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Orlando City vs. New England Revolution: Final Score 3-3 as Lions Fight Back Twice

Lions come from behind to draw but suffer a bit of a blow in the playoff race by gaining no ground.

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Deon Cooper, The Mane Land

Orlando City gave up three first-half goals but fought back twice to draw 3-3 with the New England Revolution at Exploria Stadium. The draw helped Orlando (9-13-9, 36 points) gain a point on Montreal but the Lions lost ground to Chicago and didn’t make up any on the Revs (10-10-10, 40 points) — the holders of the last playoff spot.

Failing to secure all three points makes a playoff appearance even more unlikely for an Orlando team that is winless in its last five (0-2-3). On the other hand, the Revolution have still never won in Orlando in six attempts in MLS play (0-2-4) and seven in all competitions (0-3-4).

The Lions fought back from Tesho Akindele’s early own goal on a Nani strike before Cristian Penilla and Gustavo Bou gave the Revs a seemingly insurmountable halftime lead. But a resilient Orlando side bounced back on goals by Dom Dwyer and Nani and had a couple of opportunities to score a fourth and win the game.

“Incredibly proud of the second-half performance,” Head Coach James O’Connor said after the game. “That was incredible when you look at the guts and you look at the quality. On another night we end up winning it.

“The second half after about 15 minutes, when it went to 3-3, then the game really opens up. They have a couple of chances and we have some chances. I think to be 3-1 down and come back out second half and fight like that, the players deserve enormous credit.”

O’Connor had Mauricio Pereyra available, so he started the Uruguayan in the midfield with Nani left and Akindele right behind Dwyer. The back line remained the three usual starters from right to left with Kyle Smith at left back in front of Brian Rowe. The central midfield consisted of Cristian Higuita and Carlos Ascues.

Orlando had a half chance just two minutes in, as Akindele got the ball on the left, but after taking a bit of a heavy touch, the defense recovered and he was forced to try to work around it for a shot, which he eventually did but it was blocked.

New England sent in a couple of warning signs after that with Penilla fizzing a cross through the box that none of his teammates could get onto and then Carles Gil sent one just wide from long distance.

The Revs then grabbed the lead in the 15th minute on a cross. Akindele stuck out a leg to block it and he knocked it off the post and into his own net to make it 1-0 New England.

“Own goal is never easy to judge,” Sané said. “I think it’s unlucky. He tried to do his best.”

Akindele’s own goal made Orlando City’s teams three for three on the weekend, with OCB scoring a game-winning own goal for Toronto FC II yesterday and the Pride’s Kristen Edmonds conceding one at North Carolina earlier tonight. You really can’t make stuff like this up.

The Lions fought back and scored seven minutes later. Pereyra sent in a cross on a corner and Nani headed it into the far corner of the net to make it 1-1 in the 22nd minute.

The Revolution regained the lead in the 35th minute on a play that seemed harmless. A through ball found Penilla but Ruan was in good position to cut him off. However, Rowe had come far off his line, not anticipating his fullback would be in position to close down the forward. Penilla got to the ball just before Ruan and chipped Rowe with his first touch to make it 2-1.

Akindele got down the right side in the 40th minute with a couple of potential targets in the box but his pass was picked off and the chance evaporated. That was costly because the Revs scored their third goal a minute later.

A simple pass to Bou from Gil resulted in a quick shot that Lamine Sané was unable to block and it beat Rowe to the near side to make it 3-1, seemingly putting the game away just before the half.

Ruan was fouled in the corner to set up a late City free kick, which the Lions played short to Higuita, who blasted it off target.

The Lions out-shot the Revs, 8-6, but got only one on target to New England’s two. The Revs held 53% of the possession and out-passed the Lions (84%-78%).

Orlando got right back in the game after the break. Just two minutes after the restart, Dwyer played a ball out wide to Ruan, who dropped off to Nani. The captain had time on the ball, so he looked up and fired a cross to Dwyer, who ducked down and headed it inside the far post to make it 3-2 in the 47th minute. It was Dwyer’s first goal since July 7 at Philadelphia and his sixth of the 2019 season.

