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Orlando City vs. New York Red Bulls: Final Score 1-1 as Red Bulls Steal Points Deep in Stoppage; Lions Clinch Playoff Spot

Lions were seconds from a huge road victory when disaster struck, but Orlando City still clinched its first-ever MLS playoff berth.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Brian White’s spinning shot trickled just inside the far post in the 95th minute to steal two points from Orlando City in a 1-1 draw at Red Bull Arena. Nani had put Orlando City (8-2-8, 32 points) ahead on a penalty kick in the second half, and the Lions had only seconds left to see out. They had just cleared a corner kick when the ball found its way to exactly the wrong spot at the wrong time, allowing the New York Red Bulls (7-8-4, 25 points) to equalize.

Orlando was able to clinch its first-ever MLS playoff spot, however, as Toronto FC scored late to beat Atlanta United, giving the Lions enough points to finish above the line in 2020.

Despite now going winless in three games, Orlando is unbeaten in 12 (6-0-6), but a lack of goal scoring and tired legs — without the ability to rotate players — is starting to catch up with the Lions. Orlando finishes the season series 1-0-1 against the Red Bulls and 5-6-2 in the all-time series.

“Well, we can talk about the frustration with what happened in the last minute — the moment when we dropped the points,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the game. “I have to calm down and see all the positive things that the boys did today. Again, they dominated in the first half. The second half was normal, especially at the end, when New York was throwing bodies up front and trying to cross balls and all those things. We tried to settle the game and we couldn’t, but we keep going.”

Pareja used the same lineup as Wednesday’s match vs. New York City FC, with Brian Rowe in goal behind a back line of Kamal Miller, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Joey DeZart and Junior Urso manned the central midfield behind an attacking midfield line of Nani, Andres Perea, and Chris Mueller, with Daryl Dike up top.

The Red Bulls controlled about the first nine minutes of the match, keeping Orlando hemmed in its own half of the pitch. But the Lions did well to defend and break up play, allowing no real chances during that time.

Orlando’s first sustained foray into the attacking third resulted in a half chance, with Nani looping a cross in for Mueller but the ball was played too close to goalkeeper Ryan Meara. Mueller and Meara collided and a foul was given New York’s way.

Caden Clark sent a rocket shot over Rowe’s bar in the 16th minute after he was given too much time and space outside the area. After the Lions couldn’t capitalize on a couple of decent crosses, the Red Bulls worked a corner kick in for Tom Barlow but his header was weakly hit and right at Rowe in the 23rd minute. Daniel Royer fired a weak shot from the top of the box at Rowe three minutes later.

The Lions had a great chance in the 29th after Ruan won a free kick near the right sideline. Nani sent in a gorgeous cross that Mueller was lining up for a free header but Dike came from the other side and tried to get onto it and his presence threw off the shot. Mueller’s header ended up well off target.

A minute later Nani lined up a shot at the top of the area but didn’t get all of it and Meara made a comfortable save.

In the 34th minute, Mueller crossed at the top of the area and Urso corralled it and fired a shot. Unfortunately, the Brazilian didn’t get it all and it skipped weakly wide of goal.

The best chance came in the 41st minute when Jansson launched a perfect long ball for Nani to run onto. The captain broke in alone down the left and blasted a shot but Meara fought it off with a big save.

The Red Bulls got the last shot of the half in the 44th when Ruan’s throw-in was turned over in the Orlando half. Florian Valot tried his luck from outside the area but hit his shot wide, and the teams went to the break locked in a scoreless draw.

Orlando City had more shot attempts (5-4), with each team getting two on target in the opening half. The Lions had more corners (3-1), more possession (54.7%-45.3%), and more accurate passing (78%-72%). But, as the passing rates indicate, it was a sloppy, and defensive-minded first half.

The Lions grabbed the lead 10 minutes after the restart. Dike shredded New York’s defense, slicing through multiple defenders and into the penalty area. Once he got there, he tried to move around former Lion Amro Tarek, who made heavy contact with the rookie striker. Referee Drew Fischer pointed to the spot immediately. Nani stepped up, stutter stepped, then slotted the spot kick home in the 56th minute to put Orlando ahead.

“I turned and I saw that I had some space,” Dike said. “So I kind of decided I wanted to go toward the [end line] to try to get in a cross and fortunately I got fouled. Nani came in, calm, cool, and collected, and had a good penalty and he scored.”

