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Orlando City

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.

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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

Orlando City vs. Cavalry FC, Concacaf Champions Cup: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions play their first competitive match of 2024 north of the border in the Concacaf Champions Cup.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to your match thread for a Wednesday night Concacaf Champions Cup matchup between Orlando City and Cavalry FC of the Canadian Premier League at Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia at 10 p.m. (FOX Sports 2, TUDN). It’s the first meeting ever between the teams and Orlando City’s first ever match against a CPL team.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.

History

There isn’t any. These teams have never met, nor has Orlando City faced anyone in the Canadian Premier League before.

The Lions will be experiencing their fourth international cup competition and their second foray into Concacaf Champions League/Cup, having drawn twice against Tigres UANL last season. Orlando bowed out of last year’s competition due to the away goals tiebreaker. Orlando City has also competed twice in Leagues Cup.

Overview

Both teams will be playing their first competitive match of the 2024 season. Orlando City is coming off a 4-0-1 preseason, drawing 1-1 against Flamengo before reeling off four straight wins against Rhode Island FC, the New England Revolution, the Houston Dynamo, and the Colorado Rapids. City reached the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 2023 and is looking to build on its most successful season to date in MLS.

Cavalry FC is coming off a season in which it finished top of the table in the regular season, but fell 2-1 after extra time in the CPL championship match against Forge FC. As far as CPL teams go, the Lions will be facing one of the league’s best, as you’d expect in a competition called “Champions Cup.”

“We’re very proud and very happy to bring Orlando City to this beautiful city and this excellent competition,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “(We’re) Feeling proud of playing in Champions Cup in Concacaf and obviously aiming for the best prize, and here we are starting the season with obviously a very competitive game.”

Pareja is suspended for tonight due to his red card in the second leg against Tigres in 2023.


Projected Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Michael Halliday.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Nico Lodeiro, Facundo Torres.

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

Cavalry FC (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Marco Carducci.

Defenders: Bradley Kamdem, Daan Klomp, Eryk Kobza, Fraser Aird.

Defensive Midfielders: Charlie Trafford, Jesse Daley.

Attacking Midfielders: William Akio, Sergio Camargo, Ali Musse.

Forward: Myer Bevan.

Officials:

REF: Juan Gabriel Calderon (Costa Rica).
AR1: William Arrieta (Costa Rica).
AR2: Henri Pupiro (Nicaragua).
4TH: Keylor Herrera (Costa Rica).
VAR: Oscar Mejia (Mexico).
VAR1: Erick Miranda (Mexico).


How to Watch

Match Time: 10 p.m.

Venue: Starlight Stadium — Langford, British Columbia.

TV: FOX Sports 2, TUDN.

Streaming: The match can be streamed on FOX Sports GO, the FOX Sports app TUDN.com, and the TUDN app.

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).


Enjoy the match. Go City!

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Lion Links: 2/21/24

Orlando City takes on Cavalry FC tonight, Lions sign Jeorgio Kocevski, USWNT wins in Concacaf W Gold Cup, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you in Florida as we get to watch the Lions in action tonight in the Concacaf Champions Cup. There’s not much new with me this week other than staying busy covering high school basketball and hockey. Let’s also wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Takes on Cavalry FC Tonight

Orlando City will be in action tonight in the first round of the Concacaf Champions Cup, as it takes on Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium at 10 p.m. This matchup will be the Lions’ first competitive match of 2024, with their MLS season opener against CF Montreal set for Saturday. The Lions were knocked out by Tigres due to away goals in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. Cavalry FC will make its debut in this competition tonight and qualified by winning the 2023 Canadian Premier League Shield. The second leg between these two sides will be on Feb. 27 at Inter&Co Stadium.

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signed 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a contract through the 2024 season, with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. Kocevski scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time in Orlando’s final preseason match against the Colorado Rapids this past weekend. The midfielder was selected 21st overall in the first round of the 2024 MLS SuperDraft by the Lions in December. He played four years for Syracuse, recording seven goals and 18 assists in 71 matches. Kocevski is the only player the club has signed from the Lions’ 2024 draft class and will likely get some minutes with Orlando City B this season.