Orlando pushed numbers into the attack, which opened the game up and allowed New England the occasional counter, but O’Connor said after the game that the team had to play that type of game to get back in it and try to go on and win. The first such dangerous counter saw Penilla hit a sky ball with a gaping net in the 48th minute. The Revs were dangerous down the right side, getting in behind Smith repeatedly and crossing in threateningly for Penilla and Bou.

But it was the Lions who scored the next goal. Nani found some space at the top of the area, cutting the ball right, then left, and firing just inside the right post with a left-footed blast in the 54th minute.

“I think (Nani’s) quality is there for everyone to see,” O’Connor said of his captain, who finished with two goals, an assist, seven shots and five chances created. “His performance tonight was outstanding, especially the second half when he went to that central area. His shot from distance, his ability to drop balls in behind. It was great.”

With two goals and an assist in the game, Nani set a new Orlando MLS record for combined goals and assists in a season, with 12 and nine, respectively. His combined 21 goal contributions broke the mark shared by Kaká and Kevin Molino, who each had a combined 19 in 2016.

Penilla fired straight at Rowe in the 59th on another Revs counter and then Orlando got three golden opportunities for a fourth goal in the 62nd minute. Nani played a ball over the top that Akindele ran onto but the ball was in the air and he didn’t make good contact, sending a weak shot that Matt Turner knocked down. Dwyer sent a shot back toward the net and Turner again fought it off. The ball fell for second-half sub Sebas Mendez, but the Ecuadorian fired wide of the net.

Sané made several vital challenges throughout the second half to keep the game tied. With Ruan pushing forward and New England knocking long balls over the top for Penilla and Bou to run onto, Sané was forced into several emergency 1-v-1 recovery runs and did outstanding work throughout the second half to prevent breakaways from turning into goals. His work in the 74th minute after Smith again got beat for speed down the right was incredible.

“He’s very, very fast like Ruan,” Sané said of Penilla. “Our fastest one has to go very high and take the risk and I told him ‘OK I’m going to cover your back and take the risk to make the 1-v-1’ and I was lucky tonight to stop him. But I think we have to take more risk like that if we want to do better.”

Ruan sent a cross into the area in the 75th minute that was halfway between Dwyer and Turner. Both players stabbed a foot at it and the ball was sent wide, but a foul was called on Dwyer on the play. The contact momentarily shook up the Orlando striker and he was replaced by Santiago Patino. Three minutes later, Higuita smashed a shot that Turner fought off.

In the 80th minute Nani sent a gorgeous ball to spring Patino behind the defense. The rookie fired but Turner got a toe on the ball and it pinged off the far post.

Rowe made his best save of the night in the 84th minute. Sané got beat for speed by Penilla and could do nothing but watch as the New England attacker fired a ball that Rowe stopped. It wasn’t the best shot by Penilla, but the save was vital.

The Lions could not get anything on target in the seven minutes of stoppage time and the game ended all even at 3-3.

With a big second half, Orlando finished with more shots (19-15), shots on goal (7-6), and possession (53%-47%), and closed the gap on the Revolution’s passing advantage, with New England completing 84% and Orlando rising to 80% overall.

“We wanted to win. We wanted three points,” Nani said. “We knew this was the most important game for us. That was our final. But we are a team who is learning a lot (and) is improving. Tonight we showed our best performance in the second half. We must take all the good things we did tonight.”

“I think we had nothing to lose, so I think that’s why maybe we played better,” Sané said. “I think the second half we gave everything.”

Orlando City dropped to 10th in the standings, one point behind Chicago and Montreal, and still four behind the Revs in the last Eastern Conference playoff spot.


The Lions now go on the road for two games, with the Houston Dynamo first up. That game will be next Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. ET.

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.

