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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. New York Red Bulls: Final Score 2-1 as Lions Suffer First Loss of 2021



Second-half sub Silvester van der Water both gave Orlando City late life and also squandered a chance to draw the Lions level in a 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. Van der Water scored in the 84th minute to give Lions’ fans hope, but it’s the hope that kills you, as he also missed a sitter in the 88th, skying it over the bar. That would have erased Orlando’s (3-1-3, 12 points) worst performance in 2021 after Caden Clark and Cristian Casseres Jr. gave New York (3-4-0, 9 points) a 2-0 lead in the game’s first hour.

Orlando City fell to 5-7-2 in the all-time series and 2-5-1 on the road while suffering its first loss of the 2021 season.

“Two different halves for us,” Orlando Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “The first one we didn’t feel comfortable with the way we shaped the team and I think the players felt that. They didn’t look organized and New York took the initiative. I think in that part we take the responsibility because the heart of the players was always on the field, especially in the second half when they tried to push in different ways just to have that goal that can level the game.”

Pareja’s lineup included Pedro Gallese in his usual spot in goal. He handed a first career start (and appearance) for Michael Halliday at right back on a defense that included Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, and Antonio Carlos. Rodrigo Schlegel got his first day off of the 2021 season and wasn’t even in the game day team. (He had to fly home to attend to a personal matter per a team spokesman.) Junior Urso and Sebas Mendez patrolled the central midfield behind attackers Andres Perea, Mauricio Pereyra, and Chris Mueller, with Tesho Akindele up top again.

The first half was all New York. The Lions created their own issues with the Red Bulls’ press by being too slow to react, too deliberate with the ball, and too predictable with their movement, allowing the counterpress to be effective. Still, that didn’t add up to a lot of chances for the hosts, despite their pressure.

The Red Bulls generated an early set piece when Halliday coughed up the ball in his defensive third and Pereyra exacerbated the situation by committing a foul. Halliday blocked Daniel Royer’s delivery.

A second key set piece nearly created the opening goal moments later. Gallese came way out of his box after a turnover and was second to the ball, committing a foul while trying to knock the ball out of play. The ensuing set piece found the head of Sean Nealis, whose header was met by a great reaction save from El Pulpo in the seventh minute.

Mendez turned the ball over far too often in the opening 45 minutes, and one of those giveaways led to a counter that ended with a weak Frankie Amaya shot that gave Gallese no trouble in the 16th minute. Six minutes later, a good ball from New York’s right side skipped dangerously through the box as both Royer and Patryk Klimala just missed getting the final touch on the ball.

The Lions got their first shot of the game in the 24th minute when Orlando won a corner. Pereyra’s cross found Urso but the Bear nodded wide of goal.

City started getting more comfortable on the ball around that time but struggled to create anything with movement being too deliberate and easy for New York defenders to read and react to. Heavy touches allowed the Red Bulls to close things down and poorly weighted passes resulted in too many attacks breaking down.

Orlando’s best attack happened in the 32nd with more direct play as Akindele worked a give-and-go with Urso. Tesho made a good run in behind to win the race to the ball but couldn’t get much on his shot, which he had to take with his left foot, making an easy save for Carlos Coronel.

Three minutes later, Orlando was breaking forward with promise but conceded instead of scoring. A good movement up the right side broke down with a touch that Perea was just a half step slow to reach in time. New York quickly countered and a cross cycled from left to right to Klimala. The forward beat Smith to get a cross in behind the back line for Clark to tap home for a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute.

Orlando withstood a late corner kick despite another turnover trying to break out in transition when Akindele and Pereyra got in each other’s way and the halftime whistle finally came.

New York out-shot the Lions 5-2 in the opening period, with a 3-1 edge in shots on goal. The Red Bulls also led in corners (2-1), while Orlando held more possession (58.7%-41.3%) — doing little with it — and passed more accurately (82.4%-73.6%) due to mostly playing it across the back, looking for a way through.

Benji Michel came on for Pereyra to start the second half. Pareja said after the match that his No. 10 had been battling some tightness this week and he felt he didn’t want to push the Uruguayan too deeply into the match. Michel’s speed did help create some opportunities in the second half.

