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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Santos Laguna, Leagues Cup: Final Score 1-0 as Toothless Lions Knocked Out of the Tournament

A sloppy performance against a good Santos side results in Orlando City’s quick exit from the Leagues Cup.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Orlando City’s first foray into international competition could have gone better. The Lions nearly scored in the game’s opening seconds, then wasted numerous opportunities before falling 1-0 to Santos Laguna at Exploria Stadium in the Leagues Cup quarterfinals. Santos advances to play the Seattle Sounders in the semifinals.

The Lions struggled with their touch and passing accuracy all over the pitch, but especially in the midfield and attacking third and managed to get only two shots on frame on 13 attempts.

“Obviously frustrated with the result, but not with the way the boys played today, and the team, I think they showed a lot of personality tonight,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “Especially in the first half, where we created those options and we could have walked out of the game with a different result.”

Pareja started pretty much a full-strength lineup (minus a few injured players), with Mason Stajduhar in goal behind a first-team back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Junior Urso and Andres Perea patrolled the central midfield, with Mauricio Pereyra and Chris Mueller facilitating the attack to Nani and Tesho Akindele.

The Lions nearly scored in the opening seconds, getting the ball down the left before Pereyra cut a pass back across the box. It was a bit of a stretch for Mueller to get on it but he was able to direct a shot on target that eluded goalkeeper Gibran Lajud but was cleared off the line by Ronaldo Prieto, sliding across the front of goal.

“If (Mueller) put the ball in there, I believe that would have been a very different game,” Carlos said.

Nani fired over the bar two minutes later after a good pass from Mueller.

The visitors got their first chance in the fifth minute on a shot from Prieto that was partially blocked by the defense and easily scooped up by Stajduhar. A minute later, however, Urso made a bad back pass that was picked off by Juan Ferney Otero at the top of the area, but Stajduhar made a good save.

Nani fizzed a shot just over the bar in the 10th minute off a well-worked short corner as the Lions continued to look dangerous early. Urso tried a long-range effort four minutes later but his shot skipped about five yards wide of the left post.

Orlando nearly got caught on the counter in the 21st minute when Jansson made a run forward into the area before the play broke down. Santos had a 3-on-2 break but Prieto fired off target from just outside the area.

After a couple of set pieces for Santos didn’t amount to much, the Lions got another good opportunity, working the ball to the left side in the 28th minute. Moutinho’s cross found an open Ruan on the right but the fullback’s header was off target.

It was a costly miss, because two minutes later, the visitors opened the scoring.

Winning the ball in the middle of the pitch, a player knocked Antonio Carlos to the ground, but referee Selvin Brown allowed play to continue and Santos Laguna took advantage.

Diego Valdes sent the ball left to Otero, who cut inside and took a shot that skipped a few yards in front of Stajduhar. The bounce, and the spin on the ball, made the shot tough to handle for the young keeper. Stajduhar got a hand to it but couldn’t keep Otero’s shot out and Santos took the lead at the 30-minute mark.

Orlando tried to pull it right back. Ruan sent a cross from right to left in the 34th that Akindele got a foot to, sending it back toward the right post, but it floated just high, skipping off the top of the crossbar.

That was the last decent chance of the half and the visitors took their 1-0 lead into the break. Shots were even at 8-8 but Santos got more on target (3-1). Orlando held more possession (52.1%-47.9%), while Santos won more corners (2-1) and passed more accurately (79.4%-78.6%).

“I thought, especially the first couple minutes we had two really good chances. Chris had a good one, Luis (Nani) had a good one,” Akindele said. “And then after that, we just couldn’t break them down too much. I thought we did well at building out. Our midfielders brought us up into the middle third, and then the final third, but we were just unable to find that final pass sometimes tonight, and I don’t think we created enough shots on target that we would expect from ourselves with the quality that we have.”

