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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Final Score 3-2 as Urso’s Goal Lifts Lions to Seventh Straight Result



Orlando City looked like it would cruise to an easy win over the Columbus Crew at Exploria Stadium after getting goals from Daryl Dike and Silvester van der Water to go up 2-0. But Antonio Carlos scored a bizarre own goal early in the second half and the Crew tied it up moments later before Junior Urso’s goal lifted the Lions (10-4-8, 38 points) to a 3-2 win over Columbus (7-10-6, 27 points).

The win lifted the Lions to their longest unbeaten streak of the year at seven matches (3-0-4) and it was Orlando City’s fifth consecutive win over Columbus. Orlando jumped back into second place in the Eastern Conference with the wins tiebreaker over Nashville.

“It was a great effort by the players,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “Once again they took us over many hurdles today. The game was like a rollercoaster of emotions for us — dominating not just the score but dominating the game in the first half. Then we conceded two goals that came from nowhere. That put us in a difficult situation emotionally.”

With Pedro Gallese on international duty and Mason Stajduhar unavailable due to injury, Pareja started Adam Grinwis in goal for the first time since he was re-signed. Grinwis lined up behind a back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Carlos, and Ruan. Joey DeZart and Urso started in central midfield, with Chris Mueller and van der Water on the outside and Nani and Dike up top in the attack.

Nani got the game’s first shot attempt with a long free kick that he got on frame but from that distance Eloy Room was able to get over and make the save in the 10th minute.

Six minutes later, Ruan got down the right side and cut a pass back for Dike who directed it toward goal. The ball hit a defender and came back off Dike and caromed toward the net but Room made the save.

Columbus was dangerous on the counter and from the wings and Derrick Etienne’s cross just needed a touch in the 21st minute but none of his Crew teammates were close enough to provide it.

Mueller cut inside and had an excellent scoring chance in the 24th minute but he made a mess of his right-footed effort and hit it into the sky. Nevertheless, the Lions opened the scoring moments later.

Nani won the ball and sent it forward over the top from his own defensive half. Dike out-muscled Aboubacar Keita and broke in on goal down the right. He faked a couple of times and then smashed a shot into the roof of the net to make it 1-0 in the 26th minute. There was a delay for the video assistant referee to take a look to see if Nani had fouled Pedro Santos, but the goal was awarded. It was Dike’s third of the year and first since June 22 vs. San Jose.

“It was a good win from Nani and then, you know, battling with my UVA teammate Abouba (Keita),” Dike said. “Once I got the ball I just saw the grass in front of me and the goal in front of me. I think that’s when the instincts kind of kick in and that’s when you do anything you can to get the ball in the back of the net, and that’s where it ended up.”

The Lions struck again three minutes later. Ruan cut a ball back from the right corner to van der Water, who sent what appeared to be a cross in for Mueller but he couldn’t get a touch on it and it bounced into the net to double Orlando’s lead in the 29th minute. It was the Dutchman’s first goal since July 30 against Atlanta and his third of the year.

Columbus spent much of the rest of the half winning the ball in the middle of the field and trying to score in transition. Harrison Afful sent a cross-shot just wide of the far post in the 32nd minute. Grinwis then made a spectacular save to deny Lucas Zelarayan from outside the box in the 36th minute. Zelarayan had a couple of dangerous free kick opportunities but hit them off the wall of defenders as the half wound down.

The best chance for Orlando down the stretch fell for Mueller but he fired his shot on target only for Dike to stray into its path and block it. The Lions took a 2-0 lead into the half but the Crew had built some momentum in the final minutes of the opening 45.

Columbus held the advantage in shots (8-7) but Orlando got more on target (4-1). The Crew held the advantage in possession (51.7%-48.3%), passing accuracy (81%-79%), and corners (5-1).

The Lions roared out of the locker room looking to put the match away and nearly did so in the 46th minute. Urso stole the ball from Santos, took it to the top of the box and tried to finesse it around Room, just inside the left post. However, the Crew keeper did well to make a diving, one-handed save.

The Crew got back into the match on a strange play. The ball was knocked high in the air with two Lions and one Columbus player about 10 yards in front of Grinwis’ goal. Carlos went high to head it away but ended up nodding it just inside the right post and into his own net to put the Crew on the board in the 52nd minute.

“It was a fluky moment,” said Grinwis, who won in his first MLS start since 2018. “It took a little deflection. The ball went sky high and I kind of assessed the situation. I saw Antonio Carlos going up to battle at six yards away. I would take him 10 (times) out of 10 in this league to win that header and he did, and it was just an unfortunate bounce where it kind of comes back towards school, as opposed to going away from it.”