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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!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/27/23

Orlando City falls in power rankings, OCB will take on Columbus Crew 2 in MLS NEXT Pro playoffs, U.S. Open Cup final preview, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. There’s not much new with me, I’m just staying busy at work lately and hoping to catch some soccer this weekend. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Drops Two Spots in Power Rankings

The latest MLS power rankings have been released and Orlando City fell two spots to fourth. The Lions lost their midweek matchup 2-0 on the road against New York City FC last Wednesday and closed out the weekend with a 1-1 draw against rival Inter Miami at Exploria Stadium. It wasn’t all bad this past week for the Lions, as Duncan McGuire scored his 11th goal of the year across all competitions. Despite losing to NYCFC a week ago, the Lions remain in second place in the Eastern Conference and are two points ahead of the Columbus Crew, Philadelphia Union, Atlanta United, and the New England Revolution.

OCB Will Take On Columbus Crew 2 in MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs

Orlando City B’s opponent for the first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs was announced on Tuesday, as it will go on the road to take on defending champion Columbus Crew 2 on Oct. 1 at Historic Crew Stadium. As part of the new playoff format that lets higher seeds choose their opponents, Columbus chose to host OCB in the quarterfinals. The Young Lions closed out their regular season this past weekend with a 2-1 win against FC Cincinnati and finished fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Columbus Crew 2 finished its regular season with a 3-2 win against Atlanta United 2 to place third. The clubs split the regular season series, with OCB winning 4-1 on Aug. 27 and Columbus winning 4-0 on May 14. The conference semifinals will be on the following weekend, and the MLS NEXT Pro Cup final is set for Oct. 22.

U.S. Open Cup Final Preview

The 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will conclude tonight with the final at DRV PNK Stadium as Inter Miami takes on the Houston Dynamo. The match will kick off at 8:30 p.m. and you can watch the match on Paramount+ or CBS Sports Network. Inter Miami’s journey included edging out Nashville SC 2-1 in the Round of 16 and needing to go all the way to penalties to knock out FC Cincinnati after a thrilling 3-3 draw in the semifinals. The Houston Dynamo began their run with a pair of 1-0 wins against the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Sporting Kansas City. Since the Round of 16, the Dynamo cruised past Minnesota United, the Chicago Fire, and Real Salt Lake to get to the final. Houston was on a seven-match unbeaten run before losing to Sporting Kansas City this past weekend. The Dynamo will look to add another U.S. Open Cup title after winning it back in 2018. Lionel Messi will reportedly be a game-time decision for tonight’s final after he didn’t play in Miami’s draw with Orlando.

Spain Wins First Home Match Since World Cup Victory

Spain’s women’s national team won its first match since lifting the World Cup trophy last month, cruising to a 5-0 win against Switzerland in a UEFA Nations League matchup. After dealing with the fallout of former Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales and players boycotting call-ups to the national team before a deal was reached last week, the team wore wristbands that read “Se Acabo,” meaning “this is over,” and players from both teams held a banner with the same phrase before the match. Spain celebrated its win in front of a record-breaking crowd of 14,194 fans that came out to support the team at Nuevo Arcangel Stadium.

Free Kicks

  • Carrie Lawrence and the Orlando Pride were hard at work preparing for the match on Monday against Angel City FC.
  • Angel City exercised its club option to extend former Pride forward Sydney Leroux’s contract through the end of the 2024 NWSL season.
  • The Canadian Women’s National Team defeated Jamaica 4-1 on aggregate to book a spot in next summer’s Olympics.
  • The Seattle Sounders have unveiled their new crest for next year.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 1-1 home draw against the Herons?

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Draws are never satisfying but there’s at least a much better feeling when your team scores the final goal that earns the point rather than conceding so the other team takes two away. Thus was Orlando City’s 1-1 draw at home against Inter Miami on Sunday. It feels better to score the last goal, despite the fact that the same number of goals are scored either way. It’s a grand illusion.

