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Orlando City vs. LA Galaxy: Final Score 1-0 as Lions Get First Ever Win in California on a Facundo Torres Goal

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The last time Orlando City played the LA Galaxy, the Los Angeleenos came into Exploria Stadium and smash-and-grabbed a 1-0 win despite being dominated by the hosts. The Lions (2-1-1, 7 points) returned the favor today at Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles with a 1-0 road win over the Galaxy (2-2-0, 6 points) on an early Facundo Torres goal.

It was Orlando’s first ever win in the state of California and may have erased some of the bad taste from being victimized a week ago by FC Cincinnati at home on a similar smash-and-grab. The Lions held their concentration for 95 minutes, weathering 20 shots and an incredible number of set pieces to keep LA’s offense quiet.

“Today we showed a lot of things that we liked and we’re looking (to build on), which is our character, and willingness, and our braveness to be a team that can go away and get results and be strong at home,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “We’re very pleased. I think we won a game against a very good rival in a difficult place. Our boys did a fantastic job.”

Pareja made one change from the team that dominated — but lost — at home to Cincinnati a week ago, inserting defensive midfielder Sebas Mendez for Alexandre Pato. Pedro Gallese had the usual back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan in front of him. Cesar Araujo, Junior Urso, and Sebas Mendez were deployed to slow down the Galaxy attack, while Mauricio Pereyra was the main facilitator for Torres and Ercan Kara.

Urso played as a false winger and Pareja said that although Araujo has been playing well and learning the league quickly, he wanted to give him some help for this match against LA’s tough attacking players.

“Today (we were) playing against a very good team with good players,” Pareja said. “That’s why we decided to reinforce the middle. We thought it was obvious that some territory would be conceded to LA, but sometimes you have to choose. I would like to see more control with the ball and the way we want to do things.”

The Galaxy were on the front foot from the jump, working the ball around the perimeter and looking to slip balls through or over to Chicharito and Kevin Cabral in the middle. Sometimes they’d try balls over the top from Victor Vazquez and came close to connecting a few times. Rayan Raveloson took the game’s first shot from the top of the area and Jansson got a piece of it to deflect it out for a corner on a dangerous early chance in the third minute.

Jansson did well to deny a dangerous cross from Julian Araujo a minute later when a cross from Vazquez found the fullback sneaking toward the back post. Orlando did well to clear multiple LA set pieces to keep the game scoreless, and that allowed the Lions to strike first.

Torres opened the scoring in the ninth minute in transition. Ruan sent Kara down the right flank and the Designated Player picked out a perfect cross for the onrushing Uruguayan to nod home for his first MLS goal on Orlando’s first shot attempt. It was Kara’s first MLS assist as well.

“Kara was able to get the ball high up the field and I knew that he was going to put it in, so I needed to anticipate where he was going to put the ball and try to find the space in (between) the defenders,” Torres said through a club interpeter. “Thankfully I was able to get up, and now we’re taking a goal and three points home as I go back to Uruguay for the international window.”

Torres said he feels the chemistry starting to build with Kara up top after the Austrian international’s return from injury.

“We’re all kind of integrating into this team, especially with Ercan being able to come in and go a few more minutes and adjust with everyone,” Torres said. “It provides a respite for us in the attack. A lot of us in the attack are a little bit on the smaller side. So, having someone out there that’s big and physical gives us a respite and we’re able to create a lot of options behind the defense with that. It’s coming along and I think we’re on a good path.”

Orlando was bolstered by the go-ahead goal and created a couple more opportunities. Ruan bombed down the right in the 12th minute in plenty of space but his cross attempt was well behind his attacking teammates. In the 15th minute, Kara looked to be in position to double the lead but he was run down from behind by Raheem Edwards at the last second while teeing up a shot. He could have perhaps played in Urso instead for a better chance.

Less than a minute later, Chicharito nearly tied the game. He sent a spinning shot on target but Gallese did well to make a save. Cabral couldn’t make good contact with the rebound, allowing the goalkeeper to collect it.

The Galaxy had some near misses on shots and crosses as the first half wound down. A cross was inches in front of Cabral in the six in the 35th minute. LA won multiple corners down the stretch as Orlando struggled to hold possession and to hold the hosts at bay.

Cabral went down a bit easily in the 44th minute on a minor bump by Ruan on a ball over the top. The referee not only bought it, giving LA a free kick just outside the area but also booked Orlando’s right back. Douglas Costa hit the ensuing free kick into the wall.

