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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Final Score 5-0 as Lions Run Rampant Over Quakes

Daryl Dike and Benji Michel bagged braces to lead Orlando to its largest shutout victory in the MLS era.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Daryl Dike and Benji Michel both bagged braces and Brandon Austin got his first MLS shutout as Orlando City destroyed the San Jose Earthquakes 5-0 on a rainy night at Exploria Stadium in front of 15,476 fans. Nani also scored for the Lions (5-1-3, 18 points), who conceded possession and picked apart the Quakes (3-6-1, 10 points) in transition throughout the match.

Orlando won its second straight, scoring multiple goals in consecutive matches for the first time in 2021. With the win, the Lions improved to 2-1-3 in the all-time series and 2-0-1 at home against San Jose.

“We’re feeling very proud of many things that we saw tonight,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “We were very sharp in the box today. Having that efficiency in our forwards just makes us feel very optimistic. For me, the highlight is just to be able to recover our solidness defensively. Sometimes you get relaxed when the game gets to 2-0 early, as happened against Toronto. And they kept that solidness. Just keeping our goal clean is is very important for us, if we want to win things this year.”

Pareja deployed the same back five as Saturday night, with Brandon Austin in goal behind a back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Kyle Smith. Junior Urso and Andres Perea slotted into the central midfield behind attackers Chris Mueller and Michel (replacing Mauricio Pereyra and Silvester van der Water), with Nani and Dike (in place of Tesho Akindele) up top.

After a half hour delay due to inclement weather, the teams took to the rain-soaked pitch. The Lions wasted no time in jumping on the visitors. Urso fired a shot in the first minute that was partially deflected, allowing JT Marcinkowski to collect it.

Six minutes later, the Lions took the lead from the penalty spot. Michel took the ball into the area down the left and Florian Jungwirth made contact, sending Michel sprawling. Chris Penso wasted no time pointing to the spot. Nani did his usual stutter-step approach and sent an unstoppable shot past Marcinkowski, who guessed right but still couldn’t make the save. Nani’s fifth goal of the season put Orlando City up 1-0 in the seventh minute.

The Lions kept coming. Just a minute after Nani’s goal, Michel fired wide after getting down the left. He had an opportunity to play Dike in but took an extra touch and the San Jose defense cut off his passing lane, forcing him to shoot. Perea got into the box alone in the 11th minute but fired his shot dead straight at Marcinkowski. Seconds later, Urso fired just a foot or so wide.

Michel doubled the lead in the 16th minute. Mueller played a through ball in behind the defense and Paul Marie tried to shield the ball for Marcinkowski to come collect. But Michel pressed hard, stuck his foot around Marie and poked the ball into the net to make it 2-0.

After Michel’s goal he celebrated with a cowboy hat from out of the stands.

“One of the fans gave me a hat, and I was like ‘oh I’m going to celebrate with it,’” Michel said. “I was actually thinking about grabbing the corner flag and start trying to ride it like a horse, but I didn’t want to do too much.”

Orlando eased its high press a bit after the second goal, which allowed the Earthquakes to get a bit more possession, but San Jose wasn’t able to create much with it. In fact, it was Orlando that struck again in the 31st minute.

Nani played a through ball up the middle to Dike into the penalty area. Dike got to the ball first, played it around Marcinkowski with his first touch, then cut back a left-footed shot to score his first goal since returning to the team. The Lions led 3-0.

“Anytime you see people like Nani driving with the ball, you know he’s going to make a nice pass,” Dike said. “So you know all you have to do is make the run. And so I made the run and JT was coming out and I just touched around him and tried to redirect it back towards the goal and it went in.”

“It means a lot to have Daryl back, for sure,” Pareja said.

San Jose managed to earn a couple of corners after the third Orlando goal but the Lions didn’t yield much.

And then the weather moved back into the area. In the 40th minute, heavy rain and some lightning caused Penso to blow the whistle and send the teams to the locker room.

At the time of the stoppage, San Jose was holding a deceptive 61.5%-38.5% advantage in possession, but it hardly seemed that way. Orlando held a 7-4 edge in shots and a 4-0 advantage in shots on goal, with the Quakes getting all four of their shots blocked to that point. San Jose had the game’s only two corner kicks and an 89.4%-85.3% edge in passing accuracy.

