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Orlando City vs. Toronto FC: Final Score 1-1 as Lions Come From Behind to Earn Road Point

Nani’s penalty wasn’t pretty but it went in and Orlando City finished the season unbeaten in three matches against Toronto.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Old nemesis Jozy Altidore came off the bench and played the hometown hero by giving Toronto FC a second-half lead. But Benji Michel won a penalty (after video review) and Nani did just enough to get his spot kick over the line as the Lions drew the Reds 1-1 at BMO Field. It was Toronto’s first home match in front of its own fans in more than a year. Still, Orlando City (6-3-4, 22 points) finished the season unbeaten in three matches against Toronto FC (2-8-3, 9 points) with two wins and a draw in the season series.

Orlando still has never won in Toronto but the draw was the team’s second straight in the Canadian city.

“I think it was a good reaction from our players today against a good rival who was playing at home again after a long time,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “I know their emotions were high and it was not easy to handle players with that energy. Just going on the road and take a point, you should be happy — happier if we would have scored in the couple of options we had at the end. ”

Pareja’s lineup welcomed back starting goalkeeper Pedro Gallese and left back Joao Moutinho, who lined up alongside Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Kyle Smith. Sebas Mendez got his first start since he left for Copa America in the central midfield with Junior Urso. Benji Michel and Mauricio Pereyra connected the attack to Nani and Tesho Akindele up top. Silvester van der Water didn’t make the trip after picking up a knock on Thursday.

Former Lion Dom Dwyer started up top for Toronto FC.

The Lions played a sloppy first half in their own end, with miscommunication and poor passes leading to possession in the attacking half for Toronto. The Reds failed to capitalize on an early miscommunication on defense between Smith and Jansson when Alejandro Pozuelo fired right at Gallese in the fourth minute. Seconds later, another turnover led to a chip from Yeferson Soteldo into the area that Gallese caught.

Three minutes later, the Reds sent a ball into the box for Dwyer that was cut out and on the recycle, there was a nervy moment when Mendez tried to clear and hit a teammate. Pozuelo fired off target in the eighth minute as Toronto kept the early pressure on.

Orlando’s first opportunity to score came in the 11th minute off a handball by Marky Delgado. Nani took the free kick from distance on the left side and smashed a shot just wide of the near post.

Seconds after the miss, Mendez was stepped on accidentally by Smith and had to be subbed off. It was the second case of friendly fire for the Ecuadorian, who had kicked Michel early in the match trying to line up a shot. Andres Perea came into the match for Mendez officially in the 14th minute.

“Things happened in the first half that obviously made us change some plans,” Pareja said, referring to the unexpected lineup change. “Sometimes one individual changes many connections and the sequence — sometimes you have to modify those. But I think the guys did a good job in that part, just adapting to the situation.”

In the 18th minute, Gallese did well to get off his line and cut off a cross intended for Dwyer on the doorstep. Auro Jr. fired in the 24th minute but it was no trouble for El Pulpo.

A turnover by Urso in the midfield led to a Pozuelo shot that sailed over the net in the 28th minute as the Lions continued to give the ball away cheaply. Urso gave it away again in the 35th minute and ignited a 3-v-1 break for Toronto. Dwyer carried into the box, changed direction, and tried to round a defender, but the touch was a bit heavy and Gallese scrambled off his line to jump on the ball before the former Lion could take a shot.

Pereyra served Nani a great square ball across the top of the six in the 41st minute, but Auro Jr. made a sliding block to force a corner. The Lions took the ensuing corner short and cycled it around the top of the box to Nani, who fired a shot right at Alex Bono in the 42nd.

Toronto fashioned a couple more chances, with Soteldo fizzing a shot wide and Michael Bradley sending a cross in that was just inches too high for Tusaba Endoh to head home in the 44th minute.

Each team had a decent chance late that was wiped out by an offside call and the teams went to the break deadlocked at 0-0. The Lions seemed fortunate to be even at the half, with Toronto creating more danger but not being clinical enough with its chances.

The Reds out-shot the Lions 5-4 (2-1 on target), and held slim advantages in possession (50.3%-49.7%) and passing accuracy (84.4%-84.3%). Orlando had more corners (2-1).

Chris Mueller came on for Akindele at the break. He was able to provide energy and a bit more of an outlet for Smith on the right.

