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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Final Score 2-1 as 10-Man Lions Win to Clinch Home Playoff Match

Nani was sent off on an absurd call but the Lions refused to quit and beat the Crew at home.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Things looked bad for Orlando City when Nani was sent off in the second half and the Columbus Crew tied the game moments later. But the Lions showed resilience and Benji Michel scored a late winner in a 2-1 victory at Exploria Stadium. Orlando (11-3-8, 41 points) clinched a home playoff game with the win and can finish no worse than fourth in the Eastern Conference. It was the Lions’ fourth consecutive win over the Crew (11-6-5, 38 points), who still haven’t won a road match in 2020.

Chris Mueller opened the scoring, but Harrison Afful equalized just after Nani was sent off when referee Ramy Touchan inexplicably ruled that he had erred in giving the captain only a yellow card for a challenge that didn’t even look like much of a foul. Nevertheless, the Lions were able to find a second goal after that and prevent the Crew from getting good looks at goal down the stretch.

It was the first time Orlando City had gone down a man and then went on to score a goal to win a game.

“Tonight it’s an honor for me to coach these guys and I give the credit to them,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja after the match. “It was their heart, and the three points against a very good rival. And we secured a spot for the playoffs and a home game, which is another objective accomplished.”

Pareja’s lineup included Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Andres Perea and Junior Urso played central midfield with Mauricio Pereyra dropping into available pockets. Nani and Mueller bracketed Tesho Akindele in the attack. Daryl Dike had the night off due to a non-COVID-related illness.

Orlando City had a dominant first half against the visitors but repeatedly missed the target, made the wrong final decision, or saw a shot saved by Eloy Room. The Lions kept the ball in the Crew half for much of the first 45 minutes and fashioned several good scoring chances but could only cash in on one of them.

Jonathan Mensah’s poor pass led to a golden opportunity for Orlando in the 10th minute. His pass was picked off by Mueller, who spotted Akindele breaking in down the left. But he gave Tesho too soft a pass, which allowed the defense to come in from behind and deflect it away.

Moments later, there were shouts for handball on Pedro Santos and it did appear that the ball hit the Columbus winger on the arm, but nothing was called and there appeared to be no video review at the next stoppage of play.

The Lions should have gone in front in the 14th minute when Urso was left wide open at the penalty spot. He took the pass, turned to goal and fired just wide under no pressure at all.

Orlando continued to fire shots off defenders, high, or wide of the net from good spots over the next several minutes. But the Lions finally broke through in the 26th minute. Pereyra got in the way of a Harrison Afful pass and fed to Mueller, who fired home his 10th goal to open the scoring. Pereyra took sole possession of the team’s assist lead with his seventh.

Smith nearly scored on consecutive shots in the 30th but was robbed blind by Room, who made a pair of outstanding saves to keep the game at 1-0.

Lucas Zelarayan headed a shot at Gallese in the 40th minute after the Crew’s first spell of sustained pressure. That was the last decent look for either side in the opening period and the Lions held their slim advantage at the break.

Orlando led in shots (10-5), shots on target (3-2), corners (6-0), passing accuracy (87%-80%), and possession (57%-43%). At one point before Mueller’s goal, the Lions had held more than 60% of the ball, before Columbus had a late spell of possession.

Shortly after the restart, the game changed dramatically. Nani went to ground while seemingly winning the ball, but he caught a Crew player on the follow through. Touchan gave him a yellow card and awarded a free kick to Columbus in a dangerous area. It was a bit surprising to even see him go to the monitor, but he did, and it was even more surprising when he showed Nani a straight red. Orlando went down to 10 men in the 52nd minute.

“We reviewed it. Nothing happened,” Pareja said of the play. “We all make mistakes and we assume this is a part of the game. The game gives us the possibility to be fair, and we have to be fair. It was not a red card.”

Columbus equalized four minutes after Nani left the pitch. The ball deflected off of Smith and got headed into the area. It fell for Pedro Santos, who laid off for Afful to smash into the net past Gallese, tying the game at 1-1 in the 56th minute. The momentum had changed and it seemed like the Crew might go on to take all three points.

Orlando City played with great determination after conceding and prevented the Crew from getting good looks at goal, even though they were on the ball a lot more. The Lions looked for opportunities to hit on the counter through Michel after came on in the 70th for Akindele, who had worked tirelessly all night on the press and also with his hold-up play and timely runs.

Michel won a free kick with his first touch of the match and the Lions again thought the Crew handled the ball in the box, as the ball appeared to ping off the arm of Aboubacar Keita. Touchan reviewed the play this time but ruled that there was no foul for handball in the area.

