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Orlando City vs. Atlanta United: Final Score 3-2 as Lions Roar Back from Two Deficits to Win

The Lions showed resiliency to bounce back from a pair of one-goal deficits and Mason Stajduhar earned his first win in his MLS debut.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Orlando City fell behind twice but showed resiliency to bounce back and claim a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Atlanta United at Exploria Stadium. Nani’s 87th-minute winner completed the comeback after Kyle Smith and Silvester van der Water had brought the Lions (8-4-4, 28 points) back from two one-goal deficits against the rival Five Stripes (2-6-8, 14 points).

With the win, Orlando City has now gone six consecutive matches without a loss to their northern rivals (3-0-3) and climbed back to second in the Eastern Conference race, at least for the moment.

“Obviously excited. Happy to see the players celebrate with our fans in a difficult victory but in the end a victory that means a lot for us,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the game. “It’s been a difficult week for us. It’s well known that the performance we had last week, we needed to just erase and then learn from it and bounce back. Many things needed to happen. The players were incredible today.”

Pareja gave Homegrown goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar his first MLS start in goal behind a back line of Smith, a masked Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Uri Rosell and Andres Perea started in central midfield, with Chris Mueller and Mauricio Pereyra facilitating the attack and Nani and Benji Michel up top. Junior Urso made the game day squad on the bench. Tesho Akindele, who played last night for Canada in Austin, TX, also was on the bench for Orlando.

Orlando got forward in the opening seconds and Ruan was dangerous from the get-go but when a cross didn’t find its intended target, Atlanta scored going the other way. A quick cross from Brooks Lennon on the left found Martinez near the top of the box and he sent a rocket off the right post that caromed in. The visitors led before the first minute of the match had expired.

“Just trying to get through some hurdles there,” Pareja said of his team falling behind twice. “The first goal that they scored in the first 30-45 seconds and then we needed to overcome that. And then also the second goal was a difficult moment. But I think we showed what the team is made of. The players need all the recognition, and seriously today they won a very important match — not just the three points, but just the way they brought things back. It’s a credit for them.”

The Lions should have pulled that goal right back in the third minute. Ruan got down the right and had Michel breaking in alone at the back post but the Brazilian hit his cross too hard and it skipped through the box before Michel could get onto it, wasting a tap-in opportunity.

Ruan had a go himself in the 15th minute, firing Orlando’s first shot on goal but hitting it right at goalkeeper Alec Kann. A minute later, Stajduhar came up big to stop a shot from Erik Lopez at the other end as the game went back and forth.

Michel thought he’d tied the match in the 21st minute but Kann did well to make a sprawling, one-armed save. Atlanta immediately earned a corner at the other end and the Lions inexplicably left Martinez uncovered, but the Atlanta striker headed well over the bar. Carlos headed just wide on an Orlando corner in the 27th as the two teams continued battling end to end.

Michel struggled with his touch and his finishing throughout the first half. Nani tried to send him in alone in the 29th minute but he couldn’t control it. He was getting into dangerous positions but just couldn’t find the handle at the critical moment. In the 39th minute Ruan set him up right in front but Michel hit his shot right at Kann, and when the rebound came back to him, he couldn’t dig it out of his feet and the goalkeeper was able to regather it.

Ruan again got down the right in the 42nd minute and without a good option in front he sent a hard, low shot on target from a tight angle. Kann made the save, but the Lions scored on the ensuing corner kick. Nani sent his service across the box and Smith went low to get his head to it, knocking it past Kann to tie the match at 1-1 in the 43rd minute. It was Smith’s first goal with Orlando City.

“I was making a late run in the box and then I was just trying to keep moving to create space for myself if a ball did come in that I could hit,” Smith said. “That’s what happened and the ball comes in and two people I think jumped in front of me, and so neither one of them headed it, so I didn’t even really have to jump, and after that I just tried to get as much power on it as I could, and keep it low so that I knew the goalie would have trouble with it, and it worked.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve scored a goal. I haven’t scored a goal for this club yet, going on about three years now, so I was very happy and glad I could tie things up for us in an important part of the game before half.”

The Lions kept coming at the end of the half and Mueller nearly gave Orlando the lead in stoppage time but Kann robbed him blind with a huge save on the goal line.

The teams went to the break all knotted up.

Orlando generated more shots (9-4) and shots on target (7-2) and passed more accurately (90.9%-86.7%). Atlanta held slightly more possession (51.8%-48.2%) and had more corners (3-2).

