Connect with us

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami CF: Final Score 0-0 as Wasteful Lions Drop Points at Home

A missed Tesho Akindele penalty was the best opportunity but there were others in an unsatisfying scoreless draw at Exploria Stadium.

Published

on

Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City outplayed Tropic Thunder rival Inter Miami but couldn’t find the back of the net in an unsatisfying 0-0 draw at Exploria Stadium. Tesho Akindele had an opportunity from the penalty spot, but there were other good chances that went unfulfilled as well in a frustrating night that still saw the Lions (9-4-8, 35 points) finish undefeated against Inter Miami (6-9-5, 23 points) with a mark of 1-0-2 on the season.

The Lions ran their unbeaten streak to six straight matches (2-0-4), equaling their longest of the season, and remain in second place in the Eastern Conference for the time being. Orlando hasn’t allowed a goal in two games, and tonight’s shutout came against a team that had scored six times in its last two outings.

“We think we did enough to (win) it, but humbly we have to accept it, take the point, and understand that’s the game,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the game. “But a great effort by our players. Competitive match. Obviously we needed to score goals. We needed to be more clinical, just missing that PK as well and with the goal that was called off too. Those things make us feel like it was not enough to get a result but we will keep going forward.”

Pareja’s lineup included Pedro Gallese for the first time since July 25. El Pulpo lined up behind a first-choice back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Junior Urso wore the captain’s armband next to Joey DeZart in the central midfield, with Chris Mueller and Benji Michel facilitating the attack to Silvester van der Water and Akindele at the top of the formation. Nani started the match on the bench, as did Daryl Dike.

Orlando outplayed Miami throughout the opening 45 minutes but, as has been the case far too many times in 2021, couldn’t produce that final moment of magic. Mueller and van der Water sent shots well over the bar in the opening minutes and Urso missed a free header wide of the left post off a Mueller corner kick in the fifth minute.

But the biggest wasted opportunity of the first half came after Nicolas Figal was called for a handball in the area. Akindele took the spot kick for Orlando City and fired to his left, but Nick Marsman guessed correctly and made the save in the 12th minute.

Miami’s first good opportunity came off a corner kick in the 22nd minute. The cross bounced around in the box and Rodolfo Pizarro got his foot on it, sending a soft shot toward goal. Gallese was able to get over and swat it off the line.

The Lions thought they’d scored in the 24th minute when a short corner to Robin Jansson was fired toward goal and deflected into the far corner by Akindele. However, the Miami defense had stepped forward just in time to put the forward off and Ismael Elfath waved off the goal after reviewing the play on the video monitor.

“I felt it directly when it left my foot and it touched Tesho that he was standing offside,” Jansson said. “That was my first feeling, but then I haven’t seen it afterwards so I don’t know if it goes on the frame if Tesho doesn’t touch it. But it is what it is. I mean, we tried to do some stuff on the set pieces and this time it was close for me but we have to look forward to next time.”

The last decent look for Orlando in the half came on a header attempt in the 33rd by Michel, but he mistimed his effort and sent a weak dribbler well wide. Moutinho tried recycling it from the end line but could only sky his cross high into the air. Akindele made an attempt for it but was bodied off by the defense and couldn’t get anything on the shot.

Miami got a ball over the top in first-half stoppage time and Gallese was late getting off his line. Gonzalo Higuain put the ball in the net but the flag came up immediately and the video assistant referee confirmed the offside call.

The teams went to the break scoreless and Miami had to feel fortunate that Orlando didn’t take its chances.

Orlando doubled up Miami in shots (8-4) and each team got only one on target. The Lions held a 4-3 edge in corners and had the advantage in both possession (54.6%-45.4%) and passing accuracy (89.8%-84.3%).

Pareja put Dike into the lineup in place of Akindele to start the second half but the big man didn’t have the impact fans might have hoped. He managed one shot attempt that was well off target and only touched the ball 11 times in his 45 minutes on the pitch in his first match since returning from the Gold Cup. Dike last suited up for the Lions on July 3.