It was the first penalty in league play this season for Orlando City and Nani’s fifth goal of the season, but the rookie’s incisive run set it up.

“What Dike did today is another demonstration of the way he’s progressed as a forward,” Pareja said. “He looked great today. I’m happy for him.”

The Red Bulls turned up the heat after that and threw numbers forward. Center backs Tarek and Tim Parker continually joined in the attack, keeping Orlando from breaking out of its own end. Still, most of the time the Lions were able to turn back New York’s attack without facing a shot.

The Red Bulls got a good opportunity in the 62nd minute when Perea conceded a free kick straight out from goal, but Valot sent his free kick well over the crossbar.

Orlando went looking for a second goal on the counter in the 67th minute with a good buildup on an excellent passing sequence from Dike to Perea to Mueller. Unfortunately, Cash needed a touch to settle the ball and by the time he fired his shot, the defense had recovered in time to block it.

New York kept coming, but Orlando did well to defend crosses and push the Red Bulls into wide areas. There weren’t many dangerous opportunities, but with so much New York possession, it sometimes seemed like it. A chance appeared in the 72nd minute but substitute Samuel Tetteh hit his shot wide.

The Red Bulls then got two more set pieces in good spots on a legit foul on Perea and an extremely soft one on Urso. Nothing happened on the first, but Rowe made a good save on the second in the 77th minute to protect the lead.

Still, the Lions looked to counter when they could and substitute Kyle Smith — who came on for Ruan after the Brazilian took a heavy challenge from Tarek — sent in a cross for Nani, but the captain’s header was off target in the 81st minute.

DeZart joined the parade of injuries just before the end of regular time, leaving the game while holding his hamstring. Alex De John came on for him to try to see out six minutes of stoppage time, which seemed a bit much.

The Lions got the first good scoring opportunity in the added time, with Nani laying off for Urso at the top of the box but the shot was blocked by Parker.

New York got a couple of late corners and Orlando dealt with them, but the last one only protected the lead for a moment. The ball was knocked to the top of the area where a shot was blocked by Urso and bounced out about halfway between the top of the box and midfield, where Jason Pendant tried a desperation long-range shot. Pendant hit the ball poorly, but it ended up at the feet of White, who turned and fired through traffic and the ball slipped through the bodies and inside the back post for the heartbreaking equalizer.

“It was a corner, where we cleared them,” Pareja said. “The guy who hit the ball — he missed the ball. He just kicked it somewhere and it arrived with the forward.”

The Red Bulls immediately pushed for a game winner after the restart, but Orlando turned them over and the Lions were starting a possibly dangerous transition attack when Fischer blew the final whistle at just a few seconds beyond the original six.

Behind all of the pressure they could muster over the final 40 minutes, the Red Bulls turned the box score completely around, finishing with more shots (14-9), shots on target (4-3), corners (6-5), and possession (58.8%-41.2%), and the better passing accuracy (77%-72%).

“New York is not an easy place to come and play on the road,” Miller said. “They really turn up the intensity and it’s really a dogfight here, so for us to come in here and take them all the way to the dying seconds of the game shows how invested we are as a team defensively, everyone working hard, and that’s just football. Sometimes the ball bounces their way and that’s what happened.

“We clinched playoffs but we’re still not happy with the way we clinched playoffs. We feel like we need to start turning these draws into three points.”

Orlando City will be on the road again for its next match as the Lions head south to face Inter Miami on Saturday.

Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Jack Lynn

The 2022 draft pick spent most of his time with Orlando City B during his second year in purple.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Jack Lynn joined Orlando City through the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, when he was selected in the first round by the Lions with the No. 18 overall pick. He was then signed to a one-year deal in February of last year with options for the next three years. Much of his time during his first season was spent with Orlando City B, although he did make a few appearances for the first team.

Let’s take a look back at Lynn’s second year in purple.

Statistical Breakdown

Lynn made three appearances in Major League Soccer with the senior side, all of which came as a substitute, and finished with 33 minutes on the field. Defensively, he recorded one interception and two clearances, while committing one foul. Offensively, he won four aerial duels, took one shot, which was on target, drew two fouls, and completed three long balls while passing with 76% accuracy. He did not score a goal or assist on one.

