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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Nashville SC: Final Score 3-1 as Lions Crash Out of Playoffs



Orlando City’s 2021 season is over.

The Lions scored first, but fell victim to a fluky goal and the Nashville SC counter attack in a 3-1 loss at Nissan Stadium. The game was closer than the final score would indicate, but the fourth meeting of the year between the two sides — the third in Nashville — went to the hosts. Daryl Dike put the Lions ahead early but Hany Mukhtar scored twice and Jhonder Cadiz got an insurance goal deep in stoppage time.

The team to score first has still never won in the series and a solid second season under Oscar Pareja — despite a plethora of injuries, suspensions, and international call-ups — came to a close after the franchise’s first ever road playoff contest.

“Those counters affected us today and that was a difference maker in the game,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “I think the effort from the players and the desire and the willingness to be as we’re always asking them, it was there on the field. So there’s nothing to regret, and it’s painful but the boys left it on the field and there’s nothing we can complain about.”

Despite David Loera being the only player on the injury report, Pareja still didn’t have his first-choice starting XI in the lineup. Joao Moutinho did not dress and Nani started on the bench. Pareja had Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Emmanuel Mas, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Sebas Mendez and Junior Urso slotted into central midfield, with Mauricio Pereyra and Chris Mueller facilitating the attack to Benji Michel and Daryl Dike up top.

Orlando City started strong and looked to be growing into the game first. A good bit of buildup nearly resulted in a chance for Mueller in the 10th minute. The Lions worked the ball into the area but the final ball from Dike was too far out in front. But Orlando got the opener four minutes later.

Michel won a corner kick for Orlando and the Lions made the set piece pay off. Pereyra sent in a great cross and Dike peeled away from the defense and placed his header toward the far post and in for the first goal in the 14th minute. It was Dike’s first playoff goal.

Nashville tried to get back into it using the dark arts. CJ Sapong took a dive and Ismail Elfath rewarded it by giving the hosts a free kick in a dangerous area. Mukhtar’s free kick hit the wall and came back to him. He tried to pick out Walker Zimmerman with a recycled ball but Jansson cleared it away.

Unfortunately, Nashville tied the match in the 21st minute. Urso was unaware of Anibal Godoy’s quick close-down and gave away the ball in the middle of the field. Godoy poked it off of Urso to Mukhtar who dribbled toward Orlando’s area and tried a long-distance shot. Carlos was unlucky in trying to block it because instead of Gallese having a good chance to make a save, the ball deflected up and over the goalkeeper and in to make it 1-1.

“They bet for counters and they they don’t want to be the team to dictate the tempo,” Pareja said. “They wait and that’s what they do, and they did it well.” 

Randall Leal tried to put Nashville on top three minutes later from Gallese’s left as the defense failed to close him down, but he fired a laser shot right at El Pulpo and the goalkeeper gave no rebound.

Godoy thought he’d scored in the 41st minute off a rebound of a Mukhtar shot that Gallese saved but couldn’t control, but the midfielder was offside on the play and the game remained tied.

That was all the scoring in a bit of a sloppy first half that saw both teams slipping on the football field of Nissan Stadium. Michel had one moment of slippage in his own end that nearly gifted Nashville a scoring chance but Carlos headed a cross intended for Sapong out of harm’s way. Aside from the footing, Orlando had some heavy touches but overall played a solid first half on the road.

Nashville led in most of the statistical categories at the break, holding more possession (55.8%-44.2%), firing more shots (5-1), notching more shots on target (3-1), and passing slightly more accurately (82.4%-82.3%). Orlando City won more corner kicks (2-0).

The first chance of the second half fell to Sapong in the 47th minute as he attempted a header from near the top of the area but didn’t get anything on it and Gallese wasn’t troubled.

Orlando grew into the second half but then got too timid when approaching dangerous areas. Dike laid off a pass for Michel in the 48th minute but the winger opted to take a touch rather than fire first time and the touch was heavy. He tried to drag it back around a defender but ended up losing it and wasting the opportunity.

“In that moment we didn’t have the confidence to do it or we were not sharp enough,” Pareja said of those chances. “And there’s many things that you can say but this is a group has been competing for two years and they have done the job many, many times and unfortunately today we (came up) short.”

A minute later, Pereyra sent a seeing-eye ball that would have sent Mueller in but Daniel Lovitz did well to make a sliding challenge to knock the pass away at the last second.

Michel was again hesitant in the area in the 57th minute, missing a chance to get a shot on target but he did win a corner. The ensuing set piece was knocked to the top of the area to Mendez who fired a shot that was heading on target but it was blocked out for another corner. Mendez again got a chance on the following corner after an initial clearance by Joe Willis, but he sent a rocket just wide to the right.