The second half was played mostly between the boxes for the first 15 minutes of the second half with each team getting some set pieces but doing nothing with them.

The first decent look of the half came from Mueller in the 64th when he sent a rocket from distance that he couldn’t get to dip enough at the end.

Much of the half was bereft of chances for either side, with Orlando getting six shot attempts off and conceding only one the other way.

Dike’s cross nearly resulted in a Miami own goal in the 83rd minute with a sliding clearance that didn’t miss the net by much. Second-half sub Nani sent in a good corner kick cross in the 85th minute that found Carlos’ shoulder. The ball deflected on target but Marsman did well to get over and make a huge save to keep the game scoreless.

Urso sent a curling effort toward the upper left corner in the 89th minute, but it was just a smidge off target on a good shot from outside the box. Orlando got a couple more corners but couldn’t make them pay off and the game ended all square at 0-0.

The Lions out-shot Miami 14-5, and got marginally more on target (3-2). Orlando held the advantage in corners (10-4), possession (55.4%-44.6%), and passing accuracy (91.1%-83.4%). It was a dominating performance everywhere but on the scoreboard.

Gallese’s shutout was his eighth in an Orlando City uniform, tying Brian Rowe for second on the team’s all-time list, five behind career leader Joe Bendik’s 13.

“Today to get back in goal for my team and to help us achieve our goals and continue advancing forward in this season is just great,” Gallese said through a club interpreter. “We had a very strong defensive game plan today coming into the game. We knew that Miami had a very strong attack with players like Pizarro and Higuain, so we just really needed to stay concentrated together as a unit, and being able to play that way defensively just really helped us have a strong game.”

Orlando’s six-game unbeaten run could have yielded more points with better finishing. The Lions have scored just four times in the last five matches.

“That’s the game,” Pareja said about the team’s missed opportunities. “It’s not easy. Scoring goals is all that we work for. But right now we don’t have that volume or we don’t have that clinical touch to put the ball in the back of the net — not even on a PK. I have to accept it but I have to see the whole thing. We will keep working. The boys have obviously the energy and the commitment to get better.”


Orlando City welcomes the Columbus Crew on Saturday, Sept. 4 in the Lions’ next match.

Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Alex Freeman

We start our Orlando City player reviews with a look at a Homegrown fullback who made his MLS debut this season.

Published

on

Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Orlando City signed fullback Alex Freeman to a Homegrown Player contract on February 15, 2022. He became the Lions’ 12th Homegrown signing and his deal runs through the 2025 season with a club option for 2026, but the youngster did not see action in Major League Soccer last season. With the departure of Ruan, there was an opportunity for Freeman to win a job with the first team in camp but he wasn’t quite ready to make the jump, instead playing an important role with Orlando City B throughout the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season.

Let’s take a look back at Freeman’s 2023 campaign.

Statistical Breakdown

Freeman made his MLS debut on April 29 in a 2-0 home win over the LA Galaxy. It was not just his debut with the first team, but it was also his only appearance with the senior squad in 2023, although he did make the substitutes’ bench a few times after that. Officially, he logged only one minute, entering in the 93rd minute. He was only on the pitch a matter of seconds, so it’s unsurprising that he registered nothing on the stats sheet.

The son of former NFL receiver Antonio Freeman, Alex starred with OCB in 2023. In MLS NEXT Pro play, Freeman appeared in 24 of OCB’s 28 matches, starting 22, and logging 1,855 minutes. He finished tied for third on the squad in goals (4), adding three assists and passing at a 79.1% success rate. Freeman attempted 25 shots, putting 11 on target, and contributed 10 key passes. He committed 22 fouls, drew 27 on the opposition, and was booked four times. He also started OCB’s playoff match at Columbus, playing 89 minutes in the Young Lions’ 2-1 road loss. Freeman didn’t contribute a goal or assist or attempt a shot in the match, but he passed at an 88% rate, created one scoring chance, and committed one foul.

