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Orlando City vs. KR Reykjavik: Final Score 3-1 as Nani’s Brace Leads Lions to Victory

Benji Michel also scored as a mixed Orlando City side beat the Icelandic champions.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Orlando City got back to scoring goals — and winning — in a 3-1 preseason friendly victory over Icelandic champions KR Reykjavik at Exploria Stadium. Nani scored a first-half brace and Benji Michel also scored in the opening period to lead the Lions.

The Lions improved to 5-1-0 on the preseason, outscoring their opponents, 11-3. Orlando has just one preseason match left before the season opener on Feb. 29 against Real Salt Lake.

Oscar Pareja described the match as “a lot of opportunities to keep growing under competition.”

“Every single (game) just exposes something different manners and we’re happy with what we have achieved so far,” he said. “The purpose is to keep growing and jelling together the group, trying to get the most out of the friendly games, the minutes; exposing the whole roster; giving minutes to everyone; recognizing what we’re doing good and also what are the things we need to get better; get some material on video, so we can work during the week to prepare for the next rivals — so a lot of things to work. We’re going in a good direction.”

Pareja went with a mixed lineup, playing Brian Rowe in goal behind a back line of João Moutinho, Rodrigo Schlegel, Alex De John, and Kyle Smith. The midfield was Nani flanked by rookie Joey Dezart and Uri Rosell. Chris Mueller and Michel flanked rookie Daryl Dike on the forward line.

It didn’t take long for Orlando City to grab the lead. Barely more than a minute had elapsed when Moutinho sent in an inch-perfect cross right onto Nani’s foot and the captain just redirected it into the net to make it 1-0.

Moutinho nearly got a second assist two minutes later. Schlegel sent him up the left flank and he unleashed another good cross that nearly got Dike a goal. The Reykjavik defense did just enough to deflect it away at the last second.

The Lions doubled the lead in the eighth minute when Michel timed his run perfectly and was sent in alone on goal by (I think) Rosell. Benji made no mistake and beat starting goalkeeper Sindri Jensson to make it 2-0.

A Mueller cross was inches from being knocked in for an own goal in the 15th minute as Orlando continued to slice through the KR Reykjavik defense. Two minutes later, Michel got in alone again and beat Jensson to the ball, touching it past the keeper before being taken down just outside the area. Jensson was sent off for denial of a goal scoring opportunity but in the spirit of the friendly, KR Reykjavik was able to proceed with 11 players, sending on Omar Einarsson to mind the net.

In the 20th minute, Schlegel sent a header just wide off a Nani corner kick cross, but then the visitors got on the board. Good pressure on Orlando’s left led to a turnover and a cross into the box that Vladimir Sævarsson headed past Rowe — who could do nothing about it — in the 22nd minute. The lead was cut to 2-1 but the Icelandic side nearly equalized moments later through a shot just wide of the right post by Ægir Jonarsson.

“We spoke about (Reykjavik’s high pressure) in the half with the players,” Pareja said. “It hurts when the other team has one or two chances and they score. Today those couple of moments…it’s something that will come with repetition. The players know. They were mad at themselves and recognize that they needed to do better. But that also just tells us that for the opponents it was a serious game and we’ll take that as a growing pain.”

“Obviously we leaked in a goal today and maybe against D.C.,” De John said. “But you know it’s a very new team with a lot of different backgrounds. We have Spanish, we have Swedish, we have American, so it’s very tough but you have to make do no matter what.”

Orlando settled back into the game and started generating more chances after the near miss. Nani sent a rocket just over the bar in the 31st minute. A minute later, Mueller chipped a defender to himself and then sent a left-footed shot off a defender and out for a corner. Michel set up Rosell for a shot but the Spaniard hit it wide in the 33rd.

Moutinho sent in another great cross for Dike shortly thereafter but the defense again arrived just in time to deny the rookie. Nani scored his second in the 42nd minute to cap a great passing play. Nani slipped behind the defense, took a good diagonal ball from Mueller, and poked it past Einarsson and it trickled into the net to make it 3-1. That’s how the first half ended.