St. Louis City and Philadelphia Union Win in Champions Cup

Orlando City isn’t the only MLS team kicking off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign this week. St. Louis City edged out the Houston Dynamo 2-1, with rookie Hosei Kijima scoring the winner in stoppage time. The Philadelphia Union were on the road in Costa Rica to face off against Deportivo Saprissa and won 3-2 thanks to a hat trick from Julian Carranza in the second half. As for other tournament matches this week, the New England Revolution face Independiente in Panama tonight, with Nashville playing Moca FC in the Dominican Republic and FC Cincinnati taking on Jamaica’s Cavalier SC tomorrow.

USWNT Beats the Dominican Republic in W Gold Cup

The United States Women’s National Team got its Concacaf W Gold Cup campaign off to a great start with a 5-0 win against the Dominican Republic in Group A. Olivia Moultrie scored her first USWNT goal to give her team an early lead, with Lynn Williams giving the U.S. another goal before halftime. Moultrie scored another in the second half to earn her brace, and Jenna Nighswonger converted a penalty for her first USWNT goal as well. Former Pride forward Alex Morgan replaced Mia Fishel on the roster due to injury and scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time. The USWNT’s next game will be against Argentina on Friday at 10:15 p.m.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

The UEFA Champions League had plenty of drama as the round of 16 continued. Inter Milan won 1-0 in its first leg against Atletico Madrid at home, with Mark Arnautovic scoring the only goal in the match. In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund played to a thrilling 1-1 draw. The second legs for both matchups will be played on March 13. There is more Champions League action today, as FC Porto hosts Arsenal while Napoli takes on Barcelona.

Free Kicks

  • The latest MLS power rankings are out just before the regular season begins. Orlando City begins the season in the fifth spot.
  • Orlando City and the Orlando Pride announced fan experience upgrades at Inter&Co Stadium featuring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in merchandise shops, stadium Wi-Fi upgrades, and a jersey history experience.
  • The MLS Players Association released a statement on the ongoing referee lockout.
  • Here is the list of MLS Season Pass commentator assignments for opening week.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.

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Orlando City

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signs its first-round draft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a one-year deal with three option years.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City SC announced the signing of first-round 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski today. The deal is through the upcoming 2024 season with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. The Lions selected the Syracuse midfielder with the 21st overall pick in the draft in December.

“Jeorgio has had a really strong preseason camp with us, demonstrating everything we saw in him when we were scouting him and analyzing his game in college,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “He’s done well working his way into the group, even starting in our friendly against Flamengo and holding his own against some of the best in Brazil, and we’re excited to have him with us this season.”

The box-to-box midfielder made three appearances this preseason, starting against Brazilian club Flamengo and the following scrimmage against USL Championship side Rhode Island FC. He came on at halftime against the Colorado Rapids last weekend, scoring the winning goal in the 90th minute.

Prior to being selected by the Lions, the Liverpool, NY, native made 71 appearances with 65 starts and logged 5,599 minutes for Syracuse in four years. He scored seven goals and recorded 18 assists, putting 33 of his 93 shots on frame. Additionally, he was part of Syracuse’s 2022 NCAA national championship team, playing 90 minutes in the 2-2 draw, but missing in the team’s victorious shootout over Indiana.

Kocevski had a breakout junior year, being named to the United Soccer Coaches’ All-South Region third team, All-ACC third team, NCAA All-Tournament team, and ACC All-Tournament team. During his senior year, he wore the armband for the Orange and was named All-ACC first team and ACC Co-Midfielder of the Year.

What It Means for Orlando City

Kocevski was the most likely pick from this most recent draft to be signed by Orlando City. The departure of club captain Mauricio Pereyra left a spot in the midfield and Head Coach Oscar Pareja seemed to feel the rookie could fill it from early on. His start against Flamengo was in the place of regular starter Cesar Araujo, who was on international duty with the Uruguay U-23 national team. He played against Flamengo’s best lineup and did quite well in almost an hour on the field in his first minutes of play at the professional level.

While a spot was open for the signing of Kocevski, he likely won’t see much of the field for the first team this season. In addition to being behind starters Araujo and Wilder Cartagena, the defensive midfielder will be behind Felipe on the depth chart. In all likelihood, the rookie will slot in with Orlando City B in MLS NEXT Pro to get some minutes, but there is room for him to start regularly with that team.

Kocevski is currently the only player signed by the club from the Lions’ 2024 draft class. West Virginia midfielder Yutaro Tsukada, Pittsburgh midfielder Filip Mirkovic, and Charlotte midfielder Riyon Tori remained unsigned, with the latter opting to return to school for his senior season.

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