The second half was an uphill battle. Santos played more defensively after the goal and that continued in the second half, with the visitors dropping their midfielders to take away space. Orlando was able to get into decent positions but either couldn’t get the final ball right or got swarmed trying to find the next pass. Often the play was too deliberate and the team rarely moved the ball with the one-touch passing that it has used so effectively at times over the past two seasons.

“There (were) some moments in the sequence where the connection needed to be faster,” Pareja said. “We needed to move the ball faster in order to get an advance, or a numerical superiority, and having the numerical superiority in the last third when you play faster, it gives you a better option. We didn’t create those. Not in the volume that we used to have against other teams. Give the credit to Santos. They have good defenders and they recovered or retrieved it fast. But we could have finished those sequences in a better speed, and probably that would open a better option for us.”

Pereyra tried his luck from outside the area in the 48th minute but the shot was deflected out for a corner by the defense. Nani tried a long-range effort in the 64th minute but Lajud fought it off on what turned out to be the final shot on target of the night by Orlando.

The Lions won a number of corner kicks, getting six in the second half after earning only one in the opening 45 minutes. However, they never really created anything off of them.

Substitute Silvester van der Water freed himself up for a shot just outside the area in the 81st minute, but his blast sailed just over the bar. That was the last decent chance for either side in the second half. Santos didn’t do much with their second-half chances on the counter, sending four of the team’s five shot attempts well off target.

A visibly angry and frustrated Urso was shown a straight red card at the end of the match for screaming at the referee.

Both teams finished with 13 shots, with Santos getting more on target (4-2). The Lions had more corners (7-6), more possession (53.2%-46.8%), and slightly better passing accuracy (80.7%-79.8%), but just didn’t have any ruthlessness in the final third.

As well organized as Santos is defensively, it was always an uphill battle after falling behind in the first half.

“I thought we played pretty well overall, and maybe we just needed to score a goal early in the game when we kind of had the momentum with us,” Akindele said.

“I think it’s a game that is going to make us grow,” Pareja said.


The Lions return to league play next Wednesday, Aug. 18 when they travel to Tennessee to take on Nashville SC.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Cavalry FC, Concacaf Champions Cup: Final Score 3-0 as Torres Brace Leads Lions to Road Win

The Lions are in the driver’s seat after a comprehensive victory over Cavalry FC in western Canada.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Duncan McGuire opened the scoring and Facundo Torres added a brace to lead Orlando City SC to a comfortable 3-0 win over Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia in the first leg of Concacaf Champions Cup play. Orlando scored their first road goals in the competition and have a huge advantage heading into next week’s return leg.

“It’s very good for the team. The clean sheet is very important for us and scoring three goals is a good score for returning home,” Orlando City Assistant Coach Diego Torres said after the match. “Cavalry is a good team. The Canada league is a good league. All of our team respects all rivals. The team came here serious for the game.”

With Oscar Pareja sidelined due to suspension for a red card after the second leg against Tigres in 2023, Diego Torres’ lineup was made up mostly of presumed starters for the 2024 season, with Pedro Gallese starting in goal behind a back line of Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena took their usual spots in the central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, and Facundo Torres with McGuire up top. Presumed starters Rafael Santos, Nico Lodeiro, David Brekalo, and Luis Muriel were not in the lineup, with the latter two new Lions not in the matchday squad.

Center back Daan Klomp was positioned on the line and was able to get in front of Araujo’s header on frame. On the ensuing corner, Schlegel got under his header and sent it well over the bar.

Cavalry’s defense again denied a shot off a corner moments later. This time it was Callum Montgomery knocking it away. The Lions recycled and a shot appeared to go out off the goalkeeper but a goal kick was awarded.

Araujo again got forward in the 13th minute and the defense again blocked it, although this time it was outside the six-yard box rather than on the line. Moments later, McGuire had a go from a tough angle on the left but he mishit his shot and it went out on the other side for a throw-in. Torres then fired from the top of the box in the 19th minute but his effort was always rising and sailed well over the bar.

