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Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Final Score 1-1 as Lions Squander Lead at Home

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Chris Mueller gave Orlando City a halftime lead but the Lions gave up a set piece goal early in the second half to drop valuable points in a 1-1 draw against CF Montreal at Exploria Stadium. The Lions (12-8-10, 46 points) ran their unbeaten streak to four matches (2-0-2) but a lack of sharpness around goal in the first half and a flat start to the second period helped Montreal (11-10-9, 42 points) escape with a point on Rudy Camacho goal.

The dropped points will sting with four games remaining in a tight playoff race as the Lions must still face the top two teams in the Eastern Conference in their last two home games and go on the road to Columbus and Montreal — two places they’ve rarely won.

“I think we can divide the game into two different halves,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “We felt that we needed to put the game away but we could not score more than one goal and just left the game there for any opportunity that they had.”

Pareja’s lineup featured Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Emmanuel Mas, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel (for the suspended Antonio Carlos), and Ruan. Uri Rosell slotted into the central midfield with Junior Urso, with Mauricio Pereyra and Chris Mueller tasked with facilitating the attack to Benji Michel and Daryl Dike. Nani started on the bench.

Orlando spent much of the first half on the front foot, but had little to show for it. The first good opportunity came in the 13th minute off a corner kick that fell for Urso in the box. The Bear fired a shot toward goal but it took a deflection off a defender and hit the crossbar before flying out of play.

Two minutes later, Jansson was forward for a set piece, took the ball up the left side and fired a shot that was deflected out for a corner. In the 17th minute, Dike bulled his way through multiple defenders to get into the box but Samuel Piette got his foot on the ball and was able to clear the danger just as the forward was shooting.

In the 26th minute it was Michel’s turn to get his effort blocked out of play but for some reason a goal kick was awarded despite the obvious deflection. Dike then headed just over the bar in the 29th minute off a Michel cross.

The Lions looked to counter in the 35th minute when former Orlando City defender Kamal Miller was caught upfield, but Pereyra couldn’t get his outlet pass out wide, where only teammates Mueller and Ruan were waiting to break in on goal.

Orlando was finally rewarded for all of its pressure just before the break. Urso found Dike in transition and as he tried to get past the defense, Miller fouled him but play continued as the ball fell into the path of Ruan. The speedy right back tried to cross for a streaking Michel in the area but the pass was off line. However, Mueller was on the other side of the area and hit his shot into the netting inside the right post to put the Lions ahead in the 45th minute.

It was Mueller’s third goal of the season, the 21st of his Orlando City career, and first since July 3 against the New York Red Bulls. It snapped a 14-game goal drought for the Money Badger.

“The team made a nice combination play out the back end,” Mueller said. “The ball accelerated up the right side, found Daryl, who slipped in Ruan. I just did my job and got to the back post and it just felt good to score.”

Montreal had slightly more possession (51%-49%) although it didn’t seem like it. Orlando dominated in shots (8-0) — but only got one on goal for a 1-0 edge in that category — and corners (5-1). The visitors passed more accurately (85.3%-83.3%).

The goal just before the half should have buoyed the Lions but instead the opposite happened. Montreal came out of the locker room on the front foot and Orlando struggled to maintain possession, break pressure, and connect passes. The visitors quickly got on the front foot.

Just four minutes after the restart Orlando fell asleep defensively and left second-half substitute Sunusi Ibrahim alone as he cut through the area. A good cross found the Nigerian right in front and Gallese made a huge save to protect the lead.

Unfortunately, the lead lasted only two more minutes. Djordje Mihailovic sent in a dangerous cross on a corner kick and Camacho beat Rosell to the near post and equalized in the 51st minute, scoring for just the second time all season.

With the game tied, Montreal started sitting back and looking for counter opportunities, content to draw on the road while hoping to steal all three points. To the visitors’ credit, they did a good job of staying compact and giving Orlando problems fighting through their lines. Passes and touches needed to be precise and the Lions had trouble maintaining enough sharpness to finish plays.

Pareja put on Nani and Silvester van der Water to try to go for all three points but the Dutchman had a poor night as Montreal overplayed his left side. Rather than using his weaker foot to make plays, van der Water tried to force the ball through congested spaces and ended up either losing it or being forced to play negative balls to his midfield and defense.

Orlando settled down somewhat and started to generate better attacks after that but couldn’t find the winner. Pereyra found some space between the center backs at the top of the box in the 74th minute but his shot was just wide of the left post. Two minutes later, the Lions should have regained the lead. Ruan cut inside and sent a pass to Dike, who got himself into a good position in the box. Dike fired a shot that was saved by goalkeeper James Pantemis but the rebound popped back out in front of goal. With Nani teeing up a shot on his right foot, Ruan got to the ball first and fired with his left foot but it was blocked by a defender.