Best Game

With only one MLS appearance to his credit, the default best game for Freeman came on April 29 in Orlando City’s 2-0 home win over the LA Galaxy. Freeman didn’t even officially touch the ball in the game, but it’s not every day a teenager gets to play in an MLS match, and I’m sure it was a special moment for him. It was certainly a milestone in his professional soccer career.

2023 Final Grade

As Freeman fell well short of the minimum 450 minutes played mark to receive a rating on our 1-10 scale, The Mane Land has no choice but to mark his grade as incomplete for the 2023 season. There are areas of Freeman’s game that need a bit of refining, but at the same time, it’s easy to see why he landed a Homegrown contract, why Orlando City would find him an intriguing prospect, and why he’s been getting called up by the United States for U-20 international duty. His attacking presence was huge for OCB in 2023 and he was one of the key players that led the Young Lions to the postseason.

2024 Outlook

I would expect Freeman to get more seasoning at OCB in 2024, although he’ll be given opportunities in preseason camp to show whether he’s closed the gap on the likes of Michael Halliday and Kyle Smith (assuming both return). If the club moves on from both Halliday and Smith, it’s not hard to picture Freeman starting the season providing depth at right back for the first team. Having just turned 19 in August, Freeman has a lot of potential and he should start to unlock that within the next year or so.


This is the first of our 2023 Orlando City Season in Review articles. Every player who played minutes this past season and who finished the year on the club roster will be reviewed (exceptions may be made for players let go when the club officially announces its roster moves). Players who logged fewer than 450 minutes (combined regular season plus playoffs, Concacaf Champions League, U.S. Open Cup, and Leagues Cup) will receive a composite score between 1 and 10 as determined by a panel of The Mane Land writers, while those who did not reach that threshold will receive an incomplete grade.

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/29/23

Orlando Pride players called up by Brazil, MLS announces 2023 Best XI, latest MLS roster moves, and more.

Published

on

Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers I hope all is well down in Florida. I’ve been very busy working throughout the holiday weekend at Under Armour. This week I’ll be working at Wrigley Field for Winterland while getting ready to cover high school wrestling tomorrow night. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Pride Players Called Up By Brazil for Friendlies

Orlando Pride defender Rafaelle and forwards Marta and Adriana have been called up to the Brazil Women’s National Team for its upcoming friendlies.

Brazil will play two matches against Japan on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 in Sao Paulo before playing Nicaragua on Dec. 6 at Estadio Fonte Luminosa in Araraquara.

MLS Announces the 2023 Best XI

Major League Soccer announced its 2023 Best XI, recognizing the league’s top players at each position. There were no Orlando City players selected for the team and eight players received the honor for the first time. Those players are St. Louis City’s Roman Burki and Tim Parker, FC Cincinnati defender Matt Miazga, Atlanta United duo Thiago Almada and Giorgos Giakoumakis, Houston Dynamo midfielder Hector Herrera, LAFC’s Denis Bouanga, and Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez. Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar made the Best XI for the third consecutive time, while teammate Walker Zimmerman was named to it for the fifth time. MLS MVP Luciano Acosta of FC Cincinnati rounds out the list.

Latest MLS Off-season Roster Moves

The Colorado Rapids announced their latest roster changes as they prepare for the the 2024 season under new Head Coach Chris Armas. The club exercised its options for defender Andrew Gutman, midfielder Ralph Priso, and forward Calvin Harris. The Rapids declined contract offers to seven players, with the most notable names being defender Steven Beitashour and goalkeeper William Yarbrough, although the Rapids are in discussions about re-signing Yarbrough. Elsewhere, the New England Revolution exercised the permanent transfer option on forward Tomas Chancalay, signing him to a Designated Player contract through 2026, with a club option for the 2027 season.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

Champions League action returned in Europe, as we get close to wrapping up the group stage in a couple of weeks. Manchester City overcame a two-goal deficit to beat RB Leipzig 3-2 and win Group G. Newcastle United had a chance to qualify for the round of 16 but gave up a late penalty to Paris Saint-Germain, which Kylian Mbappe converted to end the match in a 1-1 draw. Borussia Dortmund beat AC Milan 3-1 to book its spot in the knockout stage. PSG, Newcastle, and AC Milan are all still alive in Group F heading into the final matchday in December. Shakhtar Donetsk won 1-0 against Royal Antwerp and also still has a shot to advance on the final matchday. Lazio, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and Young Boys all won their respective matches as well. Today’s matches include Manchester United on the road against Galatasaray, Real Madrid taking on Napoli, and Sevilla facing off with PSV Eindhoven.