In the 60th minute, Pereyra led a counter into the top of the box and laid a pass off for Ruan on the right. Urso was trailing the play and didn’t see Ruan. The midfielder made a sliding effort to get a shot on goal but instead took out his right back, wasting another opportunity.

As Pareja was preparing to bring Nani on as a sub, disaster struck. A blocked shot at the top of the Nashville area turned into a Nashville counter and Mukhtar ended up on the right side 1-v-1 with Mas. The Nashville Designated Player cut in from the right toward the middle and Mas couldn’t keep up. Mendez, sitting on a yellow card, was too passive in closing down. Meanwhile, Sapong made a diagonal run that caused confusion between the two center backs and that gave Mukhtar room to shoot. He beat Gallese to make it 2-1 in the 74th minute.

Although the circumstances had changed, Nani’s introduction seemed to have the desired effect. Pareja said after the match that Nani had been having some recent difficulties but was fine to play and they decided to bring him off the bench to have him at his best. Unfortunately, the timing of the second Mukhtar goal meant Pareja was sending him on with the Lions chasing the game rather than level.

Just after he came on, Urso came free in the middle and fired a long-range shot but he hit it right at Willis in the 76th minute. Moments later, Nani cut in left to right at the corner of the area and smashed a rocket toward goal that Zimmerman blocked with his midsection.

The captain then won a corner in the 80th but Orlando could do nothing with it. In the 86th, Nani sent a free kick into the area that deflected to substitute Tesho Akindele. Lovitz closed him down and he tried to pull his shot around the defender but ended up sending it wide.

Moments later, Orlando should have had a set piece in the middle just outside the area. Dike made a good turn and got beyond his defender. He still had to deal with Zimmerman but before he could do that he was knocked down from behind. Elfath swallowed his whistle and Nashville cleared the danger.

The last chance at an equalizer came on a cross from late sub Silvester van der Water. Akindele got his head on it but couldn’t make enough contact to direct it inside the far post.

Cadiz put the game away in the 94th minute after outmuscling Carlos and slotting home.

Both teams finished the game with just nine shots but Nashville got more on target (6-2). Orlando City ended up with more possession (54.3%-45.7%), won more corners (5-0), and passed more accurately for the game (81.3%-79.1%).

“If you ask me for one difference between the teams I think it’s just that they scored the second goal when maybe they didn’t deserve it, because they didn’t (generate much attack) in the second half,” Pereyra said. “But that’s soccer, and that’s what we need to accept and we need to say congratulations to Nashville.”

The home team has won in every MLS playoff game so far this postseason, and that has to rub the Lions the wrong way after a terrible refereeing decision the last time these teams played ended up dropping Orlando from what would have been a home game to having to travel to Nashville.

The Lions will next play a competitive match in late February when they host CF Montreal in the 2022 season opener. Nashville will go to Philadelphia for a conference semifinal match on Sunday.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Chicago Fire: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions continue their search for a win at home as the Fire make their annual visit to Orlando.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to your match thread and preview for a Saturday night matchup between Orlando City (4-8-6, 18 points) and the Chicago Fire (4-8-6, 18 points) at Inter&Co Stadium (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the second and final scheduled meeting between the Eastern Conference rivals in 2024 and the only matchup in Orlando.

Here’s what you need to know about the match.


The Lions are 7-5-7 in 19 MLS meetings with the Fire and 7-6-7 in all competitions. Orlando City is 4-2-3 against the Fire at home.

These two teams just met a few weeks ago on May 29 at Soldier Field, playing to a 1-1 draw. Facundo Torres opened the scoring early with a scrappy goal in traffic, and the Lions should have had a penalty late in the first half when Ivan Angulo was clipped while in alone on a goal after rounding the goalkeeper, but the video assistant referee did not overturn the no-call and referee Malik Badawi did not look at the play himself. The Fire tied the match in the final 20 minutes on a Hugo Cuypers goal.

The Lions swept the two-game season series in 2023 by identical 3-1 scorelines. On Aug. 21, Orlando City got goals from Wilder Cartagena, Ivan Angulo, and Torres (from the penalty spot) to overcome a 1-0 deficit supplied by Mauricio Pineda, winning 3-1 on the road.

When the teams met in Orlando, the Lions rode a Torres brace to a 3-1 win on July 1. Xherdan Shaqiri pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after a Kyle Smith foul in the box against Brian Gutierrez, but Ramiro Enrique added an insurance goal.

