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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Five Takeaways



Orlando City failed at home in spectacular fashion Wednesday night against a CF Montreal team that sat at .500 even though it had gone 2-1-2 in its previous five matches. The 4-2 loss was troubling, but it’s not panic time just yet. Teams go through ups and downs over the course of a 34-game season and Orlando came out of a seven-game unbeaten run prior to these last couple of subpar performances.

Let’s take a look at Wednesday’s match to see what we can glean.

Seeing Red

Two Lions were sent off, which means not only did the club have to play shorthanded on Wednesday, but Orlando City will also do so this Sunday in Philadelphia. Nani and Andres Perea hit the showers early for different reasons against Montreal and that’s not great for Sunday either. Nani’s marching orders came on a pair of first-half yellow cards. The first of those was due to a set piece miscue. A soft and seemingly unexpected pass forced him to try to reach a ball before Montreal could pounce and break with the Lions’ defense forward for the free kick. The second was his own doing, as he got caught in possession, gave away the ball, and then compounded the problem by fouling from behind on a Montreal transition.

Perea’s foul was an intentional attempt to prevent a 1-v-1 scoring chance but the young midfielder was banking on getting a yellow with teammate Antonio Carlos racing down the middle of the pitch in an effort to get back. Referee Rubiel Vazquez was of the opinion that Carlos was not in a position to potentially get involved in the play and therefore Perea denied a clear goal-scoring opportunity, so the red was shown. Carlos has pretty good wheels, so I’m not sure I agree with Vazquez’s assessment, but it’s a judgment call.

Neither of these would likely be overturned on appeal, so Orlando City should just swallow them and move on.

Counter Punched

Both red cards for Orlando and a couple of the Montreal goals were created by something the Lions did all night — give the ball away. The Lions were fine in their own end but struggled to connect passes in the attacking half. The team was simply too sloppy. Passes were often telegraphed or sent at improper angles or were poorly weighted. Sometimes two players simply weren’t on the same page, such as when Mauricio Pereyra picked out a vertical pass, only to see Daryl Dike make a diagonal run. All of these things led to Montreal collecting the ball and quickly creating trouble in transition. The Lions took turns starting the counter attack for Montreal — Emmanuel Mas, Pereyra, Perea, Junior Urso, Nani, Dike, etc. Montreal’s quickness in transitioning from defense to offense was a problem for Orlando all night but if the Lions had been less careless with the ball, it could have been avoided entirely.

Adding Injury to Insult

Usually the saying is the other way around, but in this case Wednesday night’s match added injuries to the insults that Montreal’s goals heaped on the Lions. In addition to losing Nani to two yellows in the first half, Orlando lost two wingers in a 10-minute span. Silvester van der Water felt something amiss and asked to come off. His replacement, Chris Mueller, was only on for four minutes plus stoppage time but then had to come out of the game at halftime for tweaking an ankle. Losing two hard-working players who can create certainly hindered Orlando’s chances in the match and now we’ll have to wait to see if either or both are unavailable for Sunday. Additionally, Pedro Gallese seemed to have a groin issue after having to change directions quickly to try to prevent a corner kick. The team was down to just Sebas Mendez, Alexandre Pato, and Mason Stajduhar on the injury report and now the list might start growing again.

We didn’t get an opportunity to ask Pareja after the game about Joao Moutinho, who wasn’t in the match day lineup. It’s possible that was just to manage Moutinho’s minutes, but it’ll bear watching on Sunday.

Fool’s (Purple &) Gold

Oscar Pareja liked the fight that his team showed in tying the match while down a man after going behind by two goals. Many Orlando City fans likely felt the team was back in the game and had a chance to get a result after Robin Jansson and Ruan scored to tie the match at 2-2. But it was false hope for Orlando. Montreal had been kicking the ball around the pitch prior to Ruan’s goal and didn’t seem terribly interested in attacking or taking on players in space. The visitors were content to play the ball to open teammates while they didn’t need any goals to get the win. Once Orlando tied the score, Montreal went back into attack mode, won several set pieces, took on defenders, scored, and took back control of the game.