But Pareja also said he thought his midfield could control the match in the first half and it simply didn’t work out that way, so he wanted to take a player out of the midfield and add another player who could get up the wing. Michel had a few chances to do that and the Homegrown’s touch was just a bit off at times, though he turned in an industrious shift.

The opening minutes saw the Red Bulls push for a second goal and hit a couple of opportunities just wide. Orlando looked for transition opportunities but failed to be able to provide quality passes to spring them or guys weren’t on the same page in terms of providing the ball that runners were looking for.

The Red Bulls doubled their lead after a foolish foul by Mendez in one of his last actions in an unusually poor performance by his standards. Casseres Jr. sent the direct free kick into the upper left corner out of Gallese’s reach to make it 2-0 in the 60th minute.

Pareja sent van der Water and Joao Moutinho on for Mendez and Halliday moments later with a lot of offensive work to do. That nearly became a moot point when second-half sub Fabio pushed a header just wide of Gallese’s post in the 64th minute on a shot that nearly killed off the game.

A microcosm of the match for Orlando was Moutinho’s excellent cross in the 69th minute, which found the head of Smith. Unfortunately, the fullback nodded his shot off the back of teammate van der Water in the 69th minute. Moments later, van der Water did well to spring Mueller in the attack but the first touch was poor, which allowed New York to regroup and block the ensuing shot attempt.

New York again could have killed off the game as Orlando was sloppy with the ball. Urso’s turnover led to a chip attempt by Dru Yearwood that flashed wide of the near post in the 76th and Fabio forced a good save from Gallese a minute later.

The Lions got on the board in the 84th. Smith sent in a good cross to Akindele and the Canadian laid off smartly for van der Water. The Dutchman did well to fake his way past one defender and sent a shot through Coronel’s legs for his first MLS goal.

“I feel happy with the goal, but I got another chance, and I missed that chance, and then directly the feeling is a little bit not so good,” said van der Water, who brought a connectivity into the match that had been lacking. He and Akindele especially had good chemistry in the attack.

“The assist I got today, the ball came in and I think usually I would have just tried to like awkwardly hit it on goal, and the goalie probably would have easily saved it,” Akindele said. “And instead I gave it to Silvester. He still did a crazy amount of work to score, but I think…just to see what’s the right decision, is someone in a better place than me? And that’s what Oscar’s kind of hammered me on a litle bit.”

Four minutes later, van der Water should have equalized. Michel did well to win the ball on the left before sending it to Akindele in the middle. Again the forward found the winger on his right. Running onto the ball and hitting it with his strong left foot, van der Water somehow got under it and sent the ball high over the net in the 88th minute.

“I think I got my body a little bit far away, more backwards,” van der Water said of the missed chance. “Most time you shoot the ball a little bit over. I think that was the reason and the next time I will score a goal.”

That was Orlando’s best opportunity for an equalizer, and it was a golden one. There were no moments of note in the final two minutes of normal time and five minutes of stoppage that honestly should have been extended due to time wasting and an injury, but the final whistle blew to seal the Lions’ fate.

New York had more shots (14-6), shots on target (7-2), and corners (3-2), but Orlando had more possession (57.5%-42.5%) and more accurate passing (80.2%-70.1%) over 90 minutes.

“Much, much better second half when we started just having better connections and we looked more like us,” Pareja said. “They showed their heart and probably could (have) deserved more at the end, but New York did a good job in the game and I think it’s fair.”

“I just felt like we had more numbers forward maybe in the second half,” Akindele said. “The first half I thought we did a great job of kind of moving the ball around the back, but I don’t think we created enough dangerous chances, and we didn’t hold the ball enough in their half.”

Orlando City is now on an extended break until Saturday, June 19, when the Lions will “travel” to take on Toronto FC at 7:30 p.m.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/6/23

Lions earn weekly honors, OCSC headed in the right direction, Kylie Strom lands on NWSL Best XI of May, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I got absolutely clattered during my Sunday league game over the weekend, and I’ve been hobbling around ever since. Fortunately, my fingers still work just fine, because there are plenty of things to talk through this morning. Let’s get after it.