Nani won a corner early in the second half as the Lions continued to get forward in the attack. Pereyra sent a ball well wide of goal while falling after a rare mistake by Kann trying to play a cross. The Uruguayan lost his balance trying to change directions to get on the ball just outside the area and couldn’t get the effort on target. Ruan won another corner in the 53rd minute as he continued to give Atlanta problems down the wing.

Atlanta regained the lead against the run of play in the 66th minute. Pereyra made an ill-advised play to allow a pass across the midfield to go through him, but Nani couldn’t get onto it in time and Atlanta caught the Lions with Ruan and Mueller too far up field. Marcelino Moreno got the ball with time and space on the left corner of the area, cut to his right and smashed a ball just inside the upper right corner where Stajduhar couldn’t reach it, putting Atlanta up 2-1.

The Lions continued to earn set pieces and get half chances, but the game changed in the 74th minute when Pareja sent on van der Water and Akindele for Rosell and Mueller. Van der Water nearly made an impact four minutes later when he got into space but Pereyra’s pass was a rocket that he couldn’t settle. However, he changed the match a minute later. Pereyra sent a beautiful ball over the top to Michel on the left. Benji headed the ball across the box and van der Water was there to head it past Kann to tie the match at 2-2 in the 79th minute.

Smith turned over the ball in his own end moments later and gave Atlanta a chance to regain the lead again from a corner kick. The cross was low and deflected to Anton Walkes, who hit his shot just wide of the goal in the 82nd minute, although it appeared Stajduhar may have had it covered.

Orlando finally took the lead in the 87th minute. Van der Water got the ball on the right, cut back to the corner of the box and sent in a dangerous cross. Nani timed his run perfectly, got his head on the cross, and knocked it past Kann to make it 3-2 with his eighth goal of the season.

“It’s important to let you all know, and the fans, that Silvester has done a great effort trying to adjust to many things,” Pareja said of the evening’s star substitute. “I think he’s doing a good job in learning but it takes some time. Last week he presented some tightness. He needed to come out from the game. During the week he had that tightness and he was brave to be part of the game today despite that difficulty that he had, and I think the game rewarded him tonight. He’s an important player. We brought him to do those things. Silvester today he came in and showed us all the potential that he has and I’m very happy for him.”

The Lions saw out five minutes of stoppage time with the help of Urso and Joey DeZart, who came on for Nani and Pereyra, and prevented the Five Stripes from mounting any kind of danger down the stretch.

Orlando out-shot Atlanta 15-6 (9-3 on target), earned more corners (6-4), and passed more accurately (88.5%-85.1%). The Five Stripes managed a bit more possession (50.8%-49.2%).

“We needed to win, especially after the last match in New York City,” Smith said. “It was a big, big, win for us, so I’m very excited for all of us (and) excited to score my first goal in my career in the MLS.”

Stajduhar had only one save but it was a big one and he couldn’t do anything about either of the goals as he earned his first MLS win. As a cancer survivor, it was an emotional moment for the Homegrown Player to get his first start and first victory in front of friends and family.

“It was a great feeling just to get the win — obviously that, most importantly — and then it feels like a big weight off my shoulders,” Stajduhar said. “It’s almost been six years to make my debut, so I’m very happy. It felt just so natural and right in front of The Wall. Unfortunately they banged in a goal first 45 seconds. That’s how it rolls sometimes but we got the win and that’s what matters.”


Orlando City will host its second straight rival on Wednesday when Inter Miami visits for the season’s second Tropic Thunder match.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from Orlando City beating the Earthquakes on the West Coast?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City wrapped up three matches in eight days with a trip out west on short rest for a late night matchup against the San Jose Earthquakes. Playing level throughout much of the match, it appeared as though both teams would split the points until the Cardiac Cats found some late magic. What follows are my immediate takeaways from an unexpected, yet satisfying, three points.

3-5-2 For the Win

The 3-5-2 lineup returned once again and proved to be quite a versatile team shape for the Lions. Against San Jose, the Lions were without captain Robin Jansson due to injury and defensive midfielder Cesar Araujo was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Dagur Dan Thorhallsson returned to the starting lineup and slotted in as a wingback in the formation. Wilder Cartagena excelled once again as a center back, and Felipe did well filling in for Araujo in the midfield. The shape has allowed the coaching staff to more easily fill gaps with different players as needed, and I think we may see it as the default formation for the foreseeable future.