Agent of Chaos

One of my favorite sayings this season has been that Ruan is an agent of chaos. Whatever he does on the pitch, the Brazilian Bullet is always involved in some way — for good or bad. The right back was so far inside on Montreal’s first goal that he couldn’t recover and prevent Romell Quioto from picking out his spot with the entry ball. Ruan was also part of the set piece gaffe that led to Nani’s first yellow card. In addition, the speedster went down too easily in the box on one occasion, trying to draw a penalty — he often tries harder to win a foul than he does to beat his man. On that play, he should have played a cross to a teammate who looked to be in a good position to score if he’d received a pass. He can feel free to fall down after the pass and have just as good a chance to win the foul in that situation.

But, on the other hand, Ruan did stray inside to score the second Orlando goal. He also made some good runs down the right and on one of them his cross hit traffic in front and fell for Dike, who inexplicably missed the empty net from about eight yards out with the goalkeeper lying on the ground. Ruan sometimes ignores opportunities to get to the end line, opting to circle back and make a negative pass or to cut inside and pick out a teammate, only to then come to a stop and not be available when that teammate is closed down. He’s exceedingly dangerous when he gets to the end line. Even if he’s not the best crosser, sending in a hard, low pass into traffic in the box from there accomplishes the same thing that Ruan does — it creates chaos.

Bonus Takeaways!

  • Slow Mo — Pereyra may be playing through a knock right now — whether he is or how severe it is, we’re not sure — but even when at 100%, it appears he may no longer possess the speed he needs to be as effective in MLS as we’d all like. He’s a fabulous passer and, when given time and space, can turn a game with one kick of the ball, but he often is caught and dispossessed or gets pressured into a mistake by a faster opposing midfielder closing him down, and being a step slow is the reason why he gets most of his yellow cards.
  • Please Stand Up — Mueller was on the pitch for four minutes of regular time and five minutes of stoppage time and he fell down at least three times. But Cash wasn’t the only one. Mas and others had trouble maintaining their feet in the match. Montreal didn’t seem to have the same issue, so I’m ruling out the pitch conditions. I don’t know if it was the wrong boots, concentration, or something else, but the slipping definitely impacted some promising plays.
  • Orlan_o City — Suddenly, there’s no D in Orlando. The four goals shipped Wednesday make nine in the past three matches, which is an unprecedented number in the Pareja era. The Lions scored two of those nine on themselves, which they at least were able to avoid on Wednesday. But the team has also conceded off of set pieces and/or restarts four times in the last two matches and that trend must stop.
  • Another Streak Ends — The Lions were an impressive 7-0-0 in 2021 when scoring more than one goal in a match. A win was almost guaranteed whenever Orlando put more than one ball in the net. That came to a screeching halt in the 4-2 loss to Montreal. That statistic helps illustrate how good the defense usually is since Pareja took over.

That’s what I saw from the Lions’ second straight loss. I thought the attitude was better than last Friday at Atlanta, but the execution was certainly poor, and once Nani was sent off, the outcome seemed inevitable despite Orlando’s brief rally. Here’s hoping the lads can gather themselves and get a result on Sunday but being shorthanded might contribute to extending this current skid to three matches.

What stood out to you against Montreal?

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from a thoroughly unenjoyable outing in South Florida?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Well. Orlando City’s second league game of the season was a thoroughly unenjoyable one, as the Lions got played clean out of South Florida by Inter Miami. As much as I hate to do it, we need to talk about this one, so what follows are my five thoughts from a horrific showing in SoFlo.

Early Mistakes Seal Orlando’s Fate

The Lions barely had a chance to get their feet underneath them before Pedro Gallese was picking the ball out of his net. Cesar Araujo received the ball in Orlando’s defensive third and immediately tried to play a blind pass backwards, but it went straight to a Miami player. Once the ball made its way from Lionel Messi to Julian Gressel to Luis Suarez, the latter made no mistake and scored to put OCSC into an early hole from which it would never recover.

