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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Final Score 2-0 as Lions Remain Unbeaten in Season Openers

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Second-half goals from Alexandre Pato and Benji Michel lifted Orlando City to a 2-0 opening day victory over CF Montreal (0-1-0, 0 points) at Exploria Stadium. The Lions (1-0-0, 3 points) improved to 2-0-6 on opening day since joining MLS, winning the season’s first match for the first time since a 1-0 stadium-christening victory over New York City FC in 2017. The Lions have not conceded a goal on opening day since Oscar Pareja became head coach.

“I like the game. I thought we played against a very good team. Montreal has been in competition earlier than everybody else and we find that as difficulty,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “But we matched that up and we ended up scoring goals and being precise when we had to.”

“It’s a good start of the season to get a first win, especially at home,” Michel said.

Pareja’s lineup featured goalkeeper Pedro Gallese behind the first-choice back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. U22 Initiative midfielder Cesar Araujo got his first MLS start as the No. 6 in place of Sebas Mendez, with Andres Perea in the box-to-box role. Mauricio Pereyra, Facu Torres, and Michel made up the attacking midfield with Pato as the starting striker.

Montreal started the game with more energy than the hosts, keeping the ball deep in Orlando’s end for most of the first five minutes and earning multiple set piece. Romell Quioto got the game’s first half-chance in the 16th minute when he got to the end line and eluded Gallese but flashed a sharp-angle shot across the front of goal.

Orlando’s first shot attempt came in the 20th minute. After Michel was fouled by Alistair Johnston on the left side, just outside the top of the box, Pato sent a shot that hit the wall and caromed back to Torres. The Young Designated Player fired a shot that took a deflection off a defender and went wide.

The Lions should have scored on the counter in the 29th minute. Montreal turned it over in their own half and a pass for Pato was just behind the forward, so he dropped it off for Pereyra to run onto. The captain fired a shot that sailed just over the bar.

Djordje Mihailovic was open at the top of the box for a shot in the 36th minute on a Montreal counter but he hit his shot right at Gallese.

Five minutes later, the Lions got their best look of the first half. A ball in for Pato was headed up in the air by the defense. Pato did well to follow it and send a strong header low toward the near post. Sebastian Breza did well to get down and make a good save to keep the game scoreless in the 41st.

Orlando then had numbers in transition in first-half stoppage time but Michel hesitated while wide open on the right side of the area, looking for a pass instead. The chance evaporated when the defense knocked the ball away.

Orlando out-shot the visitors 4-2 in the opening 45 minutes, with each getting one on target. Montreal had slightly more possession (51.6%-48.4%), was more accurate in passing (87.8%-84.3%), and won more corners (5-3).

Pareja sent Junior Urso in for Perea at the break and it helped solidify the midfield. Urso’s instinctive play helped Orlando turn Montreal over more in the second 45.

However, Montreal came out of the locker room with good energy and created a flurry of shots in the opening moments. Moutinho blocked the first effort and a second shot from distance was easy for Gallese to collect. Matko Miljevic tried a long shot from the left but again Gallese handled it easily.

The Lions opened the scoring moments later. Torres sent the ball to Pereyra on the right side and the captain sent Ruan in behind Kamal Miller down the flank. Ruan sent a low cross to the back post. Despite a defender getting a slight touch on it, the ball got through to Pato, who calmly fired home to make it 1-0 in the 49th minute. It was Pato’s first MLS goal.

After the goal, Pato ran over and celebrated with Pareja on the sideline.

“It has been a rocky journey for Alex the last year. An injury kept him out of the team for so long,” Pareja said. “He wants to help the team and I thought (the goal) was a joy that we wanted to share because I know how much he has worked for that.”

Pato’s goal snapped a 244-minute opening day scoring drought by the Lions that dates back to the 75th minute in 2019 against New York City FC.

The Lions stayed on the front foot after the goal. A good attacking possession in the 58th minute ended with Michel redirecting a Pato pass wide of the net. But a minute later, Benji got his goal. Urso intercepted a pass off a goal kick and fed the ball to Pereyra in the middle. The Uruguayan sent a ball in for Michel, who was slicing diagonally through the area. Michel beat his defender and slotted home to make it 2-0 in the 59th minute.

“I saw Urso steal the ball and I was just very alert, like the ball could be coming to me, so I was just ready, making sure I was in a good position,” Michel said of the goal. “Before (Pereyra) got the ball, he looked at me, and as soon as he got the ball I knew was coming and I had to be ready and execute the play.” 

Joaquin Torres had a chance to cut the lead in half in the 62nd minute, as he found space just outside the area in the middle to turn and fire. His shot went over Gallese’s crossbar.

Four minutes later, Montreal’s situation got even worse. Quioto was bodied off the ball in the area and it went behind for a goal kick. Frustrated, the Montreal defender got up and threw a shoulder into Carlos’ chest. Jansson stepped between Quioto and his teammate and the Montreal striker struck the Swede with both fists in the chest. Referee Marcos de Oliveira showed Quioto a straight red. Importantly, Jansson was also given a yellow card, although he did very little other than get in between the two players.

Striker Ercan Kara made his MLS debut for Orlando in the 69th minute, coming on for Michel.

Down a man, Montreal continued to chase the game, but struggled to create clear-cut chances, settling for shots from long range and not doing much with a corner kick opportunity.

Jansson picked up a second yellow for a tactical foul in the 81st minute and will miss next weekend’s road match as a result. The game got a bit chaotic after that, with Rodrigo Schlegel coming on for Torres and the teams played 10-v-10.

“At the end the game became a bit messy. That we don’t want, but I thought we had the matureness to deal with it and just bring these three points to the people. We’re happy for this start,” said Pareja.

The Lions struggled to maintain control of the ball. Montreal’s best chance to get back in the game came in the 85th minute, when Johnston fizzed a ball through the six, but Carlos and Ruan did well at the back post to wall off defenders and prevent a scoring chance.

Schlegel conceded a dangerous free kick in the 89th minute but Joaquin Torres missed the mark badly on the set piece, sending his shot high into the stands.

Orlando saw out the six minutes of stoppage time without incident and took all three points.

Each team attempted eight shots in the match, with Orlando getting more on target (3-2). Montreal held a smidge more possession (50.7%-49.3%) and was more accurate in the passing department (89.9%-85.3%), winning more corners (7-3).

“We were more aggressive today. I thought we were pushing them,” Pareja said of his team’s performance against Montreal. “We were trying to force them into a mistake and that’s why the control of the game was coming to our side many times. They did a good job. They have good midfielders and they have a good model. And today we just matched up.”  

“I know (the team is) not as connected as it can be. It’s just going to get better from here,” Michel said.

The Lions improved to 7-7-3 in the all-time series against Montreal and 3-4-2 at home.


The Lions hit the road for the first time in 2022 this Saturday as they travel to Chicago to take on the Fire.

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

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 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 in Orlando.

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 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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