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Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Santos Laguna

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Tonight, Orlando City faces Santos Laguna in the Leagues Cup, taking on the six-time Liga MX champions as the Lions start their quest to claim a piece of sliverware as an MLS club.

Ahead of this one I spoke to Eugene Rupinski, one of the writers at SBNation’s FMF State of Mind, and he gave some excellent insight with regards to what we should expect from Santos. Our own Michael Citro also answered some of his questions about Orlando City which you can find here, so make sure you check those out over at their place, too.

The Leagues Cup is a slightly curious competition for both teams, since it’s only been played once back in 2019 and falls smack in the middle of the Liga MX and MLS seasons. With that being said, its an opportunity for silverware, so how serious do you think Santos is taking the Cup?

Eugene Rupinski: I think teams are always going to want to compete and win, especially when you throw in the rivalry Liga MX and MLS have. That said, this is something only slightly more than a friendly and I don’t think they’ll be pulling out all of the stops for it. Santos is dealing with some injuries and are in the midst of a stretch where they will be playing five games in 14 days. While I don’t think they’re going to roll over for Orlando, I’m not sure they’re going to go full bore either.

What sort of style should we expect to see from Santos? What is the team’s preferred method of play?

ER: Santos plays a high press (think New York Red Bulls under Jesse Marsch or the Philadelphia Union under Jim Curtin), forcing players to make mistakes and capitalizing on them. Although there have been issues with being clinical in front of goal, the team is defensively solid and thrives on set pieces.

Give me some names to watch out for on Thursday. Who should Orlando City fans keep an eye on?

ER: Santos has a star in goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo. Acevedo took the starting job in 2020 after several spot starts seasons prior, where he excelled. At just 25, he makes impossible saves look routine and is just a calming presence in net. Other players to watch are mostly in the middle of the pitch. Center back Matheus Dória covers a lot of ground and makes smart decisions on the pitch. Fernando Gorriarán is a workhorse in midfield and was recently called up to the Uruguay national team for the Copa América tournament, and free-kick specialist Diego Valdés are also players that have been critical to Santos’ success.

Are there any injuries, suspensions, or call-ups that will keep players unavailable for selection? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?

ER: Winger Brian Lozano is coming back from a broken leg suffered at the beginning of 2020. He made a sub appearance in Santos’ first match but hasn’t played since. Omar Campos suffered a sprain against Tigres and will be out for two weeks, and forward Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre has been with the Mexican National Team that won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, so he’s most likely not going to play. Santiago Muñoz is also most likely not going to play, as there is some ongoing drama around a potential move to Europe. That said, I think the biggest thing that will keep players out is the risk of match fatigue. That makes everything about this match hard to predict.

Under normal circumstances I’d expect Santos’ starting lineup would be Acevedo in goal, David Andrade, Matheus Dória, Félix Torres, and Carlos Orrantia left to right on the back four, with Roni Prieto, Fernando Gorriarán, and Diego Valdés the central midfield triangle and Juan Ferney Otero and Jordan Carrillo on the left and right wings respectively with Alberto Ocejo at forward. That said, I would expect some rotation and bench players like Andrés “Pikiña” Ibargüen, Hugo Rodríguez, and Jesús Isijara as well as new arrival Alessandro Da Cruz to get some playing time.

2-1 Orlando. I hate to say it but I think it’ll be Orlando’s night.


Big thanks to Eugene for the information on Santos Laguna. Vamos Orlando!

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from a 2-2 road draw against CF Montréal?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City drew CF Montréal 2-2 on the road at Stade Saputo. It was a dominating first-half performance for the Lions, when the club finally showed some consistency with how potent the players could be up top. While there is a difference in prolificity and potency, it is the first match this campaign where the spark was there from all players in the attack. If the team can continue to find linkups in the final third as they did Saturday night, we might just see the team’s 2023 form return with plenty of 2024 season left to play.

Here are my five takeaways from the draw with the team of Club Foots.