Tough Night for Two Lions

Speaking of mistakes, that wasn’t the only one that Araujo made during this game. Miami’s second goal came as a result of Rodridgo Schlegel getting pulled out of position and Araujo failing to track the run of Suarez, who found it all too easy to fire past Gallese and double the deficit for Orlando. Schlegel was also culpable for the third goal, as he was too slow to step up with the rest of the back line, and prevented the tally from being called back for offside as a result. Almost no player in purple had a good game, but it was a particularly rough night for two guys who are normally so good for OCSC.

Offensively Anemic

The Lions didn’t look bad going forward for a lot of this one. They managed to get the ball into some good areas, but just had trouble getting the final ball right that would lead to a chance. The introduction of Luis Muriel and Nico Lodeiro after halftime helped provide a spark early in the second half, but Orlando ultimately couldn’t find a way through and the score only got more and more lopsided as a result. When OCSC finally did fashion a clear-cut chance for Ramiro Enrique, the forward didn’t place his shot far enough in the corner and Drake Callender made a good save as a result.

Lack of Effort Worsens Scoreline

Somewhere around the 53rd minute, things really started to devolve for the Lions. Multiple turnovers in the team’s own half led to chance after chance for the home team, and Miami eventually made Orlando pay. The fifth goal will make for extremely unpleasant viewing, as Dagur Dan Thorhallsson decided to not close down Suarez on the wing, giving him way too much time to put the ball on a plate for Messi to head home, while the rest of the team took their time jogging back as Miami broke forward in transition. Orlando kept coming forward doggedly, but the lack of effort on display at times at the back was shocking and uncharacteristic to see.

Wake-Up Call

I have no idea what happened in this match. As soon as the first goal went in, almost the entire team looked slow, out-of-sorts, and on its heels when Miami had the ball. That sort of thing is unacceptable in any game, but especially in this particular fixture. Yes, the match against Tigres is looming large on Tuesday, but the lineup Oscar Pareja put out was not one that suggested the Lions were punting on this game to throw everything they had at Tigres. Instead, an almost first-choice XI turned in perhaps the worst performance we’ve ever seen from an Orlando team coached by Oscar Pareja. It’s possible that we’ll look back on this game as the moment that this team came together and kicked onto bigger things, but in order for that to happen the Lions need to take a good, hard, brutally honest look in the mirror.

I’m sorry to say that’s the worst Orlando City performance I’ve seen in a very long time. Thankfully, the season is a long one and the Lions have plenty of time to right the ship and get back to playing in the manner we’re used to seeing. I think we’ll learn a lot about what we should expect from this team on Tuesday against Tigres. OCSC has a chance to respond the right way and make a statement, and you can bet I’ll be looking for one. Until then, vamos Orlando.

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Strong Early Season Competition an Opportunity for Growth

Schedule congestion and tough opponents present opportunities for growth.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

It is hard to imagine a more intense start to the season than the Lions have faced competing in both the regular season and the Concacaf Champions Cup at the same time, yet that is exactly the task that the boys in purple find themselves dealing with only days into the season. With both away and home matches already in the books, let’s examine how strong early season competition can be a key factor in the growth of the squad as the season progresses.

For comparison we can look back to one year ago, as thanks to winning the U.S. Open Cup, the Lions found themselves in the Concacaf Champions League for the first time in club history. During their short foray in the 2023 version of the competition, they were matched up against Mexican powerhouse Tigres UANL in a two-leg competition. Orlando did something that many MLS sides can not boast by coming out of the first leg in Mexico without conceding a goal and only failed to advance because of the competition’s away goals rule.

At the time, and even looking back through rose-colored glasses, those two performances demonstrated the quality that Orlando City was ultimately capable of, and it was a form which Orlando showcased in the later stretches of the 2023 season.

This year, once again Orlando is faced with stiff competition throughout its early season matches, which present a grand opportunity to build team chemistry and fortitude that will only truly manifest itself as the season progresses. While Cavalry FC may have not presented much a challenge on the pitch, the logistics of starting a season off thousands of miles away in the Pacific Northwest were challenges that the Lions had to face before a 48-hour turnaround to open the regular season against a CF Montreal side which some are projecting to be a surprise force in the Eastern Conference. Sandwich in the close-out leg against Cavalry in the CCC at home some 72 hours later, and you once again have a recipe for tired legs but early season growth through adversity.

