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Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Montreal Impact

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The knockout rounds of the MLS is Back Tournament are upon us, and Orlando City’s opponent tomorrow night is the Montreal Impact. The two teams played twice last season, with Montreal beating Orlando at Exploria Stadium 3-1 in March, only for the Lions to get their revenge in a 3-0 road win in June.

To prepare for this one I spoke to Paul Vance, managing editor of SBNation’s Mount Royal Soccer. As always, Paul provided an in-depth look at how the Impact are doing this year.

The Impact have played eight games so far under new manager Thierry Henry. What is your overall opinion of Henry as a manager so far and how has he changed the team from what you saw in 2019?

Paul Vance: Thierry Henry — I think, first of all, most everyone is happy to have Henry on board, given his stature within the game, however, the same many people would acknowledge the jury’s out in respect of his coaching credentials/achievements, and frankly his team selections have baffled everyone.

One thing I will say is that he’s not frightened to experiment, although some of his ideas leave long-time Impact observers scratching their heads. But maybe that’s why he’s in the hot seat, and we’re observers.

His record so far isn’t great: two wins, three draws, and three losses, and they’ve just about scraped through into the knockout stage of MLS is Back (what a horrible name for a tournament), in which the Impact have not been particularly impressive.

He has changed the team in how he’s asked them to play, mainly a fluid 5-3-2 cum 3-4-3 formation, which has brought only limited dividends. He reverted to a more conventional 4-3-3 for the critical last group game vs. D.C. and managed to scrape through via Saphir Taider’s deflected shot.

Of course there’s no Ignacio Piatti anymore. The coach has brought in Luis Binks, a solid 18-year-old from Tottenham Hotspur. Binks has gone straight into the side at center back and looks a decent prospect so far.

Another signing from Tottenham, DP Victor Wanyama, has operated in central midfield (and also vs. Toronto FC at center back). He is proving to be a big player for the team, but the cohesion in midfield is not yet apparent. So far Henry has tried to accommodate having Wanyama and Samuel Piette in the same midfield, mainly to the detriment of Piette’s game, and it may be that going forward there is room for only one of the pair in the starting lineup.

Bringing in Romell Quioto has been a breath of fresh air and he’s added pace to the attack. The lack of pace is a feature of the squad, and really only Zachary Brault-Guillard (injured vs. D.C. with a hamstring), Orji Okwonkwo and Lassi Lappalianen could be considered ‘fast.’ Lappalainen has had only limited opportunities so far. Bojan, a former Barcelona teammate of Henry’s, was left on the bench vs. Toronto, suggesting he’s not an automatic choice. Many feel they need to see more from the diminutive No. 9, although he was more involved vs D.C. The Impact still need to work out how to get the best from Bojan.

One of the slightly more surprising and eye-grabbing transfers happened right before the season started, when Montreal signed Victor Wanyama. What have you seen from the former Tottenham player and how important will he be to this team?

PV: Wanyama is solid. He plays mainly in a similar role to Piette, but certainly has more in his locker than the Quebecker. Whether both players are accommodated in Henry’s regular selection remains to be seen, but if only one of them plays it looks certain to be the Kenyan. He had knee problems while at Tottenham — probably why he’s ended up in MLS this early in his career. But he anchors the midfield, is incredibly strong in holding players off, and cool on the ball. He likes to keep it simple, and if the Impact can get his midfield partners right, he will end up dictating the pace of many games. Certainly a very good acquisition, but he cannot do it all by himself, of course.

What are two names that Orlando City fans should know going into this one? Who needs to have strong performances for Montreal to advance to the next round?

PV: The whole team will need to perform well for the Impact to advance in any game at the moment. This hasn’t happened at the tournament thus far. The difference in the third match vs. D.C. which they won, was that they fought really hard throughout. After a slow start they came into the game after 10 mins and dominated the rest of the half — even played some good stuff. Possession and passing were good, but didn’t really create much apart from the deflected goal which won the game.