Lions Earn Weekly Honors

Orlando was well represented on the MLS Team of the Matchday following a 3-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls Saturday night. Facundo Torres and Ivan Angulo were both named to the starting lineup, while Oscar Pareja was given the nod as head coach. Torres scored two goals and Angulo recorded a goal and an assist in the victory. Dave Rohe gave Torres a 7.5 and Angulo an 8, along with the Man of the Match award, in our player grades. It was nice to see other people take notice of the performances they put in. Keep up the good work, fellas!

OCSC Heading in the Right Direction

Orlando City got the complete performance that it’s been looking for in recent weeks, and Oscar Pareja is very pleased with what he saw from his team. He went out of his way to highlight the fact that the Lions stayed vigilant and didn’t relax and give up a goal as the game went on, something that’s been a problem at times this year. While Pareja said that things aren’t perfect yet, he and Torres were both of the opinion that the team is playing better lately, and Torres said that Saturday was OCSC’s best performance of the season.

Kylie Strom Earns Monthly Plaudits

Orlando Pride defender Kylie Strom has been named to the NWSL Best XI for the month of May. Strom started in each of the Pride’s four matches during May and went the full 90 minutes in all but one of them. She helped anchor a back line that only gave up two goals during those four games, but the highlight of her month came during the team’s home game against the Washington Spirit. Strom scored the winning goal in the second half as the Pride handed the Spirit their first loss of the season. Here’s hoping she continues the good form!

Fines and Bans Proposed for Vinicius’ Abusers

The four men accused of hanging an effigy of Vinicius Jr. from a bridge are set to have hefty punishments levied against them. Spain’s anti-violence commission has proposed fines of  €60,001 and two-year stadium bans as a result of their actions. Additionally, the three men accused of racially abusing the Brazilian winger during a match against Valencia may be given fines and a one-year stadium ban as well. All seven were arrested and, although they’ve been released, could still face criminal charges, although that would be unprecedented. The Real Madrid player has suffered repeated instances of racial abuse since arriving in Spain. Hopefully the punishments will do something to deter the ugly incidents from occurring.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City has picked up more points on the road than any other team in the Eastern Conference.

That’s all for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/5/23

Torres could be turning the corner, lights go out on OCB, U-20 USMNT knocked out of World Cup, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers. It was quite the packed weekend of soccer, so I won’t blame you if you’re a little tired starting out your week. Orlando City’s victory over the New York Red Bulls was certainly the highlight, and I hope the Lions’ form continues next weekend when I come down to Exploria Stadium for the match against the Colorado Rapids. Let’s get to the links.

Torres Could Be Turning a Corner

Facundo Torres scored a brace in the match against the New York City Red Bulls on Saturday night, and perhaps it is the type of performance that will kick his season into gear. We saw the same thing last season, as Torres started slowly but came on in the second half of the season. Hopefully, Saturday’s match serves as notice he is about to do the same in 2023.

Torres’ two goals doubled his production on the season, with three of the four goals coming against the Red Bulls, and two of them on penalty kicks. Orlando City has desperately needed Torres to find his form. His performance earned him a nomination for MLS Player of the Matchday, so vote early and vote often.

Toronto FC II Turns Lights Out on OCB

OCB traveled to the Great White North to take on Toronto FC II at York Lions Stadium in Toronto, Ontario. It was a difficult night for the Young Lions as Toronto took an early lead and then doubled it before the end of the half. Mason Stajduhar made the start for OCB since Javier Otero was on international duty with Venezuela, but he was unable to help OCB, as the team in front of him played poorly.

After Toronto scored the third goal of the match to go up 3-0, the lights in the stadium went out, much like the hopes of any chance at a comeback for the Young Lions. It was supposed to be a short delay, but that was not the case. Ultimately, lights or no lights it was a night to forget for OCB. The lights never came back on and the match was abandoned and ruled a 3-0 final due to a local curfew. Sean Rollins has your partial match recap.