After a weather delay of 55 minutes, the game resumed. San Jose coach Matias Almeyda made a bold lineup change, subbing on Cade Cowell and Shea Salinas for Jungwirth and Marie.

Orlando had two excellent chances to add to the lead in the final few minutes of the first half. Urso played Dike down the right side of the box in the 44th minute and the big striker got all of his shot but sent his screamer just wide.

After Eduardo Lopez smashed San Jose’s first shot on target — fought off by Austin for a corner — the Lions closed the half with a golden opportunity at a fourth in stoppage time when Mueller slipped Dike in behind the defense. Dike tried to chip Marcinkowski but didn’t get the shot up high enough and the keeper was able to make a huge save. That was it for the half.

San Jose’s halftime advantage in possession grew to 62.5%-37.5%. The Quakes had more corners (3-0) and were more accurate in passing (89.3%-83.7%). Orlando led in shots (10-6) and shots on target (5-1).

The Lions added to their lead just four minutes after the restart. Nani sent in a good free kick service from the right side and Dike got his head to it, sending it in to make it 4-0 in the 49th minute.

“A good delivery and luckily the ball ended up in the back of the net,” Dike said. “I just made sure I was there, trying to put myself in the best possible position to score.”

Orlando came close a couple of more times following the goal, with Michel taking a crack from distance, but hitting his shot right at Marcinkowski, and Dike getting a shot blocked in front that the San Jose goalkeeper would not have been able to stop had it gone through.

Pareja subbed liberally in the second half, giving Michael Halliday 45 minutes at right back and giving Uri Rosell his first minutes of the season.

Substitute Tesho Akindele fired a shot just over the bar in the 79th minute as Orlando continued to look like the more likely team to score the next goal. That goal came in the 90th minute as Akindele played Michel down the right side of the box and he fired past Marcinkowski just inside the near post for the final margin.

After Mauricio Pereyra hit the post on what could have been a sixth goal deep in stoppage time, the match came to an end.

Orlando out-shot the Quakes 17-11 (8-1 on target). The visitors held an edge in corners (5-2), possession (56.9%-43.1%), and passing accuracy (88.8%-84.3%).

“The vibe in the locker room, you know, everyone’s positive, everyone’s happy we got the ‘dub,’ and you know we’re going up,” Michel said. “We’re going up from here. We’re not stopping until we get to the top, until we’re in first place.” 

The Lions will play their third match in a week when they travel south to play Inter Miami on Friday night.

Orlando City

Orlando City Enjoyed the Best Summer Stretch in Team History

Orlando City climbed the table in the club’s best summer since joining MLS.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

June, July, August (plus, most of September), and the dog days of summer are officially in the rearview mirror and Orlando City is set to put a cherry on top of what was the best summer stretch in team history when they face Inter Miami tomorrow night at Exploria Stadium. As the season starts to wind down, I felt it was only necessary to take some time to examine the what we all just witnessed…the best summer in team history.

A quick Google search says that the season of summer in the U.S. traditionally starts June 21 on the summer solstice, which we will use as the starting point. I looked historically at the team’s performance from that point in time through the end of summer each season, a.k.a. today, Sept. 23. As a new expansion team in Major League Soccer, Orlando City dealt with the summer heat fairly well and earned 15 and 17 points in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The next two seasons, on the other hand, were much darker times to be a city fan, as Orlando City racked up seven and 10 losses in 2017 and 2018, respectively, during those two seasons. It does not take Sherlock Holmes-level detection skills to know that those summer stretches did not lead to postseason playoff berths. In 2019, the team amassed a decent 18 points during the summer, but only tallied 37 on the season overall.

It should not come as a surprise to any OCSC fan that the team’s best years of success have all come while Oscar Pareja has been at the helm. Prior to this season, the best summer stretch that the team had enjoyed was back in 2021 — also under Pareja’s reign — when the boys put up 23 points, setting a summer team record with six wins. Despite their great summer success, the 2021 Lions were unfortunately not able to keep their strong summer momentum going as they dropped four straight matches after Labor Day that year. Enter 2022, or as I like to call it “the summer of the trophy.” Technically speaking, in the MLS regular season, it was the team’s second best summer, with 20 points to their name. Orlando also happened to lift the U.S. Open Cup during that span last year, so there is an argument to be made that without the additional fixtures, the Lions may have been able to commit more resources to the regular season and would have wound up with more points. I will take the hardware!