Orlando City claimed a 1-0 victory at Exploria Stadium on April 9, 2022 on Ercan Kara’s first MLS goal. The two sides met at Soldier Field just over a month prior to that match and played, officially, to a 0-0 draw on March 5. The game is another Orlando City match that will live in infamy due to the Professional Referee Organization’s statement after the game that Junior Urso’s goal should not have been overturned upon video review by Ismir Pekmic due to Kara not having clearly and obviously handled the ball in the buildup in any of the available replay angles. Alas…

The teams met in Orlando on Aug. 21, 2021, with a second-half Benji Michel strike lifting the Lions to a 1-0 victory. Tesho Akindele set up the play by forcing a turnover. In that year’s meeting at Soldier Field, the Fire got the better of the Lions to the tune of 3-1 on July 7. Andres Perea scored his first career MLS goal to open the scoring, but a defensive lapse in first-half stoppage allowed Boris Sekulic to equalize just before the break. Chicago rode that momentum, adding goals by Robert Beric and Chinonso Offor.

The Lions were 0-4-4 in the eight meetings before smashing the Fire 4-1 in Orlando on Sept. 19, 2020. Orlando City withstood two Chicago penalties and saw two Fire goals overturned by video review in that rain-soaked match. (Weird things usually happen when Chicago visits Orlando.) The Lions got goals from Chris Mueller, Nani, Urso, and Michel, while Chicago had only a Beric penalty to show for an otherwise good offensive performance.

The last meeting of 2019 was the last time the Fire won on the road in the series. It was a debacle for the Lions, who lost defender Robin Jansson to a back/neck injury early and shipped a handful of goals in a 5-2 home loss in the regular-season finale. Orlando got goals from Akindele and Michel but largely played like a team that couldn’t wait to end its season. Chicago got an own goal from Orlando’s Smith and strikes from CJ Sapong, Aleksandar Katai, and Przemyslaw Frankowski (twice) in the rout.

Orlando City was seconds away from a road win on March 9, 2019 before Sapong’s free header in the 95th minute leveled things in a 1-1 draw in Chicago. Dom Dwyer scored Orlando’s goal.

In 2018, the Fire swept the season series. Orlando fell 2-1 at home on May 26, 2018, with Alan Gordon’s wondergoal breaking a 1-1 deadlock. The return leg in Chicago that September was an abysmal performance by Orlando in a 4-0 Fire victory.

Chicago went 1-0-1 in 2017, with the teams playing to a 0-0 draw on June 4, 2017, with the Lions reduced to nine men. The previous 2017 meeting was the Fire’s 4-0 beatdown of Orlando on June 24 of that year. David Accam figured in all four goals, with a hat trick and an assist on Nemanja Nikolić’s goal.

The teams split the points in 2016, drawing both meetings. Cyle Larin and Accam traded goals in a 1-1 draw in Orlando on March 11. The Fire again came from behind to draw, 2-2 in the return leg that August.

The teams met once in Orlando in 2015, with the Lions and Fire battling to a 1-1 draw. You may recall that five-hour, weather-delayed affair with Eric Gehrig’s own-goal canceling out an Accam strike. The other three meetings came in Chicago, with City winning 3-2 and 1-0 in MLS matches and falling 3-1 in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal action.


The Lions are coming off a 2-2 road draw at Charlotte FC Wednesday night. The hosts scored early off an Orlando defensive gaffe but went down a man late in the first half. Orlando took initial advantage when Duncan McGuire tied the match in the second half, however, another defensive mishap led to Charlotte regaining the lead late. Torres tied the game again but the Lions could not find a winner. It was Orlando’s fifth consecutive game without a win (0-3-2) but the team’s first point since the last game against Chicago. Orlando is an abysmal 1-5-3 at home this season, so the club is starving for three points at Inter&Co Stadium.

Conversely, Chicago is 2-0-0 since hosting Orlando City last month. The Fire are coming off a 4-1 dismantling of Toronto FC last Saturday and will be on a full week’s rest. That win was Chicago’s first on the road this year (1-3-4), so the two teams with identical overall records have been headed in opposite directions than when they last met. Cuypers has gotten hot and leads the Fire with six goals on the season, while Gutierrez has four. Fabian Herbers and Maren Haile-Selassie pace the team with four assists each. USMNT midfielder Kellyn Acosta has two goals and two assists.

