secure the victory. Take a look at the nice goal.

Free Kicks

  • Liverpool defeated Chelsea 1-0 to win the Carabao Cup on an extra time header by captain Virgil van Dijk. It was the 10th trophy won with Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager. Liverpool was missing 11 top players to start the game and lost Ryan Gravenberch during the match.
  • Olivia Moultrie and Jaeden Shaw are making an impact with the USWNT despite being two of the younger players on the team. The impact came in the form of goals for each Moultrie and Shaw.
  • Naomi Girma has impressed for the USWNT in her time so far, but she wants to do more as a part of the newer generation of stars.
  • Brazil defeated Italy 6-4 in the Beach Soccer World Cup on Sunday. The competition took place in Dubai.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the match tomorrow night against Cavalry and the trip to Ft. Lauderdale to take on the hated Herons. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Five Takeaways

Here are five lessons learned from Orlando City’s 0-0 draw with Montreal.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City drew CF Montreal 0-0 in Inter&Co Stadium to start the MLS regular season. Heading into this match, the Lions had looked pretty good during the preseason and in the Concacaf Champions Cup match against Cavalry. Unfortunately, Orlando City wasn’t able to maintain its scoring form against Montreal, settling for a point at home.

Here are my five takeaways from Orlando’s draw with Montreal.

An Ugly First Half

Orlando city held 61% possession with four shots and only one on goal in the opening period. Add to that 10 fouls and a couple of yellow cards for Duncan McGuire and Wilder Cartagena and you end up with an ugly first half. Oscar Pareja put out a first-choice lineup, including many players who put in significant minutes in Wednesday’s Concacaf Champions Cup match against Cavalry in Canada. Despite having the best players on the field, Orlando City was not sharp and it showed in the stats and in the eye test.

El Pulpo Impresses

While the Lions were finding their footing to start the match, Pedro Gallese provided the cover the club needed with four saves in the first five minutes. After that, Orlando City settled down and kept more of the possession. Montreal didn’t get another shot on target the remainder of the half and so Gallese wasn’t called into service again. Fortunately, those first four saves were everything the Lions needed to start things off. He also made an incredible one-on-one save in stoppage to keep Montreal off the board.

Offside Ruins Chance, Part 1

Orlando City supporters thought the winning and only goal went in when Felipe put in the ball off a rebound from the bar. The initial shot came from Ramiro Enrique, who hit the crossbar. Both Martins and Facundo Torres were there and the ball went in but Felipe was in an offside position when Enrique took the shot. It was a frustrating call, even if it was ultimately the correct call.

A Game of Inches

Orlando City had 15 shots with four on target throughout the match. Of the 11 that weren’t on target, many were only inches from being so. Of the shots on target, all were either directly to Jonathan Sirois or without enough power to make him have to work to keep it out. There were also plenty of passes that were just off by a couple of inches that either gave the ball back to Montreal or stalled potential attacks.

Offside Ruins Chance, Part 2

In stoppage time, Torres drew a foul as he took a pass into the box. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and it looked like Orlando City would get the chance to score a winner on a penalty kick. Unfortunately, the offside flag had gone up again thanks to Jack Lynn being offside, as he strayed behind the last defender by a step in the buildup before the foul. Video review confirmed the call and Orlando City supporters were left wanting a second time.


That is what I saw in the match. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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