As in 2022, the majority of Lynn’s season was spent in MLS Next PRO with Orlando City B. He had a phenomenal year in the developmental league, and his campaign finished with him being named the league’s MVP and winning the Golden Boot. He played in 27 games for the young Lions, 20 of which were starts, and racked up 1,826 minutes. Defensively, he recorded three interceptions, committed 16 fouls, and was shown four yellow cards. On offense, he took 72 shots and put 40 of them on target, scored 19 goals, drew 15 fouls, and passed with 74% accuracy while completing 13 long balls and 12 key passes but no assists.

Best Game

There weren’t a lot to pick from, but I’ve gone with his longest appearance of the year, which was a 20-minute shift during Orlando City’s 4-3 comeback win over the Columbus Crew. He didn’t record many statistics on the night, as he won two aerial duels, committed a foul, and passed with 50% accuracy. However, he provided a big target up front as the Lions continued to lump the ball forward in search of goals, and he factored in on Facundo Torres’ goal, pulling players away so Ramiro Enrique could collect the ball and start the move that ended with the ball in the back of the net. Michael Citro graded him as a 5 out of 10 in our Player Grades piece, the only game this year in which he received a grade.

2023 Final Grade

As he fell well short of the 450 minute threshold that we require for a player to be given, Lynn has been given a grade of incomplete for the 2023 season. After spending the bulk of his time with Orlando City B in his first two seasons as a Lion, we still don’t have a great idea of what he might be able to contribute to the first team, and we simply need to see more of him to get a better read on his abilities.

2024 Outlook

Lynn remains fairly young and inexpensive, has option years left on his contract, and just tore up MLS Next PRO with Orlando City B. With there being some whispers about overseas teams scouting Duncan McGuire, and the Lions already a little thin at the striker position, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Lynn’s option year exercised. What sort of role he’ll have will then likely depend on what he’s able to show during preseason, but if nothing else he should remain a key part of OCB.

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Lion Links: 12/8/23

Orlando City will play Flamengo in preseason friendly, Kylie Strom signs new deal, USMNT’s Copa America group draw, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Friday! The work week is almost over and I’m really looking forward to the weekend. I’ll be celebrating a friend’s birthday and knocking out most of the holiday shopping that I haven’t gotten around to just yet. Hopefully the malls aren’t too chaotic. Regardless, it should be a nice next few days. But for now, let’s get to the links!

Orlando Will Face Flamengo in 2024 FC Series

Orlando City’s first preseason game will take place on Jan. 27 when it takes on Flamengo at Camping World Stadium as part of the 2024 FC Series, which was previously known as the Florida Cup. Going up against one of Brazil’s powerhouses should be great preparation for the Lions after a record season in 2023 that earned them a spot in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup. It will be the second meeting between the two sides after a 2015 friendly in Brazil that Flamengo won 1-0. It will be nice to see the Lions in action at Camping World Stadium again and the kickoff time for next month’s match will be unveiled at a later time.

Kylie Strom Signs New Deal With Pride

Defender Kylie Strom, who was a free agent following the 2023 season, will return to the Orlando Pride after signing a three-year deal with the club. She joined the Pride in the summer of 2021 from Atletico Madrid and started in 26 games this past year, holding down the left back position. The Pride now retain their starting back line heading into 2024 and have full protection in Tuesday’s expansion draft. Although the defense struggled at times, it improved as the season wore on and the Pride nearly made the playoffs. Jordyn Listro is now the only free agent left from last year’s squad.

NWSL Announces Blueprint for 2024 Schedule

The framework for the 2024 NWSL season was revealed and the 182-match regular season has been formatted so that NWSL games don’t take place during international breaks. The biggest change is that the NWSL Challenge Cup is no longer a tournament and now just a match between the NWSL Shield winner and the NWSL champion, meaning San Diego Wave FC will play NJ/NY Gotham FC on March 15. However, there will be a weekend tournament organized by the league for all 14 teams during a break in the regular season while the Summer Olympics take place. The playoffs will feature eight teams and won’t include byes this year, with the quarterfinals starting on Nov. 9 and the NWSL Championship set for Nov. 23. Clubs can begin their preseason camps as early as Jan. 22 and no later than Jan. 29.

Copa America Teams Learn Their Groups

The United States Men’s National Team will take on Uruguay, Panama, and Bolivia in its group in the 2024 Copa America. Uruguay was one of the strongest opponents the U.S. could get drawn against, as the South American team has scored 13 goals so far in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. The important match between the USMNT and Uruguay will take place on July 1 in Kansas City. We’ll see how much Orlando City winger Facundo Torres plays for Uruguay in the tournament. As for Orlando’s Peruvian pair of Pedro Gallese and Wilder Cartagena, Peru is in a tough group against Argentina, Chile, and whichever nation prevails between Canada and Trinidad & Tobago.

