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Orlando City vs. Inter Miami CF: Final Score 2-1 as Pereyra’s Goal Lifts Lions Past Herons

A goal by Brek Shea leveled the score in the second half but Mauricio Pereyra restored City’s advantage moments later.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

For the third straight game, Orlando City scored first but conceded an equalizing goal. But unlike the previous two matches, the Lions responded and regained the lead immediately to beat Inter Miami 2-1 at Exploria Stadium. Orlando (5-2-4, 19 points) is unbeaten in its last five games (3-0-2), while Inter Miami (2-7-2, 8 points) had a modest three-game unbeaten streak snapped. The Lions improved to 2-1-0 against Miami.

Mauricio Pereyra scored his second goal of the season to break a 1-1 deadlock after a first-half Inter Miami own goal was canceled out by a second-half header by former Orlando City player Brek Shea. That was the difference as Miami conceded more than one goal for the first time since beating the Lions 3-2 in the first game of the MLS restart.

“Good game, especially again the first half for us was with a lot of quality,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the game. “The players imposed on the game to create options. And when we came back from the first half we didn’t want to change, but I think (Miami coach) Diego (Alonso) moved his team very well. And then they started creating some challenges for us, especially on the sides because he extended his line. And then I think we had opportunies to react and we did. We scored a second goal.”

Despite having a normal week between games for a change, Pareja didn’t roll with a first-choice lineup. Kyle Smith and Rodrigo Schlegel slotted into the left side of the back line next to Antonio Carlos and Ruan in front of goalkeeper Pedro Gallese. Junior Urso and Sebas Mendez manned the central midfield behind attacking midfielders Nani, Pereyra, and Chris Mueller and striker Daryl Dike. Uri Rosell and Robin Jansson were left out of the 18 completely.

“[Rosell] had a pain that we want to take care of. It’s nothing important but we wanted him to recover from the exhausted weeks that he had had,” Pareja said. “And Robin, in the last day as well, he picked up a knock and couldn’t play. But as I say, when these things happen, it just opens opportunities for some players that are waiting.”

The first half was extremely contentious, with Miami players nipping at Orlando’s heels every time the Lions moved into the attacking third. Orlando players didn’t appreciate Ismail Elfath allowing so much contact, including a rough challenge on Nani that drew no card, but actually led to the opening goal.

But the most physical play was Miami-on-Miami crime. Leandro Gonzalez Pirez collided with Ben Sweat in the air, and the latter stayed down and had to leave the game in the opening minutes. Former Lion Mikey Ambrose replaced him.

Nani provided the first good opportunity of the match after Mueller drew a foul outside the area. The captain’s free kick beat the wall but smacked off the crossbar in the 11th minute.

Juan Agudelo got Miami’s first good chance off a corner with a free header but his shot was off target in the 28th minute.

Nicolas Figal had been nipping at Nani’s heels throughout the first half and the captain knocked a ball past him in the 33rd and attempted to run by him but the Miami defender reached out and hauled Nani down roughly, getting a lecture from Elfath but no booking. Pereyra took the ensuing free kick, which appeared to hit off of Schlegel then off of Miami defender Andres Reyes and into the net to make it 1-0 in the 34th minute.

Mendez stepped up into a good shooting area just outside the box in the 38th minute, but he didn’t make good contact and skipped a slow shot wide of goal. Four minutes later, Dike beat Reyes and was hauled down just outside the area to set up an Orlando free kick and earning Reyes a booking. This time Nani got his free kick on goal but Luis Robles made a diving save to keep it at 1-0 in the 43rd minute.

Reyes should have gotten his second yellow in the 45th minute, when he clobbered Pereyra in the head but no call was made and Miami countered, resulting in a yellow instead for Schlegel. That was it for the first half.

Orlando had more shots (5-3), more shots on target (1-0), and more corners (4-2) in the opening half, while keeping the ball for 67.9% of the time and out-passing Miami, 89%-77%.

Shea came on for Ambrose to start the second half and Ruan roasted him just after the restart. The Brazilian right back burned Shea down the right side but his pass intended for Pereyra at the top of the box was behind the Uruguayan.

The game opened up for a bit after that, with Gallese making a stop on Lewis Morgan in the 53rd and Mueller forcing a diving save from Robles in the 55th minute.

