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Orlando City vs. Houston Dynamo: Final Score 2-1 as Lions Blow Early Lead

Lions’ skid reaches six matches.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City led early but couldn’t keep the ball in the second half and eventually succumbed to pressure, losing 2-1 to the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Stadium. Dom Dwyer’s early goal was canceled out by strikes by Alberth Elis and Christian Ramirez just three minutes apart in the second half, as Orlando (9-14-9, 36 points) made it six straight games without a win (0-3-3). Houston (11-16-4, 37 points) got its third result in six matches under Davy Arnaud.

Orlando fell to 1-2-2 against the Dynamo in the all-time series and 1-2-0 in Houston. The loss, coupled with New England’s draw, doesn’t quite officially eliminate the Lions from the postseason but a whole lot of chaos would need to ensue for the miracle of a playoff berth to materialize.

James O’Connor’s side played a 4-3-3 with playmakers Nani and Mauricio Pereyra on the wings and Dwyer up top. Will Johnson returned to the midfield with Cristian Higuita and Sebas Mendez. Kamal Miller took over at left back with the three usual starters on the back line — Robin Jansson, Lamine Sané, and Ruan — in front of Brian Rowe.

It didn’t take long for the Lions to get on the board. Orlando City scored its earliest goal from the start of the game all season just six minutes into the game.

Higuita was chopped down by Oscar Boniek Garcia, giving Orlando a free kick to the right side. Pereyra made a gorgeous delivery and Dwyer headed it back across the grain inside the back post to make it 1-0.

It was Dom’s second goal in as many games and both were on headers. It was also the first goal that an Orlando player has scored in this series. Previously, the only goal for the Lions was an own goal by Tyler Deric in 2015. Orlando City had been shut out in each of the last three meetings entering tonight.

There were other actions in the remaining 39 minutes of the first half aside from Houston corner kicks, but it might not have seemed like it. The Dynamo racked up corner after corner, finishing the game with a 13-5 advantage in that category.

Despite that, the Dynamo weren’t very menacing on those corners. One ended up fizzing through the six in the 13th minute and any touch would have put it in the net, but it went out the other side.

Dwyer smashed a shot with power in the 20th from just outside the area that forced a save from Joe Willis. The striker was Orlando’s only real threat all night, firing five of the team’s seven shot attempts and getting all three of the team’s shots on target on the evening.

Rowe’s outlet sprung a 25th-minute counter, with Nani getting down the left flank. He tried to cross into the middle for Ruan, but the defense got a touch on the cross to snuff out the chance. Houston came right back down and Jansson had to block a shot from Mauro Manotas at the other end.

Orlando fashioned a couple of half chances before Houston won a free kick on a soft foul by Sané — and nearly scored on it. A cross to the back post cleared Miller and found Maynor Figueroa, who headed one toward the near corner. Rowe made a good reaction save to keep it out in the 37th minute.

That was the last good opportunity for either side in the opening period and the Lions went into the locker room with their slim lead.

Houston led in shots (5-3), although both team got two on target. Orlando held 53% of the possession, with much of that just taking the air out of the game and kicking it around the back and not really doing much meaningful in the attacking end. The Lions were slightly more accurate in passing (87%-86%).

Bad news came at the break as the television broadcast announced that Higuita was suffering from his tricky adductor muscle and would need to sub off early in the second half.

Orlando tried to double the lead in the 50th as Pereyra was sent on essentially a one-man counter attack. Nani joined him late and Pereyra tried to thread the captain through on goal but a hustling play by DaMarcus Beasley broke up the play at the last second.

Dwyer did some emergency defending in the 55th minute on a set piece, clearing a shot off the line.

Shortly thereafter, O’Connor was forced to make two changes due to fitness. Higuita was replaced by Carlos Ascues and Tesho Akindele came on for Pereyra, as both starters were laboring. But the biggest change was Houston introducing Memo Rodriguez for Tommy McNamara, and the young Dynamo attacker changed the complexion of the game with his quickness and creativity.

