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Orlando City vs. Toronto FC: Five Takeaways

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Orlando City played its third opponent this season that it didn’t face in 2020 and is now 3-0-0 in those matches after Saturday night’s 1-0 win over Toronto FC. It was a familiar script as the Lions scored early and then simply didn’t allow themselves or their opponents to score from that point on. That script worked at D.C. United last weekend and did so again vs. the Reds. The only difference is the Lions were able to create more on the counter against Toronto, even if they couldn’t capitalize on those chances.

So, what did we learn from Orlando’s first win over Toronto since July of 2018?

Pedro Says No

Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese is in a fantastic groove following back-to-back shutout wins. While he wasn’t forced to make many stops at D.C., he came home and faced more opportunities against Toronto. The Reds fired 18 total shots and got six of them on target and some of them were tricky. Notably, his first-half save that changed directions on him was difficult but he made it look easy. He made five saves, took command of his box, and helped his defenders relieve pressure all night. Gallese is one of the league’s best goalkeepers and it’s only a matter of time before the rest of country starts acknowledging that.

Who Needs Starting Fullbacks?

With Ruan and Joao Moutinho unavailable, Oscar Pareja turned to regular backup Kyle Smith at right back and Rodrigo Schlegel on the left. With Yeferson Soteldo and Richie Laryea both being shifty and fast flank players, they had the toughest assignment of the night. It wasn’t perfect. Soteldo fizzed 14 crosses into the area over the course of the night, often shifting directions on Smith to free himself to get to the end line first. Laryea made Schlegel look silly a few times but overall the Argentine kept the former Lion in check, limiting him to one key pass, three total crosses (one accurate), and no shot attempts. Considering what they were asked to do, Smith and Schlegel performed extremely well and that’s not too surprising given how they’ve played — wherever they’ve been deployed — since the season started.

Van der Water Makes a Splash

Silvester van der Water made his first MLS start and it was a bright one. Having played only 25 minutes in Major League Soccer entering Saturday, van der Water contributed more than twice that number in his initial Orlando City start and was the team’s most dangerous man. He tied Tesho Akindele for the most shot attempts (3), assisted on the game’s only goal with his key pass, completed one dribble, and drew two free kicks. The Dutchman is still adjusting to the league and learning his teammates’ tendencies, but his first start was an exceedingly promising one.

Signs of Improvement

Orlando City struggled to play through D.C.’s press a week ago and Toronto saw that film and came into Exploria Stadium prepared to press high. The Lions dealt with it well and didn’t get pinned in their own half for long stretches as they had the prior week. Toronto, and particularly Michael Bradley, did a fantastic job of surrounding Orlando’s midfielders and creating double teams to poke the ball away but City was more calm on the ball and found alleys to play through. When they gained possession, the Lions also did a better job of springing transition opportunities on Saturday. There were multiple opportunities to counter attack and put the game out of reach. Unfortunately, the finishing wasn’t there. Akindele was closed down from behind and didn’t get a clean shot off on one opportunity and Alex Bono made a great save to deny Benji Michel on another.

The Beef is Back!

Robin Jansson returned last week when Pareja went to a three-man back line between his fullbacks to see out the win at D.C. This week, the Beefy Swede got the start at his normal left center back position and went a full 90, which couldn’t have been easy against the likes of Jozy Altidore, Ayo Akinola, and Soteldo. Jansson had a strong game, including a vital intervention when Soteldo chipped the ball over Gallese and got loose in the box. He admitted after the game that he felt a bit rusty and thought he should have done better, but he looked strong. He and Antonio Carlos — who himself had another standout game — were positioned well on set pieces (and Toronto had a lot of those) and had no communication breakdowns and very few nervy moments overall.


Those are the things that stood out to me. I could have added a sixth takeaway about the need for more clinical finishing, but that’s beating a dead horse after six matches. What did you see that you liked or didn’t like?

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Nashville SC: Final Score 3-0 as Lions’ Offense Continues to Roar

The Lions climbed to .500 on the season with their fourth consecutive victory and picked up their fourth straight shutout win over Nashville.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City scored two first-half goals on set pieces and added an insurance goal late, beating Nashville SC 3-0 at Geodis Park in Nashville, TN. Cesar Araujo and Ramiro Enrique scored for the Lions (9-9-6, 33 points), who also got an own goal off Alex Muyl’s face in the first half, as Orlando won its fourth straight match overall and its fourth consecutive game — all via shutout — against Nashville SC (6-10-8, 26 points).

The Lions improved to 6-4-3 on the road this season, remain unbeaten on the road against Nashville in the regular season (2-0-3), and also kept their second clean sheet in three matches.