Duncan McGuire Injured Early On

Jack Lynn was substituted on in the 15th minute for an injured Duncan McGuire, who landed awkwardly on his right arm after being sandwiched between two Quakes players in an aerial duel. It was an early exit for McGuire, who tried to stop his fall by sticking out his forearm. Given the injuries the team has dealt with over the last several matches, one can only hope this does not lead to a prolonged absence for Orlando’s leading scorer.

Ivan Angulo Defies Tired Legs

No one would have faulted the Lions for sitting back as the match neared its end given that this was their third match in eight days, and second on the road during that stretch. It makes the effort Ivan Angulo gave to help create the winning goal even more impressive. After running up and down the field all game, Angulo chased down a clearance after a San Jose corner kick and beat defenders down the length of the field on a lung-busting run. The fitness staff and trainers deserve some credit for ensuring that the Lions had their legs under them that late into a match considering the travel and schedule congestion of the week.

Jack Lynn After Dark

Jack Lynn, who was selected in the first round of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, found the back of the net for the second time this season. In what was likely an unexpected 75 minutes of game action for him, Lynn scored late to give Orlando all three points. The goal was a combination of being in the right place at the right time, as Martin Ojeda mishit his shot after the cross from Angulo, and impressive body control from Lynn, who contorted his body to redirect the ball into the back of the net. It was an impressive finish for Lynn, who had another great chance to put the game away that was saved just minutes prior to his goal. Lynn ultimately would not be denied and made sure the Orlando City fans back on the East Coast woke up to good news.

Making History On the Road

Orlando City and the San Jose Earthquakes do not exactly have a storied rivalry however, anytime the club can achieve a first in team history it should be mentioned. Last evening’s victory marked Orlando City’s first ever road victory against the Earthquakes. Heading into this match, I thought the Lions would opt for a heavily rotated lineup on the road, as the Lions were facing a club at the bottom of the Western Conference table on short rest. Instead, the club turned in a classic performance under Pareja, staying defensively sound to keep the game close and get a result on the road. The Lions were able to get the win on a counter attack and the result secured seven points from their last three matches.


Those are the things that stood out most to me from the 1-0 victory against the Earthquakes, let us know in the comments below what stood out to you. As always, vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/20/24

Lions and Pride win, MLS weekend recap, Manchester City wins Premier League title, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. It was another good weekend for our teams, as Orlando City and the Pride both won their respective matches. I’ve been busy covering high school playoff action with soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, and softball. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Pull Out Late Win on the Road

Orlando City pulled out a late 1-0 win on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes at PayPal Park on Saturday. Jack Lynn came off the bench and scored the lone goal in this match for Orlando to grab the three points. Duncan McGuire started the match but had to be substituted out early in the first half due to injury and was replaced by Lynn. The Lions are on a three-match unbeaten streak after a scoreless draw at home against Inter Miami on Wednesday. Orlando City moves up to 10th in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. The Lions return to action on Saturday to face the Columbus Crew at Inter&Co Stadium.

Orlando Pride Win Against Seattle Reign FC

The Orlando Pride won their seventh straight match after a 3-2 win against the Seattle Reign at Lumen Field on Sunday. There were plenty of goals in this one, with Barbra Banda lifting the Pride to their first ever win in Washington against the Reign. Orlando remains undefeated in league play after 10 matches and the Pride sit atop the NWSL table with 24 points. The Pride return home for a Friday night matchup against the Portland Thorns at Inter&Co Stadium.

MLS Weekend Recap

It was another busy weekend in MLS, with four rivalry matches taking place. Let’s start with the Hudson River Derby, as New York City FC edged past the New York Red Bulls 2-1. Real Salt Lake got a thrilling 5-3 win against the Colorado Rapids in the Rocky Mountain Cup. In Canada, Toronto FC cruised past CF Montreal with a 5-1 victory. The Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas battled to a 1-1 draw down in Texas. FC Cincinnati defeated St. Louis City SC 3-1, while the Columbus Crew beat the Chicago Fire 3-1 as well.

The Philadelphia Union shut out the New England Revolution 3-0 to snap its six-match winless streak. Austin FC won 3-2 over Sporting Kansas City, Minnesota United handed the Portland Timbers a 2-1 defeat, and Inter Miami got a late goal from Leonardo Campana for a 1-0 win over D.C. United.