Duncan McGuire’s blast through the legs of Drake Callender at least kept the Pepto-Bismol-colored team from winning at the purple palace and added another point to Orlando’s fine 2023 total.

Here’s how I saw the individual performances from a feisty affair at Exploria Stadium.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 7.5 — It was another standout game from the Peruvian shot stopper, who made four saves on the night, including a big one to stop a Leonardo Campana attempt from just a couple yards out. Gallese couldn’t do much about the lone goal conceded, as it came off a rebound of a wicked Josef Martinez shot, offering Gallese little opportunity to control the rebound due to the angle and pace. El Pulpo also recorded a clearance and passed at an 81.8% rate, connecting on five of his nine long balls.

D, Rafael Santos, 6.5 — After a couple of somewhat underwhelming performances, the Brazilian had a solid night. He didn’t have a shot attempt, but he managed two key passes despite completing only 71.4% of his passes. He connected on three of his eight long balls and one of his four crosses, but that latter number says more about his teammates not getting onto some good-looking balls into the area. Defensively, he provided two clearances and an interception, committing just one foul and completing a dribble. He even led the team in touches (60).

D, Robin Jansson, 7.5 (MotM) — In the first half, Jansson was the best player on the pitch and, in my opinion, it wasn’t close. The Beefy Swede vaccuumed up almost everything sent forward by Miami that was intended for Campana and Martinez on his side of the field. He finished the night with two tackles and two interceptions but it seemed like more than that. His passing was magnificent, as he completed 89.4% of his 47 passes, including six of seven long balls and his only through ball attempt. He had a key pass as well. He didn’t attempt a shot but he completed one dribble and drew a foul as he stymied the Miami attack. He did his best to cover Martinez’s quick, incisive run to the opposite side but couldn’t block the shot with his sliding effort. His biggest blemish was getting yet another yellow card for dissent — something he’s mostly been able to avoid this season.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 5.5 —While I thought Schlegel had a much better night Sunday than he had in the previous two games, it was far from where he was just a week or two earlier. The quick transition gave him a tough choice of backing off Campana and allowing a dangerous shot or doing what he did — stepping out and allowing a through ball. His closeout wasn’t tight enough. His marking on set pieces also left a lot to be desired at times. His passing was mostly accurate (91.5%), and he connected on two of three long balls, but there were a few dicey ones in his own end. He recorded two aerials won, one tackle, two interceptions, and a clearance. He committed three fouls and picked up a yellow card, conceding a dangerous free kick. His lone shot attempt was an off-target header.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6.5 — After a couple of tough games, the Icelandic midfielder-turned-fullback acquitted himself pretty well, considering Inter Miami attacked his side quite a bit. He passed well, connecting 82.5% of the time with one key pass and hitting the target once on two crosses, four times on six long balls, and sent a marvelous through ball that should have resulted in an Ivan Angulo goal, but the winger flubbed his lines. His lone shot attempt was a difficult one and did not threaten goal. He did not record a single defensive stat, although much of the time his opponent curled in toward the top of the area and was passed off to another defender.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 5.5 — The young Uruguayan had a quiet night, without recording any defensive statistics in his 45 minutes before being subbed out at the break for Martin Ojeda. He managed only 23 touches and his passing rate of 73.3% was much lower than his usual standard and he completed one of his two long balls. He also drew two fouls and completed a dribble. He simply wasn’t able to impact the game to the extent we’re used to seeing.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 7 — It was a good night for the Peruvian midfielder, who was constantly getting under the opponents’ skin. He drew yellow card fouls on Dixon Arroyo and Benjamin Cremaschi — the latter after a slick nutmeg move — and had a steal that was set to ignite the break called back for a foul that I don’t agree was committed. Defensively, he recorded a tackle, a clearance, and an interception. He passed at a 91.1% success rate, created one scoring chance, and completed both of his long-ball attempts.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 5 — Whether it’s a lack of confidence and/or composure or being intimidated by a good goalkeeper, the Ivan Angulo who shoots in warmups is not the same guy in front of goal once the game is underway. He completely flubbed his lines when Thorhallsson sent him in behind for a 1-v-1 chance against Callender. The number of times he gets into dangerous spots and either a bad pass, shot, or decision keeps Orlando City from generating a scoring chance from it is maddening. Angulo failed to get any of his three shot attempts on target. His passing rate was just 60%, he did not have a single key pass, and neither of his two crosses were on target, although his single long ball was. He also didn’t record a single defensive statistic. There are many things Angulo does well, and his speed is tantalizing, but the final product is often lacking.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 — The captain had a mostly quiet match except when he was scissored down from behind by David Ruiz, somehow only producing a yellow card for the Miami midfielder. Pereyra produced only one key pass and no shot attempts, starting at central attacking midfielder before dropping into central midfield in the second half to pull the strings from a deeper position. He passed at an 80.5% success rate, completing one of three crosses and two of five long balls. He did not record any defensive stats and committed two fouls while drawing three.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6.5 — Torres led the Lions in shots (4), putting two on target, contributing one key pass and winning an aerial. He passed pretty well overall (81.5%), though he did not complete either of his two crosses or his lone long ball. He contributed an interception and a clearance defensively. Miami concentrated on double-teaming the Designated Player whenever possible. Torres still created some opportunities for himself and others, but it was a fairly quiet night overall.