“With Soteldo on the left, in the first half we were missing some company for Kyle,” Pareja said. “He was stretching the field and the field was getting too wide there. But we corrected in the second half, bringing (in) Chris created longer sequences for us and refreshed a little bit more the defensive side. It helped us. We had more energy to take the ball back.”

Just after the break, Perea fired a shot right at Bono in the first look of the second half.

Moments later, Soteldo fired a free kick wide of goal from a dangerous position just outside the penalty area.

Smith got forward in a promising attack in the 56th minute but fired a shot right at Bono, with seemingly better options available.

Soteldo put another shot over the bar in the 57th minute, just before Orlando City fashioned its most dangerous threat of the match to that point.

Michel worked the ball into the area and sent it in front for Mueller. Justin Morrow got a foot on the ball and sent it off the left post before it ricocheted back to Bono.

Altidore came on for Dwyer in the 64th minute and it took him only eight minutes to make an impact. Smith was left to cover two players in an overload situation on Toronto’s left side (Orlando’s right) and Morrow sent a cross into the box. Jansson left Moutinho to deal with Altidore in front and the big striker just overpowered him and smashed a header through Gallese for the opener in the 72nd minute.

Smith did a solid job defending Soteldo all night and it ended up being a second player down that side that did the damage. The veteran fullback took responsibility for not switching quicker, though it would have been difficult for him to have had an effect on the play while keeping an eye on Toronto’s newest Designated Player.

“I was worried about (Soteldo) because, you know, he’s very tricky,” Smith said. “So, I was late on the switch and then the (Morrow) puts in his 2-v-1, but I should switch quicker. They got a cross in and Altidore is a big guy, so he finished it.”

“When we conceded the goal, obviously the team was a bit down,” Nani said. “But we knew we had to come back on our feet and (have) a strong mentality to get back in the game and try to score our goal, and we did well.”

Just a minute after Toronto took the lead, the game changed. Michel went forward after a long ball forward and collided with Bono in the box. The foul was initially given Toronto’s way but Michel had been trying to avoid Bono after getting to the spot first. Referee Marcos de Oliveira went to look at the replay and awarded a penalty to Orlando.

Nani stepped up to the spot, took a stutter step in his approach and smashed a ball more or less toward the middle of goal. Bono appeared to leave his line early and got a hand to the shot but it had too much power on it and it still found its way in for the tying goal in the 77th minute.

“That’s why I kicked a little bit in the middle, and I had to change a little bit at the last second,” Nani said, of seeing Bono leave his line early. “But the most important (thing) is the ball got in the goal and we scored.”

It was Nani’s seventh goal of the season to go along with his three assists in just 11 games (10 starts).

Orlando had some chances down the stretch to go on and win the game. Nani crushed a shot on target in the 79th but hit it right at Bono. A ball into the box in the 89th minute bounced perfectly for Perea, who got his head on it but pushed his shot wide. Auro Jr. did just enough to bother Perea on the play.

Ultimately, that was the last truly good look for either side and after five minutes of stoppage time that grew into more than six, the game came to an end in a 1-1 stalemate.

Orlando finished with more shots (10-9), shots on target (5-3), and corners (3-1). Toronto held more possession (51.4%-48.6%) and passed more accurately (84.9%-82.9%).

“I think it’s a fair result because both teams played well,” Nani said.


The Lions return home next for a Thursday night matchup against the Philadelphia Union.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/13/24

Orlando City B hosts Chattanooga FC tonight, USMNT earns draw against Brazil, MLS’ Juneteenth celebrations, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Between my cat finally deciding I’m worth hanging out with and reading a pair of books that have been collecting dust on my shelf, I’ve been having a pretty good week. I’m looking forward to the feast of soccer both in Orlando and abroad over the next few days as well. But for now, let’s get this Thursday started with today’s links!

Orlando City B Hosts Chattanooga FC Tonight

In an enticing midweek match tonight at 7 p.m., Orlando City B will take on Chattanooga FC at Osceola Heritage Park. If not heading to watch OCB in person, you can catch the game on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+. The last time these two teams squared off was on May 4, with Chattanooga winning the penalty shootout for an extra point after a 1-1 draw in Tennessee. The Young Lions are coming off of a 2-2 draw with one of the league’s worst teams this season, Carolina Core FC, but winning the shootout after a late rally could give them the kind of momentum needed to take down Chattanooga. Beating one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference would be quite the statement from OCB during what’s been a middling season so far.