That goal seemed to unsettle the Orlando defense, as the Lions conceded the equalizer just two minutes later. A good passing sequence by the Crew, combined with Carlos stepping up and leaving room behind him, sent Miguel Berry in behind and he beat Grinwis to tie things up at 2-2. VAR Jorge Gonzalez took a long look at the play to see if Etienne was offside in the buildup to the goal. The play was close but it wasn’t judged to be a clear and obvious error and the goal stood up.

“It was a tough moment for us and that’s when the character, the togetherness, and the glue that this team has came out again and took us over that hurdle,” Pareja said.

While waiting for the video review, Dike was in the center circle, visibly urging the crowd to make noise.

“I looked around and everyone was kind of obviously in shock, because going up from two-nil up to being 2-2, I think it’s a big shock,” Dike said. “In moments like that I truly believe in the 12th-man effect. With the crowd pushing us, you can instantly see the players, including myself, having a little lift, having a little extra burst of energy and extra belief. I think having that kind of support around you, especially in a situation like that, is important.”

Pareja sent on Mauricio Pereyra — a player who he said he didn’t want to use for more than a few minutes due to his ongoing recovery from a knock — and Benji Michel just after the goal to settle the team down and it worked.

“The game was asking for somebody to settle the pace of the team and just try to be more creative in that zone,” Pareja said. “Just being able to bring the boys from the bench now and have people who can change the direction of the game, it will make us a very strong team.”

Just eight minutes after the subs were introduced, the Lions took the lead. Dike played a ball back to Urso just outside the area and the Bear picked out a spot and fired through traffic just inside the left post to restore Orlando’s lead at 3-2. Room didn’t see the shot come through the crowd until it was too late to do anything about it and the eventual game-winner found its way home in the 69th minute. Like Dike and van der Water, Urso scored his third of the year.

“It was a great third goal,” Pareja said.

With the Crew needing a goal, Caleb Porter sent on some offensive subs in the form of Erik Hurtado and Bradley Wright-Phillips. Orlando continued to stay organized and looked for insurance, which Mueller nearly found in the 77th minute when he sent a ball toward the net that sliced just wide to the right.

Columbus sent in crosses, looking for someone to get onto one but most of those found the heads of Carlos, Jansson and Moutinho. Pereyra sent a ridiculous ball behind Vito Wormgoor in the 84th minute that should have provided an insurance goal by substitute Tesho Akindele. Akindele beat Room from the left side, only to see his shot skip an inch or two wide of the right post.

Pareja sent on Rodrigo Schlegel for Mueller and went five at the back for the final minutes and the Lions were able to prevent any good chances and spent some time taking the ball to the attacking corners to bleed clock. The ref blew the full time whistle just after Moutinho blasted a shot just wide of the left post from the top of the area.

Orlando City held a slim edge in shots (13-12) and had more on target (6-2), while Columbus won more corners (5-2), and held slight advantages in possession (51.9%-48.1%) and passing accuracy (82.6%-81.7%).

“There are things that we need to be better, of course,” Pareja said. “We would like to keep being solid defensively. But scoring three goals today by the players is great.”

While it was far from a perfect win, it was an emotional one for Grinwis, who battled back from a torn ACL while playing at the USL Championship level and to get back to winning an MLS game was a great moment for him.

“It’s just an honor to play in front of such a great committed fan base. Feels good to be home,” Grinwis said after getting his first MLS win since 2018. “Tough to put into words. I think these are the kinds of situations I was dreaming about and was telling myself, ‘No, I believe it can happen,’ although I’ve not seen anybody go through an injury in the second division and then find their way back into MLS and then play.

“But this game is crazy, and through a lot of prayer and a lot of hard work, I found myself in this position. And I want to hold on tight because it feels amazing to be back out there.”

The Lions will travel north to face Atlanta United on the road next Friday night in their next match.

Orlando City

Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids

Familiarize yourself with the Colorado Rapids, courtesy of someone who knows them best.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Another Orlando City game is almost upon us, as the Lions look to both extend their five-match unbeaten run and pick up two wins in a row. This week sees the Colorado Rapids come to town for the first home game of June.

A match with the Rapids means I spoke to Matt Pollard, of Burgundy Wave. That’s another site that has gone independent and the folks over there are continuing to provide great coverage of the Rapids, so make sure to check them out!

What were some of the big incoming and outgoing transfers for the Rapids ahead of this season?

Matt Pollard: The three biggest incoming players in terms of expectations were Kévin Cabral, Connor Ronan, and Andreas Maxsø.

Cabral is probably the highest-risk, highest-reward signing when it comes to the Rapids going after distressed assets. So far, it hasn’t panned out. He presses well, but that’s about it. The same issues he had at LA Galaxy (getting called offside, not finishing) are present here in Colorado. The difference is, he’s the focal point instead of the third player opposing defenses worry about.