Designated Players Can Score

It took Facundo Torres six matches, but he has finally opened his 2024 scoring account to prove that Orlando City Designated Players do in fact know where the enemy net is. Central midfielder Nicolás Lodeiro dinked a ball forward towards the penalty spot for striker Luis Muriel, who ran on with pace before being brought down in the area for a spot kick. Torres stepped up and continued his four-for-four streak from the penalty spot. While it would be great to see him score in the run of play, this might just be what he needed to really get going for the rest of the year.

Muriel Shows Serie A Spark

When Muriel joined Orlando City from Atalanta in Italy’s top flight, it was never a question of if he would be good enough for MLS but rather when his adjustment period would be over. This might have just been the performance we have been waiting for him to unleash. Throughout the first half, Muriel found the half-spaces to get on the ball as a target striker in holdup play but also making runs into the channel as needed as well. His first half was capped with a 70% passing success rate and ultimately drawing the penalty that leveled the score before the break.

Orlando Needs Nico

When Nicolás Lodeiro replaced his Uruguayan countryman Mauricio Pereyra, it seemed like an instant upgrade despite going up in age to a 35-year-old. However, a slow start in league play seemingly left question marks as to whether it was the right move after all. Lodeiro is part of the problem that is keeping Designated Player Martín Ojeda off of the pitch and starting XI, but the midfield maestro showed why Luiz Muzzi went after him this off-season with his passing proficiency against CF Montréal. Lodeiro set up the penalty and finished with 35 passes with a success rate of 91.4% across the night. He was able to connect the play from the back line to Torres and Muriel.

Super Substitutes Silence Stade Saputo

The Cardiac Cats once again proved their resiliencey, coming from behind not once, but twice, in the match. The second goal to draw level at 2-2 was inspired by the substitutions of Duncan McGuire and Martín Ojeda. McGuire laid off a perfect wall pass to Ojeda, who placed a brilliant low cross in front of goal, where Iván Angulo used his pace to beat the defender and tap one home late in the 92nd minute. It was yet another match in which McGuire came on late to impact the game. Just moments before, he barely missed a full volley that would have drawn the match level on his own, as a headed ball from Robin Jansson fell fortunately to him on the right side of the area.

Orlando Loves to Come From Behind

Yet again, Orlando City failed to find the game’s first goal. In this match, it was a 2-2 stoppage time draw, coming from behind CF Montréal. Last Saturday, it was a 3-2, stoppage-time victory, coming from behind to beat D.C. United. Before that, we witnessed a 1-1 draw gifted by the New York Red Bulls with an 89th-minute own goal. You have to look almost an entire month ago, to March 23, to see a match in which Orlando scored first and bagged a result. This isn’t to say that scoring first is required to win, but it is a whole lot easier to take home valuable points when you are the team doing so. If the Lions have any hope of making a deep playoff run, they will need to find a way to be the protagonists in the matches to come.


That’s what I saw in Orlando City’s come-from-behind draw against CF Montréal. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Final Score 2-2 as Lions’ Transition Defense Fails in Road Draw

For the second straight week, the Lions fell behind twice only to fight back. However, there was no winner this time..

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City came from behind twice for the second consecutive road game. However, this time, there was no late winner in a 2-2 draw against CF Montreal at Stade Saputo in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The teams split the points in both meetings this season, although at least there were goals in this one.

Facundo Torres and Ivan Angulo scored for Orlando (2-3-3, 9 points), offsetting strikes by Mason Toye and Ariel Lassiter of Montreal (3-3-2, 11 points). The Lions are unbeaten in four straight games (2-0-2), although the play of the defense continues to be puzzlingly poor. Orlando conceded multiple goals for the fourth consecutive road match, including another early one.

