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Orlando City vs. FC Cincinnati: Final Score 1-0 as Urso’s Early Goal Stands Up for Lions

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Junior Urso scored the game’s only goal and Pedro Gallese made three saves to keep a clean sheet as Orlando City beat FC Cincinnati 1-0 at TQL Stadium. The Lions (12-8-9, 45 points) are now unbeaten in three straight matches (2-0-1) and got a crucial three points against FC Cincinnati (4-17-8, 20 points), which lost its seventh consecutive game — and its fifth of those by a single goal.

The match had plenty of controversy at the end, with substitute Tesho Akindele seemingly scoring a golazo off the crossbar that was (apparently) never reviewed and a potential penalty review against Rodrigo Schlegel in stoppage time that was not given after referee Marcos de Oliveira went to the monitor.

The Lions remained in fourth place, closing to within a point of the Philadelphia Union, who drew against Montreal earlier today.

“A great result for us. We needed it,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “The boys came convinced about getting those three points. I think the effort on the field was great. They showed one more time their character during the whole game.”

Pareja’s lineup once again featured Gallese in net, but there was a change at left back as the questionable Joao Moutinho (lower body, naturally) was left home. Emmanuel Mas slotted in for Moutinho next to Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Andres Perea slotted into central midfield with Urso rather than Sebas Mendez, who was on the bench. Mauricio Pereyra and Chris Mueller were tasked with facilitating the attack to Nani and Daryl Dike. Alexandre Pato returned to the bench for the first time since opening day, although he didn’t get a runout.

Orlando controlled play in the opening minutes and Ruan had a lot of success getting down the right flank without Ronald Matarrita in the Cincinnati lineup. However, the Brazilian right back did not have a lot of success with his crossing, as time and again he put balls in areas without teammates or behind them. Still, he created the opening goal after peeling back to the top of the box and finding a trailing Urso, who sent a perfectly placed shot just inside the right post. The Bear’s fourth goal of the year had Orlando up 1-0 in the 13th minute.

“Sometimes I try to put power in my shot, but I saw one guy in front of the keeper too,” Urso said. “So I tried to make some curve to bend it and it was perfect. Important goal for City.”

Ruan got back in the box in the 16th minute and had his shot blocked. Pereyra’s follow-up was deflected out for a corner. Moments later, Ruan got loose again on the right and had a speeding Mueller to his left but played his pass behind the Lions’ winger.

Gallese made a huge save off a strange play in the 24th minute on Cincinnati’s best chance of the half. A corner kick to the back post came off Urso’s head and deflected back toward his own goal, falling at the feet of Cincinnati’s Geoff Cameron. The defender seemed sure to score but El Pulpo made a vital save to preserve the lead.

Orlando was wasteful with some good buildup play, either passing up potential shots or working the ball around until a poorly placed pass allowed the hosts to collect. As the first half wore on, Cincinnati got more of the ball but didn’t do much with it. Alvaro Barreal fired well over the bar from long range in the 34th minute.

Perea tried a shot from the right side in the 40th minute but hit his shot right at goalkeeper Przemysław Tyton. Nani tried to curl one inside the upper left corner from the right side in the 42nd minute but couldn’t get the shot to curl quite enough. Late in the half, Nani had his shot blocked and it fell to Pereyra on the left. The Uruguayan fired on target but Tyton got a hand to it.

Mueller got a late chance off a corner kick but didn’t hit his shot cleanly and it sailed high into the stands. The Lions took their 1-0 lead into the break.

The Lions dominated in shots (14-4) and had more shots on target (4-2). Orlando also earned more corners (5-2) and was slightly better passing (84.6%-84.5%). Cincinnati held a little more of the possession (50.2%-49.8%).

The hosts made a change at the break, bringing on Allan Cruz for Isaac Atanga and the switch gave Cincinnati a jolt of energy that pushed the Lions back on their heels. Orlando didn’t help matters by being a lot looser with the ball against the pressure.

Brenner thought he’d tied the match in the 48th minute when he fired a shot past Gallese but the whistle had blown for a foul on the entry ball as Perea was pushed to the ground to win the duel.

Orlando finally got a good buildup that led somewhere in the 60th minute when Perea sent Mueller down the right side, but his cross in front of goal was too close to Tyton, who smothered it.