Miami got the equalizer from a familiar face in the 65th minute. Gallese punched out a corner kick cross but Rodolfo got onto the ball out on the right and sent a cross back into the box. His cross found Shea, who out-jumped Carlos near the penalty spot and headed inside the left post to make it 1-1.

The tie didn’t last long. Orlando came right back to regain the lead in the 69th minute. Nani tried to feed a through ball to Pereyra but it was deflected and found its way to Mueller, who hit it with his first touch and found Pereyra at the top of the 18. The Uruguayan fired off the left post and into the net to make it 2-1.

The celebration in the stadium was nearly a costly one. With purple smoke still hanging in the air near The Wall, Shea launched a high ball from midfield. Gallese had trouble locating the ball and it was almost right on top of him when he did. El Pulpo was able to knock it out for a corner but it was nearly a bizarre goal.

As strange as that was, the game got really weird a couple minutes later. A through ball came in for Julian Carranza with Schlegel trailing the play. Carranza went down but Elfath did not spot any infraction on the Orlando center back, who yelled at Carranza to get up, prompting some Miami teammates to come forward and get into Schlegel’s face. Miami lobbied for a penalty call and Elfath consulted with Video Assistant Referee Christina Unkel, then went to the monitor.

Elfath reviewed the play and awarded a penalty and a second yellow card to Schlegel, sending him off. However, Unkel continued to review the play and ruled that Carranza was offside before the foul was committed. The penalty was nullified, as well as the second yellow to Schlegel.

“I couldn’t see much from my view,” Pareja said about the play. He said the fourth official came over to tell him the play was ruled offside after the initial video review by Elfath.

The strange night continued in the 80th when a ball into the area pinballed between a few players and fell perfectly for Shea to run onto but his shot was blocked.

After that, Alex De John came on for his first appearance of the season and Orlando went to three at the back. From that point on, Miami’s only good look at goal was a bloop shot from Pizarro that was a comfortable catch for Gallese.

Miami turned the shots around, firing to a 12-8 final margin, but each team got three on target. Inter ended up with more corners (7-5), while Orlando held more possession (54.4%) and was still the better passing team despite a sloppy second half (83%-82%). While some may blame a bunkering mentality, it was really Orlando’s lack of sharpness playing out of the back in the second period, combined with Miami pushing more players forward that pushed both the possession and accuracy numbers.

“They have physical players in the back,” Pereyra said of the chippy match. “They have Reyes, Gonzalez Pirez and Figal. They are really tough and I think they make us troubles there.”

“That’s the nature of a rivalry match,” Mueller said. “There’s always a little bit of an extra edge to the game. You could see it as we’re coming together with the referee. There’s a lot of things after the play. That’s just the way it is in derby games, especially one like this that’s starting to build. I think it’s good though. It’s fun. It makes for a good match and a lot of intensity, a lot of energy between the two teams so, it’s great for for everybody.”

Orlando City has completed Phase 1 of the MLS restart and will begin Phase 2 next Saturday at home when the Chicago Fire visit Exploria Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

Orlando City

Flashback Friday: April 13, 2018 — Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union

Hop in the time machine as we reminisce about a classic Orlando City game from six years ago.



Carlos Romero, The Mane Land

During the two-week break we’ve had since Orlando City’s last competitive match, I’ve had some time to go back and revisit some of the matches that the team has played in the past. What better thing to do when considering the heavy emphasis that the club has placed on its 10th season as a member of Major League Soccer?

So, before the Lions take on D.C. United tomorrow, let’s hop in the time machine and reminisce about a game that OCSC played six years ago — almost to the day.

The date was Saturday, April 13, 2018, and the Lions found themselves on the road in Philadelphia. The Jason Kreis-coached team had won two games on the bounce and entered the contest with a record of 2-2-1 (7 points), while the Union sat at 1-1-2 (5 points). The Orlando team sheet on the day looked wildly different from what we’re used to seeing these days, as no one on that gameday roster is still with the club. Kreis deployed his team in a 4-2-3-1, which will be plenty familiar to Orlando fans by now, but that was where the similarities ended.

Philadelphia’s XI had a few familiar faces however, with Andre Blake in goal, Jack Elliot at center back, Matt Real at left back, and Alejandro Bedoya in midfield.

