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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. LAFC: Final Score 4-2 as Lions Drop Points at Home



A second-half goal by Ilie Sanchez snapped a 2-2 tie and late insurance tally by Kwadwo Opoku spoiled a good performance by Orlando city as LAFC defeated the Lions 4-2 at Exploria Stadium. Orlando (2-2-2, 8 points) had a mesmerizing first half but made two mistakes and was punished for both by LAFC (4-0-1, 13 points) — a team the Lions have still never beaten.

Alexandre Pato and Joao Moutinho canceled out first-half goals by Brian Rodriguez and Jesus David Murillo. Orlando fell to 1-2-0 at home and has conceded six goals in the last two home matches.

“What happened is that we lost and we conceded four goals — three of them that are not accepted by ourselves and not at this level, and that’s why it just created the difference in the game,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “But it would be bad as well to let this feeling be more than what we produced today as a team. I’m trying to recognize the game that the boys played today, especially in the first half. If they go in that direction they’re going to win many games and I don’t have any doubt about it.”

Pareja had his starting goalkeeper back from international duty as Pedro Gallese lined up behind the first-choice back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Cesar Araujo and Junior Urso manned the central midfield behind an attacking line of Alexandre Pato, Mauricio Pereyra, and Facundo Torres, with Ercan Kara returning to the starting lineup up top.

Orlando City jumped on LAFC from the opening kickoff, earning some early corner kicks and buzzing around the visitors’ goal. Moutinho did well to send a cross into the area for Urso, hitting the midfielder in stride but the Bear couldn’t set his feet properly and lost control right in front of goal in the seventh minute.

Pato scored in transition in the 10th minute but the flag came up for an offside call on Torres on the buildup. Torres streaked down the left and got onto a ball, crossing in to Pato for the score. The play seemed to be onside but there wasn’t a definitive angle to overturn it.

In the 12th minute, Pato unselfishly dished off to Kara instead of shooting it himself and the striker fizzed his shot just over the bar.

LAFC got its first shot attempt off seconds later when Cristian Arango got a fortunate bounce after being surrounded by three Lions at the top of the box. The ball bounced back to him off a defender and he fired wide.

The game changed moments later when Carlos was injured after suffering one of the 11 first-half LAFC fouls. Rodriguez hit Carlos from behind and he planted awkwardly, going to ground. The Brazilian immediately grabbed his the back of his leg in the hamstring area and appeared to be in a lot of pain. He was stretchered off and Rodrigo Schlegel came on as a sub in the 18th minute.

The Lions kept attacking, and suffering fouls when they were able to create space, but in the aftermath of the Carlos injury, it was LAFC that scored first. A long ball over the top of Ruan by Vela found Aranga down the left side. Aranga had only one man in the box, but that’s all he needed as Rodriguez ran unchecked through the penalty area and scored off the cross in the 24th minute.

“They got the ball back really quick and they opened it up out wide to the left side,” Moutinho said. “And I saw that (Rodriguez) had some space inside the box. I tried to track back and I tried to yell at Robin that (he) was behind him. I think he made a really good run and the cross was just inch-perfect and he got the goal.”

The Lions pulled it back in the 36th minute as Pato again put the ball in the net. A ball over the top by Pereyra found Kara, who made a perfectly timed run. Kara nodded the ball back for Pato, who volleyed it past Maxime Crepeau to make it 1-1.

The tie score didn’t last long. After a set piece in the Orlando end, a recycled ball into the area found Ruan’s head. The Brazilian tried to head it back to Gallese but got it horribly wrong, allowing Murillo to get to it first and restore the LAFC lead in the 38th minute.

Orlando got that goal back just before the break. Pereyra took a pass from Urso on the right and he spied Moutinho lurking on the back side. The Uruguayan fed him a quick pass and the Portuguese fullback slotted his shot just inside the right post to make it 2-2 in the 45th minute.