“It’s great to have Luis Nani on the scoreboard,” Pareja said. “He knows how important it is for our team that his presence and his talent is kept in those moments when we need him the most.”

Robin Jansson and Robinho came on at the half for Schlegel and Mueller, respectively, and 15 minutes later, Dike departed for Santiago Patino, but only a few half-chances were generated. One sequence nearly saw both teams score early in the half though. Rowe went down to get a piece of a good cross by Finnur Palmason, which ignited Orlando’s transition. At the other end, Robinho fed Nani, who smashed it on target, but Einarsson made a good save to deny the captain his hat trick. KR Reykjavik then tried to break the other way, but De John did well to get back to prevent a breakaway.

Robinho later had a shot blocked out for a corner kick, but, aside from that, much of the second half was sloppy after both teams had made some substitutions, including Jordan Bender coming on for Michel in the 67th minute and David Loera for Rosell in the 79th.

The Lions saw out the remaining time and held on for the win.

“We have some things that we still need to work on but I think everything’s coming together pretty well so far,” De John said after the match.

“Obviously the competition next week against Salt Lake is the one that’s going to count on points, but for now it just inspires us to keep getting good performances in,” Pareja said.

After the match Pareja spoke positively about his two young starters — Dike and Dezart.

“It’s a positive. Daryl — especially in the first half — showed us what he’s good at. That presence in the box and he got some positive touches too with the players and had connections there. His presence is important. Today I was very happy to see him want so bad to score and get that taste of a first division match.

“Joey looked mature too. He just got a lot of minutes today with Oriol that will help him to grow, and for me it’s great to have players available. They did good.”

Orlando City will close out the preseason schedule Friday night against San Antonio FC in a closed-door friendly at Exploria Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/23/22

Lions and Herons meet again, Carly Nelson is writing a book, NWSL free agency opens, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Founder’s Day, Mane Landers! It was on this day in 2014 that our fearless leader and Managing Editor Michael Citro started our first ever WordPress website. It’s safe to say that I’m sure The Mane Land has impacted your life as much as it has mine over the years, whether that be through daily reading or weekly podcasts. Cheers to Michael and all those who have come before me.

In my own personal news, I have been grinding away on the new EA FC 24 (the franchise formerly known as EA’s FIFA.) So far, the gameplay and updates have been great in my initial 15+ hours of play, and my online Ultimate Team is starting to really take its shape. I’m sure in a couple weeks that I’ll transition to a traditional Career Mode and take the Lions all the way to an MLS Cup and beyond.

Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a very happy birthday to everyone’s favorite defensive midfielder, Wilder Cartagena!

Third Bout for Orlando City and Inter Miami

Orlando City and Inter Miami have already met twice this campaign. Sunday’s match will look to break the deadlock between the two rivals as both clubs have a victory to their name in this year’s series. In May, the Lions grabbed a 3-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale-based club. The two sides met for a second time in the knockout round of Leagues Cup 2023 with Inter Miami taking the 3-1 result at DRV PNK Stadium. No matter the result this time around, Orlando City has already clinched a playoff spot, however, the Herons need every point they can get to attempt to do the same.

Carly Nelson, Goalkeeper and Author

It isn’t unheard of to learn that an athlete might have tried another sport before finding soccer, Orlando Pride goalkeeper Carly Nelson came from a background of gymnastics, tennis, basketball, and baseball before her father started a club soccer team with her in mind. While Nelson might have idolized USWNT legend Hope Solo as a child, she started her playing days as a forward, winger, and midfielder. Outside of protecting the Pride’s net, Nelson is spending time writing a book about her life growing up in Utah and the issues her family faced to hopefully help others that might find themselves in similar situations.