Pereyra lofted a long ball for Michel in the 84th goal to start the winning sequence. With his back to goal, Michel headed the ball up and behind himself, then turned inside of Keita and got to the ball first, chesting it down and slotting home his fifth goal of the season between Room’s legs, restoring Orlando City’s lead.

“It just means a lot, being able to reach this accomplishment in front of my friends, my family, the city I grew up in,” Michel said, when asked what it meant to him as a Homegrown Player to give his team its first ever home playoff game with the goal. “It’s just a feeling that you just cannot describe it’s just so many emotions going into it.”

Pereyra notched his eighth assist of the season on the play. He said after the game that he knew he was going to be subbed off soon, and he was tired, but he wanted to try one more time to spring Michel.

“I say, ‘okay this maybe will be my last ball,’ so that’s why I tried to shoot over the defender,” Pereyra said. “And then Benji made the rest, of course. He controlled, he’s fast, he made the difference, and then he scored. It’s great for him and for us.”

City did well from that point on to keep the Crew on the fringes of the area, and Columbus settled for lumping balls into the box, where the Lions had five defenders waiting every time. After an interminable eight minutes of stoppage time, Touchan blew the final whistle and Orlando had its third win in a row.

For the game, the Lions out-shot the Crew (13-11), with both teams getting four on target. With the extra man for most of the second half, Columbus was able to take the possession advantage (50.7%-49.3%), but Orlando was the more accurate passing team (85%-83%).

“I think they have done a great job on overcoming many obstacles,” Pareja said of his team’s play in 2020. “Since we got here, what I have seen is just this side of the players. They know the challenges will come and they know that we were not at the beginning of the season the team where everybody was expecting big things. And I think they they understood that and they embraced that barrier and, and they overcome [it] together, as a group.”

Orlando City’s four straight wins against the Crew marks the first time in club history that the Lions have beaten an opponent four times in a row.

“Today was a heavy day for us. It was difficult, and I think we showed again that we can keep thinking about big things for Orlando City,” Pareja said.

Orlando City will close the regular season Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. when the Lions host Nashville SC. Nani will miss that match unless the red card is rescinded, and Pereyra will miss the match due to yellow card accumulation.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/23/24

Ivan Angulo makes Team of the Matchday bench, Americans in action, Sergino Dest to miss Copa America, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It was an excellent weekend for Orlando’s soccer teams, as the three sides took seven of the nine points on offer. There’s no rest for the wicked this week as the Orlando Pride travel to play the Washington Spirit on Friday, Orlando City hosts Toronto FC on Saturday, and Orlando City B finishes things up at home against Toronto FC II on Sunday. Let’s take a look at today’s links.

Ivan Angulo Earns Recognition

Ivan Angulo has been named to the bench of the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. The Colombian got the start on Saturday up in Montreal, and had a good game, going the distance and completing 82% of his passes and putting one of his two shots on target. That shot was an important one, as it gave the Lions a late equalizer and helped them salvage a valuable point on the road. Sean Rollins gave him a grade of 6 in his player grades from the match, a rating that likely would have been higher had Martin Ojeda’s pass been accurate enough to allow Angulo to grab a possible winner just a few minutes after he equalized. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Americans in Midweek Action

There are a number of Americans taking part in big games this week, and the good people over at Stars and Stripes FC have you covered with the whole rundown. First up, Weston McKennie, Tim Weah, and Juventus will try to advance to the Coppa Italia final this afternoon, as they enter the second leg of the semifinal against Lazio with a 2-0 lead on aggregate. Tomorrow sees Monaco and Folarin Balogun meet Lille in Ligue 1 action, while Chris Richards and Crystal Palace host Newcastle United in the Premier League. Things wrap up on Friday in Serie B when Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessman, and third-place Venezia face Cremonese as they try to overtake Como and finish in one of Serie B’s two guaranteed promotion places.

Sergino Dest Sidelined Long Term

Following up on a story from yesterday’s Lion Links, The Athletic is reporting that the knee injury suffered by Sergino Dest will keep him out of Copa America, and sideline him for the rest of the year. That would be a big blow for the United States Men’s National Team, as Dest has been the nailed-on starter at right back since winning a place in the team during the qualifying cycle for the 2022 World Cup. The Yanks aren’t without options at the position, as Joe Scally could step in for Dest, or Gregg Berhalter could try deploying Weah there, but neither of the two possesses Dest’s level of offensive threat.

Inter Milan Wins Serie A

Inter Milan dispatched rival AC Milan 2-1 guaranteed that Inter will win its 20th Serie A title in club history. Fikayo Tomori’s goal in the 80th minute was the closest Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah’s club could get to leveling the score, and Inter is now a whopping 17 points clear of AC Milan with five games left to play. Inter has been imperious on its way to a 20th Scudetto, scoring the most goals in the league while also conceding the fewest and losing only once this season.