It was Moutinho’s second competitive goal in an Orlando uniform and both came at the expense of his old team. The first was the late equalizer in the MLS is Back Tournament knockout round that allowed the Lions to go on and win the post-game penalty shootout. Tonight’s goal was Moutinho’s first regular-season goal for the Lions.

“I saw that Urso and Mari were trying to find some space, and as soon as I saw that Mari had some space on the ball, I moved up there to a space where I thought I could score,” Moutinho said. “And I put my hand up and I yelled at him and he saw me. He played me the ball. I took a good first touch and a good finish and that was that.”

Orlando City held more possession (61.5%-38.5%), fired more shots (7-5), and got more on target (3-2), winning more corners (3-0). The Lions were also the more precise passing team (83.1%-78.6%).

“I think the first half was one of those games that make us feel very optimistic about it,” Pareja said.

Despite what should have been an uplifting goal going into the half, LAFC came out more aggressively and much better defensively after subbing on Jose Cifuentes for Francisco Ginella.

LAFC broke the deadlock just six minutes after the restart. Orlando had issues clearing a ball in off of a set piece opportunity and as Schlegel knocked the ball into space and went to follow it, he was picked by Murillo, allowing Ilie Sanchez to collect with enough space at the top of the box to pick out his spot and fire a shot past Gallese.

The Lions struggled to connect in the attacking half with the same accuracy as in the first half. Orlando was able to move the ball across midfield but often sent in a poorly weighted ball or an off-line pass when trying to unlock the LAFC defense.

“The sequences that we created in the first half, probably there were many, and then just comparing the two halves, you feel like we did not have any (in the second half),” Pareja said. “We were not as fluid and we were not as precise.”

Pato, Torres, and Kara all visibly seemed to tire as the second half wore on. Chasing the game, Pareja sent Benji Michel in for Araujo and replaced Ruan — who had a subpar performance on the night, particularly in his own end — with Kyle Smith. Michel’s speed was needed when a poorly worked short corner ended up in an LAFC counter-attack opportunity. The Homegrown did well to hustle back and not only prevent a scoring chance but also won his team a goal kick in the 74th minute.

Pereyra sent in a set piece cross in the 78th minute that nearly produced an equalizer. Kara got his head to it and got the shot on goal but the cross was behind him so he was going backward when he hit it and couldn’t get much power on it. Crepeau was able to make the near-post save.

Two minutes later, Michel freed himself on the left at the top of the box but fizzed his shot wide of the right post.

Tesho Akindele and Silvester van der Water came on in the 83rd minute to give the Lions fresh legs but neither did much. The duo combined for just 13 total touches and produced no shots or (on the official stat sheet I received, anyway) scoring chances.

As time wound down, Crepeau made a good save to deny a Pato header off a cross from van der Water in the 90th minute. A minute later, Moutinho got his head on a set piece cross and headed it down into the turf. The ball had so much power on it that it hit the ground and bounced just over the bar.

“I kind of saw the ball just as it was about to hit my head. So I didn’t have a lot of time to think about what I was going to do,” Moutinho said. “But I definitely think that I should have done better on that.”

Opoku finished a 4-on-2 break in the 93rd minute with Orlando sending numbers forward in search of an equalizer.

Orlando City finished the game with the edge statistically but not where it counts. The Lions had more possession (61.2%-38.8%), shots (13-11), shots on goal (5-4), corners, 7-2, and passing accuracy (82.6%-76.2%). But LAFC capitalized on its few chances, created mainly by Orlando mistakes, and made the game ugly with fouls (19), knowing Orlando hasn’t been precise enough on set pieces.

“We were playing really well until the injury to Antonio,” Pereyra said. “We had control of the game in the first half. We created a lot of chances, we scored twice, but we need to keep working on improving because we (conceded) two goals in the first half and then in the second half, with our mistakes, we (gave up) two more goals. We need to keep working and move forward.”

The Lions will be back home next Saturday when the Chicago Fire visits Exploria Stadium at 1 p.m.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Five Takeaways

Here’s what we learned from Orlando City’s 1-1 draw at home against Inter Miami.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City returned to Exploria Stadium after a midweek loss to New York City FC and had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Inter Miami. The Lions did well to equalize after conceding first, but will likely feel that they left opportunity knocking as the Eastern Conference remains tight near the top. Here are my five takeaways from the third Tropic Thunder clash this year.