USMNT Draws With Brazil in Orlando

Playing in Orlando at Camping World Stadium, the United States Men’s National Team drew 1-1 against Brazil in a friendly billed as the Continental Clasico. Brazil scored first, but Matt Turner and the USMNT didn’t collapse under the pressure and earned the team’s first ever draw against the South American powerhouse. All in all, it was a much better result than the USMNT’s 5-1 loss to Colombia on Saturday. This was the USMNT’s final match until Copa America later this month. The Yanks will start their campaign against Bolivia on June 23 before playing Panama on June 27 and Uruguay on July 1.

MLS Announces Initiatives for Juneteenth

In partnership with Black Players for Change and Adidas, MLS announced some of the ways the league will be celebrating Juneteenth. Pre-match shirts acknowledging the change players can provide will be worn during warm-ups and fans can buy their own shirts as well, with a portion of the proceeds going toward organizations focused on racial equity and social justice. There will also be a campaign highlighting the connection between professional and academy players, as well as educational content across the league’s social media to raise awareness of the holiday.

Euro 2024 Kicks Off on Friday

A loaded gauntlet of summer tournaments finally begins Friday, as Germany hosts Scotland for the first match of Euro 2024. From Cristiano Ronaldo’s potential swan song to a brutal group that includes Spain, Italy, and Croatia, storylines abound for the tournament and each team brings something worth watching to the table. For Orlando City fans, defender David Brekalo was called up by Slovenia, which was drawn in a group with England, Denmark, and Serbia. I’m looking forward to seeing which underdogs prevail and which players make a name for themselves in this tournament.

2026 World Cup Schedule Revealed

The full schedule for the 2026 World Cup was unveiled, which gives a slight glimpse at the paths each host nation could take in the tournament. If the U.S. wins Group D after matches in Los Angeles and Seattle, it will stay on the West Coast for a knockout game in San Francisco before a potential round of 16 game in Seattle and quarterfinal in Los Angeles. Mexico and Canada have similar incentives to win their groups, as they will then host in their country until heading to the U.S. for the quarterfinals, should they make it that far. Here in Florida, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami will serve as the venue for four group games, a round of 32 match on July 3, a quarterfinal on July 11, and the third-place match on July 18.

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  • Orlando Pride Assistant Coach Yolanda Thomas was announced as a panelist for the Black Soccer Coaches’ summer symposium on July 22. She will also have a field session at the event to discuss the role of the midfield when building out of the back.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/12/24

Leagues Cup forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup win, USMNT U-23 loses to Japan, NWSL expansion options, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. The USMNT plays tonight in Orlando, and I hope that you have tickets. If not, we can still watch as we wait for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday. On a personal note, this Friday will mark my ninth anniversary with The Mane Land. It’s been a heck of a ride, and I’m glad you’ve been there with us. Here’s to many more years to come. Let’s get to the links.

Leagues Cup Forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup Win

Orlando City is playing in the Leagues Cup starting at the end of July and here’s a nice guide to Orlando’s group for the tournament. Of course, the Leagues Cup organizers want you to be pumped so that you watch and buy tickets. I think that is something we should do simply to support the club. However, I don’t think they went about promoting the competition in quite the right way. In a tweet that has since been deleted, the tournament’s social media team stated the Leagues Cup would be Orlando’s chance to win its first trophy. Did you catch the mistake? Taylor Twellman did.

Good on you, Taylor. Facundo Torres was indeed brilliant in that match, as was Benji Michel. Of course, there were others that caught the faux pas as well.

I think we should also be mentioning the USL Championships, but what do I know? Evidently, more than the Leagues Cup’s social media team.

USMNT to Honor Pulse Victims

There’s plenty of fake, corporate shows of support for Pride Month , but in general I think that the USMNT and USWNT have done a good job of being legitimate allies to the LGBTQIA+ community. Tonight, the USMNT will play a friendly against Brazil at Camping World Stadium on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The players will be wearing Pride jerseys to honor those who lost their lives so senselessly eight years ago.

In terms of the game, the USMNT will be without Josh Sargent for the match, and Tyler Adams will only get limited minutes if he plays, as both are coming back from injuries. Get well before the Copa America, lads.

Lions on International Duty

The United States U-23 Men’s National Team lost 2-0 to Japan in its final friendly match before the Olympics. Orlando City’s Duncan McGuire found himself on a bit of an island up top as the U.S. had difficulty moving the ball through the midfield. Hopefully, the U.S. got such play out of its system heading into the Olympics.