The Lions found the breakthrough moments later. Cartagena sent the ball wide to Angulo on the left and the Colombian sent Ojeda down the flank. The Argentine sent a great cross into the area and McGuire redirected it past Cavalry goalkeeper Marco Carducci to make it 1-0 in the 21st minute.

Orlando stayed on the front foot and in the 27th minute it was Angulo dancing through the defense and sending a lethal-looking cross through the six. Unfortunately, none of his teammates were making runs on the far side and it skipped harmlessly through.

Cavalry then nearly fashioned something out of nothing when a ball into the area nearly found Sergio Camargo right in front. However, the ball got through to Gallese, who scooped it up.

Thorhallsson, who had a terrific first half, nearly sent in Angulo in the 28th minute on a quick counterattack and then sent a dangerous cross over Carducci in the 32nd that just needed a touch from a teammate but didn’t get one.

No matter though, the Icelandic fullback got his assist in the 38th minute. Tucking inside for much of the night, he sent Torres wide on the right. The Uruguayan cut inside from the right at the top of the box and sent a shot on target. The ball bounced off the artificial turf in front of Carducci, who got a hand on it but couldn’t knock it wide of the post. Torres’ strike made it 2-0.

Cavalry won a late corner but sent the cross right at Gallese at the end of the half and that was it as far as the scoring chances. The Lions took their 2-0 advantage to the locker room.

At the break, the Lions held the advantage in shots (9-2), shots on target (3-0), passing accuracy (97.3%-73.5%), and corners (3-2).

Cavalry started the second half with more energy. Smith did well to win a goal kick to thwart an early attack and Schlegel got a head to a dangerous cross in the 49th to clear Orlando’s lines.

Orlando’s first decent chance of the second period came in the 53rd minute when Araujo stole a ball in the attacking third on the press. He found Ojeda on the left and the Argentine sent a cross in front, however, the defense again cut it out for a corner. The Lions couldn’t do anything with the set piece.

The game got a little chippy after that, with Cavalry’s Charlie Trafford picking up a yellow card for stepping on McGuire’s foot during a challenge. Moments later, a worse-looking challenge by Trafford on Thorhallsson went unpunished with a second yellow, despite being a worse foul.

Torres was then taken down on a rough challenge by Montgomery, who was booked. Ojeda went for goal from distance on the set piece, but Carducci made the save at the hour mark.

Gallese nearly got crossed up in the 61st minute when a fluttering ball fooled him and he had to fight it off to avoid an embarrassing situation. That was the start of a couple of chances for the hosts, sandwiching the Orlando City debut of Lodeiro, who subbed on for Ojeda.

In the 62nd minute, Cavalry created something off a throw-in, sending a ball into the box for Jesse Daley, who sent his weak effort right at Gallese on a wasted opportunity. Moments later, Jansson conceded a free kick and Cavalry nearly paid it off. Klomp got his head to the service but sent it just inches over the crossbar.

Cartagena nearly scored a surprising goal in the 68th minute when he sent a chip towards Carducci’s goal. The Cavalry goalkeeper was backpedaling and had to tip the shot over his crossbar.

Five minutes later, substitute Ramiro Enrique set up Lodeiro in the box but the midfielder sent his shot off the crossbar in the 73rd minute. Angulo followed with a shot that was blocked by the defense for a corner.

Two minutes later, the Lions put the game to bed. A fantastic sequence set up Torres’ brace. Enrique did well to send Angulo in behind the defense on the left. The Colombian sent a perfect cross to the back post and Torres sent a diving header off of Carducci’s hands and in to make it 3-0 in the 75th minute.

Cavalry got back on the front foot for a few minutes after the third goal. Camargo sent a shot right at Gallese in the 79th minute

Orlando should have scored again seconds later. Another excellent buildup play from Enrique and Angulo ended up on Araujo’s foot right in front of goal, but the midfielder couldn’t dig it out of his feet and the defense arrived to knock it away.