Second half was a different story. D.C. had a greater share of the possession as you would expect from a team chasing the game, but doggedness and sheer determination saw Montreal home.

If by selecting two players to keep an eye on is what you mean by this question, I would have to say, Quioto, who was excellent against Toronto FC. Pacey and always dangerous — especially on the break — he gave the Toronto back line all kinds of problems before going off with 15 mins to play.

The other player I would mention is Finnish international Lappalainen, although he’s been used only very sparingly in the tournament so far. But if given a chance, he may be one to watch.

But since the predictably unpredictable Henry is unlikely to start with him, maybe the biggest threat will be Taider coming from midfield. His performances haven’t been great, but he tends to make things happen and with three goals (two penalties) and an assist in the tournament so far, his confidence should be high.

Are there any players who will not be available for selection due to injury or suspension? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction? 

PV: I think the Impact squad has a full bill of health. The one major doubt would have been Brault-Guillard, who appeared to ‘do’ his hamstring late on in the game vs. D.C., but just yesterday during his press conference Henry announced he was fit and well, so that’s the right back slot sorted. Rudy Camacho, who probably wouldn’t have started anyway, is back in Montreal, his wife due to give birth.

I mentioned Lappalainen earlier. He’s not carrying an injury, but an injury did hamper his training resumption and therefore he lacks fitness. He appeared in the last six minutes of the opening match, but has not emerged from the bench since. So, he’s unlikely to start but potentially a potent weapon from the bench.

(Note: Projected lineup and score prediction not provided.)


Thanks again to Paul for all of the information on the Impact and vamos Orlando!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/22/24

Lions and Pride reflect on victories, Christian Pulisic’s Serie A recognition, the USWNT roster drops, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. I know that a lot of you are Orlando Pride supporters as well as Orlando City supporters, but for those of you who aren’t, you are really missing out. Superstar players, undefeated, top of the table, and this team hasn’t even played up to its potential yet. Seriously, you need to get out to a match if you can. For now, let’s get to the links.

Talking About Orlando City

You can tell Oscar Pareja loves his players. He is the type of coach that nearly always has only good things to say regardless of the result. Of course, when the club gets a win on the road in the third match in eight days, thanks to the fourth striker on the depth chart. Jack Lynn takes a professional approach to being the backup and prepares to play in every match. It’s also nice when he scores a match-winning goal.

So how did the MLSsoccer.com power rankings treat the Lions for the road victory? Orlando City moved up three spots to 19, thanks to earning seven points in the last three matches. That’s better than the ESPN rankings we shared yesterday. ESPN also had the Lions at 19 but dropped them a spot in doing so.

Seb and Sams Speak

The Orlando Pride have a chance this Friday to set an NWSL win streak record in the match against the Portland Thorns, but first Seb Hines, Rafaelle, and Emily Sams reflected on the win against the Seattle Reign. Hines was rightly happy with the result but said he still feels his team has room to improve. I agree with him, despite the Pride being on top of the table and undefeated.

Rafaelle felt the victory showed the team how much mental fortitude the Pride have to be able to secure the road win. She also thinks that being at home with a chance to break the win streak record will make the team work that much harder. Sams reflected on her first NWSL goal but said she just wants to focus on getting three points each match.

Pulisic and Wright Shine

Christian Pulisic’s year keeps getting better. He had such a a good season for AC Milan that he has been named a finalist for Serie A Midfielder of the Year. The other finalists are Inter Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu and Atalanta’s Teun Koopmeiners. Pulisic has 19 goal contributions in 35 appearances for AC Milan.

The USMNT’s pre-Copa America roster dropped Monday, and it looks like Haji Wright will potentially see some action at winger for Gregg Berhalter. The move provides some needed depth at the position and may give Wright more playing time. Of course, Wright and Pulisic aren’t the only players of interest. You can check out a breakdown of the players called up here.