The warning signs started before the subs, as Orlando was unable to break out of its own end. Balls were fired forward to an outnumbered Dwyer, Houston recycled, and the Dynamo came forward to apply pressure again and again. It wasn’t sustainable and eventually the breakthrough came.

Elis beat Miller to a cross from Ramirez and headed it home to make it 1-1 in the 70th minute. The play began with a sliding challenge by Sané and the ball pinballed out to Ramirez on the left. His cross was perfect and Elis didn’t miss.

Rowe saved Mendez some embarrassment in the 72nd minute after the Ecuador international turned the ball over in his own end. Rodriguez fired and Rowe was there to stop it. But the Dynamo took the lead a minute later anyway.

Houston had a long clearance that fell perfectly for the Dynamo to break. Manotas made a nice move to lose Ruan, then crossed over to Ramirez for a tap-in while Jansson defended air on the goal line.

Dwyer had the best opportunity to pull Orlando back level in the 77th minute. Nani fed a through ball and the striker had a tough angle — on his weaker right foot — but he smashed one hard at the net to force a save from Willis.

Dwyer then headed the ensuing corner kick cross over the bar but he did well to even get something toward the net on the play.

From there, the Lions just lacked the final bit of quality and Willis came up big. Ascues sent a curling shot through the area that Willis was able to save. The rebound fell for Ruan, who also saw his shot save but that part of the play was ruled offside with Dwyer in front of goal.

Nani sent a free kick toward goal in the 84th but Willis got down to make the save and held on as Dwyer closed in. A minute later Chris Mueller checked in for Mendez but that was too little, too late. In the 89th minute Miller sent a great ball up the left for Akindele, who crossed in for Dwyer, but the pass was just off and the defense recovered. Akindele saw another cross smothered by Willis and Dwyer had a shot blocked and that was that.

Houston out-shot the Lions (15-7), and had more shots on target (6-3). remarkably, Orlando held more of the possession (52%) but little of it seemed to be in the attacking half. Both teams passed at an 86% rate.

Orlando now has to win its final two games and get lots and lots of help. Any point by New England would eliminate City from the playoffs. But I wouldn’t put any money down on the Lions getting through with the team now having gone six straight without tasting victory.


The Lions continue on the road next Sunday when they make their first trip to play FC Cincinnati.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/13/24

Orlando City B hosts Chattanooga FC tonight, USMNT earns draw against Brazil, MLS’ Juneteenth celebrations, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Between my cat finally deciding I’m worth hanging out with and reading a pair of books that have been collecting dust on my shelf, I’ve been having a pretty good week. I’m looking forward to the feast of soccer both in Orlando and abroad over the next few days as well. But for now, let’s get this Thursday started with today’s links!

Orlando City B Hosts Chattanooga FC Tonight

In an enticing midweek match tonight at 7 p.m., Orlando City B will take on Chattanooga FC at Osceola Heritage Park. If not heading to watch OCB in person, you can catch the game on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+. The last time these two teams squared off was on May 4, with Chattanooga winning the penalty shootout for an extra point after a 1-1 draw in Tennessee. The Young Lions are coming off of a 2-2 draw with one of the league’s worst teams this season, Carolina Core FC, but winning the shootout after a late rally could give them the kind of momentum needed to take down Chattanooga. Beating one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference would be quite the statement from OCB during what’s been a middling season so far.

USMNT Draws With Brazil in Orlando

Playing in Orlando at Camping World Stadium, the United States Men’s National Team drew 1-1 against Brazil in a friendly billed as the Continental Clasico. Brazil scored first, but Matt Turner and the USMNT didn’t collapse under the pressure and earned the team’s first ever draw against the South American powerhouse. All in all, it was a much better result than the USMNT’s 5-1 loss to Colombia on Saturday. This was the USMNT’s final match until Copa America later this month. The Yanks will start their campaign against Bolivia on June 23 before playing Panama on June 27 and Uruguay on July 1.