The Union began the game strong, with Keegan Rosenberry getting off a shot from long distance, and David Accam beating RJ Allen down the right and delivering a dangerous cross that fortunately didn’t have any teammates attacking it. Despite the slow start, Orlando almost opened the scoring just inside 10 minutes when Amro Tarek had a shot cleared off the line after being picked out by Yoshi Yotun from a corner.

Philadelphia continued to be dangerous, and Orlando’s task got more difficult when Allen went down with a hamstring issue in the 21st minute. The Lions were already missing Jonathan Spector through concussion and Scott Sutter with the dreaded lower body injury, so Cristian Higuita entered the fray while Will Johnson moved to right back.

The Lions’ resilience paid dividends a few minutes before halftime. Dom Dwyer timed a perfect run to stay level with Real, and Sacha Kljestan delivered him the ball by way of an outstanding lifted pass. Dwyer showed outstanding invention to settle the pass using his back, and then turned to curl the ball beyond Blake for the game’s first goal and the 99th of his career.

The goal seemed to unlock something in the good guys, as the first-half-fun didn’t end there. The second goal of the night had a bit of fortune to it, as Chris Mueller collected the ball in midfield and drove toward the box. A heavy touch meant he lost the ball, but Philadelphia couldn’t clear its lines and the ball came right back to him off the foot of Elliot. From there, it was a simple matter of taking a touch to settle himself and then firing low and hard past Blake and into the far corner.

The Lions took that 2-0 lead into halftime, but after the restart they once again found the Union streaming forward toward their goal. Bendik made his second big save of the night in the 53rd minute from a Fafa Picault shot, and it wasn’t the last time he was called on, as he denied Bedoya in the 62nd minute.

Justin Meram provided some moments of danger as the half wore on, and probably should have had an assist as the clock struck 90 minutes, but Dwyer fired his shot off target. Bendik had to make one big final save in the 94th minute to stop Borek Dockal’s effort, and when the whistle blew for full time the Lions’ had escaped with a 2-0 win.

The home side finished with 55% of the ball to Orlando’s 45%, and outshot OCSC by a whopping 20-8, but a lack of clinical finishing proved to be the Union’s undoing (sound familiar?).

That win meant the good guys had won three on the bounce, and a strong start to the season continued as that streak ultimately stretched all the way to six victories in a row. Sadly, the good vibes didn’t last. The last league win of that six-game streak came on May 6 in a 3-1 home victory over Real Salt Lake, and then the bottom fell out. The Lions lost nine straight league games, Kreis lost his job after the sixth of those losses, and Orlando only won two more league games for the remainder of the season.

Ultimately, the 2018 season proved to be the most difficult that the club has endured since joining MLS. OCSC’s total of 28 points is the lowest that the team has ever finished with in a season, and only a truly woeful San Jose side prevented the Lions from claiming the Wooden Spoon. Still, the win over Philadelphia — and the win streak that it was part of — were bright spots early in the year, and it’s always fun to look back on those. With a little luck, the Lions will get a similar result on the road against D.C. United tomorrow. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/12/24

Orlando Pride play in Utah tonight, Orlando City B earns a point, Europa League quarterfinals begin, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Friday! I hope this week has gone smoothly for you as we gear up for even more Orlando soccer tonight and tomorrow. It should be a nice next few days, even if I’m working for most of it. I don’t have many plans outside of work beyond bonding with my cat and trying a new stuffed bread recipe. Let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world!

Orlando Pride Play the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride are on the road tonight for a showdown with the Utah Royals at 9:30 p.m., and you can catch the game on NWSL+ or through Bally Sports if you’re local. Although the Royals are an expansion team this year, the Pride last squared off against the previous Royals back in 2019, with Orlando losing all three games to Utah that season. This season, the Pride are riding a three-game unbeaten streak. However, they are also still on the hunt for their first win after three consecutive draws. While the offense awaits the arrival of Zambian striker Barbra Banda, the Pride have managed to score off of a set piece in each of their three games so far. While a draw on the road wouldn’t be awful by any means, hopefully the Pride can get a solid tally in the win column tonight.