Free Kicks

  • Concacaf has announced that BMO Stadium, Dignity Health Sports Park, Shell Energy Stadium, and Snapdragon Stadium will be the four venues that will host matches for the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.
  • Barcelona midfielder Gavi will be sidelined for up to 10 months after undergoing knee surgery after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee.
  • The International Football Association Board approved a trial for sin bins, meaning players punished for dissent or specific tactical offense would be temporarily removed from the match for a set amount of minutes.
  • You have got to see this goal from Cwrt Rawlin FC in the Welsh seventh division.

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

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/28/23

Luciano Acosta named MVP, Americans in action, scheduling news for U.S. national teams, and more.

Published

on

Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I’m dragging a little today after having an extended period of time off for the Thanksgiving holiday, but there’s no rest for the wicked and the only way out is through. With that being the case, let’s get into today’s news.

Luciano Acosta Wins MLS MVP

In a piece of news that plenty of people likely saw coming from several miles away, Luciano Acosta has been named Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Player. Acosta racked up 34 goal contributions during the regular season, finishing the 2023 campaign with 17 goals and 14 assists as the driving force behind his team’s run to the Supporters’ Shield. He was voted the best player in the league by quite some margin and won the award in a landslide, taking 60.37% of the votes to Denis Bouanga’s 14.97% and Thiago Almada’s 6.46%.

American Stars in Midweek Action

There are a number of United States Men’s National Team players that will be in action this week, with several UEFA Champions League clashes highlighting the viewing slate. Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah and AC Milan will face Giovanni Reyna’s Borussia Dortmund today in a game with huge ramifications for both teams. Malik Tillman, Ricardo Pepi, and Sergino Dest may play in PSV Eindhoven’s match with Sevilla tomorrow, and a win would likely go a long way to securing a place in the Round of 16. Additionally on Wednesday, Brenden Aaronson and Union Berlin have a chance to make a big move towards a place in the Europa League, as a win over Braga would leapfrog the German club into third place in Group C.

USMNT & USWNT Scheduling News

The USMNT will open its 2024 slate of games with a match against Slovenia on Jan. 20 in San Antonio. The match will fall outside of an international window, meaning that the January camp roster will largely be made up of domestic-based players. The USMNT has faced Slovenia twice before, with the most recent time being a 3-2 win in Ljubljana courtesy of a Jozy Altidore penalty kick.

While we already knew that the United States Women’s National Team would play China PR on Dec. 5 in Frisco, we now know that one of the team’s legends will be honored before the game. The U.S. Soccer Federation has announced that former Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger, who stated in March that she will retire following the NWSL season, will be honored before the match. Krieger played 108 games for the USWNT and is a two-time World Cup winner with the team.

Notable Women’s Players to Miss International Matches

A pair of high profile women’s players will miss upcoming international games. First up, Sam Kerr will not feature in Australia’s back-to-back friendlies against Canada due to a foot injury. Kerr has struggled with injuries this year and her availability was limited during this summer’s World Cup.

Alexia Putellas will miss Spain’s two Nations League matches against Sweden and Italy after picking up a left knee injury. Putellas had missed Euro 2022 due to an ACL tear, but was back to help her side win the World Cup several months ago. Fortunately for Spain, the team is well positioned atop its group and has enough players in the squad that it shouldn’t feel her absence too keenly.

Free Kicks

  • A pair of Willian penalties and an early Alex Iwobi goal helped Fulham beat Wolverhampton, with American defenders Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream also starting.
  • New York Red Bulls forward Tom Barlow is reportedly headed to the Chicago Fire.

That’s all I’ve got for you this morning. Y’all stay safe out there.

Continue Reading

Trending