“We are really happy indeed with the results, but most importantly with the seriousness of the team, the discipline, the responsibility that the boys have had in bouncing back from those difficult moments,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “I thought we played a very serious game.”

Pareja made just one change from the starting lineup that beat the New England Revolution on Saturday. Pedro Gallese started in goal behind a back line of Rafael Santos — replacing Kyle Smith at left back — Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. The central midfield pairing of Araujo and Wilder Cartagena lined up behind an attacking midfield line of Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, and Facundo Torres, with Enrique up top.

The opening moments were sloppy for both teams, but Nashville handled it better, getting a couple of early shots away. Helping the hosts out a bit with that was Santos’ two early turnovers. Araujo blocked Teal Bunbury’s effort in the third minute and Hany Mukhtar sent a blast right at Gallese from outside the box a minute later.

Orlando’s first promising attack came in the 11th minute, with Ojeda finding Torres in the box. The Uruguayan got onto it but got under it and sent it over the bar. Five minutes later, Thorhallsson sent a good ball across the field outside the box for Cartagena to run onto, however, the Peruvian got well under his effort and sent it high into the stands.

The Lions found the opener on a set piece won when Alex Muyl pulled back Enrique on a promising attack and the Nashville winger picked up a yellow card. Ojeda delivered a great ball to the back post, where both Teal Bunbury and Sean Davis expected the other to track Araujo’s run. Neither did, and Araujo headed the ball down and past Joe Willis to score his first goal of the season in the 19th minute.

“It’s always great to be able to score, but when you go into a game, the first thing you want is to help your team win in any way possible,” Araujo said. “With Martin, I knew very clearly the type of touch that he has, especially when he hits the ball like that. So, I just ran to the area that they always ask me to run to, and when I saw the ball coming to me, I just tried to get my head to it, and thankfully it went in.”

Following the goal, Nashville had a spell of attacking pressure, winning a few set pieces. The hosts should perhaps have leveled the game when Jack Maher was left unmarked on a pick play during a corner kick cross. The big defender had a free header but sent it wide to the left of goal in the 25th minute.

Angulo showed off his wheels in the 29th minute, blazing past defender Josh Bauer down the left channel Bauer reached out and grabbed him, picking up a yellow card, but this time Nashville was able to clear Ojeda’s service.

Ojeda made a great move in the corner to discard Shaq Moore in the 31st minute before crossing the ball into the box for Torres. The Uruguayan got his shot on target but couldn’t get much on it and Willis was able to save it.

Orlando doubled the lead in the 40th minute. Ojeda did well to shield the ball and win a free kick on the left. The Argentine then sent in a beautiful cross for Torres. Before it could reach Torres, the ball hit off the head of Maher, bounced off the face of Muyl, and ricocheted past Willis to make it 2-0. Own goal or not, it was Ojeda’s cross that created problems for Nashville.

“What’s happening with Martin now is that he’s performing with consistency,” Pareja said. “And the dedication that he has for his work and for his team is bringing those results. I have to recognize that Martin has helped us a lot in this part of the season that we needed to bounce back, and he has been a protagonist.”

The goal was a historic one for Orlando City, as it gave the club a seventh consecutive match scoring multiple goals — the longest such streak in club history. Orlando City has scored an incredible 21 goals in its last seven matches, averaging three per game since starting the multi-goal-game streak at Charlotte June 19.

Neither side got a clear-cut look for the rest of the opening period, and the Lions took their two-goal advantage to the lockerroom.

The Lions held the advantage at the break in possession (52.6%-47.4%), passing accuracy (87.4%-86.2%), and shots on target (2-1). Nashville won more corners (3-0), and both teams attempted four shots in the half.

The teams played a disjointed first 15 minutes of the second half. Orlando City looked to be intentional in its attack with the lead on the road, waiting for counterattacking opportunities. At the least sign of resistance, the Lions recycled the ball backward and probed for a cleaner opportunity. However, Orlando did well during that spell to limit Nashville’s attack as well. Neither side was able to register a shot.

Shortly after the hour mark, both teams got chances. Bunbury sent a volley attempt over the bar on a Nashville long throw in the 67th minute. Moments later, Angulo won a ball and sent in Torres on the right but Willis was able to smother his shot in the 69th.

Each team got another chance in the 72nd minute. Off a corner kick, the Lions cleared the ball to the top of the box. Amar Sejdic got to it and fired a shot between Schlegel’s legs, but Gallese caught it and ignited the break with a long outlet to Angulo. The Colombian found second-half sub Nico Lodeiro breaking but again Willis got big and couldn’t be beaten.