MLS Announces Initiatives for Juneteenth

In partnership with Black Players for Change and Adidas, MLS announced some of the ways the league will be celebrating Juneteenth. Pre-match shirts acknowledging the change players can provide will be worn during warm-ups and fans can buy their own shirts as well, with a portion of the proceeds going toward organizations focused on racial equity and social justice. There will also be a campaign highlighting the connection between professional and academy players, as well as educational content across the league’s social media to raise awareness of the holiday.

Euro 2024 Kicks Off on Friday

A loaded gauntlet of summer tournaments finally begins Friday, as Germany hosts Scotland for the first match of Euro 2024. From Cristiano Ronaldo’s potential swan song to a brutal group that includes Spain, Italy, and Croatia, storylines abound for the tournament and each team brings something worth watching to the table. For Orlando City fans, defender David Brekalo was called up by Slovenia, which was drawn in a group with England, Denmark, and Serbia. I’m looking forward to seeing which underdogs prevail and which players make a name for themselves in this tournament.

2026 World Cup Schedule Revealed

The full schedule for the 2026 World Cup was unveiled, which gives a slight glimpse at the paths each host nation could take in the tournament. If the U.S. wins Group D after matches in Los Angeles and Seattle, it will stay on the West Coast for a knockout game in San Francisco before a potential round of 16 game in Seattle and quarterfinal in Los Angeles. Mexico and Canada have similar incentives to win their groups, as they will then host in their country until heading to the U.S. for the quarterfinals, should they make it that far. Here in Florida, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami will serve as the venue for four group games, a round of 32 match on July 3, a quarterfinal on July 11, and the third-place match on July 18.

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  • Orlando Pride Assistant Coach Yolanda Thomas was announced as a panelist for the Black Soccer Coaches’ summer symposium on July 22. She will also have a field session at the event to discuss the role of the midfield when building out of the back.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/12/24

Leagues Cup forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup win, USMNT U-23 loses to Japan, NWSL expansion options, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. The USMNT plays tonight in Orlando, and I hope that you have tickets. If not, we can still watch as we wait for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday. On a personal note, this Friday will mark my ninth anniversary with The Mane Land. It’s been a heck of a ride, and I’m glad you’ve been there with us. Here’s to many more years to come. Let’s get to the links.

Leagues Cup Forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup Win

Orlando City is playing in the Leagues Cup starting at the end of July and here’s a nice guide to Orlando’s group for the tournament. Of course, the Leagues Cup organizers want you to be pumped so that you watch and buy tickets. I think that is something we should do simply to support the club. However, I don’t think they went about promoting the competition in quite the right way. In a tweet that has since been deleted, the tournament’s social media team stated the Leagues Cup would be Orlando’s chance to win its first trophy. Did you catch the mistake? Taylor Twellman did.

Good on you, Taylor. Facundo Torres was indeed brilliant in that match, as was Benji Michel. Of course, there were others that caught the faux pas as well.

I think we should also be mentioning the USL Championships, but what do I know? Evidently, more than the Leagues Cup’s social media team.

USMNT to Honor Pulse Victims

There’s plenty of fake, corporate shows of support for Pride Month , but in general I think that the USMNT and USWNT have done a good job of being legitimate allies to the LGBTQIA+ community. Tonight, the USMNT will play a friendly against Brazil at Camping World Stadium on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The players will be wearing Pride jerseys to honor those who lost their lives so senselessly eight years ago.

In terms of the game, the USMNT will be without Josh Sargent for the match, and Tyler Adams will only get limited minutes if he plays, as both are coming back from injuries. Get well before the Copa America, lads.

Lions on International Duty

The United States U-23 Men’s National Team lost 2-0 to Japan in its final friendly match before the Olympics. Orlando City’s Duncan McGuire found himself on a bit of an island up top as the U.S. had difficulty moving the ball through the midfield. Hopefully, the U.S. got such play out of its system heading into the Olympics.

OCB’s Wilfredo Rivera made the most of his time playing in Puerto Rico’s World Cup qualifier against Anguilla, scoring a brace in the 8-0 victory. This win comes after a scoreless draw with El Salvador last week and Puerto Rico’s remaining group games during this round of qualifying will be next June.