Ronan and Maxsø have been great. Ronan was brought in to play alongside Jack Price. When Price went down for the season, Ronan stepped into the No. 6 role and adjusted well. He’s tidy at the back, works hard off the ball, and is one of the better assist providers on the team. Maxsø has been good defensively in the air and good at emergency defending. The Rapids typically give up goals by making a series of small errors. Rarely is the Great Dane one of those players who makes a mistake on a goal.

It’s hard to say if there were any significant departures from last year’s team. Most fans weren’t surprised or bummed out when Gyasi Zardes signed for Austin FC. The left back position has been an issue, so maybe Lucas Esteves. But he had some attitude issues and was hot headed. Robin Fraser’s such a culture guy, he wasn’t worth the headache.

It’s been a difficult start to the season for Colorado, what has been the biggest reason for the team’s struggles?

MP: Injuries. Injuries. Injuries. Price went down for the season in his second appearance. Diego Rubio has had three separate injuries. Maxsø was under concussion protocol for two games. I’ve lost count of how many players have had hamstring issues. As I’ve written about previously for Burgundy Wave, the infrastructure at Dick’s (Sporting Goods Park) is showing its age. The team had a really bad stretch in March and April with practice fields and winter sticking around. They’ve missed key players. They’ve had limited depth. All while playing eight games in May. Hopefully a full week of training has them healthy and refocused for Saturday.

With plenty of games left to play and only sitting six points out of the play-in spots, the Rapids are far from dead and buried. What needs to happen for Colorado to turn the season around?

MP: Get healthy and get going offensively. Rubio is still their only reliable chance creator. All their goal scorers have been streaky. If Rubio comes back healthy and can give the Rapids the production he had last year (a club-record 16 goals and seven assists), that would be fantastic. Add in Cabral, Jonathan Lewis, and Braian Galván having a good finishing streak, and they could be ok. Orlando fans should be wary of Michael Barrios coming off the bench tomorrow. All 12 of his goals for the Rapids have come in the second half.

Are there any players who will be unavailable for selection due to call-ups, injuries, suspensions, etc? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?

MP: The injury report just came out and there are only four players on it. That’s tied for the lowest of the season! Rubio is questionable, and Fraser’s been really cautious with his key players coming back from injury. I can’t see him getting more than 20 minutes Saturday. Moïse Bombito is suspended for a harsh second yellow against San Jose, so expect Lalas Abubakar to start at center back. Price is out, as mentioned previously. Max Alves is still removed from team activities as he’s under investigation for participation in a sports gambling scheme in his native Brazil.

Marko Ilic; Danny Wilson, Andreas Maxsø, Lalas Abubakar; Sam Nicholson, Keegan Rosenberry; Connor Ronan, Bryan Acosta, Cole Bassett; Jonathan Lewis, Darren Yapi.

I think Orlando wins a tight, ugly game. Oscar Pareja knows how to poop-house the Rapids. 1-0, Facundo Torres scores. I do think we’ll see one of the better performances from the Rapids of this winless stretch for what that’s worth. 

Thank you to Matt for the excellent info and helping get us up to speed on the Rapids. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/9/23

Orlando City gets ready for the Colorado Rapids, OCB faces FC Cincinnati 2 on Sunday, U-20 World Cup final is set, and more.



How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Friday finds you well as we gear up for a weekend filled to the brim with Orlando soccer. My friends are taking me out for teppanyaki and scorpion bowls tonight, so it should be a pretty nice day on my end. Hopefully your Friday goes smoothly as well. Now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Prepares for the Colorado Rapids

The Lions are on a five-game unbeaten run as they get ready for a home match tomorrow night against the Colorado Rapids. Facundo Torres scored twice in the team’s 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls last weekend. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling against a Colorado team that’s allowed 25 goals this season and sits last in the league in points per game, with just two wins in 17 matches. Pedro Gallese also recorded his 26th clean sheet for Orlando in last week’s win, and could make his 100th appearance as a Lion tomorrow night. The Lions will have to keep an eye on Irish midfielder Connor Ronan, who has six assists in his first season with the Rapids.

Orlando City B Aims to Bounce Back at Home

After a 3-0 defeat to Toronto FC II in Canada this past weekend, Orlando City B will look to right the ship on Sunday at home against FC Cincinnati 2. The Young Lions are unbeaten at home this season, winning four of their six games at Osceola Heritage Park. The last time these two teams played was in August of last year, with Cincy winning in the penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw. Although he didn’t score in that match, OCB forward Jack Lynn scored three goals against Cincinnati last year and currently leads OCB with six goals this season. Sunday’s match should be a good opportunity for OCB’s offense to bounce back against a leaky Cincy defense.

USMNT Players Focused Despite Coaching Search

With European seasons over, American players who have been plying their trade abroad are back in the U.S. to prepare for the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup this month. The team will be coached by B.J. Callaghan in an interim capacity while the search for a head coach continues. Although not having a permanent head coach for these tournaments isn’t ideal, Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman spoke on how the team still knows how to get the job done.