Enrique sealed the deal in the 81st minute. Angulo did well to get forward and played a ball for Muriel at the top of the area. Muriel’s shot was blocked by the defense, but Angulo picked up the rebound and poked it through traffic to Enrique on the right. The Argentine smoked a shot past Willis, off the bottom of the crossbar, and in from a tight angle to make it 3-0. It was the third straight match with a goal for Enrique.

“Enrique had a very rocky season so far, because first he got hurt. He had some physical problems with injuries. After that he had to go and receive his green card and it took a little bit of a time longer than we wanted,” Pareja said. “But his attitutde in the training ground and, similar to Martin (Ojeda), his dedication to the group is fantastic. So, I’m so happy to finally see the player that we brought here —the player that has instincts to score goals, but the player that is working for his teammates all the time. And that’s the characteristic of our team. That’s the culture that we had seen in this club, and he’s representing it well.”

Bunbury did well to take in a hot cross from Shaq Moore in the 86th minute, held off Jansson, and fired a shot, but it was off line and hit teammate Mukhtar.

It was a quiet night for Mukhtar, who managed only two shot attempts, putting one on frame, but he failed to threaten goal as he has done against Orlando so often prior to the Lions’ current four-game streak in the series.

“We know that Hany Mukhtar is a great player. He’s certainly one of the best players in the league, and we know how dangerous he can be,” Araujo said. “So, whenever we go to play him, we know that between Wilder and myself, one of us always has to be on him when they have the ball. And if it’s me, then I know Wilder is behind me, ready to take him. If Wilder’s there, I’m ready, moving into position to help defend. If he’s able to get by both of us, we know the defense is ready to step in and cut the ball away from him and really take him out of the game as much as possible.”

Defensive substitutions Jeorgio Kocevski and David Brekalo came on to help Orlando City see out the match.

Nashville had more misfortune than the loss, as second-half substitutions Dru Yearwood and Tyler Boyd each had to leave the game with injuries in the second half. Boyd was stretchered off in stoppage time and Nashville was out of subs. The hosts had to finish the match with 10 men.

It appeared that Forster Ajago pulled one back late in stoppage time, but he was clearly offside. The flag came up immediately after the ball went in and it was confirmed on review by the video assistant referee. That was about the last action of the match and the Lions had their fourth consecutive victory and fifth in six games.

Nashville turned around the possession advantage by the end of the game (50.3%-49.7%) as the hosts were chasing the match throughout the second period. The hosts also had more corners (6-1). Orlando City finished with more shots (9-8) and shots on target (5-2). Both teams passed at the same 85.5% success rate.

“We knew we had to come into this game continuing to put the work in and continuing to elevate the level that we have been playing,” Araujo said. “We started off the game really well, and we continue to raise the level of what we had been, and this team has never stopped working hard, even when the results weren’t falling for us. We continue to work hard and really just continue to push as one group.”


The Lions have another short week as they return home to host New York City FC on Saturday.

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Nashville SC: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions close out a two-game road trip with a visit to Tennessee.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to your match thread for a Wednesday night matchup between Orlando City (8-9-6, 30 points) and Nashville SC (6-9-8, 26 points) at Geodis Park in Nashville, TN (8:30 p.m., FS1, free on Apple TV+). It’s the first of two scheduled meetings between the teams this season, with Nashville set to make the return trip to Orlando on Aug. 31.

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

History

The Lions are 2-2-4 against Nashville in MLS regular-season matches and 4-3-5 in all competitions. Orlando is 1-0-3 on the road in the series in league play and 2-1-3 away in all competitions.

Orlando City last met Nashville SC at Geodis Park on Nov. 7, 2023 in the second game of a best-of-three, first-round playoff series. The Lions got an early goal from Ivan Angulo in a 1-0 win to sweep the series. Orlando City drew first blood in the series by beating Nashville 1-0 on Oct. 30, 2023 at Exploria Stadium. Wilder Cartagena’s blast from outside the area hit the underside of the crossbar near the right corner and bounced in for the game’s only score.

The teams last met in the regular season on Oct. 4, 2023 with Orlando City stealing a 1-0 win in Music City on Duncan McGuire’s goal just before halftime. That was one of only two shot attempts by the Lions all night and the only one on target. Orlando played well defensively and Pedro Gallese didn’t have to make a save as the hosts didn’t put any shots on frame.

Nashville visited Orlando back on April 1 of last year at Exploria Stadium and it was the visitors who made fools of the Lions, as Nashville won, 2-0. Fafa Picault and Hany Mukhtar did the damage for Nashville.

