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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Real Salt Lake: Final Score 0-0 as Lions Held at Home on Opening Day

Without Nani and Dom Dwyer, the offense was asleep at the switch in a scoreless draw against RSL.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Without Dom Dwyer or Nani in the lineup, Orlando City failed to find the net, drawing Real Salt Lake 0-0 in the 2020 season opener at Exploria Stadium. The Lions seemed to generate the bulk of the chances in the game but lacked sharpness in putting those chances away. On the other hand, their own net was rarely threatened in the match, as the team stayed well organized and pressed well at times throughout the 90 minutes.

Orlando (0-0-1, 1 point) has now drawn in five of the team’s six MLS openers and is 1-0-5 in opening day matches and 2-1-3 in the series against RSL (0-0-1, 1 point) — and 1-0-2 at home against the Utah side.

“We could not put the ball in the back of the net unfortunately,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “But the performance was very right and our players had a great effort and the intensity and the passion that I want to see from this team was on the pitch and I’m very proud.”

“I think we played well,” said midfielder Junior Urso, who wore the captain’s armband with Nani suspended. “We controlled the game. Sometimes they got the ball but they don’t make danger for us. But we have to be better.”

Despite the graphic below, Orlando appeared to mostly be in a 4-2-3-1 to start the game. Pedro Gallese got his first start in goal for the Lions, behind an expected back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Sebas Mendez and Urso patrolled central midfield behind Benji Michel, Mauricio Pereyra, and Chris Mueller, with Tesho Akindele up top.

The first half was a cagey affair. Orlando City fashioned more chances than the visitors but mostly of the half-chance variety.

The big talking point of the first half happened five minutes in, when Pereyra sent a ball over the top for Akindele, who went down under contact as he was attempting to get a foot on the ball. Rubiel Vazquez did not signal to the penalty spot and the teams played on.

Orlando had perhaps its best chance of the first half in the 17th minute, when Ruan shook free on the right, cut inside, then sent a cross to Mueller, who was unable to get a foot to the ball between the RSL defenders.

A minute later Pereyra sent a shot toward goal that was blocked just wide by Marcelo Silva. In the 19th, Ruan found Mendez at the top of the area but the Colombian stabbed his shot over the goal.

Most of the remainder of the first half consisted of Orlando winning corners or getting up the wings and sending in crosses — only to see RSL’s center backs head the ball to safety. RSL’s best chance came on a shot from distance by Aaron Herrera that Gallese scooped up on the bounce in the 44th minute. It was El Pulpo’s first MLS save.

Orlando held 51.3% of the possession to RSL’s 48.7%. The Lions attempted three shots to two by Real Salt Lake, with each getting one on target.

The Lions should have had a free kick just outside the penalty area early in the second half. Former Lion Donny Toia knocked down Michel by going through his back with no attempt to play the ball in the 57th minute after a good ball over the top nearly sprung him in behind. Vazquez did not see it as a foul from well behind the play.

As in the first half, the bulk of the play came in the middle third of the pitch, although the Lions were sloppier in possession in the second half with several careless giveaways.

Mueller had a great opportunity in the 74th minute to break the scoreless deadlock. He got onto a ball from Pereyra over the top, chested it to himself and volleyed it on goal but right at MacMath from a tough angle.

Four minutes later, Urso got onto a cross but his shot was deflected out for a corner.

The best chance of the night fell to Mueller in the 83rd. A great ball over the top by Pereyra hit second-half sub Robinho in stride as the Brazilian timed his run perfectly. Unfortunately, Robinho could not control the ball first time and the defense knocked the ball to the top of the area where Mueller had MacMath off his line but he sent a shot fizzing just over the bar.

Mueller talked about the missed opportunities after the match.

“The first one over the top I brought it down well and couldn’t really generate the power and direct it where I wanted it,” he said. “Second one…just yeah, I’ll think about it tonight for sure and I’ll score it next time.”

That was the last good opportunity and the teams left the field with the points split between them.

Orlando City led in shots (9-5), shots on goal (2-1), possession (50.7%-49.3%), and passing accuracy (79.2%-77.3%).

“We had everything there for the taking,” Mueller said. “I thought we moved the ball well, I think we could have had a little bit more quality in the attacking third, a little bit more patience on the ball to circulate and maybe find a better pass, me included, so I think that we’ve all got to improve and learn and focus on the next game.”

Pareja said he liked what he saw out of his team, although the Lions didn’t get the three points.

“We didn’t retreat. We didn’t feel like we needed to be sitting back,” Pareja said. “I felt that the team had that protagonist (attitude) that we’re asking them to have. I saw a team that always just had that initiative and we needed to walk out with more.