We also have a clearer idea on which teams will be playing in Orlando. Two games will take place at Exploria Stadium, with Chile playing either Canada or Trinidad & Tobago on June 29 before Bolivia and Panama face off on July 1.

Gisele Thompson Signs With Angel City FC

Angel City FC signed young defender Gisele Thompson to a three-year contract that had this year count as the first year, with an option for an additional year in 2026. She turned 18 earlier this month and turned down an offer to play at Stanford to instead sign with Angel City, meaning the club did not need to use a draft pick for her to join. Gisele is the sister of Alyssa Thompson, who Angel City traded up to select with the first pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft. They are the youngest players on Angel City’s roster and will become the second pair of sisters to play in the league.

Free Kicks

  • The Colorado Rapids are reportedly in talks with American goalkeeper Zack Steffen to sign him from Manchester City.

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

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Favian Loyola

The Homegrown midfielder spent most of the year with OCB but made his MLS debut in July.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City signed midfielder Favian Loyola to a Homegrown Player deal through 2025 on Dec. 2, 2022, with club options for 2026 and 2027. The OCSC Academy product became the club’s 13th all-time Homegrown signing and it was no surprise after his fantastic 2022 season. The Camp Lejeune, NC, was coming off a breakout year in the club’s youth system, which culminated with his selection to the 2022 MLS NEXT All-Star Game, in which he was named MVP. After starting the 2022 season on an academy contract, Loyola earned an MLS NEXT Pro deal, signing it last August. When he signed his Homegrown deal in December he became the first player to climb the club’s developmental ladder from the academy, to the current OCB setup in MLS NEXT Pro, to the first team.

Let’s take a look back at Loyola’s 2023 campaign, which was abbreviated due to surgery on his arm to remove a blood clot on Aug. 27.

Statistical Breakdown

Loyola played in just one MLS match with the Lions, making his first-team debut July 1 in a 3-1 home win over the Chicago Fire. The 18-year-old came on as a substitute in the third minute of stoppage time for Facundo Torres and is officially credited with one minute played, although that match went to nine minutes of stoppage. In that short amount of time he managed six touches and attempted six passes, completing all of them — one of them being a key pass. Loyola did not attempt a shot or record any defensive stats, but he did commit one foul, but he was not booked for it.

The bulk of Loyola’s 2023 season was spent with Orlando City B in MLS NEXT Pro, where he was a key player off the bench for Martin Perelman’s side. He appeared in 20 of the team’s 28 matches, starting seven, and logging 732 minutes. He scored two goals and added three assists, putting 10 of his 21 shots on target during the year. Loyola completed 80.3% of his passes with OCB, served up seven key passes and six successful long balls, and completed three crosses. He recorded four tackles and three interceptions, committed 11 fouls while drawing 10, and was booked three times.

Best Game

With just the one MLS match to his credit, Loyola’s MLS debut against Chicago was his best game of the 2023 Major League Soccer Season. It was a memorable match, as he subbed on for Torres, who set the tone for the Lions with a brace that night, and it was also the game in which Mauricio Pereyra made his 100th appearance with Orlando City. Loyola made the most of his short amount of time on the pitch, despite committing a foul during his first minute of MLS play. He settled in and completed all six of his passes and created a scoring chance just seconds after his foul, when he sent a ball to Ramiro Enrique, although the Argentine had his shot attempt blocked from a tight angle.

2023 Final Grade

As Loyola came up short of the minimum total of 450 minutes played to receive a rating on our 1-10 scale, The Mane Land has no choice but to mark his grade as incomplete for the 2023 season. If his meteoric growth continues, Loyola will likely have much more than one appearance next season as his skills at passing and finding pockets of space translate well to the next level. He wasn’t able to return to the pitch after the surgery for his blood clot, but he should be ready to go for 2024.

2024 Outlook

With Loyola being just 18 years old and the club having him under contract, I would expect his role to be the same in 2024. He’ll be learning the ropes with OCB, playing most of the season with the club’s reserve side in MLS NEXT Pro, where he will continue to be a key player. However, if he continues to develop his game, he could push for more late substitute appearances with the first team or even get a start if the Lions draw a lower-league team in the U.S. Open Cup. One thing Loyola will need to work on is controlling the ball, as he turned the ball over 15 times with OCB in 2023.

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