“We’re happy with the performance and tying the game at the end seems like it could be a good result, but we were eager to win it at the end as well, and we could have walked out with three points against a good team,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the game. “But the game itself was very competitive. I thought we played an excellent first half but we could maybe be clearer in those last actions there, but we really played well. The second half, they got some momentum from (when) they got the goal (late), but after that, I think we dominated the game.”

Pareja’s lineup had only one change from the starting XI that defeated D.C. United a week ago. Pedro Gallese started in goal behind a back line of Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, David Brekalo, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena took their usual spots in the defensive midfield behind an attacking line of Angulo, Nico Lodeiro (in for Martin Ojeda), and Torres, with Luis Muriel up top.

Both teams started the match probing the other’s defenses, so much of the play early was between the penalty boxes. Jansson was booked early for something early in the match while looking to restart play after an infraction on Montreal, which seemed to surprise the Swede.

The opening goal came out of nowhere on the first real chance for either side. Montreal’s Samuel Piette was in his own half of the field, but wasn’t closed down. Toye timed his run well and roasted the Orlando City back line, which was caught sleeping. Toye took down the pass from Piette, rounded Gallese, who had come off of his line, and slammed the ball into the empty net from the left. It was the kind of sleepy play from the defense that has been on display since the season started, and it bit the Lions again, putting Montreal on top just 16 minutes in.

Orlando City pulled the goal right back with some help from Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois. Lodeiro slipped the ball into the area for Muriel, who arrived at the ball at the same time as Sirois. The Montreal goalkeeper appeared to get a touch to the ball but then got a lot of Muriel in the 19th minute, and referee Jon Freemon wasted no time pointing to the spot. The play was checked and the penalty call was upheld.

Torres sent Sirois the wrong way and blasted the ball into the upper left corner of the net to make it 1-1 in the 22nd minute.

Torres’ goal was the first by an Orlando City Designated Player in 2024, although it was from the penalty spot.

Thorhallsson had an opportunity to put the Lions ahead a minute after the penalty conversion on a ball into the box that ricocheted into his feet. The Icelandic fullback, however, could not find the handle and lost control of the ball right in front of goal. A minute after that chance, Muriel came close to scoring his first MLS goal from the top of the area, sending his shot just wide of the upper left corner.

Montreal defender George Campbell wasn’t closed down from long range in the 29th minute, so he had a hit. Campbell’s shot didn’t miss by much, but it was always high and buzzed the back of the top of the net on the way down.

Smith had a golden opportunity in the 41st minute, getting into the left side of the box. But the fullback hit his shot/cross just wide of the far post and out of play. Orlando had a few set piece opportunities in the later stages of the second half but could do nothing with them.

Similarly, Montreal had a free kick in a dangerous spot, courtesy of an unnecessary foul by Cartagena. Choiniere went for goal or the back post in the 45th minute, but either way it was comfortable for Gallese to stop.

Orlando got a bit sloppy with the ball late in the half, allowing Montreal to get a lot of late possession, but little came of it. The last chance of the half fell to Torres from long range, but the Uruguayan hit his shot poorly and sent it soaring high over the goal.

The teams went to the break all tied up at 1-1. Orlando’s biggest problem in the first half, aside from falling asleep to allow the opening goal, was getting into promising situations and then delivering passes either slighly off line or too close to a defender to easily knock away.

Montreal held a slight edge in possession (50.3%-49.7%), passed more accurately (84.2%-82.3%), and put more of its shots on target (2-1). Orlando City attempted more shots (4-3), and won more corners (2-0).

The hosts held possession for most of the first four minutes of the second half. Montreal played direct more out of the break and nearly created something just seconds after the restart. Smith had to be sharp to knock away a dangerous cross from the left in the 46th minute.

Thorhallsson nearly found Angulo on Orlando’s first attack of the half in the 50th minute. The fullback sent a ball to the top of the six but Sirois got there just ahead of Angulo to smother the chance.

Montreal then attacked quickly and got in behind down the left. Gallese made a vital save with his left hand to deny Lassiter at the other end.