On the ensuing corner, Jansson sent in another shot after the ball pinged around the box for a moment but his shot too was blocked. Pareja sent Tesho Akindele and Alexandre Pato on for Pereyra and Dike to add fresh legs to the attack in the 86th minute. Pato’s seven months off and lack of time on the pitch in games showed in his late appearance, as he had a couple of opportunities in the attack but wasn’t on the same page as his teammates.

The later it got, the tighter Montreal’s bunker became and the final whistle blew on a 1-1 draw. The dropped points were somewhat mitigated by results elsewhere but it wasn’t a good enough result given the chances generated and the dominating nature of the first half.

Orlando finished with more possession (52.5%-47.5%), shots (13-6), shots on target (4-2), and corners (7-3), and the teams were even in passing accuracy at 84.4% each

“We came out the first 10-15 minutes where they got the ball and started creating some chances,” Pareja said. “After that the reaction from our group was better but at the end it was playing against a team sitting there. That last pass. That ball that needed to break that line of five plus the midfielders, that was difficult. But I know it’s a bitter result because we chased and we fought for those three points but we’ll keep building on that performance, especially in the first half when we were very sharp.”


Orlando City has another quick turnaround with the first-place New England Revolution coming to the City Beautiful on Sunday.

Orlando City

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

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

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

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

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

History

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

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

Overview

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

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

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

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


Projected Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Michael Halliday.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Nico Lodeiro, Facundo Torres.

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

Cavalry FC (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Marco Carducci.

Defenders: Bradley Kamdem, Daan Klomp, Eryk Kobza, Fraser Aird.

Defensive Midfielders: Charlie Trafford, Jesse Daley.

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

Forward: Myer Bevan.

Officials:

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


How to Watch

Match Time: 10 p.m.

Venue: Starlight Stadium — Langford, British Columbia.

TV: FOX Sports 2, TUDN.

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

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).


Enjoy the match. Go City!

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Lion Links: 2/21/24

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

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

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

Orlando City Takes on Cavalry FC Tonight

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

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

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

St. Louis City and Philadelphia Union Win in Champions Cup

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

USWNT Beats the Dominican Republic in W Gold Cup

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

UEFA Champions League Roundup

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

Free Kicks

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

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signs its first-round draft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a one-year deal with three option years.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City SC announced the signing of first-round 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski today. The deal is through the upcoming 2024 season with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. The Lions selected the Syracuse midfielder with the 21st overall pick in the draft in December.

“Jeorgio has had a really strong preseason camp with us, demonstrating everything we saw in him when we were scouting him and analyzing his game in college,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “He’s done well working his way into the group, even starting in our friendly against Flamengo and holding his own against some of the best in Brazil, and we’re excited to have him with us this season.”

The box-to-box midfielder made three appearances this preseason, starting against Brazilian club Flamengo and the following scrimmage against USL Championship side Rhode Island FC. He came on at halftime against the Colorado Rapids last weekend, scoring the winning goal in the 90th minute.

Prior to being selected by the Lions, the Liverpool, NY, native made 71 appearances with 65 starts and logged 5,599 minutes for Syracuse in four years. He scored seven goals and recorded 18 assists, putting 33 of his 93 shots on frame. Additionally, he was part of Syracuse’s 2022 NCAA national championship team, playing 90 minutes in the 2-2 draw, but missing in the team’s victorious shootout over Indiana.

Kocevski had a breakout junior year, being named to the United Soccer Coaches’ All-South Region third team, All-ACC third team, NCAA All-Tournament team, and ACC All-Tournament team. During his senior year, he wore the armband for the Orange and was named All-ACC first team and ACC Co-Midfielder of the Year.

What It Means for Orlando City

Kocevski was the most likely pick from this most recent draft to be signed by Orlando City. The departure of club captain Mauricio Pereyra left a spot in the midfield and Head Coach Oscar Pareja seemed to feel the rookie could fill it from early on. His start against Flamengo was in the place of regular starter Cesar Araujo, who was on international duty with the Uruguay U-23 national team. He played against Flamengo’s best lineup and did quite well in almost an hour on the field in his first minutes of play at the professional level.

While a spot was open for the signing of Kocevski, he likely won’t see much of the field for the first team this season. In addition to being behind starters Araujo and Wilder Cartagena, the defensive midfielder will be behind Felipe on the depth chart. In all likelihood, the rookie will slot in with Orlando City B in MLS NEXT Pro to get some minutes, but there is room for him to start regularly with that team.

Kocevski is currently the only player signed by the club from the Lions’ 2024 draft class. West Virginia midfielder Yutaro Tsukada, Pittsburgh midfielder Filip Mirkovic, and Charlotte midfielder Riyon Tori remained unsigned, with the latter opting to return to school for his senior season.

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