Hayes’ First USWNT Roster Announced

The Olympics are rapidly approaching and new USWNT Head Coach Emma Hayes has announced the 23-player roster for the final two matches against South Korea before the final Olympic roster is named. There are a mix of veteran and younger players in the group. Notably, there are 19 players who won the SheBelieves Cup back in April. It also sees the return of Rose Lavelle, who missed the SheBelieves Cup due to injury. While not altogether surprising, it is still disappointing on one level for Pride fans that Emily Sams didn’t get a call-up.

Free Kicks

  • Congratulations to Orlando Pride midfielder Ally Lemos on her call-up to the USWNT U-20s for the matches against the Korea Republic.
  • Philadelphia Union keeper Andre Blake has reportedly signed a new longterm contract with the club.
  • The USMNT U-15 squad defeated Japan to take first place in the Vlatko Markovic Tournament. Congratulations to the young Yanks.
  • Bayer Leverkusen will play in two cup finals in four days, starting with today’s Europa League championship against Atalanta. The second final is for the German Cup this Saturday against Kaiserslautern.
  • Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea have parted ways after only one season. Potchettino’s departure was mutually agreed upon. The coaching carousel continues.
  • Emanuel Reynoso from Minnesota United is reportedly headed to Liga MX side Club Tijuana.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the matches this weekend. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/21/24

Two Lions recognized, Pride player up for weekly honors, United States releases training camp roster, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It was a damn good weekend for Orlando’s teams, as Orlando City beat San Jose 1-0, and the Orlando Pride took down the Seattle Reign 3-2, which meant that the two teams picked up all six points on offer, and out on the west coast, no less! We’ve got plenty of news to talk over today, so let’s jump straight into the links.

Lions Included in Team of the Matchday

A pair of Lions have been rewarded for their efforts in Saturday’s win with a place in the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. Wilder Cartagena was given a spot in the starting XI as a center back after yet another commanding performance in a three-man back line for Orlando City. The Peruvian was superb and finished with five tackles, four clearances, and two interceptions, as OCSC kept a second clean sheet in a row. Jack Lynn was given a spot on the bench, after grabbing a late winner in an extended substitute appearance. Lynn entered the fray for an injured Duncan McGuire in the 16th minute, and was the difference maker as he latched onto a scuffed Martin Ojeda shot to win the game for Orlando in the 89th minute.

Pride Player up for Weekly Honors

Emily Sams’ strike against the Seattle Reign has been nominated for the NWSL Goal of the Week. On a night that had plenty of goals, Sams opened the scoring in the ninth minute. The ball found its way to her at the top of the box, and the defender didn’t even bother taking a touch as she hit the ball first time and curled it past the despairing dive of Laurel Ivory. Sams isn’t exactly a prolific goal scorer, so that makes the sweetly hit goal that much better. Be sure you go and drop a vote for her to win!

United States Releases Pre-Copa Roster

The United States Men’s National Team has announced its 27-player roster that will take part in a pre-Copa America training camp. The final tournament roster needs to have at least 23 players and a maximum of 26, so Gregg Berhalter won’t need to make a ton of cuts if he doesn’t want to. The roster features Josh Sargent making his return to a training camp for the first time since the 2022 World Cup, as well as Cameron-Carter Vickers, Luca de la Torre, and Sean Johnson making their first appearances in 2024. LAFC youngster Timmy Tillman is the least experienced player in the mix with just one appearance to his name, while Christian Pulisic’s 66 appearances leads the team. The USMNT will play Colombia and Brazil in tune-up friendlies on June 8 and June 12, with the latter match taking place in Orlando at Camping World Stadium.

MLS Stock Watch

With another MLS matchday in the close, we can reflect on which teams are on the rise, and which ones seem to be headed in the wrong direction. FC Cincinnati has now won six straight games, and is hot on Inter Miami’s heels at the top of the Eastern Conference table. New York City FC has now won three in a row after beating the New York Red Bulls 2-1 in the Hudson River Derby, a result which saw the Pigeons leapfrog NYRB into third place in the East. At the other end of things, the Chicago Fire have lost four straight and only scored two goals in their last seven matches, while CF Montreal got hammered 5-1 by Toronto FC and has matched Chicago with a fourth-straight loss.