Lodeiro nearly picked out Thorhallsson with a dangerous cross in the 52nd minute but the defense arrived just in time to knock it behind for a corner. The Lions took the corner short and made a complete mess of it.

Jansson provided a vital block in front in the 55th minute to deny a cross getting in to Toye after Thorhallsson lost track of Raheem Edwards on the wing. The corner was headed away by Jansson. Edwards gathered and fired from distance but his shot was well wide of the left post.

Muriel conceded a set piece in the 59th minute, dropping back to help when Orlando was struggling to break out of its own end. The ball in was knocked away by Gallese, but he needed a visit from the trainers at the next play stoppage. The Peruvian was able to continue, and Muriel was subbed out for Duncan McGuire.

A good ball out of the back sprung McGuire down the left in the 69th minute. The striker picked out Torres crashing into the box but the Uruguayan’s shot was blocked by Joaquin Sosa.

Montreal appeared to score the late game-winning goal in the 88th minute and once again it was a direct play that sliced the Orlando defense open. A diagonal ball somehow got through Brekalo, who seemed to have it measured. Instead, it ended up on the foot of substitute Sunusi Ibrahim, who curled back to the top of the area and fired a shot. Gallese got down to parry it away but Smith got caught ball watching and did not have Lassiter marked, allowing him to swoop in and score an easy goal. Montreal led 2-1 with just two minutes remaining in normal time.

“We are trying to have more cohesiveness with the players that are starting or playing the game,” Pareja said of his defense. “Our lines have to be better. Conceding early goals or conceding goals especially in the first half for us is something we need to resolve and we need to figure it out. How can we be more solid? Not just a defender’s problem. It’s a collective problem. We all have to be in charge.”

It didn’t look like Orlando’s night when McGuire missed the net moments later. Off a set piece, the ball was headed by Jansson to his right, where McGuire volleyed it out of the air. His shot looked to be headed inside the top left corner but he missed the net wide by inches in the 90th minute.

No matter though. The Lions scored two minutes into stoppage time instead. McGuire played the ball out to Ojeda on the left and the Argentine drove toward the end line and sent a cross into the area in front of Sirois. Angulo won the race to the ball and put it in the net, scoring his first league goal of the season and tying the game in the 92nd minute.

“I saw ‘Tincho’ bringing it up into space on the left wing,” Angulo said through a club interpreter. “He found himself in a good spot and I saw a space that I could attack. I was able to attack the space right behind the fullback, and thankfully Tincho was able to get me the ball, and all I had to do was to push it in to get that tying goal,”

“The good news is that we are scoring now, that we are overcoming difficult moments, and the forwards are stepping up as well,” Pareja said.

The Lions nearly pulled off a mirror image of that goal five minutes later. Ojeda again got to the end line on the left and sent in a cross toward Angulo. This time the cross was just inches out of Angulo’s reach and skipped through the box.

Orlando ended the game with a series of corner kicks, but could not score on the set pieces and the game ended deadlocked.

Montreal’s stronger second half was reflected on the stats sheet. The hosts held the advantage in possession (53.5%-46.5%), shots (10-8), shots on target (5-2), and passing accuracy (84.6%-81.6%). The Lions won more corners (8-1).

“It was very tough game, very disputed game,” Angulo said. “A bunch of running. The way they like to play, they love to attack through the wings, so there was a lot there. But I feel like we rose to the level of the game. The way we played, we probably deserved three points, but happy to walk out of here with a point tonight.”

“After we have our results at home and we come out to this journey to go two games away against rivals who are direct and difficult rivals, and now we get these four points, just leaves us with the feeling that we are much more like us,” Pareja said. “The team is raising the confidence and everybody’s raising the level, and now we have two games at home where we have a big responsibility to keep adding and keep getting closer to the (top) of the standings.”


Orlando City returns home to face another Canadian side, as Toronto FC visits Inter&Co Stadium next Saturday.