OCB’s Wilfredo Rivera made the most of his time playing in Puerto Rico’s World Cup qualifier against Anguilla, scoring a brace in the 8-0 victory. This win comes after a scoreless draw with El Salvador last week and Puerto Rico’s remaining group games during this round of qualifying will be next June.

Exploring NWSL Expansion Options

The NWSL will be expanding to 16 teams in 2026 with many cities vying for the next franchise. The leaders include Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Minneapolis. Atlanta, Denver, and Jacksonville are potential choices as well. If it was to be given to either Atlanta or Jacksonville they would be regional rivals for the Orlando Pride. The league is expected to make a decision by the fourth quarter of 2024.

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  • Congratulations to the U-15 United States Women’s National Team, which won 4-0 over Germany.
  • Did you ever have one of those dreams that was a little scary, but also absolutely hilarious? This preview of Inter Miami’s new mascot is a bit like that. To misquote Jaws: “Ever seen an Inter Miami mascot’s eyes, Chief? He’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes.”
  • The Cayman Islands Men’s National Football Team forfeited its match against Cuba because many of its players are on visas in the United States. If those players were to travel to Cuba, the U.S. may have canceled those visas due to travel restrictions.
  • This is one of the most ridiculous no-calls I’ve ever seen. India got royally hosed.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday night. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/11/24

Julie Doyle up for Goal of the Week, scouting Brazil ahead of USMNT match, Valencia fans convicted of racial abuse, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. After a brief break, Orlando City will be back in action when it takes on LAFC at home on Saturday. The Orlando Pride will visit a struggling North Carolina Courage side on the same day, while Orlando City B will have an oddly placed Thursday match against Chattanooga FC. With such a busy week ahead of us, it’s little surprise that we have a lot to talk over this morning. Let’s get into it.

Julie Doyle Up for Goal of the Week

Pride forward Julie Doyle has been nominated for NWSL Goal of the Week for her strike against the San Diego Wave during Friday’s 1-1 draw. Doyle opened the scoring in the 36th minute with an extremely well taken goal that came from a Barbra Banda assist. The Zambian forward made a run down the right wing and crossed for Doyle, but the ball was a little behind her and the chance looked to have gone. It hadn’t though, because Doyle contorted her body, hung out a foot, and let the momentum from the ball carry it into the back of San Diego’s net. Make sure you go vote for her to win!

Brazil Scouting Report

The United States Men’s National Team will play its final friendly before Copa America Wednesday night at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The idea of any USMNT game is slightly nauseating after the Yanks were throttled 5-1 by Colombia on Saturday, but the fact that they’ll square off against a loaded Brazil side means things aren’t going to be any easier. While Brazil has struggled early in World Cup qualifying, it will likely run out a front three of Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr., and Raphina that’s capable of causing plenty of damage. Brazil prefers to control the ball and build from the back with short passing movements, but has no qualms about ceding possession and breaking on the counter, something that caused no shortage of issues for the U.S. against Colombia.

Valencia Fans Convicted of Racial Abuse

A trio of Valencia fans will serve eight months in prison after being convicted of racially abusing Vinicius Jr. Additionally, they are barred from entering soccer stadiums for two years and will pay for court proceedings. The convictions are the first for racism in professional soccer in Spain, and a case was opened after the fans made monkey noises and gestures during a game in May of 2023. The Brazilian forward in particular has faced racial abuse during his time playing in Spain, but he’s far from the only player, as the trial for a fan accused of abusing Inaki Williams during a match in 2020 has still yet to even begin.

The Soccer Tournament Concludes

The Soccer Tournament wrapped up Monday night with a pair of engrossing championship matches. In the women’s bracket, US Women defeated the North Carolina Courage 6-3, with Talia Dellapuerta scoring the winning goal. US Women featured United States Women’s National Team greats Heather O’Reilly and Ali Kreiger, and the team won the first women’s edition of the tournament and the $1 million prize that comes with it.

On the men’s side, former Orlando City player Nani and his team, Nani FC, fell to La Bombonera, which scored mere minutes into the match and never looked back on its way to a convincing 4-0 win. La Bombonera becomes the second team to win it all following Newtown Pride FC’s victory in last year’s inaugural tournament.

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

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