“Tonight I saw the team’s heart. And I saw the soul of the team on the pitch. That just (made) me more content but now we have to keep it because it’s a long journey.”

The Lions will hit the road for the first time in 2020 when they take on the Rapids in Colorado next Saturday at 9 p.m.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Photo Gallery

An album of images from Orlando City’s hard-fought draw at home against the Herons.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

The Lions brought much more roar on Sunday night to face their southern rivals but had trouble finding the net, allowing the Herons to nick a point even while short staffed. None of Miami’s high-priced talent traveled for the match after facing Toronto midweek, and physicality ensued, firing up the sold-out crowd at Exploria Stadium.

Talking with some of the other photographers on the sideline who had flown in for this match, they rated the Orlando atmosphere top-notch; in their experience, other cities don’t compare to the in-stadium fan enthusiasm.

The Lions were in “the net is lava” mode, with Duncan McGuire and Iván Angulo each missing prime one-on-one chances with Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender in each half, McGuire leaving it straight at Callendar, and Angulo badly missing the net after a missed first touch. So of course Miami struck first, with David Ruíz scoring early in the second half.

This fired the Lions up even more and Martín Ojeda pinballed McGuire in behind the Miami back line, allowing Duncan to do what Duncan does to draw the score level. The Lions generally looked the more dangerous team for most (but not all) of the night. However, it is scorin ggoals that actually counts, leaving both teams unchanged in their respective Eastern Conference standings. Orlando remains second at 14-7-9, while Miami stays in 14th at 9-15-5.

The Lions continue to control their own destiny in terms of getting a top-four finish as they look to lock up home field advantage for a best-of-three matchup in the MLS Cup playoffs.

With home dates left against Montreal and a sputtering-but-dangerous New England remaining, there’s still plenty of time to be part of that world-class gameday atmosphere by going out to support the team as they push for a strong finish.

We hope that you enjoy these images from a hard-fought, come-from-behind draw against Inter Miami at Exploria Stadium.

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Five Takeaways

Here’s what we learned from Orlando City’s 1-1 draw at home against Inter Miami.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City returned to Exploria Stadium after a midweek loss to New York City FC and had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Inter Miami. The Lions did well to equalize after conceding first, but will likely feel that they left opportunity knocking as the Eastern Conference remains tight near the top. Here are my five takeaways from the third Tropic Thunder clash this year.

Lack of Execution Plagues the Lions

Orlando’s offense struggled to put the ball in the back of the net in this match. That’s not to say they didn’t create quality chances, as the Lions served up good crosses and dangerous long balls throughout the match. Only three of Orlando’s 16 crosses found their mark in the end. The execution just wasn’t there when it came to finishing attacks, whether it be poor decision-making when the time came to play the final ball or just missing the target completely. Of Orlando’s 13 shots, six were on target and only a couple of those gave Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender much difficulty. Ivan Angulo missing the goal entirely after Dagur Dan Thorhallsson picked out a perfect pass for him stands out. Expecting every promising attack to end with a goal is unfair, but weak finishing cost the Lions from claiming a big win at home.

Corner Kicks Gave the Lions Headaches

While the Lions didn’t have any corner kicks in the match, Inter Miami had seven and created some of its best chances with them. In the 61st minute, a corner kick taken by Robert Taylor found Leonardo Campana all alone in the center of the box. The Ecuadorian forward’s header mercifully went wide, but it was indicative of how Orlando had its hands full on set pieces. Pedro Gallese had to come up with a remarkable save in the first half as well after Campana barreled through Cartagena to head the ball at goal. Even though the Lions didn’t concede from a set piece, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s something focused on this week just to ensure the team is organized enough to overcome uncalled fouls without needing its star goalkeeper or some luck.

Plenty of Physicality in Rivalry Match

It was easy to tell these two teams didn’t care much for each other, as they both fought hard on and off the ball. There were 27 fouls and seven yellow cards handed out by referee Armando Villarreal. Miami committed 16 of those fouls and received five of the yellow cards as they did whatever it took to slow down Orlando’s progress. Facundo Torres suffered the brunt of it and was fouled four times so that he couldn’t work his magic against Miami’s defense. It was the kind of physical match that can be expected of two rivals and made for an intense match that will likely have players from both sides seeking an ice bath. The Lions did well to stay composed for a majority of a very chippy match.

Duncan McGuire Shakes Off the Rust

Forward Duncan McGuire got back to his scoring ways with a crucial equalizer for his ninth goal of the MLS season. It was an important goal for reasons beyond the scoreline as well, as McGuire had squandered a golden opportunity to score earlier in the match by not being able to get his shot past Callender. He was also kicking himself for not getting on the end of a few other chances as well. His 84 minutes on the field were the most from him in one game this season, and the Lions will need him more often now that Ercan Kara is in Turkey. It was the rookie’s first goal since July and, although not perfect, the kind of performance to build upon moving forward.