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

The Lions look to keep building momentum as they visit Stade Saputo.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night matchup between Orlando City (2-3-2, 8 points) and CF Montreal (3-3-1, 10 points) at Stade Saputo (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the second of the two scheduled league meetings set for the 2024 regular season, however, the Lions will host CF Montreal in the Leagues Cup group stage on July 26.

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

History

The Lions are 8-9-4 against Montreal in the all-time regular-season series and 9-10-4 in all competitions since the club joined MLS. Orlando is 4-5-1 in away matches against Montreal in MLS play, although one of those “road” games took place at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey during the pandemic. The Lions are 4-6-1 in all competitions on the road against Montreal.

These teams opened the 2024 season against each other in Orlando and played to a 0-0 draw. The Lions dominated the stat sheet but had a goal waved off for offside and simply weren’t lethal enough in front of goal.

The teams met twice in 2023, completing the season series on Sept. 30, 2023, with the Lions winning 3-0 in dominant fashion. Jonathan Sirois’ own goal opened the scoring, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson and Facundo Torres added strikes for Orlando City. That was a good measure of revenge for OCSC, after Montreal defeated Orlando City 2-0 and handed the Lions their first road loss of the 2023 MLS season on May 6 at Stade Saputo. A Robin Jansson own goal got Montreal started in the second half and Romell Quioto added a second goal four minutes later.

These two sides met in the 2022 MLS playoffs, with CF Montreal knocking Orlando City out of the postseason by a 2-0 scoreline on Oct. 16, with goals by Ismael Kone and Djordje Mihailovic — the latter coming deep in stoppage time from the penalty spot.

Each team won at home in the two-game, regular-season series in 2022, with Montreal thumping Orlando 4-1 on May 7. Joel Waterman, Mihailovic, Joaquin Torres, and Zachary Brault-Guillard did the damage on the scoreboard and Orlando City managed just two shot attempts, with Joao Moutinho’s goal on a set piece helping the Lions avoid a shutout. Orlando City did not have either starting center back for that match, and it showed. The teams also met on opening day of the 2022 season, when Orlando City captured a 2-0 home win behind second-half goals from Alexandre Pato and Benji Michel.

In 2021, the teams met in Montreal on Decision Day, with the Lions earning a 2-0 road victory at Stade Saputo to clinch a playoff spot. Sebas Mendez and Daryl Dike provided the goals. That season’s matchup in Orlando came on Oct. 20, 2021, with the visitors managing a 1-1 draw. Chris Mueller struck for the Lions just before halftime, but Rudy Camacho answered on a corner kick header shortly after the restart. The first meeting of 2021 took place Sept. 15 in Orlando with the Lions falling 4-2 and finishing the game with just nine men after both Nani and Andres Perea were sent off. Quioto led Montreal with a goal and two assists. Mathieu Choiniere and Quioto put Montreal up 2-0, but despite already being down one man, Jansson and Ruan tied things up. The visitors got two more from Lassi Lappalainen and Sunusi Ibrahim.

The teams met at Red Bull Arena in late 2020 as the then-Montreal Impact played home games in New Jersey due to the pandemic. Orlando City got a Dike goal in the 39th minute to win 1-0 on Nov. 1, 2020. It was the second meeting of the 2020 season, with Orlando also beating Montreal 1-0 in the MLS is Back Tournament knockout rounds on July 25 to advance to the quarterfinals. Tesho Akindele scored the game’s only goal on a Montreal defensive mistake.

Orlando City snapped a six-game winless streak against Montreal (0-5-1) in MLS regular-season play dating back to 2016 when the Lions put the Impact to the sword in a 3-0 drubbing at Stade Saputo on June 1, 2019. Nani (penalty), Akindele, and Will Johnson supplied the offense that day. The Lions fell 3-1 at Exploria Stadium back on March 16, 2019, and Ignacio Piatti was a big reason why, scoring his ninth and 10th career goals against Orlando, adding to a strike by Orji Okwonkwo. Dom Dwyer added a cosmetic goal late for Orlando City to spoil the clean sheet.