Orlando got one more decent look in the second minute of stoppage time, with Torres blasting a shot from outside the area that sliced wide of the goal.

LA dominated the stat sheet at halftime, with more possession (60%-40%), shots (10-3), shots on target (2-1), corners (5-0), and passing accuracy (90.2%-82.9%).

The second half was much more of the same, as the hosts won another corner within 30 seconds of the restart en route to seven in the second half and 12 in the match. That’s not even counting a number of set pieces that weren’t corner kicks. Somehow, the Orlando defense held firm.

Efrain Alvarez had a go just moments into the second half but couldn’t get his shot on frame.

The Lions nearly created something off the mounting number of set pieces in the 52nd minute. Orlando got forward in transition after clearing a corner and Araujo fired a shot toward goal but a desperation slide by a defender knocked the ball out for an Orlando corner. Carlos got his head on the ensuing set piece delivery from Pereyra but the cross was behind him and he could only harmlessly pop it well over the goal.

After Orlando dealt with two more quick corners from the Galaxy, the Lions created a chance at the other end when Urso slipped Ruan down the right side of the area. With Kara in the middle and Torres running at the back post, the right back sent his cross harmlessly at the keeper instead of across the top of the six, wasting a chance to double the lead in the 56th minute.

A moment later, that looked like it would cost Orlando when Moutinho gave the ball away in his own defensive third. Carlos cleared the dangerous cross in from the wing to snuff out the danger.

Chicharito laid a pass off for Cabral at the top of the area in the 59th minute but the Galaxy forward whiffed badly on his swing and made a mess of the shot. Two minutes later, Edwards fired from the left corner of the box but missed wide of the far post. LA had a great passing sequence moments later to free up a shot for Chicharito at the top of the area but his effort skipped a foot wide of the left post.

Former Lion Sacha Kljestan came on in the second half and fizzed a shot over Gallese’s goal in the 73rd minute from distance.

Orlando finally fashioned another decent chance in the 77th but substitute Kyle Smith hit his shot at goalkeeper Jonathan Bond. A minute later, Alvarez skipped past Moutinho in the corner and fizzed a shot across the front of goal that hit Gallese but the keeper was able to smother it, preventing it from bouncing in or dangerously out in front.

Neither team got a clear-cut look the rest of the way. Chicharito skied a header well over from the top of the area on a good cross in and the Lions did well to waste most of the five minutes of stoppage time. The lone exception was when sub Benji Michel tried to take on Julian Araujo at the corner of the box rather than taking the ball to the corner. He lost control and teammate Cesar Araujo took a tactical foul — and a yellow card — that he ordinarily wouldn’t have had to take.

Moments later, the Lions had their victory.

Like the Lions a week ago, LA led in every statistical category but the most important one at full time. The Galaxy had more possession (62.8%-37.2%), shots (20-6), shots on target (3-2), corners (12-2), and passing accuracy (89%-82.2%).

“I was very proud of the players,” Pareja said. “The full squad had a terrific week of training, trying to bounce back from that result we had at home. That control that we had defensively and the concentration today was first class against a good rival.”


The Lions will be out west again in their next game as Orlando City visits the Portland Timbers next Sunday. That is also an afternoon start, at 4 p.m. Eastern.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from Orlando City beating the Earthquakes on the West Coast?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City wrapped up three matches in eight days with a trip out west on short rest for a late night matchup against the San Jose Earthquakes. Playing level throughout much of the match, it appeared as though both teams would split the points until the Cardiac Cats found some late magic. What follows are my immediate takeaways from an unexpected, yet satisfying, three points.

3-5-2 For the Win

The 3-5-2 lineup returned once again and proved to be quite a versatile team shape for the Lions. Against San Jose, the Lions were without captain Robin Jansson due to injury and defensive midfielder Cesar Araujo was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Dagur Dan Thorhallsson returned to the starting lineup and slotted in as a wingback in the formation. Wilder Cartagena excelled once again as a center back, and Felipe did well filling in for Araujo in the midfield. The shape has allowed the coaching staff to more easily fill gaps with different players as needed, and I think we may see it as the default formation for the foreseeable future.