Orlando City B Draws Philadelphia Union II

OCB went on the road to take on Philadelphia Union II and earned a single point after a 1-1 draw and penalty shootout. The two teams traded goals in the first half, but the Young Lions were on the back foot for most of the second half. While Orlando’s offense sputtered, the defense survived chance after chance from Philadelphia to send the game to a shootout. Orlando lost the lengthy shootout, 7-6, claiming just one point, but at least the Young Lions didn’t leave Pennsylvania empty handed. Hopefully OCB can return to its winning ways when it faces off with Crown Legacy FC on April 19.

New York City FC Stadium Plans Finally Approved

Plans to build a soccer-specific stadium in Queens for new grounds for New York City FC were approved by New York City officials. It will be a $780 million stadium expected to open in 2027 and serves as the centerpiece of a redevelopment project in the neighborhood. The 25,000-seat stadium will be right next to Citi Field, which has been one of the many home venues for NYCFC over the years since joining as an expansion side alongside Orlando City in 2015. It’s a bit wild that this stadium is set to open 10 years after Orlando christened its own soccer-specific stadium back in 2017. At least the Lions won’t have to play road games at baseball stadiums for much longer.

Europa League Quarterfinals Kick Off

The Europa League quarterfinals are underway, with the remaining eight teams squaring off in the first legs of their matchups. In England, Atalanta leaned on a brace from Gianluca Scamacca and stellar defense to win 3-0 against Liverpool. Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten streak stretched to 42 games after it beat West Ham United 2-0, thanks to a pair of late goals. The first match between Italian clubs AC Milan and Roma went to the visitors, as Roma scored early on and held on for a 1-0 win at San Siro. The only quarterfinal that wasn’t a shutout took place in Portugal, with Benfica beating Marseille, 2-1. The second legs will all take place at the same time next week, which should make for an exciting Thursday afternoon of soccer.

Free Kicks

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City at D.C. United: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn its first away victory of the season?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

Orlando City is back in action this Saturday night against D.C. United at Audi Field. Despite coming off back-to-back results, the off-week was well timed for the Lions. A little extra rest for the squad, plus giving players time to recuperate from various knocks should mean a nearly full strength Orlando City.

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points on the road against its Eastern Conference rivals?

The Dynamic Duo Return

Cesar Araujo returned to the Orlando City lineup against the New York Red Bulls, meaning the Lions should finally have their top choice defensive midfield pairing back together. The timing couldn’t be more perfect given Orlando City will be dealing with D.C. United striker Christian Benteke. He has five goals in five matches, which is half of the 10 goals D.C. United has scored all season.

So far this regular season, every match in which the Lions give up more than one goal has resulted in a loss. Keeping Benteke and the rest of D.C. United off of the score sheet is critical to getting a result. Orlando City can concede one goal and still walk away with points on the road, but only if the Lions manage to accomplish the next key below.

Goals are the Goal

To say Orlando City has been wasteful in front of goal is a bit of an understatement. So far this regular season, the Lions have 93 shots, with 27 on target, but only five goals. Orlando City has created scoring opportunities, but failed to convert them in anything close to an efficient manner. Of the five goals scored, Duncan McGuire has two, Nico Lodeiro has one, and Jack Lynn has one. The other was credited as an own goal on Lynn’s backheel attempt.

The list of players who haven’t scored yet this season is too long to type, but I don’t need goals from the defenders — though I will take them. I just need Facundo Torres, Ivan Angulo, Luis Muriel, and Martin Ojeda to get something going. Ideally, all four of them score in this match, but I’ll take whatever goals we can get.

End the Trend

Orlando City hasn’t fared well against D.C. United recently. Nearly a year ago, the Lions lost at home 3-1 to the visitors. The last trip to Audi Field was a 1-1 draw in which Orlando City gave up a goal in the 80th minute to settle for a single point. In 2022, Orlando City lost both matches to D.C. United. It’s time to get things going in the right direction.

The Lions also need to stop losing on the road. Losses to Inter Miami and Atlanta both came on the road, with Orlando City yet to find any points away from home. Last season, the Lions were veritable road warriors. The team needs to find that form again as it was a major reason the club finished second in the Supporters’ Shield race.

That is what I will be looking for this weekend as Orlando City takes on D.C. United. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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