Montreal did not allow a goal against the Lions in 2018, sweeping the two-game set from Orlando, and the Impact shut out Orlando City in three of the six meetings in that 5-0-1 run. The lone draw in that time frame was a 3-3 shootout in Orlando in 2017, in which the Impact led deep in stoppage time, only to see Jonathan Spector’s well-placed header steal the Lions a point.

Orlando won the first two meetings in 2016 by a combined score of 6-2. The teams split three meetings in 2015, with each going 1-1-1.

Match Overview

The Lions are coming off a 3-2, come-from-behind victory on the road against D.C. United last Saturday. Orlando City has a modest 2-0-1 unbeaten streak going entering tonight’s match, but just a 1-2-0 road record. The defense has been leakier on the road, conceding nine goals in three games. Even though five of those goals came in one match, it’s not a good look for last year’s MLS road warriors to concede multiple goals in every away match so far, and Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja knows he’ll have to find a way to shore up things on the defensive end. This isn’t just on the goalkeeper or back line, as the entire defense has lost shape or gotten caught repeatedly during 2024 road matches.

Pareja will also want his Designated Players to start scoring. This is the eighth match of the MLS season for Orlando and none of the three DPs has yet found the net.

Montreal will be playing just its second home game of the year, after going 2-3-1 in a long road trip to start the season. The Canadian side played its home opener one week ago and claimed a 2-1 win over last year’s Supporters’ Shield winner, FC Cincinnati. First-year CF Montreal Head Coach Laurent Courtois has already shown his side is improved. Montreal has already equaled its road wins total and attained half of its road draws total from a year ago. The Quebecois team went 2-13-2 away last year, so 2-3-1 is a big step in the right direction unless the wheels completely fall off.

Looking to improve from scoring just 36 goals during the 2023 season — tied for third worst in the Eastern Conference — Montreal has added former Inter Miami and Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez. He’s always a handful, and has two goals and a co-team-high three assists to his credit already in 2024, meaning he has contributed to half of Montreal’s 10 total goals this season. Uruguayan striker Matias Coccaro leads Montreal with three goals, while Choiniere has paced Martinez with three goals so far on the season.

“Certainly, we played against them already in a very good match here with a tie. Now we need to go to their place,” Pareja said. “We know they’re having good results too. That’s a team that has a new coach and has been gluing together. We’re very optimistic. We can go to Montreal as well and look forward to our victory.”

The Lions have only Ramiro Enrique (ankle) listed as out on the availability report.

Match Content


Official Lineups:

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, David Brekalo, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Nico Lodeiro, Facundo Torres.

Forward: Luis Muriel.

Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Rafael Santos, Michael Halliday, Rodrigo Schlegel, Jeorgio Kocevski, Felipe, Martin Ojeda, Jack Lynn, Duncan McGuire.

CF Montreal (3-4-3)

Goalkeeper: Jonathan Sirois.

Defenders: Joaquin Sosa, Joel Waterman, George Campbell.

Midfielders: Raheem Edwards, Mathieu Choiniere, Samuel Piette, Ruan.

Forwards: Ariel Lassiter, Bryce Duke, Mason Toye.

Bench: Sebastian Breza, Lassi Lappalainen, Gabriele Corbo, Victor Wanyama, Rida Zouhir, Ousman Jabang, Nathan Saliba, Dominic Iankov, Sunusi Ibrahim.

Referees:

REF: Jon Freemon.
AR1: Nick Uranga.
AR2: Gianni Facchini.
4TH: Filip Dujic.
VAR: Jorge Gonzalez.
AVAR: Craig Lowry.


How to Watch

Match Time: 7:30 p.m.

Venue: Stade Saputo — Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

TV/Live Stream: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English), Mega 97.1 FM (Spanish).

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


Enjoy the match. Go City!

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