Six minutes later, Perea made a mistake that will have ramifications for Wednesday’s match. Cutting in from the left to the middle of the field, he tried to send a pass across to Carlos, but he not only caught his teammate off guard, he also didn’t get enough on his pass. Carlos was late to the ball and his challenge resulted in a booking that will have him suspended for Wednesday’s game.

The service on the ensuing set piece found the foot of Tyler Blackett at the back post but the fullback could only get a toe on it and pop it straight to Gallese.

Pareja sent Akindele and Benji Michel on for Dike and Mueller, getting fresh legs into an attack that was just not able to get into gear in the second half. The move nearly paid dividends right away, as Michel got down the left side on a pass from Jansson and had Akindele lurking at the far post but Benji’s cross was way too far out in front of his teammate and went out for a goal kick.

Michel was robbed by Tyton in the 77th minute. Pereyra sent Mas down the left flank and the left back found Michel in front. Benji spun and fired a hard shot on target but Tyton was able to get an arm on it and Nick Hagglund sent it out of play a split second before Urso could get to the loose ball.

The Lions should have put the game away in the 84th minute. Akindele found himself in space and fired a cannon shot off the underside of the crossbar that appeared to land across the goal line before bouncing back into the field of play, where Tyton collected it. There was never a stoppage for a review and Pareja said he was never able to talk to the ref after the game about the play to get an explanation.

“I thought we could have that second goal of Tesho’s. I cannot understand why it wasn’t seen,” Pareja said.

The Lions went to five at the back in the 90th minute, sending Schlegel on for Pereyra with the final substitution. His first involvement nearly ended in disaster. A set piece was sent into the box and bodies got tangled. Cincinnati lobbied for a penalty but none was given during live play. However, de Oliveira went to the monitor to take a second look after consulting with VAR Fotis Bazakos. Schlegel’s arm clearly came up and hit the head and neck area of forward Brandon Vazquez on the play but Hagglund appeared to send Schlegel off balance with a foul prior to the play in question. The referee ended up seeing it that way and Gallese took a free kick instead of facing a penalty.

The Lions defended desperately as the game went through nine minutes of stoppage time before de Oliveira ended the proceedings.

Cincinnati finished with slight advantages in possession (52.5%-47.5%) and passing accuracy (83.2%-82.8%), but Orlando out-shot the hosts (18-9) and got more on target (5-3), while earning more corners (6-4).

“The second half was very choppy,” Pareja said. “The first half was much better for us.”

Gallese earned the team’s eighth clean sheet of the season and first since a 0-0 draw against Inter Miami in late August. El Pulpo now has six clean sheets on the season and nine in his Orlando City career, which pushed him past Brian Rowe and into sole possession of second on the club’s all-time list. He is four shy of Joe Bendik’s career club record of 13.

Pareja said that Gallese was adamant about playing in the match despite arriving in Cincinnati late the night before after playing for Peru in the international window.

“In our conversation this morning, the first thing that he said is that he wanted at any cost to play tonight and for us to give him the opportunity to be in the squad,” said Pareja. “That shows his commitment as a great professional. The team is first for him.”

Orlando snapped a six-match winless streak in road games (0-3-3) with the win.

“We’re very happy for those three points. It’s very necessary at this stage,” Pareja said.


The Lions have a quick turnaround with Montreal visiting Exploria Stadium on Wednesday.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions do in Orlando City’s 5-0 loss to Inter Miami?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City’s 5-0 loss to Inter Miami Saturday at Chase Stadium in Fort Lauderdale tied for the Lions’ worst loss in club history. The Herons took an early commanding lead, going up 2-0 after 10 minutes, and the Lions showed little bite from then on. The rough start to the 2024 MLS regular season continues, only claiming one point in the first two games. 

Here’s how I saw the individual performances in an embarrassing display by the Lions.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 4.5 — Gallese gave up five goals on six shots in this game, the most he’s conceded since joining Orlando City. However, most of the goals were more a result of poor defending than poor goalkeeping. Regardless, giving up five goals on six shots is an awful day for any goalkeeper. The Lions’ number one also completed 77.8% of his 18 passes and five of his nine long balls.

D, Rafael Santos, 5 — Santos’ 61 touches were the second-most on the team in this game. He completed 81.8% of his 44 passes, which were third-most on the team. He also completed one of his two crosses and failed to complete his lone long ball. Defensively, Santos had one interception, but no other defensive stats before being replaced by Kyle Smith in the 58th minute.