“We played them not too long ago. Chicago is a team that has been evolving too. We understand that evolution since we have information [and analysis] in our game against them in Chicago, but I think we played them well there and I think we had another good game,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said ahead of the match. “We’ll try to improve some things and see if we can get better at those things that we’re talking about, being more precise and taking advantage of that volume that we had in front of the goal, but also just being cautious and smart defending them.”

The Lions list Mikey Halliday (knee), and Tahir Reid-Brown (thigh) as out on the availability report, along with international players Pedro Gallese, Wilder Cartagena, and David Brekalo. Ramiro Enrique (personal matter) and Felipe (foot) are listed as questionable. Chicago will be without Chase Gasper (leg), Andrew Gutman (leg), Tobias Salquist (leg), and Xherdan Shaqiri (international duty), while Federico Navarro (leg) is listed as questionable.

Match Content

Projected Lineups

Orlando City (4-4-2)

Goalkeeper: Mason Stajduhar.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Midfielders: Facundo Torres, Cesar Araujo, Nico Lodeiro, Ivan Angulo.

Forwards: Luis Muriel, Duncan McGuire.

Chicago Fire (5-3-2)

Goalkeeper: Chris Brady

Defenders: Andrew Gutman, Rafa Czichos, Carlos Teran, Mauricio Pineda, Jonathan Dean.

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta., Federico Navarro, Brian Guitierrez.

Forwards: Tom Barlow, Hugo Cuypers.


REF: Natalie Simon.
AR1: Corey Rockwell.
AR2: Kevin Klinger.
4TH: Chris Penso.
VAR: Sorin Stoica.
AVAR: Mike Kampmeinert.

How to Watch

Match Time: 7:30 p.m.

Venue: Inter&Co Stadium — Orlando.

TV/Streaming: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Mega 97.1 FM (Spanish).

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

Enjoy the game. Go City!

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Orlando City

Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Chicago Fire

Get caught up on the Chicago Fire courtesy of someone who knows them best.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Following a midweek draw on the road that was filled with plenty of intrigue, Orlando City returns to the welcoming confines of home to take on the Chicago Fire in the second meeting of the season between the two teams.

A matchup with Chicago means I caught up with Ruben Tisch, who runs the show over at The Lantern. As always, he was kind enough to give us some valuable insight into how the Fire have fared since these two teams last met.

Hugo Cuypers was Chicago’s big off-season signing, how has he looked so far?

Ruben Tisch: He’s been good so far and it’s finally paying off on the score sheet. He’s scored a goal in each of the Fire’s last three matches and has turned into a real asset on the counter-press, something I didn’t see happening. When he was brought in, we knew we were getting a poacher — someone with an eye and foot for goal but not someone who could create his own opportunities. However, he’s shown to be more than his player profile and the Fire are cashing in the dividends.

He’s also starting to figure out how to play with Brian Gutierrez and Maren Haile-Selassie. Early on in the season, there were problems. The quality of service was poor, and as a result, the coordination between he and the midfield was bad. In recent games, things have gotten better. The passing has improved, and as a result, the chance creation has gotten better. Cuypers is getting in better spots and his shots are going in. 

Former Lion Chris Mueller is now in his third season with the Fire. What sort of season has he had in 2024?

RT: Honestly, he hasn’t had much of one. Part of it is that tactically, the Fire have moved away from traditional wingers to wingbacks and Mueller isn’t someone you can trust to defend with any regularity. He’s an attacking demon, but the way the Fire are trying to play, he’s just not as useful as someone like Allen Arigoni, who can attack and defend. 

The other bit is speculation on my part, but he doesn’t seem to have recovered completely from the season-ending surgery from last season. He looks a step slower when on the field and he’s having trouble playing meaningful minutes. I expect that he’ll get better as he continues to recover, but I don’t expect him to regain his starting role anytime soon, especially if the Fire goes out and gets a DP wide player in the summer.

The Fire have hit a nice patch of form, and the team is unbeaten in its last four games. What’s been working well for Chicago during that stretch?

RT: The switch to three center backs has been a boon for a team that struggles with defensive focus for 90 minutes. They now have cover, so that small mistakes don’t become big mistakes, and Carlos Teran is determined to play himself into a transfer to Europe, so every game he’s in he gives his 100%.

Mostly, though, I think it’s Xherdan Shaqiri’s exit from the club. It looks like a huge weight has been lifted and the team is playing a lot freer with him gone. The move never worked out for a lot of reasons, but a large part of it was he just isn’t the player the club needed him to be. He’s not a good fulcrum. The game cannot run through him, and he’s best when he can float in and out of the action. He can’t run a team, and when the Fire signed him, that’s what they really needed. And they never got it.