Duncan McGuire Injured Early On

Jack Lynn was substituted on in the 15th minute for an injured Duncan McGuire, who landed awkwardly on his right arm after being sandwiched between two Quakes players in an aerial duel. It was an early exit for McGuire, who tried to stop his fall by sticking out his forearm. Given the injuries the team has dealt with over the last several matches, one can only hope this does not lead to a prolonged absence for Orlando’s leading scorer.

Ivan Angulo Defies Tired Legs

No one would have faulted the Lions for sitting back as the match neared its end given that this was their third match in eight days, and second on the road during that stretch. It makes the effort Ivan Angulo gave to help create the winning goal even more impressive. After running up and down the field all game, Angulo chased down a clearance after a San Jose corner kick and beat defenders down the length of the field on a lung-busting run. The fitness staff and trainers deserve some credit for ensuring that the Lions had their legs under them that late into a match considering the travel and schedule congestion of the week.

Jack Lynn After Dark

Jack Lynn, who was selected in the first round of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, found the back of the net for the second time this season. In what was likely an unexpected 75 minutes of game action for him, Lynn scored late to give Orlando all three points. The goal was a combination of being in the right place at the right time, as Martin Ojeda mishit his shot after the cross from Angulo, and impressive body control from Lynn, who contorted his body to redirect the ball into the back of the net. It was an impressive finish for Lynn, who had another great chance to put the game away that was saved just minutes prior to his goal. Lynn ultimately would not be denied and made sure the Orlando City fans back on the East Coast woke up to good news.

Making History On the Road

Orlando City and the San Jose Earthquakes do not exactly have a storied rivalry however, anytime the club can achieve a first in team history it should be mentioned. Last evening’s victory marked Orlando City’s first ever road victory against the Earthquakes. Heading into this match, I thought the Lions would opt for a heavily rotated lineup on the road, as the Lions were facing a club at the bottom of the Western Conference table on short rest. Instead, the club turned in a classic performance under Pareja, staying defensively sound to keep the game close and get a result on the road. The Lions were able to get the win on a counter attack and the result secured seven points from their last three matches.


Those are the things that stood out most to me from the 1-0 victory against the Earthquakes, let us know in the comments below what stood out to you. As always, vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/20/24

Lions and Pride win, MLS weekend recap, Manchester City wins Premier League title, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. It was another good weekend for our teams, as Orlando City and the Pride both won their respective matches. I’ve been busy covering high school playoff action with soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, and softball. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Pull Out Late Win on the Road

Orlando City pulled out a late 1-0 win on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes at PayPal Park on Saturday. Jack Lynn came off the bench and scored the lone goal in this match for Orlando to grab the three points. Duncan McGuire started the match but had to be substituted out early in the first half due to injury and was replaced by Lynn. The Lions are on a three-match unbeaten streak after a scoreless draw at home against Inter Miami on Wednesday. Orlando City moves up to 10th in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. The Lions return to action on Saturday to face the Columbus Crew at Inter&Co Stadium.

Orlando Pride Win Against Seattle Reign FC

The Orlando Pride won their seventh straight match after a 3-2 win against the Seattle Reign at Lumen Field on Sunday. There were plenty of goals in this one, with Barbra Banda lifting the Pride to their first ever win in Washington against the Reign. Orlando remains undefeated in league play after 10 matches and the Pride sit atop the NWSL table with 24 points. The Pride return home for a Friday night matchup against the Portland Thorns at Inter&Co Stadium.

MLS Weekend Recap

It was another busy weekend in MLS, with four rivalry matches taking place. Let’s start with the Hudson River Derby, as New York City FC edged past the New York Red Bulls 2-1. Real Salt Lake got a thrilling 5-3 win against the Colorado Rapids in the Rocky Mountain Cup. In Canada, Toronto FC cruised past CF Montreal with a 5-1 victory. The Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas battled to a 1-1 draw down in Texas. FC Cincinnati defeated St. Louis City SC 3-1, while the Columbus Crew beat the Chicago Fire 3-1 as well.

The Philadelphia Union shut out the New England Revolution 3-0 to snap its six-match winless streak. Austin FC won 3-2 over Sporting Kansas City, Minnesota United handed the Portland Timbers a 2-1 defeat, and Inter Miami got a late goal from Leonardo Campana for a 1-0 win over D.C. United.