D, Robin Jansson, 5.5 — Jansson was the more dependable of the two center backs, even if he didn’t have a great game. The Lions captain finished the game with two tackles, one clearance, and one blocked shot. He completed 92.3% of his 52 passes and two of his five long balls. He was part of the fourth goal but was unlucky when his clearance off the line hit the crossbar, enabling Lionel Messi to scuffle it in.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 4.5 — Schlegel was at fault for two of the first three goals. He stepped up early on the second goal, leaving Luis Suarez behind, and failed to get his head on the chip. He was also at fault on the third goal, keeping Robert Taylor onside by stepping up late. Schlegel was active defensively with one tackle, six interceptions, and five clearances, but his two early mistakes in the back put the game out of reach. Going forward, the center back completed 90.5% of his 42 passes and two of his three long balls.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 5.5 — Thorhallsson was one of the few bright spots for the Lions in this game. Defensively, he had two tackles, two interceptions, and two clearances. He completed 92.5% of his 40 passes, including a key pass, and had three successful dribbles going forward.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 5 — Araujo led the team with 79 touches, but had a tough game defensively. His early pass for Jansson bounced off Suarez and the defensive midfielder failed to pick up the forward’s run, enabling the fellow Uruguayan to open the scoring. He also failed to keep up with Jordi Alba in the second half, contributing to Miami’s fourth goal. Araujo did have five tackles and two interceptions. He completed 91.9% of his 62 passes and three of his four long balls, which brings his grade up a bit.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 5 — It was another short appearance for Cartagena, who was replaced at halftime for the second consecutive game by Nico Lodeiro. While in the game, the defensive midfielder had two tackles and completed 87.5% of his 40 passes. However, all four of his long balls didn’t find their target. He drew two fouls but did little else before leaving the game.

MF, Facundo Torres, 5 — Torres is usually an offensive force for the Lions, but he did little in this rivalry game. He wasn’t very involved in play, recording 46 touches, and completed 86.7% of his 30 passes without any key passes. All three of his crosses were incomplete and he only took one off-target shot.

MF, Martin Ojeda, 5.5 — Ojeda was one of the few bright spots, starting as the number 10. He made the most of his 50 touches, completing 86.2% of his 29 passes with three key passes. He only completed one of his nine crosses, but all four of his long balls. He also hit the target with his only shot, one of only three shots on target by Orlando City. The playmaker played 73 minutes before being replaced by Felipe.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 5 — Angulo was absent for most of the game, recording 40 touches and completing 84.6% of his 26 passes. He had one cross and one long ball, both of which were incomplete. He also contributed once defensively with an interception. At least he wasn’t at fault for any of the goals.

F, Duncan McGuire, 4.5 — Similar to Angulo, McGuire was barely in the game. He only had six touches and completed his four pass attempts. The striker took one off-target shot and was replaced at halftime by Luis Muriel.

Substitutes

F, Luis Muriel (46’), 5 — Muriel was an improvement on McGuire up top, even if he didn’t do much offensively. He had 26 touches and completed 79% of his 19 passes. He took one shot in his 45 minutes, being one of the three players to actually hit the target.

MF, Nico Lodeiro (46’), 6 (MotM) — Lodeiro came on at halftime for Cartagena and did his best to make an impact. He touched the ball 56 times, sixth most on the team and the most by an attacking player. He completed 79.5% of his 39 passes, including one key pass, four of his seven crosses, and two of his four long balls. He didn’t take any shots but had a tackle defensively. Despite only playing the second half, Lodeiro gets my Man of the Match.

D, Kyle Smith (58’), 5 — Smith came on in the 58th minute for Santos, getting 26 touches on the ball. He completed 87% of his 23 passes but didn’t complete his only cross. He recorded a clearance defensively, but no other statistics.

F, Ramiro Enrique (58’), 5 — Enrique came on for Angulo in the 58th minute, recording 15 touches in 32 minutes. He completed nine of his 10 passes (90%), but didn’t complete his one cross. His one shot was on target and one of three to be on frame. Additionally, his three successful dribbles were tied with Thorhallsson for most on the team.

MF, Felipe (73’), 5 — Felipe came on for the final 17 minutes, replacing Ojeda, and had 13 touches. The midfielder only completed 75% of his 12 passes, but had one key pass. He completed one of his three long balls and his one through ball, the only one attempted by Orlando City.