U-20 USMNT Crashes Out of the U-20 World Cup

The U-20 USMNT team lost 2-0 to Uruguay in the quarterfinal match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, continuing a trend of the U.S. bowing out in the same round. Heading into the match, the U.S. hadn’t given up a goal in the competition. That all changed in the 21st minute, when Uruguay’s Anderson Duarte scored to put his side up early. The U.S. didn’t help their cause in the second half thanks to an own goal by Joshua Wynder. Even when the U.S. started to get chances on goal, they would be blocked by their own teammates or take a bounce the wrong way. It was as if all the good luck and quality the team played with to get to the quarterfinal was turned against them. It was fun while it lasted.

U-20 USWNT Falls to Mexico in Concacaf Final

Two days after qualifying for the U-20 Women’s World Cup, thanks to a 2-1 win over Costa Rica, the U-20 USWNT lost to Mexico in the Concacaf U-20 Women’s Championship match by the same 2-1 score. Both teams left it late, with Mailin Orozco starting the scoring for Mexico and Onyeka Gamero equalizing for the U.S. A bit of poor defending allowed Mexico to get the game winning goal from Fatima Servin in the 87th minute.

Free Kicks

  • The U-16 Men’s Youth National Team closed out the 2023 International Dream Cup with a 2-1 win over the U-16 Nigeria Youth National Team. Orlando City academy goalkeeper Zackory Campagnolo got the start for the U.S.
  • Former Lion Cyle Larin’s Real Valladolid were relegated to La Liga 2 thanks to a final day 0-0 draw with Getafe. Larin Lead Real Valladolid with seven goals on the season in only 13 appearances.
  • LAFC took on Leon in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League final Sunday night. Leon came into the match up 2-1 on aggregate and won the 2023 Concacaf Champions League.
  • During the Concacaf Champions League match, Aaron Long attempted a header for LAFC and had to be subbed off due to concussion protocols. It’s a good example of why the protocols are in place.
  • Israel shocked Brazil, defeating the favorites 3-2 in the quarterfinal of the U-20 World Cup. This is Israel’s first appearance at the competition and the team will now face Uruguay in the semifinals.
  • There were much bigger names in the $1 million, 7v7 The Soccer Tournament, but in the end it was Newtown Pride that captured the prize, outlasting teams like Wrexham AFC and a team made up of former USWNT players (which lost to Wrexham, 12-0). The club, which beat SLC FC in the final, will donate a portion of their winnings to Sandy Hook Elementary School charities.
  • Folarin Balogun scored in his final match for Reims in Ligue 1 and is now looking forward to a call-up to the USMNT at the Nations League competition.

That will do it for today. If you make it either the Orlando City or Orlando Pride match this weekend, I hope to see you. Please say hello.

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Orlando City

Orlando City at New York Red Bulls: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 3-0 victory over the Red Bulls?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City went back on the road with a trip to Harrison, NJ, to take on the New York Red Bulls. The Lions were able to take advantage of their chances to secure all three points on the road with a 3-0 win over their Eastern Conference foes. Here is how each Lion performed as Orlando City swept the Red Bulls in the regular season.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 6.5  — Despite some sketchy moments, Gallese was able to keep his fourth clean sheet of the season, and his second against the Red Bulls. The scary moments started early, when Gallese came out for a 50/50 ball in the 12th minute but was beaten to it and caught out of goal. Fortunately, his defense was able to help him recover. He also nearly gave away the ball in the 85th minute, when he was slow to pass and was closed down by Elias Manoel. The New York forward blocked the pass, but it went out for a goal kick. Gallese took an awkward foul from Dylan Nealis in the 82nd minute, but was able to carry on. His distribution wasn’t as good as usual, with a 68.8 % passing rate on 32 passes. He was accurate on seven of his 16 long balls. He also won one aerial and made one clearance. It wasn’t a bad night for El Pulpo, but I hold him to a higher standard, despite the clean sheet.