NWSL Opens 2024 Free Agency

The National Women’s Soccer League has officially opened the league’s unrestricted and restricted free agency periods. In accordance with the NWSL Players’ Association’s collective bargaining agreement, eligible free agents can begin negotiations for their 2024 Standard Player Agreements. Players eligible for unrestricted free agency include all who have at least five years of service within the NWSL and contracts expiring in 2023, while players eligible for restricted free agency include those who have at least three years of service. For the Orlando Pride, defender Kylie Strom is set to be an unrestricted free agent and midfielder Jordyn Listro is under restricted terms. Any club that currently holds the rights of a restricted free agent has a seven-day period to match an incoming offer from another club or else the player may sign with the new club under the terms of the offer.

USMNT’s Tyler Adams Nearing Return

Tyler Adams will not make his Bournemouth debut this weekend, but he could return as early as next week. Bournemouth’s manager, Andoni Iraola, provided a positive update on the U.S. Men’s National Team captain as he finishes up rehabbing a long-term hamstring injury.

“He has started this week at least to train partially with the group, so probably we can have a chance of having him next week or two weeks, something like this. Tyler is really close because once you start training partially with the group, it’s a matter of sensations, and if you are physically good enough. He has a very good physical base. So I think it will take not a long time to see Tyler with the team.”

Adams has not played since March after having a hamstring surgery. Even with a known injury, the 24-year-old still completed a move from Leeds United to Bournemouth following Leeds’ relegation to keep him in the top flight.

MLS Weekend Preview

Aside from the Florida derby, there are plenty of matches to be excited about around the league this weekend. Personally, I’m looking forward to catching a bit of the D.C. United and New York Red Bulls match. Manager Wayne Rooney’s club is right on the bubble in a tight Eastern Conference race while the Red Bulls can do themselves a huge service and come back into the playoff picture with a win. Out in the Western Conference, there is a real buzz around a Portland Timbers squad after a manager sacking. It could be a huge win for the Timbers and likely push them above the play-in round should they find a result against the Colorado Rapids.

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That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Saturday. Be safe on Sunday at the match. Stay hydrated and look out for those around you. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Three Keys to Victory

Here are three things the Lions need to do in order to set themselves up for a win over Inter Miami.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Wednesday’s match didn’t go the way anyone hoped it would, but now it’s time to turn our attention to a Sunday matchup with Inter Miami back in the comfortable confines of Exploria Stadium. What follows are three things that I believe will go a long way toward helping the Lions emerge victorious from the Tropic Thunder derby and keeping Florida purple.

Close Down Sergio Busquets

As many headlines as Lionel Messi has rightfully been getting since joining Major League Soccer, I think Busquets is just as important to Miami’s success. He remains an excellent midfielder and his ability to transition the team from defense into attack and link the two lines together is crucial. He has two assists and eight key passes in six MLS appearances and is passing with 92% accuracy —if you give him time, he will make you pay. Even if Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena mark him tightly, he’ll still manage to find space at times and affect the game because he’s that good of a player. But the Lions cannot afford to repeatedly give him time and space to get on the ball, pick up his head, and play a pass or he’ll cut OCSC to ribbons. Getting tight to him and making his life difficult won’t stop him every time, but it’ll make life a hell of a lot easier. As soon as Orlando loses the ball in Miami’s half, someone needs to find no. 5 and close him down.

Play With an Edge, but Don’t Go Over It

This is likely going to be an extremely, fast, physical and heated game. These two teams don’t have any love lost for each other, and if last game is any indication, then Orlando is going to try to use its physicality to disrupt Miami from playing its brand of soccer. That’s not a bad strategy, and it’s one that was largely working during the aforementioned Leagues Cup match until the penalty kick call in the second half. If the Lions are going to try to repeat the tactic, then they need to play with physicality and intensity while toeing the line of what’s acceptable to do during a soccer game. Going down a man isn’t going to do OCSC any favors, so the boys in purple are going to have to flirt with the edge of the cliff without falling headfirst over it.