F, Duncan McGuire, 7.5 — The rookie is still getting back to form after returning from injury, so he managed only 18 touches on the night but he did well with the touches he had. Both of McGuire’s shots were on target and both were rockets. Unfortunately, both were right at goalkeeper Callender. Fortunately, the second of those went through the keeper’s legs for the equalizing goal — his ninth of the MLS season. He also created a chance with a key pass, completed 83.3% of his pass attempts, and connected on his only long ball. He even contributed a defensive clearance. It was a good night for the rookie striker, although he wasn’t able to get that many touches.

Substitutes

MF, Martin Ojeda (46′), 6.5 — The Argentine Designated Player came on at halftime for Araujo to give the Lions more attacking presence and an extra playmaker on the field. He continues to grow in recent games, as he put his only shot attempt on target, created a chance with a key pass, and completed two dribbles, although he did have four unstable touches and was dispossessed once. He completed 89.5% of his 19 passes and all three long balls, but missed on his only cross attempt. He helped with the ball back with two tackles, and added a clearance.

MF/F, Ramiro Enrique (74′), 5 — Enrique came on for Angulo, which I thought at the time was the exact sub that was needed, but the Argentine didn’t offer much for the second straight game after winning Player of the Matchday. He did not attempt a shot or create a key pass and managed only seven touches on the night, passing at an 83.3% clip. He chipped in a clearance.

D, Michael Halliday (77′), 5 — The Homegrown defender spelled Thorhallsson but didn’t offer much, despite completing all four of his passes on 13 total touches. He had two unstable touches and was dispossessed once, which is not what you want to see from your fullback in the final 15 minutes of the match. Defensively, he blocked a shot, but he also conceded an unnecessary late corner when he pulled up, thinking he’d won a foul that didn’t end up getting called.

MF, Gaston Gonzalez (84′), N/A — As the MLS U22 Initiative attacker works his way back to fitness, he got a late runout, replacing McGuire, which pushed Enrique to the top of the formation. He conceded a free kick, but I honestly thought his challenge was clean and should have led to an Orlando counterattack. He put his only shot on frame, but it was a weak dribbler right at Callender. He did not complete his only pass attempt of the match.

MF, Junior Urso (84′), N/A — The Bear entered for Pereyra and was active, gettin 12 touches in late. His 90% passing rate on 10 attempts was solid, missing only on his only attempted long ball. He didn’t record any defensive stats, but he also didn’t make any mistakes in his brief spell.


That’s how I saw the individual performances by Orlando City on Sunday night at the stadium. Let me know where I got things right or wrong in the comments below and be sure to vote for your Man of the Match in our poll below.

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