D, Rafael Santos, 6 — With Halliday on international duty and Kyle Smith starting on the right, Santos got his third straight start of the season. I don’t know that he’s had enough time to properly settle in, but he didn’t play poorly. Santos passed at a 59.5% on 42 passes, which isn’t good enough, but it was his first real taste of the Red Bulls’ pressure. He was only successful on two of his eight long balls. Defensively, he was a bit better, with three tackles, three interceptions, and two clearances. He committed two fouls, one of which earned him a yellow card.

D, Robin Jansson, 7  — Jansson was good if not perfect on defense. The bad was a foul on Luquinhas just inches outside of the box in the 32nd minute, resulting in a dangerous free kick. Fortunately, the resulting free kick went into the wall and was recycled until it went out for a goal kick. It was one of two fouls committed by the Beefy Swede, with the other being unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper on a set piece, for which he was booked. Defensively, he made one interception, two clearances, and blocked three shots, including one from Lewis Morgan that probably would have gone in without his intervention. He had an 80% passing rate on 50 passes, but only completed one of his seven long balls. Offensively, he had one dribble, and suffered three fouls, including one in which he was pulled down by Sean Nealis in the 49th minute, earning the penalty for Orlando City that Facundo Torres buried in the back of the net.

D, Antonio Carlos, 6.5 — Carlos seemed slightly off on the night, though it never came back to hurt Orlando City. He was beaten in the 14th minute trying to play out of the back, resulting in a corner for the Red Bulls. However, he cleared the ensuing corner kick. He made a bad pass in the 26th minute that simply went out of bounds rather than to a teammate, and he had a poorly taken free kick in the 37th minute to the opposition. However, defensively he had one interception, two clearances, and one blocked shot. Fortunately, he did not commit any fouls or receive a yellow card, because if he had, he would miss the next match due to accumulation. Offensively, he had one dribble, and suffered one foul. He passed at an 84.6% rate on 52 passes and was successful on six of 12 long balls.

D, Kyle Smith, 6 — Smith had a difficult assignment in dealing with John Tolkin on his side of the field. He managed one tackle, two clearances, and one blocked shot, while committing two fouls. Unlike last week, he wasn’t able to score on a goal from the right despite being put in a good position by Facundo Torres in the 42nd minute. He should have done better with a shot that went wide left. He had an 84.2% passing rate on 38 passes and was successful on three of his four long balls before coming off for Dagur Dan Thorhallsson in the 83rd minute.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 5.5 — Like Carlos, Pereyra wasn’t his usual sharp self, passing at just a 57.1% rate on 21 passes and completing no long balls. His pass to Kara in the box in the 16th minute could have sent the striker in on goal, but it was behind the Austrian. His free kick at the end of first-half stoppage time was too long and led to Jansson’s yellow as the defender tripped the keeper. Offensively, the captain completed one dribble, suffered one foul, and was dispossessed once. He was subbed off in the 62nd minute for Martin Ojeda.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6.5 — Araujo seemed to have gotten the message that he won’t get the foul if he drops at the slightest touch. He did successfully earn one foul, but it was deserved. Defensively, he made one tackle, one clearance, and had one blocked shot. He passed at an 82.8% rate on 29 passes and completed five of his six long balls. Unfortunately he was subbed off in the 56th minute due to an injury for Felipe Martins.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 7.5 — The Peruvian midfielder had himself a night, earning an assist on Ivan Angulo’s goal to open the scoring for the Lions. His perfectly weighted through ball put Angulo in on goal in the 18th minute. He passed at an 84.1% rate on 44 passes, was successful on four of seven long balls, and had the key pass mentioned above. He committed three fouls, including one on Cory Burke in the 20th minute to give New York a free kick, but it didn’t matter. He also made nine tackles and one clearance. Overall, a very good night from Cartagena, who does a lot of the unsung work to break up the opposition’s attack.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 8 (MotM) — There have been times when Angulo tries to do too much when taking on an opposing player. That wasn’t the case in the 18th minute, when he took the through ball from Cartagena, juked Dylan Nealis and sent the ball past Carlos Coronel to give Orlando City the early leave. That was one of his two shots — both of which were on target. The other shot was deflected for a corner in the 65th minute. It was his breakaway run up the left side of the pitch in the 73rd minute that gave him his assist on Facundo Torres’ second goal. Out-running Frankie Amaya, the speedy Angulo drew defenders to him before passing the ball over to Torres for the third goal of the match. It was a good finish by Torres, but Angulo did most of the work to make it happen. He passed at an 85.7% rate on 21 passes with the obvious key pass and completed three successful dribbles. He also suffered two fouls, committed three fouls, made two tackles, and recorded one interception. With a goal and an assist, Angulo gets Man of the Match.