Free Kicks

  • The Orlando Pride and Orlando City hosted a clean-up effort in honor of Earth Day on Monday.

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with CF Montreal?



Image courtesy of Orlando City / Mark Thor

Orlando City scored in second-half injury time for the second consecutive weekend to claim points. However, this time it was an equalizer as the Lions drew CF Montreal 2-2 north of the border. The Lions ended their two-game road trip with four points and extended their points streak to four games after dropping three straight. It’s an improvement as they look to climb up the Eastern Conference standings.

Here’s how I saw the individual performances in the draw.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 5.5 — Gallese conceded a pair of goals in this game, though neither were necessarily his fault. The first was a breakaway after Robin Jansson kept Mason Toye onside and the second was blocked wide, but Kyle Smith was caught flat-footed. However, he did concede twice while saving three of Montreal’s five shots on target. Additionally, the Lions’ goalkeeper completed 55.6% of his 27 passes, including eight of his 20 long balls.

D, Kyle Smith, 5.5 — Smith had a solid game other than one specific play. The left back had a team-high 86 touches and completed 78.3% of his 60 passes, including five of his 12 long balls. Defensively, he recorded two tackles, two clearances, an interception, and a blocked shot. Unfortunately, his most impactful play was getting caught watching on a Gallese block while Ariel Lassiter beat him to the rebound to give the hosts a late lead. That play lowers his grade for this otherwise quality performance.

D, Robin Jansson, 5.5 — Similar to Smith, Jansson had a solid game apart from one play. He had 72 touches and completed 79.7% of his 59 passes, including a key pass and three of his 14 long balls. He added a tackle, an interception, a blocked shot, and a team-high seven clearances to his stat sheet. But his failure to step up in the 16th minute enabled Toye to get behind the back line and score the opening goal, lowering his grade.

D, David Brekalo, 6 — Brekalo has proven himself to be the first-choice partner for Jansson and he was arguably the better center back in Montreal. The Slovenian international had 53 touches and completed 85.1% of his 47 passes, including two of his five long balls. The defender recorded two tackles, an interception, and three clearances defensively in a strong performance.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Thorhallsson was in his usual right back position for this game, playing 90 minutes and recording 44 touches. He completed 82.8% of his 29 passes, but only one of his four long balls and neither of his two crosses. He cleared the ball twice and didn’t really get into the attack, but was solid in his defensive duties.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 6.5 (MotM) — This was possibly Cartagena’s best performance of the season. His 85 touches were second-most on the team and he completed 76.5% of his team-high 68 passes, including a key pass and two of his six long balls. It was his shielding of Nathan Saliba and strong pass forward for Duncan McGuire that started the last goal, though he didn’t get an assist. The defensive midfielder was also active defensively with five tackles and three interceptions, and he won a pair of aerial duels. His overall performance earns him my Man of the Match.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6.5 — Araujo had a similar performance to Cartagena, but fewer touches and more accurate passing. He recorded 55 touches and completed 93.9% of his 49 passes, including a key pass. He was less active than his partner defensively, recording three tackles, and was booked in the 63rd minute.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — Angulo had one of his better performances in this one, recording 48 touches and completing 82.1% of his 39 passes. His biggest impact on the game came two minutes into second-half stoppage time, when he connected with an excellent Martin Ojeda cross to even the game at 2-2. He nearly scored a winner five minutes later, but the pass from Ojeda was just a bit too far for him. His goal was one of his two shots and the only one on target.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6 — Lodeiro’s 45 touches were the fewest of the Orlando City midfield, but he did the most with them. The playmaker completed 91.4% of his 35 passes, including a key pass, but couldn’t connect on his long ball or either of his two crosses. He was also caught offside and dispossessed twice before being replaced by Ojeda in the 77th minute.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6 — Torres’ 65 touches were the most in the Lions’ midfield and the fourth most on the team. He completed 83.7% of his 49 passes, but didn’t connect on his two crosses or four long balls. The attacker took three shots and put one on target. In the 22nd minute, the midfielder stepped up and buried his second penalty of the season and ninth as a Lion, continuing her perfect record from the spot.

F, Luis Muriel, 6 — While Oscar Pareja had previously been starting Muriel behind McGuire, the forward got the start alone up top for the second consecutive game. He had 34 touches and completed 68.4% of his 19 passes, including his lone long ball but neither of his two crosses. His biggest impact on the game came in the 20th minute, when he tipped the ball past Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois, drawing the penalty that resulted in the first equalizer. He also had a shot of his own, but it was off target.