This summer it has seemed as though Papi has pulled all the right strings at the right times. Orlando currently not only sits in second place in the Eastern Conference, but second overall in the Supporters’ Shield race and has only dropped two matches from June 21 to Sept. 23 while sporting a +6 goal differential. The Lions amassed 24 points during the summer this year.

Orlando City finding the back of the net more often than conceding makes for quite fun matches to enjoy. The two losses OCSC has picked up throughout the summer this season both have come on the road (at Real Salt Lake and at NYCFC), despite Orlando City earning an MLS-best 25 points away from Central Florida this year.

Orlando City did a great job getting through the hottest part of the calendar while locking up results left and right. Orlando has already secured a spot in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year in no small part due to the amazing summer the team just enjoyed. As fall comes barreling at us and the MLS playoff home-field advantage race begins to heat up, the performance of the squad this summer should not be taken for granted as championships might not be won in June, July, or August, but poor performances can certainly ensure that they are lost.

Did you have a favorite moment or match from this summer? My favorite moment was what I am calling the Hail Ojeda Mary goal in Charlotte, and my favorite match was the electrifying 4-3 come-from-behind victory against the Columbus Crew. Let us know in the comments below your favorites, and as always, vamos Orlando.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/23/22

Lions and Herons meet again, Carly Nelson is writing a book, NWSL free agency opens, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Founder’s Day, Mane Landers! It was on this day in 2014 that our fearless leader and Managing Editor Michael Citro started our first ever WordPress website. It’s safe to say that I’m sure The Mane Land has impacted your life as much as it has mine over the years, whether that be through daily reading or weekly podcasts. Cheers to Michael and all those who have come before me.

In my own personal news, I have been grinding away on the new EA FC 24 (the franchise formerly known as EA’s FIFA.) So far, the gameplay and updates have been great in my initial 15+ hours of play, and my online Ultimate Team is starting to really take its shape. I’m sure in a couple weeks that I’ll transition to a traditional Career Mode and take the Lions all the way to an MLS Cup and beyond.

Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a very happy birthday to everyone’s favorite defensive midfielder, Wilder Cartagena!

Third Bout for Orlando City and Inter Miami

Orlando City and Inter Miami have already met twice this campaign. Sunday’s match will look to break the deadlock between the two rivals as both clubs have a victory to their name in this year’s series. In May, the Lions grabbed a 3-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale-based club. The two sides met for a second time in the knockout round of Leagues Cup 2023 with Inter Miami taking the 3-1 result at DRV PNK Stadium. No matter the result this time around, Orlando City has already clinched a playoff spot, however, the Herons need every point they can get to attempt to do the same.

Carly Nelson, Goalkeeper and Author

It isn’t unheard of to learn that an athlete might have tried another sport before finding soccer, Orlando Pride goalkeeper Carly Nelson came from a background of gymnastics, tennis, basketball, and baseball before her father started a club soccer team with her in mind. While Nelson might have idolized USWNT legend Hope Solo as a child, she started her playing days as a forward, winger, and midfielder. Outside of protecting the Pride’s net, Nelson is spending time writing a book about her life growing up in Utah and the issues her family faced to hopefully help others that might find themselves in similar situations.

NWSL Opens 2024 Free Agency

The National Women’s Soccer League has officially opened the league’s unrestricted and restricted free agency periods. In accordance with the NWSL Players’ Association’s collective bargaining agreement, eligible free agents can begin negotiations for their 2024 Standard Player Agreements. Players eligible for unrestricted free agency include all who have at least five years of service within the NWSL and contracts expiring in 2023, while players eligible for restricted free agency include those who have at least three years of service. For the Orlando Pride, defender Kylie Strom is set to be an unrestricted free agent and midfielder Jordyn Listro is under restricted terms. Any club that currently holds the rights of a restricted free agent has a seven-day period to match an incoming offer from another club or else the player may sign with the new club under the terms of the offer.