MF, Facundo Torres, 7.5 — Might this be the match that lights Torres up for the remainder of the season? I’m certain that is what was going through the minds of many as he stepped up to take the penalty kick in the 52nd minute. Torres converted the penalty kick with a perfectly placed shot into the upper right corner past Coronel, despite the keeper guessing correctly. He then made the run with Angulo in the 72nd minute and was perfectly positioned to get his second goal of the match, giving the Lions a certain victory. He wasn’t done yet, as he had another chance in the 77th minute, but it was blocked out for a corner. Torres passed at an 84.6% rate on 26 passes. He had three crosses, one key pass, and was successful on his only long ball. One of his underrated contributions was a nice move to push the ball past Andres Reyes in first-half stoppage time. Torres would have been in position to start a dangerous counter but Reyes fouled him hard. The play was reviewed as a possible red card, and even though Victor Rivas did not change the initial ruling of a yellow card, the play contributed to Reyes being sent off just after halftime.

F, Ercan Kara, 5.5 — The Austrian wasn’t able to have as much impact on this game as he has in recent weeks against one of the league’s best defenses, but his positioning was good. His best scoring chance went wanting when Pereyra played the final pass behind him. His biggest contribution was when he showed a good combination of skill and strength to bring down an aerial ball and fend off Reyes, who committed a tactical foul for a second yellow card and was sent off. Reyes has been New York’s biggest surprise this season with his aerial presence on both ends of the pitch and the Red Bulls missed him for the final 43 minutes, plus stoppage time. Kara didn’t record a shot or a key pass, passing at a 64.3% rate. He led all Lions with three aerials won and drew two fouls. However, he was dispossessed once and had four unstable touches trying to hold up play against New York’s swarming defense. On the defensive end, Kara contributed one clearance. He also committed one foul. He came off for Duncan McGuire in the 63rd minute.


MF, Felipe (57’), 6.5 — The Brazilian came on for the injured Araujo against his former team and proceeded to be his usual disruptive self, making one interception, blocking a shot, and committing one foul. He was impressive in the passing game, with a 95.7% rate on 23 passes, including a successful long ball. He committed one foul that earned him a yellow card.

MF, Martin Ojeda (62′), 6 — Ojeda came on for Pereyra to bring some more energy to the midfield. He did that. He attempted one shot, but hit it into the ground and it bounced high. To be fair, it was a difficult attempt as the ball was bouncing when he took the shot. He also put in two crosses (one successful) and passed at a 90.9% rate on his 11 passes, including one key pass, playing a ball into space for Angulo to run onto, leading to the third Orlando goal. As a result, he got a secondary assist on the play. Defensively, he contributed one tackle, one interception, and one clearance.

F, Duncan McGuire (63′), 6 — McGuire wasn’t able to get a goal contribution, though it wasn’t from lack of effort. The rookie took one shot, which was on target, had a key pass, and completed two dribbles, and his hold-up play was good. He did all of that while only touching the ball nine times. He passed at a 50% rate on four passes. It might not seem like much, but he helped Orlando see out the win.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson (84′), N/A — Dagur Dan came on for Smith to play right back since he is the other Swiss Army Knife for Oscar Pareja. He wasn’t in long enough for a grade, but did manage six touches, and won an aerial.

MF, Ramiro Enrique  (84′), N/A  — Enrique came on for Cartegena but only managed 12 touches, committed one foul, and suffered one foul. Like McGuire, Enrique wasn’t in long enough to earn a grade.

That’s how I saw each performance from the Lions in their 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls. This match was an example of what can happen when the Lions take advantage of limited chances. Who was your Man of the Match? Make sure to vote in our poll and let us know what you think in the comments.

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