Connect with us

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Portland Timbers: Final Score 2-1 as Lions Drop Final on a Pair of Set Pieces

The Lions stood toe to toe with the Timbers in the MLS is Back final but failed to deal with two set pieces and it was their undoing.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

An Orlando City team that dealt pretty well with set pieces all tournament long failed to deal with two of them, and that was all it took for the Portland Timbers to win 2-1 in the MLS is Back Tournament final. Portland center backs Larrys Mabiala and Dario Zuparic, of all people, got on the scoreboard, and that was enough to best Mauricio Pereyra’s lone tally for the Lions at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

It was just Orlando’s second loss to the Timbers, as the Lions dropped to 3-2-1 in all competitions against Portland since joining MLS. The loss stings, particularly as it was a final, but Orlando City acquitted itself well throughout the tournament and Oscar Pareja credited the Timbers’ defense.

“We found a team that clogged the last third of the field and had their block very low, and we were missing that last pass,” Pareja said after the match. “I think they defended well. I think you have to give credit to a team that has it clear. They lowered the block and we couldn’t break it.”

Pareja went with the same lineup, starting at the back with goalkeeper Pedro Gallese behind a back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Sebas Mendez and Uri Rosell were the holding midfielders behind an attacking midfield of Nani, Pereyra, and Chris Mueller, with Tesho Akindele at the top of the formation.

The game began cautiously, with Orlando holding most of the possession but being deliberate in the buildup so as not to give Portland opportunities in transition. As a result, the first 15 minutes went by without a shot attempt before Mueller had one blocked at the top of the area.

A minute later, Portland got forward for perhaps the first time and a great long ball from Sebastian Blanco nearly picked out Jeremy Ebobisse, but Gallese came off his line to punch it away. The Peruvian got a piece of Ebobisse on the follow-through and the Timbers’ forward needed a few minutes to recover.

Pereyra sent Nani in behind with a gorgeous ball in the 19th minute, but instead of taking a first-time shot, he brought it down and Portland was able to knock it out for a corner.

The Timbers opened the scoring against the run of play in the 27th minute. On a rather harmless-looking, long-range set piece, Diego Valeri served up an incredible back-post ball for Mabiala, who fought off a challenge from Moutinho and headed it off of Gallese’s hand and into the net for a 1-0 Timbers lead.

The Lions continued probing and leveled the game in the 39th minute. Nani crossed in from the left side for Pereyra and the ball pinged off a couple legs as Eryk Williamson came in from behind to challenge. Pereyra recovered first and slotted just inside the near post to make it 1-1. It was the Uruguayan’s second goal of the tournament.

Orlando nearly got Mueller an excellent chance two minutes later, as the young winger got the ball at the top of the area and spun around to try to face goal, but he showed a bit too much of the ball and the Timbers’ defense was able to knock it away.

After Valeri tried to go under the wall on a dangerous late free kick, the teams went into the break knotted up at 1-1. Orlando led in shots (5-4, with each team getting one on target), possession (63.4%), and passing accuracy (90%-81%).

Portland tried to jump on Orlando early in the second half, but Valeri saw his free kick saved by Gallese in the 48th minute and Blanco fired a shot that Jansson blocked out for a corner in the 51st.

Orlando nearly pulled off a great team effort in the 54th minute, when Pereyra dropped deep, pulling Diego Chara out of the middle and sending a forward ball to Akindele, who laid off for Mueller. The latter then sent a cross to Nani but the captain didn’t make good contact on his first-time shot attempt and it sailed off target.

The Lions nearly scored two minutes later, when a layoff found Mendez in the box, but Mabiala came out to block his potential go-ahead shot.

Gallese then made two outstanding saves in the 65th minute to keep the game level. First, he dove right to parry a Valeri free kick wide of goal. On the ensuing corner, the ball deflected out to Ebobisse, who fired, and El Pulpo made a huge stop.

That only saved the Lions for the moment though, because the Timbers scored on the next corner. The cross from Valeri found Eryk Williamson near the top left corner of the box and he made a quick move to keep Pereyra from clearing, then sent in a weak shot that took a deflection to Zuparic, who touched it through Nani and into the net for the eventual game-winner in the 66th minute.

“We work hard on that part and things didn’t bounce our way. We made a couple of mistakes,” Pareja said of the set pieces. “But the team was prepared and these boys work hard on that part, and sometimes you win games on those actions. Sometimes you lose games like that. You have to accept it and improve it, even when you win it. Today was one of those games. They had two chances on set plays and they took advantage.”

The Lions got a few set pieces at the other end over the next several minutes but could do nothing with them. Then Ruan got forward and nearly picked out Akindele in the 75th minute with a cross, but the defense was again sharp for Portland and cleared the danger.

In the 82nd minute, Jansson sent a low free kick just wide of goal but Steve Clark looked to have it covered for the Timbers. Benji Michel won a free kick in the 89th minute but that nearly turned into an insurance goal for Portland. Pereyra didn’t get enough loft on his service and the Timbers countered with numbers. Valeri ended up with the ball, but Gallese again came up big with a save to keep the Lions in it.

Orlando should have equalized in stoppage time. A free kick found Jansson, who could only flick it on. Substitute Kyle Smith tried to pick it out of the air with the net gaping in front of him, but he couldn’t make good contact with the aerial ball and it sailed agonizingly over the bar.

That was that. The whistle went soon after and Orlando’s run came to an end.

Orlando finished with more shots (14-13), but the Lions weren’t sharp, getting only one on target to Portland’s six. City held 63.8% of the possession and was the more accurate passing team (89%-79%) but just couldn’t find that little bit of quality in front of goal.

Nani said that the team can take a lot away from its MLS is Back run.

“We learned we are a better team at this moment,” he said. “We improved as a group, as a club. And let’s be honest, we must accept that we are not the same team as before. And you all know that. You’ve all seen our games. You’ve seen this final. You’ve seen the way that we are playing. You see the way every team we play behaves against us.

“We know we are a team who needs to improve. But at this moment I’m so happy to be on this team, with this coach, with this staff. We took these two months to improve and we did it. And to every team in MLS now who will face us, they know they will face a strong team.”

That’s all for the tournament, folks. The Lions are back in regular-season action on Saturday, Aug. 22, when they will visit Inter Miami with kickoff scheduled for 8 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 scoring goals 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.

Continue Reading

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

Continue Reading

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!

Continue Reading