Exploring NWSL Expansion Options

The NWSL will be expanding to 16 teams in 2026 with many cities vying for the next franchise. The leaders include Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Minneapolis. Atlanta, Denver, and Jacksonville are potential choices as well. If it was to be given to either Atlanta or Jacksonville they would be regional rivals for the Orlando Pride. The league is expected to make a decision by the fourth quarter of 2024.

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  • Congratulations to the U-15 United States Women’s National Team, which won 4-0 over Germany.
  • Did you ever have one of those dreams that was a little scary, but also absolutely hilarious? This preview of Inter Miami’s new mascot is a bit like that. To misquote Jaws: “Ever seen an Inter Miami mascot’s eyes, Chief? He’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes.”
  • The Cayman Islands Men’s National Football Team forfeited its match against Cuba because many of its players are on visas in the United States. If those players were to travel to Cuba, the U.S. may have canceled those visas due to travel restrictions.
  • This is one of the most ridiculous no-calls I’ve ever seen. India got royally hosed.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday night. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/11/24

Julie Doyle up for Goal of the Week, scouting Brazil ahead of USMNT match, Valencia fans convicted of racial abuse, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. After a brief break, Orlando City will be back in action when it takes on LAFC at home on Saturday. The Orlando Pride will visit a struggling North Carolina Courage side on the same day, while Orlando City B will have an oddly placed Thursday match against Chattanooga FC. With such a busy week ahead of us, it’s little surprise that we have a lot to talk over this morning. Let’s get into it.

Julie Doyle Up for Goal of the Week

Pride forward Julie Doyle has been nominated for NWSL Goal of the Week for her strike against the San Diego Wave during Friday’s 1-1 draw. Doyle opened the scoring in the 36th minute with an extremely well taken goal that came from a Barbra Banda assist. The Zambian forward made a run down the right wing and crossed for Doyle, but the ball was a little behind her and the chance looked to have gone. It hadn’t though, because Doyle contorted her body, hung out a foot, and let the momentum from the ball carry it into the back of San Diego’s net. Make sure you go vote for her to win!

Brazil Scouting Report

The United States Men’s National Team will play its final friendly before Copa America Wednesday night at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The idea of any USMNT game is slightly nauseating after the Yanks were throttled 5-1 by Colombia on Saturday, but the fact that they’ll square off against a loaded Brazil side means things aren’t going to be any easier. While Brazil has struggled early in World Cup qualifying, it will likely run out a front three of Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr., and Raphina that’s capable of causing plenty of damage. Brazil prefers to control the ball and build from the back with short passing movements, but has no qualms about ceding possession and breaking on the counter, something that caused no shortage of issues for the U.S. against Colombia.

Valencia Fans Convicted of Racial Abuse

A trio of Valencia fans will serve eight months in prison after being convicted of racially abusing Vinicius Jr. Additionally, they are barred from entering soccer stadiums for two years and will pay for court proceedings. The convictions are the first for racism in professional soccer in Spain, and a case was opened after the fans made monkey noises and gestures during a game in May of 2023. The Brazilian forward in particular has faced racial abuse during his time playing in Spain, but he’s far from the only player, as the trial for a fan accused of abusing Inaki Williams during a match in 2020 has still yet to even begin.

The Soccer Tournament Concludes

The Soccer Tournament wrapped up Monday night with a pair of engrossing championship matches. In the women’s bracket, US Women defeated the North Carolina Courage 6-3, with Talia Dellapuerta scoring the winning goal. US Women featured United States Women’s National Team greats Heather O’Reilly and Ali Kreiger, and the team won the first women’s edition of the tournament and the $1 million prize that comes with it.

On the men’s side, former Orlando City player Nani and his team, Nani FC, fell to La Bombonera, which scored mere minutes into the match and never looked back on its way to a convincing 4-0 win. La Bombonera becomes the second team to win it all following Newtown Pride FC’s victory in last year’s inaugural tournament.

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That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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