Manchester City Wins English Premier League

Manchester City defeated West Ham 3-1 to win a historic fourth consecutive Premier League title on Sunday with 91 points on the final day of the season. Phil Foden scored twice in this match as Manchester City became the first club to win four straight Premier League trophies. Arsenal defeated Everton 2-1 but ended up short of the title, finishing second with 89 points. Liverpool won in Jurgen Klopp’s final match as manager, beating Wolves 2-0 to finish third. Aston Villa finished fourth despite a 5-0 loss to Crystal Palace, Tottenham finished fifth, and Chelsea finished sixth in the table. Luton Town lost 4-2 at home to Fulham to finish 18th, officially joining Burnley and Sheffield United in being relegated to the EFL Championship next season. 

Free Kicks

  • Former Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner has agreed to a one-year contract extension with Manchester United, with an option for another year. Manchester United won its first major trophy earlier this month, winning the Women’s FA Cup.
  • Former USMNT player Jonathan Bornstein has agreed to play for NPSL side Tallahassee SC in their summer season. He made his debut on Saturday as the Battle Lions won their opener 2-0 against the Miami Dutch Lions FC.
  • According to Tom Bogert, new MLS expansion side San Diego FC is reportedly closer to sealing a move to sign Chucky Lozano over from PSV Eindhoven.
  • Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi announced he will leave the club after its Premier League season ended in a 2-0 loss to Manchester United on Sunday. 
  • Bayer Leverkusen completed its Bundesliga season unbeaten with a 2-1 win over FC Augsburg. The club also made history as the first team in the history of the Bundesliga to complete a full season without a loss. 

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions individually rate in Orlando City’s win on the road?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

The Lions went across the country to face the San Jose Earthquakes and will return to Orlando with all three points after a 1-0 win. Jack Lynn, who came on in the first half for an injured Duncan McGuire, scored the only goal of the game. Here’s how I saw each individual Lion’s performance in Orlando’s win on the road.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 6.5 — El Pulpo came up with four saves in the shutout, with three of them coming within the span of a few minutes in the first half. Gallese wasn’t tested as much in the second half, but he did make a big save to deny Jack Skahan late in the match. In terms of distribution, eight of his 19 long balls were accurate and he completed 60.7% of his 28 passes. All in all, it was another strong outing from the Peruvian.

D, David Brekalo, 7.5 (MotM) — Brekalo did a great job putting out fires in Orlando’s defense, leading the team with eight clearances. He won five of his seven aerial duels, and had two interceptions and a tackle as well. Although only one of his nine long balls was accurate, he had a key pass for setting up a shot by Martin Ojeda that was deflected out for a corner. He also did well winning a foul in the first half that stopped a potential San Jose counter and gave Orlando a set piece in a good area. Brekalo finished the game with 46 passes at an 80.4% success rate and is our Man of the Match for anchoring Orlando’s defense in a shutout.

D, Wilder Cartagena, 7.5 — The Peruvian started as a center back for the Lions and looked the part once again. Cartagena was patient and clinical when it came to his defending, leading the Lions with five tackles and stopping some of San Jose’s most dangerous attacks. He also had four clearances and two interceptions in an excellent defensive performance. Cartagena completed 86.1% of his 43 passes and two of his seven long balls found their mark.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6 — Schlegel also did well as part of Orlando’s defense, recording four clearances, two tackles, and an interception. He won two of his three aerial duels as well, playing physically without committing any fouls. The Argentine defender was accurate on three of his 10 long balls and had 46 passes at a 73.9% success rate. He had a solid game and will return to Orlando with a few bumps and bruises along with the team’s clean sheet.

WB, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 5.5 — Thorhallsson returned to the starting lineup for the first time since May 4. There were a few nervous moments when he was tasked with marking players lurking at the back post, but San Jose wasn’t able to make Orlando pay for it. He had three clearances and two tackles before being subbed out in the 78th minute. Offensively, he did well to find open space, but wasn’t able to capitalize on his chances as neither of his two shots were on target. Thorhallsson’s best chance came when a cutback cross from Ivan Angulo found him with all the time in the world to pick out his shot in the box, only to send it wide. His passing could’ve been a bit tidier, as he had 30 passes at a 76.7% success rate, neither of his two long balls were accurate, and just one of his four crosses were successful. Regardless, it was nice to see Thorhallsson back in the swing of things after missing time.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 7 — Angulo applied plenty of defensive pressure throughout the match, but still had enough left in the tank to assist on Orlando’s winning moment. The Colombian raced down the left wing on a counter and then picked out Ojeda in the box, whose mishit volley wound up with Lynn scoring. Angulo nearly had another assist for his cutback cross that found Thorhallsson open as well. He completed 90.9% of his 44 passes and two of his three crosses were accurate. Defensively, he had three tackles and a clearance as well. This game was a testament to how much of an impact the speedy Lion can have on a match.