USMNT’s Tyler Adams Nearing Return

Tyler Adams will not make his Bournemouth debut this weekend, but he could return as early as next week. Bournemouth’s manager, Andoni Iraola, provided a positive update on the U.S. Men’s National Team captain as he finishes up rehabbing a long-term hamstring injury.

“He has started this week at least to train partially with the group, so probably we can have a chance of having him next week or two weeks, something like this. Tyler is really close because once you start training partially with the group, it’s a matter of sensations, and if you are physically good enough. He has a very good physical base. So I think it will take not a long time to see Tyler with the team.”

Adams has not played since March after having a hamstring surgery. Even with a known injury, the 24-year-old still completed a move from Leeds United to Bournemouth following Leeds’ relegation to keep him in the top flight.

MLS Weekend Preview

Aside from the Florida derby, there are plenty of matches to be excited about around the league this weekend. Personally, I’m looking forward to catching a bit of the D.C. United and New York Red Bulls match. Manager Wayne Rooney’s club is right on the bubble in a tight Eastern Conference race while the Red Bulls can do themselves a huge service and come back into the playoff picture with a win. Out in the Western Conference, there is a real buzz around a Portland Timbers squad after a manager sacking. It could be a huge win for the Timbers and likely push them above the play-in round should they find a result against the Colorado Rapids.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Saturday. Be safe on Sunday at the match. Stay hydrated and look out for those around you. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Three Keys to Victory

Here are three things the Lions need to do in order to set themselves up for a win over Inter Miami.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Wednesday’s match didn’t go the way anyone hoped it would, but now it’s time to turn our attention to a Sunday matchup with Inter Miami back in the comfortable confines of Exploria Stadium. What follows are three things that I believe will go a long way toward helping the Lions emerge victorious from the Tropic Thunder derby and keeping Florida purple.

Close Down Sergio Busquets

As many headlines as Lionel Messi has rightfully been getting since joining Major League Soccer, I think Busquets is just as important to Miami’s success. He remains an excellent midfielder and his ability to transition the team from defense into attack and link the two lines together is crucial. He has two assists and eight key passes in six MLS appearances and is passing with 92% accuracy —if you give him time, he will make you pay. Even if Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena mark him tightly, he’ll still manage to find space at times and affect the game because he’s that good of a player. But the Lions cannot afford to repeatedly give him time and space to get on the ball, pick up his head, and play a pass or he’ll cut OCSC to ribbons. Getting tight to him and making his life difficult won’t stop him every time, but it’ll make life a hell of a lot easier. As soon as Orlando loses the ball in Miami’s half, someone needs to find no. 5 and close him down.

Play With an Edge, but Don’t Go Over It

This is likely going to be an extremely, fast, physical and heated game. These two teams don’t have any love lost for each other, and if last game is any indication, then Orlando is going to try to use its physicality to disrupt Miami from playing its brand of soccer. That’s not a bad strategy, and it’s one that was largely working during the aforementioned Leagues Cup match until the penalty kick call in the second half. If the Lions are going to try to repeat the tactic, then they need to play with physicality and intensity while toeing the line of what’s acceptable to do during a soccer game. Going down a man isn’t going to do OCSC any favors, so the boys in purple are going to have to flirt with the edge of the cliff without falling headfirst over it.

Stay Organized Defensively

We’ve seen some shaky defending during Orlando’s last two matches. Runners in behind were a particular problem during the match against the Columbus Crew, while Wednesday’s loss to NYCFC saw Talles Magno largely unmarked between two Orlando defenders to score the header that sealed the Lions’ fate. OCSC will likely still be without Antonio Carlos, but the Lions are capable of much better defending than they’ve done during the last week and they need to show it. Even if Lionel Messi doesn’t play, Miami has a whole host of guys who can hurt you in Josef Martinez, Leonardo Campana, Benjamin Cremaschi, Robert Taylor and Facundo Farias. The Lions need to be much more keyed in on defense than they have been the last two games, otherwise one or more of those guys is going to make them pay. Orlando has the firepower to put the ball in the back of the net, but it won’t matter if the team is giving up multiple preventable goals at the other end of the field.

If the Lions execute those three things then they’ve got as good a chance as any of getting a result on Sunday. Vamos Orlando!

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