An honorable mention goes to backup goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar, who didn’t play but stood up to Suarez when the Miami striker was verbally attacking the assistant referee heading into halftime. It was one of the few moments of excitement by the Lions.

This is how I saw the individual performances of the Orlando City players in a terrible game. Most players get around a 5 out of 10 because they weren’t at fault for the loss, but did little to contribute to any success. Let us know what you thought of the players and have a go at voting for your Man of the Match.

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Lion Links: 3/4/24

Lions lose big, Tigres is up next, the USWNT wins, USMNT news, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers. No, I’m not feeling very merry either, but it’s a tradition at this point. The good news is that we don’t have to wait long for Orlando City to get a chance to make us forget about Saturday. In an effort to help with that, let’s get to the links, but first, let’s wish Orlando Pride rookie Ally Lemos a happy birthday.

Massacre in Miami

If you’re like me, you turned off Saturday’s Orlando City match at some point. It was easily the worst showing by an Oscar Pareja-coached Orlando City team. Typically, these Lions are mentality monsters and do not give up. I’m not saying that any of the coaches or players will say they did, but the results speak for themselves. I think it best to just put it behind us and move on to the Tigres match, but if you want to revisit it — or if you were fortunate enough not to watch but still want the details — you can read our match recap.

Up Next: Tigres

The early part of the season doesn’t get any easier for Orlando City as the Lions are set to face Liga MX giant Tigres UANL in a Round-of-16 match in Concacaf Champions Cup. Our own Nic Josey touched on the upcoming match. Unlike the previous matches against Cavalry FC, the Lions will play the first leg at home. The match is tomorrow night at 9 p.m. at Inter&Co Stadium. Tigres is coming off a 2-1 loss to Toluca in Liga MX competition. Hopefully, the Lions can shake off the Miami result and take it to Tigres.

USMNT News

It couldn’t happen before the Orlando City match, but Inter Miami is reportedly trading DeAndre Yedlin to FC Cincinnati. Good timing, guys.

In happier news, Malik Tillman scored a very nice goal for PSV against Feyenoord in the 2-2 draw. Tillman made a nifty move through the defender and then slotted it inside the left post.

Tillman isn’t alone in scoring for the Eredivisie club, as both Ricardo Pepi and Sergino Dest have also scored goals this season. In all, the three have 24 goal contributions so far. That ties Mexico for the most by players from another country.

Brentford will be looking to replace departing striker Ivan Toney, and Norwich City striker Josh Sargent is a contender to make the move. Sargent has 11 goals for Norwich so far this season. Christian Pulisic received online death threats after he goaded two Lazio players into receiving red cards in AC Milan’s 1-0 win over the Serie A opponent.

USWNT Rebounds, Blanks Colombia 3-0

The USWNT bounced back from a 2-0 loss to Mexico in the group stage to defeat Colombia 3-0 in a quarterfinal match in the Concacaf W Gold Cup. The U.S. started early with a converted penalty kick by Lindsey Horan. Former Orlando Pride player Alex Morgan drew the foul in the box for the USWNT. Jenna Nighswonger and Jaedyn Shaw added two more goals in the first half. There were no second-half goals, nor were any needed. The U.S. will face Canada in the semifinals on Wednesday.

Free Kicks

  • Xabi Alonso’s Bayern Leverkusen moved 10 points clear atop the Bundesliga after their 2-0 win over Cologne. It’s a little bit funny that Harry Kane made the move to Bayern Munich and the club might not win a trophy because of Leverkusen’s amazing season.
  • NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman spoke about the growth of women’s soccer in the U.S. amid the joint bid with Mexico for the 2027 Women’s World Cup.
  • In a result that everyone hated other than Manchester City fans, Manchester United wasn’t able to help out the rest of the world, falling 3-1 to City on Sunday.
  • Catarina Macario scored a goal in her first match back from injury in Chelsea’s 4-0 win over Leicester City.
  • The match between Real Madrid and Valencia ended in a 2-2 draw. It also ended on a controversial call when the referee blew the whistle just as Jude Bellingham was scoring what would have been the winning goal.

That will do it for today. Check back for our coverage of the upcoming Tigres and Minnesota United matches later this week. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Five Takeaways

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

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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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