The teams did not face each other in regular-season play the year before, meeting only in the U.S. Open Cup in Orlando on June 29, 2022. Mukhtar scored in the second half, and that looked like it would be enough until Rodrigo Schlegel equalized deep in stoppage time. After a scoreless 30 minutes of extra time, the Lions won the ensuing penalty shootout, 6-4.

These sides met in the 2021 postseason in Tennessee, with Orlando scoring first through Daryl Dike’s early goal, but Nashville won 3-1 on Nov. 23, 2021 to knock the Lions out of the playoffs. Mukhtar tied it up before halftime on a fluky deflected goal off of Antonio Carlos and then put his team up in the 74th minute on a counterattack. Jhonder Cadiz put things away deep in stoppage time.

The teams met in Orlando on Oct. 31, 2021 and ended in a 1-1 draw after referee Allen Chapman’s Halloween Heist chalked off Andres Perea’s apparent stoppage-time winner. The referee’s excuse for overturning the goal was an imagined foul on Dike, who, if anything, was the fouled party. The decision cost the Lions a valuable home playoff match, which instead sent Orlando to Nashville. Mukhtar scored for Nashville to equalize in the second half after Dike’s first-half goal.

The teams met in Nashville on Sept. 29, 2021 with a late rally by the Lions earning the team a 2-2 road draw at Nissan Stadium. The hosts had taken a 2-0 lead on goals by Mukhtar — scoring off the rebound of his own saved penalty — and Randall Leal, but a penalty by Dike and a stoppage-time own goal by Brian Anunga turned the game around. On Aug. 18 of that season, the teams finished in another 1-1 draw. C.J. Sapong put the hosts ahead in the first half and Carlos leveled the score in the second half. The Lions, who played poorly in the opening 45, were the better team throughout the second half and Tesho Akindele’s shot off the crossbar was inches from providing a winner for Orlando.

The teams met on Decision Day of 2020 at Exploria Stadium, with Orlando melting down late, allowing two goals from the 88th minute on, and falling 3-2 at home on Nov. 8, 2020 — the team’s only home loss on the season. Dike and Nani goals sandwiched a strike by Daniel Lovitz, giving the Lions a lead until late. Headers by Mukhtar (in the 88th minute) and Cadiz (in the 93rd minute) turned the game on its head.

In the Lions’ first trip to Nissan Stadium, the teams played to a 1-1 draw on Sept. 2, 2020. Benji Michel put the Lions ahead with a stunner of a goal, but Leal knotted things up and that’s the way the match ended.

That 1-1 draw came a week after a 3-1 Orlando City win on Aug. 26 at Exploria Stadium. Dave Romney had opened the scoring for Nashville with a header off a free kick but Orlando scored the last three. Dike took a star turn for Orlando City, scoring a brace, and Chris Mueller also scored for the Lions.

Overview

The Lions are coming off a 3-1 win Saturday at New England. That was Orlando City’s first win over the Revolution at Gillette Stadium in club history. Facundo Torres’ brace put him on the MLS Team of the Matchday and gave him four goal contributions in his last five matches. Ramiro Enrique also scored, filling in for McGuire, who is away with the U.S. Olympic team. The Lions have won three straight games and four of their last five, and have a 5-4-3 road record on the season.

Tonight’s hosts are coming off a 2-1 away loss to D.C. United. Nashville is 4-3-5 at home, but has lost its last four games, but the three most recent losses have come on the road. The last home match was a 2-1 loss to Inter Miami. Mukhtar leads Nashville in goal contributions with 12 (five goals, seven assists), and has four goals and five assists against the Lions in his career. You should never bet your house on anything, but if you did, betting on Mukhtar to have a goal contribution against the Lions seems a near certainty. Meanwhile, forward Sam Surridge paces the Tennessee side with eight goals in 2024.

As it usually is, this matchup should be a tightly contested battle to the end.

“Every game has its own context, whether we have memory of, or feelings of, what happened in the prior games. In this case, with Nashville SC, we have had good experiences, and last year, we succeeded on the things that we wanted and our gameplan,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said ahead of the match. “But we always say that every game brings different challenges and different things that we need to prepare (for), because the game is dynamic, it moves, and they have changed their coach. All those things add up in preparation, but most important is that we can continue our line of improvement. That’s what we’re focusing on now.”

In addition to McGuire, Orlando City will be without Michael Halliday (knee) and Mason Stajduhar (lower leg). Nashville will be without Walker Zimmerman (Olympic duty), Julian Gaines (ankle), Anibal Godoy (lower body), Randall Leal (hip), and Lukas McNaughton (ankle), while Surridge (ankle) is listed as questionable.