Manchester City Wins English Premier League

Manchester City defeated West Ham 3-1 to win a historic fourth consecutive Premier League title on Sunday with 91 points on the final day of the season. Phil Foden scored twice in this match as Manchester City became the first club to win four straight Premier League trophies. Arsenal defeated Everton 2-1 but ended up short of the title, finishing second with 89 points. Liverpool won in Jurgen Klopp’s final match as manager, beating Wolves 2-0 to finish third. Aston Villa finished fourth despite a 5-0 loss to Crystal Palace, Tottenham finished fifth, and Chelsea finished sixth in the table. Luton Town lost 4-2 at home to Fulham to finish 18th, officially joining Burnley and Sheffield United in being relegated to the EFL Championship next season. 

Free Kicks

  • Former Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner has agreed to a one-year contract extension with Manchester United, with an option for another year. Manchester United won its first major trophy earlier this month, winning the Women’s FA Cup.
  • Former USMNT player Jonathan Bornstein has agreed to play for NPSL side Tallahassee SC in their summer season. He made his debut on Saturday as the Battle Lions won their opener 2-0 against the Miami Dutch Lions FC.
  • According to Tom Bogert, new MLS expansion side San Diego FC is reportedly closer to sealing a move to sign Chucky Lozano over from PSV Eindhoven.
  • Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi announced he will leave the club after its Premier League season ended in a 2-0 loss to Manchester United on Sunday. 
  • Bayer Leverkusen completed its Bundesliga season unbeaten with a 2-1 win over FC Augsburg. The club also made history as the first team in the history of the Bundesliga to complete a full season without a loss. 

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions individually rate in Orlando City’s win on the road?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

The Lions went across the country to face the San Jose Earthquakes and will return to Orlando with all three points after a 1-0 win. Jack Lynn, who came on in the first half for an injured Duncan McGuire, scored the only goal of the game. Here’s how I saw each individual Lion’s performance in Orlando’s win on the road.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 6.5 — El Pulpo came up with four saves in the shutout, with three of them coming within the span of a few minutes in the first half. Gallese wasn’t tested as much in the second half, but he did make a big save to deny Jack Skahan late in the match. In terms of distribution, eight of his 19 long balls were accurate and he completed 60.7% of his 28 passes. All in all, it was another strong outing from the Peruvian.

D, David Brekalo, 7.5 (MotM) — Brekalo did a great job putting out fires in Orlando’s defense, leading the team with eight clearances. He won five of his seven aerial duels, and had two interceptions and a tackle as well. Although only one of his nine long balls was accurate, he had a key pass for setting up a shot by Martin Ojeda that was deflected out for a corner. He also did well winning a foul in the first half that stopped a potential San Jose counter and gave Orlando a set piece in a good area. Brekalo finished the game with 46 passes at an 80.4% success rate and is our Man of the Match for anchoring Orlando’s defense in a shutout.

D, Wilder Cartagena, 7.5 — The Peruvian started as a center back for the Lions and looked the part once again. Cartagena was patient and clinical when it came to his defending, leading the Lions with five tackles and stopping some of San Jose’s most dangerous attacks. He also had four clearances and two interceptions in an excellent defensive performance. Cartagena completed 86.1% of his 43 passes and two of his seven long balls found their mark.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6 — Schlegel also did well as part of Orlando’s defense, recording four clearances, two tackles, and an interception. He won two of his three aerial duels as well, playing physically without committing any fouls. The Argentine defender was accurate on three of his 10 long balls and had 46 passes at a 73.9% success rate. He had a solid game and will return to Orlando with a few bumps and bruises along with the team’s clean sheet.

WB, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 5.5 — Thorhallsson returned to the starting lineup for the first time since May 4. There were a few nervous moments when he was tasked with marking players lurking at the back post, but San Jose wasn’t able to make Orlando pay for it. He had three clearances and two tackles before being subbed out in the 78th minute. Offensively, he did well to find open space, but wasn’t able to capitalize on his chances as neither of his two shots were on target. Thorhallsson’s best chance came when a cutback cross from Ivan Angulo found him with all the time in the world to pick out his shot in the box, only to send it wide. His passing could’ve been a bit tidier, as he had 30 passes at a 76.7% success rate, neither of his two long balls were accurate, and just one of his four crosses were successful. Regardless, it was nice to see Thorhallsson back in the swing of things after missing time.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 7 — Angulo applied plenty of defensive pressure throughout the match, but still had enough left in the tank to assist on Orlando’s winning moment. The Colombian raced down the left wing on a counter and then picked out Ojeda in the box, whose mishit volley wound up with Lynn scoring. Angulo nearly had another assist for his cutback cross that found Thorhallsson open as well. He completed 90.9% of his 44 passes and two of his three crosses were accurate. Defensively, he had three tackles and a clearance as well. This game was a testament to how much of an impact the speedy Lion can have on a match.