F, Duncan McGuire (63’), 6 — McGuire came on in the 63rd minute for Muriel. He had 16 touches in 27 minutes, completing eight of his 10 passes (80%) with a key pass. His lone shot came in the 90th minute, when Jansson headed the ball over to him and he probably should’ve equalized, but his volley was just wide. The striker also won three aerial duels.

MF, Martin Ojeda (77’), 6.5 — Ojeda came on in the 77th minute for Lodeiro and, similar to Lodeiro last week, made a big difference. He had 15 touches and completed four of his six passes (66.7%), including a key pass. Two minutes into second-half injury time, his excellent cross found Angulo, who touched it in for the equalizer. Five minutes later, he had another great cross that nearly found Angulo for the winner, but was just out of his reach.

D, Rafael Santos (85’), 6 — Santos came on in the 85th minute for Torres as the Lions looked to see out a point. He had nine touches and completed two of his three passes (66.7%), but didn’t connect on his cross or long ball. Coming on to assure the defense, Santos did his job as he recorded a tackle, an interception, and two clearances.

This is how I saw Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with CF Montreal. Let us know how you saw the game and don’t forget to vote for your Man of the Match.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/22/24

Orlando City draws CF Montreal, Pride and OCB win, FA Cup drama, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. Orlando City drew, while the Pride and OCB both won over the weekend. I had friends in town, so I went to Wrigley Field to check out a Cubs game and show them around Chicago. Let’s wish former Orlando City midfielder Kaka and Pride defender Brianna Martinez a happy birthday! There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Draw at CF Montreal

Orlando City again had to overcome a 2-1 deficit on the road when it faced CF Montreal Saturday night. The Lions needed a late stoppage-time goal from Ivan Angulo to walk out of Stade Saputo with a 2-2 draw. Orlando has now picked up points in each of the last four matches. Orlando City will face CF Montreal again on July 26 in the MLS Leagues Cup during the competition’s group stage. The Lions’ next match will be Saturday at Inter&Co Stadium as it takes on Toronto FC.

Orlando Pride Defeat San Diego Wave

The Orlando Pride shut out the San Diego Wave 1-0 on Friday at Inter&Co Stadium and got their second consecutive win with that same scoreline. Summer Yates scored the lone goal in the first half to seal the win for Orlando. Zambian international striker Barbra Banda made her debut for the Pride, coming off the bench in the second half. The Pride remain undefeated through five league matches and are fifth in the NWSL table with nine points. The team will be on the road to face the Washington Spirit Friday.

OCB Wins on the Road at Crown Legacy FC

Orlando City B got a 2-0 win against Crown Legacy FC at the Sportsplex at Matthews on Friday. Alex Freeman and Shak Mohammed scored for the Young Lions, and Javier Otero made six saves. OCB completed its two-match road trip, securing four out of a possible six points, and has kept its unbeaten streak on the road alive at four matches. OCB is in fifth in the MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference with nine points, while Crown Legacy is winless in five matches. OCB will be back in action this Sunday as it hosts Toronto FC II at Osceola County Stadium.

Manchester United and Manchester City Advance to FA Cup Final

Manchester United won 4-2 on penalties after a 3-3 draw against Coventry City in the FA Cup semifinals to advance to the final. It was a thrilling match at Wembley as United had a 3-0 lead before Coventry City rallied to get back into the match. USMNT forward Haji Wright scored the equalizer to tie the match 3-3 late into stoppage time. Coventry City thought it scored the game-winning goal late into extra time from Victor Torp, but it was ruled offside after video review. Casemiro missed his penalty for United, while Wright and Torp gave Coventry City a 2-1 advantage. United converted four straight penalties while Coventry City missed two to seal the win for the Red Devils. Manchester City edged past Chelsea 1-0 in their semifinal matchup, with Bernardo Silva scoring the lone goal in the second half. The FA Cup final will be played at the end of May and will feature a Manchester Derby for the second consecutive time.

Free Kicks

  • In case you missed it, check out this video on Orlando City’s social media page on Ivan Angulo’s equalizer to tie the match in stoppage time against CF Montreal on Saturday.

According to OptaJack, the Pride have secured the most points at home during the regular season since last May, with 26.

  • USMNT defender Sergino Dest suffered a knee injury during training with PSV Eindhoven over the weekend. Dest will miss the remainder of the Eredivisie season and could miss the 2024 Copa America this summer.
  • Real Madrid came back from being 2-1 down to defeat Barcelona 3-2 and stay ahead of its rivals by 11 points with six league matches left.
  • Bayer Leverkusen extended its unbeaten run to 45 matches after scoring a late goal from Josip Stanisic in stoppage time to get a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund.
  • Serie A side Udinese is reportedly set to hire former Juventus and Real Madrid player Fabio Cannavaro as its next head coach.

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

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