A poor giveaway by substitute Rafael Santos on the left sideline gave Cavalry a chance in the 82nd minute. The cross in front was deflected out to the top of the area. Diego Gutierrez smashed a shot toward goal, but Felipe took one for the team and blocked it out for a corner. Klomp was nearly sent in behind on the recycle of the ensuing set piece but the defender was either offside or was judged to have fouled Gallese and Orlando was awarded a free kick. Gallese then scooped up a one-hopper off a shot from a tight angle to his right in the 88th minute.

That was the last half chance for either side and the Lions saw out three minutes of injury time to claim their first Concacaf Champions Cup victory.

The final statistics were more flattering for the hosts than the halftime numbers. Orlando led in shots (13-9), shots on target (5-4), passing accuracy (85.1%-82%), and corners (6-4).

“Now we prepare for the next leg at home,” Diego Torres said. “I know this game is very important. And the next game now is very important.”

“I wanted the players to be brave, and there’s certainly things that we can learn from it,” Cavalry Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon said. “I don’t think it was a three-nil game. I think between both boxes we matched up with them very, very well. I think they probably defended better in there’s and they finished better in ours, and that’s the difference.”


Orlando City will host Cavalry FC next Tuesday night in the second leg. Prior to that, the Lions have a quick turnaround ahead of Saturday’s MLS opener at home against CF Montreal at 7:30 p.m.

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Cavalry FC, Concacaf Champions Cup: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions play their first competitive match of 2024 north of the border in the Concacaf Champions Cup.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to your match thread for a Wednesday night Concacaf Champions Cup matchup between Orlando City and Cavalry FC of the Canadian Premier League at Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia at 10 p.m. (FOX Sports 2, TUDN). It’s the first meeting ever between the teams and Orlando City’s first ever match against a CPL team.

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

History

There isn’t any. These teams have never met, nor has Orlando City faced anyone in the Canadian Premier League before.

The Lions will be experiencing their fourth international cup competition and their second foray into Concacaf Champions League/Cup, having drawn twice against Tigres UANL last season. Orlando bowed out of last year’s competition due to the away goals tiebreaker. Orlando City has also competed twice in Leagues Cup.

Overview

Both teams will be playing their first competitive match of the 2024 season. Orlando City is coming off a 4-0-1 preseason, drawing 1-1 against Flamengo before reeling off four straight wins against Rhode Island FC, the New England Revolution, the Houston Dynamo, and the Colorado Rapids. City reached the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 2023 and is looking to build on its most successful season to date in MLS.

Cavalry FC is coming off a season in which it finished top of the table in the regular season, but fell 2-1 after extra time in the CPL championship match against Forge FC. As far as CPL teams go, the Lions will be facing one of the league’s best, as you’d expect in a competition called “Champions Cup.”

“We’re very proud and very happy to bring Orlando City to this beautiful city and this excellent competition,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “(We’re) Feeling proud of playing in Champions Cup in Concacaf and obviously aiming for the best prize, and here we are starting the season with obviously a very competitive game.”

Pareja is suspended for tonight due to his red card in the second leg against Tigres in 2023.


Projected Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, Facundo Torres.

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Rafael Santos, Michael Halliday, Thomas Williams, Abdi Salim, Felipe, Jeorgio Kocevski, Favian Loyola, Nico Lodeiro, Ramiro Enrique, Shak Mohammed, Jack Lynn.

Cavalry FC (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Marco Carducci.

Defenders: Callum Montgomery, Daan Klomp, Eryk Kobza, Shamit Shome.

Defensive Midfielders: Charlie Trafford, Jesse Daley.

Attacking Midfielders: William Akio, Sergio Camargo, Ali Musse.

Forward: Tobias Warschewski.

Bench: Mitchell Barrett, Bradley Kamdem, Tom Field, Michael Harms, Lucas Dias, Fraser Aird, Mael Henry, Diego Gutierrez, Lleyton Brooks.