Up next was Saturday’s forgettable trip to square off against archrival Inter Miami. A year ago, Orlando City was one of the only MLS sides to truly frustrate one of the world’s best and unfortunately for players, coaches and fans alike, the first meeting between the rival sides in 2024 ended with a landslide victory for Messi and friends. Still, despite the frustrating loss, there are lessons to be learned and mistakes to correct which can only help the squad grow as the season progresses.

As if all of the schedule congestion was not enough, Orlando learned that its prize for dispatching Cavalry in the CCC was a rematch against Tigres, once again in a two-match, survive-and-advance format. The first game will be played two and a half days after having been beaten down by Miami and the second will come a week later, with yet another MLS regular-season match crammed in between.

All in all, once Orlando City is done facing off against Tigres, the team will have traveled roughly 9,700 miles for matches in the first 21 days of the season and played a match roughly every 60 hours. These matches and the quality of the opponents present Orlando and its players with numerous chances for individual and squad growth, and the experience, especially for still a somewhat young team, is something OCSC can draw upon once the late season and playoff push portion of the calendar arrive. I truly believe this early in the season the importance of the results of the matches come secondary to the opportunities for growth when faced with so many challenges so quickly.

Let us know in the comments below if you think that the early season match ups against quality opponents will ultimately hurt or benefit Orlando City and, as always, vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Final Score 5-0 as Meek Lions Trounced in Comprehensive Road Defeat

Lions get crushed from the jump in South Florida.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City conceded two ridiculously easy goals in the first 11 minutes and another easy one before the end of the half en route to an embarrassing 5-0 loss to Inter Miami (2-0-1, 7 points) at Chase Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. The Lions (0-1-1, 1 point) gave Luis Suarez his first two MLS goals and an assist in the opening half (and another assist later). Lionel Messi also scored a brace and Robert Taylor added a goal.

Orlando generated some scoring chances, but struggled to hit the target when the game was still within reach. With the loss, Orlando City fell to 5-4-3 in league play against their Tropic Thunder rivals from the south. It was the first time the Lions have been shut out in Fort Lauderdale, and this season marks the first time in club history that Orlando City has failed to score a goal through the first two matches in regular-season play.

“Obviously a disappointing day for us, recognizing from minute one to the end of the game that didn’t look like us in many areas,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the game. “A team like them, you cannot permit them to have that many spaces, and lose that many duels, and give them that possibility to be sitting in our box in those counterattacks. Really disappointed, but we’re pushing as a group. You know I have big respect for this group, their professionalism in what they do, and if there is any possibility, we’ll search to find answers but this group’s professionalism will never be denied. We’re not going to leave this experience just to happen without taking the benefits of this, the reasons, and learn from it.”

Pareja’s starters included Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Rafael Santos, 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 Duncan McGuire up top.

It didn’t take long for the hosts to get on top and it was Orlando City helping the Herons score the first goal. Araujo made a terrible mistake with a blind back pass, turning the ball over. It ended up out wide on Julian Gressel’s foot and the winger found Suarez, who fired first time into the corner where Gallese couldn’t get to it, making it 1-0 in the fourth minute.

“From there, I feel we couldn’t really turn the game in our favor,” Jansson said.

Orlando had two great opportunities to answer quickly. The first came when Thorhallsson fed McGuire in front in the seventh minute. The striker couldn’t get his feet set properly and when the ball arrived he sent it well off target from just eight yards out. A minute later, it was Araujo with a blast from just outside the box but his shot sailed just wide of the upper left corner.

The Lions, predictably, paid for those misses. Miami got a fortunate bounce off of Cartagena’s tackle attempt. As a result, Suarez was sent in on a fairly routine through ball but Araujo had stopped tracking him and Schlegel got pulled out of position with an overly aggressive move, giving the former Barcelona man room to slip through the line. He beat Gallese to make it 2-0 in the 11th minute.

Orlando City finally settled into the match a bit after that, although the damage had been done already. The Lions won a couple of corners and Schlegel sent a header wide on one of them. On the other, the ball was knocked to Torres near the top of the box. The Uruguayan tried a volley shot but couldn’t keep it down and it sailed well over the goal in the 21st minute.