Match Content


Official Lineups:

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Defensive Midfielders: Wilder Cartagena, Cesar Araujo.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, Facundo Torres.

Forward: Ramiro Enrique.

Bench: Javier Otero, Kyle Smith, Alex Freeman, David Brekalo, Felipe, Jeorgio Kocevski, Nico Lodeiro, Luis Muriel, Jack Lynn.

Nashville SC (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Joe Willis.

Defenders: Daniel Lovitz, Jack Maher, Josh Bauer, Shaq Moore.

Defensive Midfielders: Sean Davis, Brian Anunga.

Attacking Midfielders: Jacob Shaffelburg, Hany Mukhtar, Alex Muyl.

Forward: Teal Bunbury.

Bench: Elliot Panicco, Brent Kallman, Taylor Washington, Dru Yearwood, Amar Sejdic, Tyler Boyd, Joseph Skinner, Isaiah Jones, Forster Ajago.

Referees

REF: Pierre-Luc Lauziere.
AR1: Jeffrey Greeson.
AR2: Ben Pilgrim.
4TH: Matt Thompson.
VAR: Edvin Jurisevic.
AVAR: Jozef Batko.


How to Watch

Match Time: 8:30 p.m.

Venue: Geodis Park — Nashville, TN.

TV/Streaming: FS1, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+ (free).

Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Mega 97.1 FM (Spanish).

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


Enjoy the game. Go City!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/17/24

Orlando City’s attendance is up, Viviana Villacorta signs new contract, USWNT draws Costa Rica, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane land

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. It’s match day for Orlando City as the Lions hit the road once again for a match against Eastern Conference foe Nashville SC. We will have your preview and full coverage of the match later today. To pass the time until then, please enjoy these links.

Orlando City Attendance on the Rise

So far in 2024, attendance at Orlando City matches has averaged 22,632, which is more than last season’s 20,804 average. That total is good enough to put the Lions at 11th best in MLS attendance this season. Attendance is up across the league this season, with some citing the Lionel Messi effect, but I’m partial to the idea that more people are simply finding out about the beautiful game. I also think that the last few successful seasons for Orlando City have much more to do with the increase at home.

Villacorta Signs New Contract

Haley Carter and the Orlando Pride front office continued their trend of locking down current players by extending Viviana Villacorta’s time in purple with a new contract through the 2025 season with an option for 2026. Villacorta has had a rough go of it due to injuries, but the talent is there for her to contribute to the project Seb Hines is building.

Pride Top the Olympic List

The NWSL will send 56 players to the Olympics, setting a record for most players from any women’s league in the world. The Orlando Pride tied NJ/NJ Gotham FC for the most players participating on the women’s side, with seven. The Pride players making the trip are Barbra Banda and Grace Chanda with Zambia, Emily Sams for the USWNT (as an alternate), and four of the Pride’s Brazilians — Marta, Adriana, Rafaelle, and Angelina (as an alternate). If seeing all of those excellent players compete against each other in the Olympics doesn’t get you excited, you should probably see a doctor.

Orlando City/Pride to Host Olympics Watch Parties

If you were wondering where to watch the Orlando City and the Orlando Pride players representing their individual nations, then wonder no more. Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are hosting watch parties in Orlando. If you want to support the club’s internationals, like Duncan McGuire for the USMNT U-23s, and all of the Pride players, you can do so with your fellow Orlando City and Orlando Pride supporters. There will be four watch parties in total. Check out the schedule and venues here.

USWNT Draws, U-20 USWNT Wins

The United States Women’s National Team played its final friendly before the start of the Olympics against a stubborn Costa Rica side at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. Despite having 80% possession and taking 26 shots — with 12 shots on target — the wasteful Yanks were unable to find the net, playing to a scoreless draw. Costa Rica’s low block was effective, as was goalkeeper Noelia Bermúdez, but the U.S. simply squandered too many opportunities. The USWNT will next play against Banda’s Zambian squad in the Olympics.

The U-20 USWNT defeated the U-20 Mexico Women’s National Team 3-0 at the Jack Turner Soccer Complex at the University of Georgia in Athens. Ally Sentnor provided a brace, and Riley Jackson added the third. The Pride’s Ally Lemos got the start in this match and played just over an hour after subbing on in the team’s most recent match on July 13.

Free Kicks

  • Gareth Southgate will torment England supporters no longer as he has stepped down, having failed to “bring football home.”

That will do it for today. Don’t forget to follow @themaneland on Twitter for updates during the match tonight. Vamos Orlando!

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