Orlando Showcased Its Depth and Versatility

Head Coach Oscar Pareja switched things up at halftime, replacing Cesar Araujo with Martin Ojeda and having Mauricio Pereyra sit a bit deeper in the midfield to potentially create chances on the break a bit quicker using his service. Although Ojeda didn’t get a goal or an assist, his presence was notable on both sides of the ball and he played a key role in Orlando’s goal. Having a player of his caliber able to come off the bench has been a boon for Orlando this season, letting Pareja really kickstart the changes he wants to make to the team. Similar things could be said about Orlando’s other substitutes: Junior Urso, Ramiro Enrique, Gaston Gonzalez, and Michael Halliday. Their energy and skill kept Orlando pushing for more and gave the sense that a winner would have come had the game lasted a bit longer.

That’s what I took away from Orlando’s 1-1 draw with Inter Miami. Let me know what you gathered from the match in the comments below

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/25/23

Orlando City draws with Inter Miami, Viviana Villacorta out for the season, OCB wins last game of the regular season, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Last night’s Orlando City match wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst either. It’s a pretty fitting feeling on a Monday, as we all get back into the swing of the work week after a nice weekend of soccer. There are plenty of ups and downs from a rollercoaster Sunday, so let’s dive right into today’s links!

Orlando City Draws With Inter Miami

In the latest edition of the Tropic Thunder rivalry, Orlando City and Inter Miami split the points at Exploria Stadium in a 1-1 result. Miami struck first, but the Lions did well to find an equalizer, even though they couldn’t find a winner in the end. It wasn’t Orlando’s best game by any means, but it was a decent response to a 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC. Orlando now has 51 points, tying its club record for the most points in a season, set in 2021. The Lions will have a chance to break that record on Saturday when they host CF Montreal.

Viviana Villacorta Out for the Season

Orlando Pride midfielder Viviana Villacorta will miss the remainder of the NWSL season after suffering an ACL tear in her left knee during training. The 24-year-old was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft, but was not able to make her debut until 2022 due to sustained an ACL tear in her right knee that kept her out for all of the 2021 season. This year, she has 21 appearances across all competitions for the Pride and notched the first assist of her career in a big road win against the San Diego Wave on April 29. This is a tough blow to the Pride’s midfield with just three games remaining as she has ended her season early due to injury for the third straight year. The Pride are only a point out of a playoff spot and are back in action on Oct. 2 against Angel City FC.

Orlando City B Wins On Decision Day

On the final day of the MLS NEXT Pro regular season, Orlando City B won 2-1 at home over FC Cincinnati 2. The Young Lions had already clinched a spot in the postseason heading into this match, but the win secured their spot as the fifth seed. Jack Lynn briefly held the Golden Boot lead after scoring, but ended up tied at 19 goals with New York City FC II’s Matt Myers and Colorado Rapids 2’s Remi Cabral. The trio ended in a three-way tie for the league’s Golden Boot honors. OCB will hit the road for its first MLS NEXT Pro playoff game, although the opponent is not yet known thanks to the new rule where higher seeds choose which team they want to face.

USWNT Wins in Megan Rapinoe’s Final Match

The United States Women’s National Team beat South Africa in a 2-0 win at Soldier Field. Trinity Rodman and Emily Sonnett scored and the defense did well to secure its second shutout against South Africa after a 3-0 win this past Thursday. This game also marked forward Megan Rapinoe’s final game with the USWNT, with the 38-year-old subbed off for the last time in the 54th minute. These were solid wins from the USWNT following the World Cup and it will aim to keep the momentum rolling next month in a pair of friendlies against Colombia.

Free Kicks

  • Three Orlando City academy sides came up with shutout victories this weekend.
  • Before the USWNT’s friendly with South Africa, U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker stated that plans remain in place for a new head coach to be at the helm in time for the training camp in December
  • American midfielder Yunus Musah did well in his AC Milan debut, playing all 90 minutes in a 1-0 win over Verona.
  • A match in the Netherlands between Ajax and Feyenoord had to be abandoned due to fans throwing fireworks onto the field while Feyenoord led 3-0. According to police, tear gas had to be used to stop unrest outside the stadium after the match, and Ajax later fired Sven Mislintat, its director of soccer.
  • Newcastle became the first English Premier League team to have eight different players score in a match after crushing Sheffield United, 8-0.
  • Atletico Madrid ended Real Madrid’s perfect start to the season by beating its rival 3-1, with Alvaro Morata bagging a brace.

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have an easy Monday and rest of your week!

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