European Transfer Rumor Roundup

Several European club seasons may have ended, but that just means that the off-season transfer rumor mill is starting to kick into gear. Premier League champion Manchester City has reportedly agreed to personal terms with West Ham midfielder Lucas Paqueta, but is still negotiating with the Hammers about a sale price. Runners-up Arsenal wants to bolster its team to get over the line and win the title next year and is said to have Alexander Isak, Brian Brobbey, and Viktor Gyokeres on a short list of strikers, although the Gunners expect to face competition from Chelsea for Gyokeres. Despite chatter concerning a possible move away during the summer, Mohamed Salah has said he will “fight like hell” to win trophies with Liverpool next season. Finally, Bayern Munich is said to have had internal talks about appointing Vincent Kompany as the club’s next manager, and the board has even reached out to the Belgian directly to discuss his current situation.

Free Kicks


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

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from Orlando City beating the Earthquakes on the West Coast?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City wrapped up three matches in eight days with a trip out west on short rest for a late night matchup against the San Jose Earthquakes. Playing level throughout much of the match, it appeared as though both teams would split the points until the Cardiac Cats found some late magic. What follows are my immediate takeaways from an unexpected, yet satisfying, three points.

3-5-2 For the Win

The 3-5-2 lineup returned once again and proved to be quite a versatile team shape for the Lions. Against San Jose, the Lions were without captain Robin Jansson due to injury and defensive midfielder Cesar Araujo was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Dagur Dan Thorhallsson returned to the starting lineup and slotted in as a wingback in the formation. Wilder Cartagena excelled once again as a center back, and Felipe did well filling in for Araujo in the midfield. The shape has allowed the coaching staff to more easily fill gaps with different players as needed, and I think we may see it as the default formation for the foreseeable future.

Duncan McGuire Injured Early On

Jack Lynn was substituted on in the 15th minute for an injured Duncan McGuire, who landed awkwardly on his right arm after being sandwiched between two Quakes players in an aerial duel. It was an early exit for McGuire, who tried to stop his fall by sticking out his forearm. Given the injuries the team has dealt with over the last several matches, one can only hope this does not lead to a prolonged absence for Orlando’s leading scorer.

Ivan Angulo Defies Tired Legs

No one would have faulted the Lions for sitting back as the match neared its end given that this was their third match in eight days, and second on the road during that stretch. It makes the effort Ivan Angulo gave to help create the winning goal even more impressive. After running up and down the field all game, Angulo chased down a clearance after a San Jose corner kick and beat defenders down the length of the field on a lung-busting run. The fitness staff and trainers deserve some credit for ensuring that the Lions had their legs under them that late into a match considering the travel and schedule congestion of the week.

Jack Lynn After Dark

Jack Lynn, who was selected in the first round of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, found the back of the net for the second time this season. In what was likely an unexpected 75 minutes of game action for him, Lynn scored late to give Orlando all three points. The goal was a combination of being in the right place at the right time, as Martin Ojeda mishit his shot after the cross from Angulo, and impressive body control from Lynn, who contorted his body to redirect the ball into the back of the net. It was an impressive finish for Lynn, who had another great chance to put the game away that was saved just minutes prior to his goal. Lynn ultimately would not be denied and made sure the Orlando City fans back on the East Coast woke up to good news.

Making History On the Road

Orlando City and the San Jose Earthquakes do not exactly have a storied rivalry however, anytime the club can achieve a first in team history it should be mentioned. Last evening’s victory marked Orlando City’s first ever road victory against the Earthquakes. Heading into this match, I thought the Lions would opt for a heavily rotated lineup on the road, as the Lions were facing a club at the bottom of the Western Conference table on short rest. Instead, the club turned in a classic performance under Pareja, staying defensively sound to keep the game close and get a result on the road. The Lions were able to get the win on a counter attack and the result secured seven points from their last three matches.


Those are the things that stood out most to me from the 1-0 victory against the Earthquakes, let us know in the comments below what stood out to you. As always, vamos Orlando!

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