MF, Felipe, 6.5 — Felipe replaced the suspended Cesar Araujo in the starting lineup and did fairly well, shutting down San Jose’s passing lanes and plugging holes in Orlando’s defensive shape as needed. He had a team-high three interceptions, along with four tackles and two clearances. The midfielder had 40 passes at a strong 90% success rate and one of his three long balls was accurate. It was a fairly quiet night from the veteran, which isn’t the worst thing for a defensive midfielder and he did well filling in for Araujo.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6.5 — Lodeiro led the Lions with 94 touches and 75 passes, directing things while Orlando had possession. He was successful on 84% of those passes and two of his three long balls, though none of his five crosses found their man. Lodeiro’s lone shot went high and off target, but he did have two key passes to set up a pair of chances for Luis Muriel. He chipped in defensively with two tackles, an interception, and a clearance as well. Even though he wasn’t able to replicate the offensive output he showed against the Philadelphia Union, Lodeiro did well in his third straight match playing the full 90 minutes.

WB, Facundo Torres, 6 — Torres didn’t have a shot in the match, but did have two key passes to generate some offense. Although only one of his five crosses were accurate, he still did well putting the ball into open areas in the box. His only attempted long ball wasn’t successful, but he did complete 91.9% of his 37 passes. Torres spent most of his time attacking through the wings, and didn’t contribute too much defensively beyond a clearance and sprinting back to give the back line support when needed.

F, Luis Muriel, 6.5 — The forward continued to look dangerous with the ball at his feet and had three shots in the match. Of his three shots, one forced a good save out of San Jose goalkeeper William Yarbrough, one was blocked before it could test Yarbrough, and another was sent off target from distance. He may have only been successful on one of his five attempted dribbles, but Muriel also had a key pass and both of his long balls were accurate. Muriel was fairly involved with 58 touches, won all three of his aerial duels, and helped out on defense with two tackles and a clearance.

F, Duncan McGuire, N/A — McGuire had to be subbed out in the 16th minute due to an arm injury after colliding with Bruno Wilson in the air. The Lions played with 10 men for a few minutes while medical staff looked him over, but Lynn ultimately replaced him on the field. McGuire had eight touches and completed three of his four passes, while also recording a clearance before his early exit.

Substitutes

F, Jack Lynn, (16′), 6.5 — Lynn came into the match to replace McGuire and scored the winner late in the match to give the Lions all three points on the road. The 24-year-old maintained focus when Ojeda didn’t strike the ball cleanly and buried the bouncing ball into the back of the net. His goal was his third shot and final shot of the match after sending a glancing header wide and having another header saved at point-blank range earlier on. Lynn may have only won one of his five aerial duels, but his hold-up play was decent. He had 18 passes at a 66.7% success rate and 33 touches before being subbed off in stoppage time after scoring. Lynn was a bit sloppy at times, but ultimately gave the Lions an unlikely win.

MF, Martin Ojeda, (79′), N/A — Ojeda was credited with an assist for his role in Lynn’s goal, even if he fully intended on scoring himself with his strike. While there was luck involved, he deserves credit for getting in a good position and taking a crack at goal. His other shot was a try from distance that was deflected out for a corner kick. He completed all but one of his seven passes, had 13 touches, and neither of his two crosses connected.

WB, Rafael Santos, (79′), N/A — Santos came into the match for Facundo Torres and it didn’t take long for him to make his presence known. He whipped in a pinpoint cross for Lynn in the 82nd minute that the forward should have done better with. It was a key pass for Santos and one of his two successful crosses in his limited time on the field. He completed four of his passes, helped secure the clean sheet with an interception and clearance on the defensive end.

WB, Kyle Smith, (90’+2), N/A — Smith came on in stoppage time to give the Lions some fresh legs and another defender to help see out the match, although he didn’t have any touches in his brief cameo.

MF, Jeorgio Kocevski, (90’+2), N/A — The rookie made his first appearance with the first team since March. He also didn’t have any touches or contributions in his short time on the field, although it was still nice to see Kocevski get some playing time.


How did you see the individual performances in this game? Make your voice heard down in the comments, and be sure to vote in our Man of the Match poll.

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