“We’re a team that has a very strong team chemistry, strong culture within our group. And we know that for us, not much has changed right now,” said Zimmerman. “We know the same principles, style of play, expectations, accountability – all those things are the same. So I think that’s player-driven, to hold each other accountable to the standards that we’ve set over the past four years. BJ, he’s on top of it. He’s knowledgeable about what we want to do, how we’re going to go about these games.”

The roster includes many of the players who featured in the World Cup last year, but the striker position is one to watch due to the new faces involved. Folarin Balogun is with the team for the first time and it will be interesting to see how he measures up against Ricardo Pepi, Alex Zendejas, and Jesus Ferreira. We will get to see who spearheads the USMNT’s attack next Thursday, when the Yanks take on Mexico in Las Vegas.

Italy and Uruguay Reach U-20 World Cup Final

Only two teams remain in the U-20 World Cup after Italy and Uruguay each won their semifinals. Uruguay, which beat the U.S. in the quarterfinals, beat Israel 1-0, thanks to a goal in the second half from Anderson Duarte. In Italy’s semifinal against South Korea, Cesare Casadei’s terrific tournament continued as he gave Italy the lead in the 14th minute. South Korea equalized soon after with a penalty kick, but 17-year-old forward Simone Pafundi scored a nice free kick to send Italy into the final.

The final will take place on Sunday at 5 p.m., with the third-place match set for 1:30 p.m. It will be Italy’s first time playing in a U-20 World Cup final, while it will be Uruguay’s third time after losing in 1997 and 2013.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today. Have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points at home against the Rapids this Saturday night?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City is back home in Exploria Stadium and hosting the Colorado Rapids this Saturday night. The Lions are coming off a big road win over the New York Red Bulls, and will want to extend the five-match unbeaten streak. What does Orlando City need to do to secure all three points at home this weekend?

Survive the First Half

Colorado has been better in the first half of matches this season than in the second half. The Lions can expect the Rapids to come out strong, looking for an early goal. If Orlando City can play smart on defense, maintain possession, and limit Colorado’s chances for the first 45 minutes, plus stoppage time, the odds of winning at home go up. 

I’m most worried about the first 15 minutes and the last five minutes of this half. It’s going to be contingent upon the effective midfield pairing of Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena to break down the Rapids’ attack. Araujo was in training this week despite going off injured in the last match, indicating it wasn’t that serious and he may be available. Cartagena has quietly been fantastic the last few matches, and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue. 

Behind that pair is another line of defense, including Robin Jansson and Antonio Carlos, that can clean up anything else that gets through. Carlos has mostly been great, although he’s had a few less-than-stellar matches, and Jansson has been excellent. If Orlando City weathers the first half in good shape, I’ll feel better about the Lions getting three points.

Ride the Hot Feet

Oscar Pareja has trotted out the same starting lineup the last couple of matches, and I don’t expect he will mess with the success. After the last match, Ivan Angulo and Facundo Torres will be feeling pretty good, and we don’t want those confidence-boosting performances to be wasted. There will be plenty of time to let them rest if they can help provide the team with a two-goal lead after the 60 minute mark.

The same goes for Ercan Kara. No he didn’t have a goal last match, but that had more to do with dealing with the New York Red Bulls press than anything else. His last goal was three matches ago against Inter Miami, but he is putting the work in regardless, and I think he’s primed to find the back of the net against Colorado. 

Regardless of the scoreline, look for Pareja to bring on Martin Ojeda and Duncan McGuire to either put the match away or look for a positive result. Duncan can be a terror against a team that doesn’t play well in the second half, and Ojeda seems due for a goal. He certainly isn’t shy about taking chances, and eventually one of them is going to result in a goal.


Too many times in Orlando City history, the Lions have played a team on a winless streak — the Rapids haven’t won in their last six matches — and been the team to let the opposition get back on track. The Lions are also riding a five-match undefeated streak heading into Saturday’s match. It’s the type of match that tends to worry scarred Orlando City supporters, and I have those bad thoughts and feelings as well. As Michael Scott said on The Office, “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.” If Orlando City could not feed into that phenomenon, it would be great.

I think that sometimes the Lions want to give the home crowd a win so badly that they get nervous and end up pressing too hard, or trying to slip a pass into too tight of a window. When that happens, the natural flow of an offense that is looking better, passing better, and scoring goals will give the ball away cheaply. My suggestion is for the players is to just relax. Pretend it’s a road match if necessary, but just keep calm and let the match develop naturally. 

That’s what I’ll be looking for this Saturday night from my seat in Exploria Stadium. Since I’ll be down for this one, please make sure to say hello if you see me.

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