Ojeda tried to pick out McGuire in the 23rd minute but Drake Callender came off his line and may have gotten a slight touch to the excellent cross. At the very least, he put McGuire off with his presence and aggressiveness.

Miami unlocked the defense for an easy third goal in the 29th minute. Schlegel was slow to step up to spring an offside trap and the through ball found Suarez behind the back line. Gallese came off his line to try to disrupt the play, but Suarez squared it to Taylor for an empty-net goal.

Messi came close to making it 4-0 with a free kick in the 34th minute. He sent his shot off the outside of the left post and Gallese may have had it covered anyway, moving quickly to his right.

The score almost got more embarrassing late in the half. Suarez again got in behind and scored but this time the flag came up and the offside call was upheld on review. It was extremely close, but the score remained 3-0.

That was the last close call of the first half and the Lions limped to the break down three goals.

The Lions held the advantage in possession (55.7%-44.3%) and corners (2-0). But Miami passed more accurately (90.6%-85.1%), fired more shots (5-4), and put more on target (3-0).

“Not good enough,” Jansson said of the performance. “It’s a derby and we’re coming out there with no energy, I feel. We don’t take control of the game like we normally try to do. Tonight was a rough one. It was not good enough on any part of the field, including myself, and I feel sorry for the fans who traveled here, and they deserve better.”

Pareja withdrew McGuire and Cartagena at the half, replacing them with Luis Muriel and Nico Lodeiro.

Ojeda appeared to pull a goal back just after the restart, playing his way through and slotting past Callender. However, Angulo was just offside in the buildup, negating the goal.

Messi came within inches of a fourth Miami goal in the 54th minute, sending a shot just outside the right post from the top of the area. The play was started by a turnover by Santos. A minute later, Santos didn’t pick up Gressel and Angulo stopped tracking him. That wasn’t optimal and Gressel ended up smashing a shot off the crossbar.

Things got worse for Orlando in a hurry after those chances. The Lions simply had no answers, giving up a pair of goals to Messi, as Miami continued to easily play into space behind the back line.

Schlegel again got pulled out of shape on a Miami transition attack. That allowed Jordi Alba to get in behind and shoot. Jansson cleared the ball off the line but could only knock it off the woodwork. Messi got the last touch of the ping-ponging ball and it trickled in to make it 4-0 in the 57th minute.

Four minutes later, Suarez blazed down the left and sent a good cross for Messi’s headed finish.

The Lions should have pulled a goal back in the 76th minute when Ramiro Enrique got in behind the defense. The Argentine left his shot too close to the center, where Callender still had to make a good save to prevent the goal.

Although Orlando City held more possession (52.8%-47.2%) and won more corners (5-1), Miami had the advantage in shots (11-8), shots on target (6-2), and passing accuracy (89.2%-85.6%). The Herons were much more lethal in front of goal, and Orlando was much sloppier in both final thirds. With the quality Miami has, that’s a poor combination and, as shown on this night, a game can get away quickly.

“We have to look at the game and see where we didn’t get our stuff done,” Jansson said. “We do it all the time, when we win and when we lose. We have to go through what we’re doing good and what we’re doing bad, because otherwise we will never become better. This was a bad take, and we’ve got to get the review, and get the analysis, and see where we had the most errors, and then we just have to take it from there.”

“We are responsible for a performance like this one, where nothing came right, and we will surely see what are the reasons and how can we improve it,” Pareja said. “We will continue with our heads up, and again, for me, I back this group up 100 percent. It’s a group that’s very professional. Didn’t play well today and nothing came right. We will take that responsibility, especially the coach. It’s not an easy result to absorb, but also we have the responsibility to bounce back immediately, and proximity (of the next game) helps give us the opportunity just to reshape again. But surely this will be in our memory for a little longer than normal.

“It’s just that they were better than us, and we didn’t do a good job today. We didn’t show up today the way we are…the start of the league doesn’t dictate the end of it.”

Orlando City has another quick turnaround before hosting Tigres in Concacaf Champions Cup action Tuesday night at home. The next league game is next Saturday when Minnesota United visits Inter&Co Stadium.

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