Will any players be unavailable due to injuries, suspensions, call-ups, etc.? What is your best guess at a starting XI and a score prediction?

RT: It’s probably going to be the same as their win over Toronto. Part of the big problem with the Fire over the last decade has been lineup consistency. They didn’t have a midweek game, so there’s no reason to rotate the squad.

Chris Brady; Jonathan Dean, Rafael Czichos, Carlos Teran, Arnaud Souquet, Allan Arigoni; Kellyn Acosta, Fabian Herbers, Brian Gutierrez; Hugo Cuypers, Maren Haile-Selassie.

No score prediction provided.

Thank you to Ruben for the update on the Fire. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/21/24

Facundo Torres earns praise, Orlando Pride play the Utah Royals tonight, FC Cincinnati linked with Weston McKennie, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! This weekend is what soccer fans dream of, with NWSL, MLS, Copa America, and Euro 2024 matches to enjoy. The Orlando Pride are in action tonight, Orlando City plays Saturday, and the U.S. begins its Copa America campaign on Sunday. But first, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter!

Facundo Torres Makes MLS Team of the Matchday Bench

Orlando forward Facundo Torres earned a spot on the bench of the MLS Team of the Matchday after providing a goal and an assist in Orlando’s 2-2 draw against Charlotte FC. Both contributions were crucial to Orlando getting a point on the road. It was only Torres’ third goal of the season, so hopefully this gets him going. If the Lions are to claw their way up the Eastern Conference table, they’ll need more performances like this from their talisman.

Orlando Pride Host the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride will aim to get back in the win column tonight when they take on the Utah Royals at home. The last time these two teams squared off was on April 12, with Orlando winning 1-0 in the first of eight straight victories for the Pride. Another match with the Royals could be just what the doctor ordered for an Orlando side that’s been held to draws in its past two matches. While Utah is having a difficult season and sits last in the league standings, it did get its first road win on Sunday against Bay FC.

FC Cincinnati Reportedly Wants Weston McKennie

American midfielder Weston McKennie could be coming to the U.S., as FC Cincinnati has reportedly made an offer to sign him from Juventus. Cincinnati is willing to spend up to $15 million to bring McKennie on as a Designated Player. The 25-year-old has one year left on his contract with Juventus, but he’s likely leaving the Italian club this summer if reports are to be believed. McKennie was part of FC Dallas’ academy, but never actually played in an MLS game before heading to Europe.

Spain Wins to Advance in Euro 2024

Spain booked its spot in the knockout stage of Euro 2024 after beating Italy 1-0 in a match that didn’t quite live up to its billing. It does set up for an intriguing matchup between Italy and Croatia on Monday, though. England and Denmark traded first-half goals but neither team could find a winner in a 1-1 draw. In the other Group C match, Orlando City defender David Brekalo came on as a late substitute in Slovenia’s 1-1 draw against Serbia.

As for today’s slate of games, Slovakia will face off against Ukraine, Poland plays Austria, and France takes on the Netherlands. We’ll see if Kylian Mbappe will play after breaking his nose in France’s opening match.

Latest FIFA Rankings Unveiled

Despite losing 5-1 to Colombia in a friendly, the U.S. didn’t drop enough points to be unseated from 11th in the latest FIFA rankings. The U.S. remains the highest-ranked Concacaf nation, and Mexico dropped to 15th after losing to both Uruguay and Brazil in friendlies. Argentina is still at the top of the rankings, while Brazil leapfrogged England for fourth place. The rankings usually don’t matter all too much, but they are used to determine pots for the World Cup. With Euro 2024 and Copa America going on, things could shake up a bit for some of the world’s best teams.

Free Kicks

  • Peter Musa was named MLS Player of the Matchday for his hat trick in FC Dallas’ 5-3 win against Minnesota United. It was the Croatian striker’s first hat trick since he joined Dallas this past off-season, and he now has eight goals this season.
  • Now with Cruz Azul, former Atlanta United forward Georgios Giakoumakis took some parting shots at MLS in regards to how losses are OK compared to Liga MX. I find it a pretty oblivious thing to say considering Atlanta fired its head coach a day after losing to Charlotte FC earlier this month.
  • Steve Cooper, who was sacked by Nottingham Forest six months ago, was hired as Leicester City’s new manager.
  • Of the 47 goals scored so far in Euro 2024, five have been own goals and only Germany’s Jamal Musiala has scored more than once. None of the goals have been scored from the penalty spot as well.
  • Burnley is reportedly in talks with Ruud van Nistelrooy to be the club’s next manager after Vincent Kompany’s departure.

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

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