Officials:

REF: Juan Gabriel Calderon (Costa Rica).
AR1: William Arrieta (Costa Rica).
AR2: Henri Pupiro (Nicaragua).
4TH: Keylor Herrera (Costa Rica).
VAR: Oscar Mejia (Mexico).
VAR1: Erick Miranda (Mexico).


How to Watch

Match Time: 10 p.m.

Venue: Starlight Stadium — Langford, British Columbia.

TV: FOX Sports 2, TUDN.

Streaming: The match can be streamed on FOX Sports GO, the FOX Sports app TUDN.com, and the TUDN app.

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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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/21/24

Orlando City takes on Cavalry FC tonight, Lions sign Jeorgio Kocevski, USWNT wins in Concacaf W Gold Cup, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you in Florida as we get to watch the Lions in action tonight in the Concacaf Champions Cup. There’s not much new with me this week other than staying busy covering high school basketball and hockey. Let’s wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Takes on Cavalry FC Tonight

Orlando City will be in action tonight in the first round of the Concacaf Champions Cup, as it takes on Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium at 10 p.m. This matchup will be the Lions’ first competitive match of 2024, with their MLS season opener against CF Montreal set for Saturday. The Lions were knocked out by Tigres due to away goals in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. Cavalry FC will make its debut in this competition tonight and qualified by winning the 2023 Canadian Premier League Shield. The second leg between these two sides will be on Feb. 27 in Orlando.

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signed 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a contract through the 2024 season with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. Kocevski scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time in Orlando’s final preseason match against the Colorado Rapids this past weekend. The midfielder was selected 21st overall in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft by the Lions in December. He played four years for Syracuse, recording seven goals and 18 assists in 71 matches. Kocevski is the only player the club has signed from the Lions’ 2024 draft class and will likely get some minutes with Orlando City B this season.

St. Louis City and Philadelphia Union Win in Champions Cup

Orlando City isn’t the only MLS team kicking off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign this week. St. Louis City edged out the Houston Dynamo 2-1, with rookie Hosei Kijima scoring the winner in stoppage time. The Philadelphia Union were on the road in Costa Rica to face off against Deportivo Saprissa and won 3-2, thanks to a hat trick from Julian Carranza in the second half. As for other tournament matches this week, the New England Revolution face Independiente in Panama tonight, with Nashville playing Moca FC in the Dominican Republic and FC Cincinnati taking on Jamaica’s Cavalier SC tomorrow.

USWNT Beats the Dominican Republic in W Gold Cup

The United States Women’s National Team got its Concacaf W Gold Cup campaign off to a great start with a 5-0 win against the Dominican Republic in Group A. Olivia Moultrie scored her first USWNT goal to give her team an early lead, with Lynn Williams giving the U.S. another goal before halftime. Moultrie scored another in the second half to earn her brace, and Jenna Nighswonger converted a penalty for her first USWNT goal as well. Former Pride forward Alex Morgan replaced Mia Fishel on the roster due to injury and scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time. The USWNT’s next game will be against Argentina on Friday at 10:15 p.m.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

The UEFA Champions League had plenty of drama as the round of 16 continued. Inter Milan won 1-0 in its first leg against Atletico Madrid at home, with Mark Arnautovic scoring the only goal in the match. In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund played to a thrilling 1-1 draw. The second legs for both matchups will be played on March 13. There is more Champions League action today, as FC Porto hosts Arsenal while Napoli takes on Barcelona.

Free Kicks

  • The latest MLS power rankings are out just before the regular season begins. Orlando City begins the season in the fifth spot.
  • Orlando City and the Orlando Pride announced fan experience upgrades at Inter&Co Stadium featuring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in merchandise shops, stadium Wi-Fi upgrades, and a jersey history experience.
  • The MLS Players Association released a statement on the ongoing referee lockout.
  • Here is the list of MLS Season Pass commentator assignments for opening week.

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

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