MF, Felipe, 6.5 — Felipe replaced the suspended Cesar Araujo in the starting lineup and did fairly well, shutting down San Jose’s passing lanes and plugging holes in Orlando’s defensive shape as needed. He had a team-high three interceptions, along with four tackles and two clearances. The midfielder had 40 passes at a strong 90% success rate and one of his three long balls was accurate. It was a fairly quiet night from the veteran, which isn’t the worst thing for a defensive midfielder and he did well filling in for Araujo.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6.5 — Lodeiro led the Lions with 94 touches and 75 passes, directing things while Orlando had possession. He was successful on 84% of those passes and two of his three long balls, though none of his five crosses found their man. Lodeiro’s lone shot went high and off target, but he did have two key passes to set up a pair of chances for Luis Muriel. He chipped in defensively with two tackles, an interception, and a clearance as well. Even though he wasn’t able to replicate the offensive output he showed against the Philadelphia Union, Lodeiro did well in his third straight match playing the full 90 minutes.

WB, Facundo Torres, 6 — Torres didn’t have a shot in the match, but did have two key passes to generate some offense. Although only one of his five crosses were accurate, he still did well putting the ball into open areas in the box. His only attempted long ball wasn’t successful, but he did complete 91.9% of his 37 passes. Torres spent most of his time attacking through the wings, and didn’t contribute too much defensively beyond a clearance and sprinting back to give the back line support when needed.

F, Luis Muriel, 6.5 — The forward continued to look dangerous with the ball at his feet and had three shots in the match. Of his three shots, one forced a good save out of San Jose goalkeeper William Yarbrough, one was blocked before it could test Yarbrough, and another was sent off target from distance. He may have only been successful on one of his five attempted dribbles, but Muriel also had a key pass and both of his long balls were accurate. Muriel was fairly involved with 58 touches, won all three of his aerial duels, and helped out on defense with two tackles and a clearance.

F, Duncan McGuire, N/A — McGuire had to be subbed out in the 16th minute due to an arm injury after colliding with Bruno Wilson in the air. The Lions played with 10 men for a few minutes while medical staff looked him over, but Lynn ultimately replaced him on the field. McGuire had eight touches and completed three of his four passes, while also recording a clearance before his early exit.

Substitutes

F, Jack Lynn, (16′), 6.5 — Lynn came into the match to replace McGuire and scored the winner late in the match to give the Lions all three points on the road. The 24-year-old maintained focus when Ojeda didn’t strike the ball cleanly and buried the bouncing ball into the back of the net. His goal was his third shot and final shot of the match after sending a glancing header wide and having another header saved at point-blank range earlier on. Lynn may have only won one of his five aerial duels, but his hold-up play was decent. He had 18 passes at a 66.7% success rate and 33 touches before being subbed off in stoppage time after scoring. Lynn was a bit sloppy at times, but ultimately gave the Lions an unlikely win.

MF, Martin Ojeda, (79′), N/A — Ojeda was credited with an assist for his role in Lynn’s goal, even if he fully intended on scoring himself with his strike. While there was luck involved, he deserves credit for getting in a good position and taking a crack at goal. His other shot was a try from distance that was deflected out for a corner kick. He completed all but one of his seven passes, had 13 touches, and neither of his two crosses connected.

WB, Rafael Santos, (79′), N/A — Santos came into the match for Facundo Torres and it didn’t take long for him to make his presence known. He whipped in a pinpoint cross for Lynn in the 82nd minute that the forward should have done better with. It was a key pass for Santos and one of his two successful crosses in his limited time on the field. He completed four of his passes, helped secure the clean sheet with an interception and clearance on the defensive end.

WB, Kyle Smith, (90’+2), N/A — Smith came on in stoppage time to give the Lions some fresh legs and another defender to help see out the match, although he didn’t have any touches in his brief cameo.

MF, Jeorgio Kocevski, (90’+2), N/A — The rookie made his first appearance with the first team since March. He also didn’t have any touches or contributions in his short time on the field, although it was still nice to see Kocevski get some playing time.


How did you see the individual performances in this game? Make your voice heard down in the comments, and be sure to vote in our Man of the Match poll.

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