Stay Organized Defensively

We’ve seen some shaky defending during Orlando’s last two matches. Runners in behind were a particular problem during the match against the Columbus Crew, while Wednesday’s loss to NYCFC saw Talles Magno largely unmarked between two Orlando defenders to score the header that sealed the Lions’ fate. OCSC will likely still be without Antonio Carlos, but the Lions are capable of much better defending than they’ve done during the last week and they need to show it. Even if Lionel Messi doesn’t play, Miami has a whole host of guys who can hurt you in Josef Martinez, Leonardo Campana, Benjamin Cremaschi, Robert Taylor and Facundo Farias. The Lions need to be much more keyed in on defense than they have been the last two games, otherwise one or more of those guys is going to make them pay. Orlando has the firepower to put the ball in the back of the net, but it won’t matter if the team is giving up multiple preventable goals at the other end of the field.

If the Lions execute those three things then they’ve got as good a chance as any of getting a result on Sunday. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/22/23

Orlando City prepares for Inter Miami, MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day is Sunday, USWNT wins against South Africa, and much more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! It’s been a pretty busy week of apartment hunting and work for me, so I’m looking forward to some rest and relaxation this weekend. I don’t have many plans, but I did make sure to carve out a few hours to make a drink and get some reading done. My book club is fairly low maintenance, but I’ll be behind if I don’t finish Fourth Wing before the second book in the series comes out in November. Let’s get into today’s links!

Orlando City Takes On Inter Miami This Weekend

Following a 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC earlier this week, Orlando City will aim to bounce back when it hosts rival Inter Miami this Sunday. Orlando has a chance to set club records for the most wins and points in a season since it joined MLS in 2015. It will be the third meeting between the two clubs this season, with Orlando beating Miami 3-1 in May before falling 3-1 in the Leagues Cup’s knockout stage. Although Miami will be without Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba according to Head Coach Tata Martino, the Herons still have plenty of attacking talent in the form of Sergio Busquets, Leonardo Campana, and Josef Martinez.

Orlando City B Readies for MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day

Sunday will also be the final day of the MLS NEXT Pro regular season, with nearly every team in action. Here’s everything you need to know about Decision Day across the league, with playoff spots still up for grabs. Orlando City B has already clinched its spot in the postseason, but can secure fifth in the Eastern Conference when it takes on FC Cincinnati 2. However, the difference between fifth and a lower seed won’t matter too much due to a new rule this year where the second and third seed in each conference choose which lower seed it wants to host in the playoffs. The Golden Boot race is competitive as well, with OCB’s Jack Lynn tied at the top with New York City FC II’s Matt Myers. We’ll see if Lynn takes part in Sunday’s match after giving the first team needed depth last weekend.

USWNT Beats South Africa in Julie Ertz’s Finale

The United States Women’s National Team won 3-0 against South Africa in the first of two friendlies this month. All three of the USWNT’s goals came in the first half, with Lynn Williams bagging a brace. In her final USWNT game, Julie Ertz started and earned plenty of applause from the crowd at TQL Stadium when she was subbed off in the 36h minute. M.A. Vignola made her USWNT debut in the match as well, coming on at halftime. The two nations will play again on Sunday in what will be forward Megan Rapinoe’s last game with the USWNT.

Europa League Group Stage Kicks Off

The first round of Europa League group stage matches is over, with all 32 teams getting things started across Europe. Brighton & Hove Albion’s first Europa League match was a rough one, as the English club fell 3-2 at home against AEK Athens. The Spanish clubs also struggled, with Villarreal getting shut out 2-0 by Panathinaikos and Real Betis losing 1-0 to Rangers. Elsewhere, AS Roma beat Sheriff Tiraspol 2-1 thanks to a winner from Romelu Lukaku, Liverpool won 3-1 over Austrian club LASK after trailing early on, and Marseille drew 3-3 with Ajax in a thriller. West Ham, Atalanta, Bayer Leverkusen, and SC Freiburg also won their group openers.

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  • Enjoy the sights and sounds from the Orlando City Foundation’s annual celebrity golf and footgolf tournament.

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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