Lack of Execution Plagues the Lions

Orlando’s offense struggled to put the ball in the back of the net in this match. That’s not to say they didn’t create quality chances, as the Lions served up good crosses and dangerous long balls throughout the match. Only three of Orlando’s 16 crosses found their mark in the end. The execution just wasn’t there when it came to finishing attacks, whether it be poor decision-making when the time came to play the final ball or just missing the target completely. Of Orlando’s 13 shots, six were on target and only a couple of those gave Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender much difficulty. Ivan Angulo missing the goal entirely after Dagur Dan Thorhallsson picked out a perfect pass for him stands out. Expecting every promising attack to end with a goal is unfair, but weak finishing cost the Lions from claiming a big win at home.

Corner Kicks Gave the Lions Headaches

While the Lions didn’t have any corner kicks in the match, Inter Miami had seven and created some of its best chances with them. In the 61st minute, a corner kick taken by Robert Taylor found Leonardo Campana all alone in the center of the box. The Ecuadorian forward’s header mercifully went wide, but it was indicative of how Orlando had its hands full on set pieces. Pedro Gallese had to come up with a remarkable save in the first half as well after Campana barreled through Cartagena to head the ball at goal. Even though the Lions didn’t concede from a set piece, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s something focused on this week just to ensure the team is organized enough to overcome uncalled fouls without needing its star goalkeeper or some luck.

Plenty of Physicality in Rivalry Match

It was easy to tell these two teams didn’t care much for each other, as they both fought hard on and off the ball. There were 27 fouls and seven yellow cards handed out by referee Armando Villarreal. Miami committed 16 of those fouls and received five of the yellow cards as they did whatever it took to slow down Orlando’s progress. Facundo Torres suffered the brunt of it and was fouled four times so that he couldn’t work his magic against Miami’s defense. It was the kind of physical match that can be expected of two rivals and made for an intense match that will likely have players from both sides seeking an ice bath. The Lions did well to stay composed for a majority of a very chippy match.

Duncan McGuire Shakes Off the Rust

Forward Duncan McGuire got back to his scoring ways with a crucial equalizer for his ninth goal of the MLS season. It was an important goal for reasons beyond the scoreline as well, as McGuire had squandered a golden opportunity to score earlier in the match by not being able to get his shot past Callender. He was also kicking himself for not getting on the end of a few other chances as well. His 84 minutes on the field were the most from him in one game this season, and the Lions will need him more often now that Ercan Kara is in Turkey. It was the rookie’s first goal since July and, although not perfect, the kind of performance to build upon moving forward.

Orlando Showcased Its Depth and Versatility

Head Coach Oscar Pareja switched things up at halftime, replacing Cesar Araujo with Martin Ojeda and having Mauricio Pereyra sit a bit deeper in the midfield to potentially create chances on the break a bit quicker using his service. Although Ojeda didn’t get a goal or an assist, his presence was notable on both sides of the ball and he played a key role in Orlando’s goal. Having a player of his caliber able to come off the bench has been a boon for Orlando this season, letting Pareja really kickstart the changes he wants to make to the team. Similar things could be said about Orlando’s other substitutes: Junior Urso, Ramiro Enrique, Gaston Gonzalez, and Michael Halliday. Their energy and skill kept Orlando pushing for more and gave the sense that a winner would have come had the game lasted a bit longer.

That’s what I took away from Orlando’s 1-1 draw with Inter Miami. Let me know what you gathered from the match in the comments below

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/25/23

Orlando City draws with Inter Miami, Viviana Villacorta out for the season, OCB wins last game of the regular season, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Last night’s Orlando City match wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst either. It’s a pretty fitting feeling on a Monday, as we all get back into the swing of the work week after a nice weekend of soccer. There are plenty of ups and downs from a rollercoaster Sunday, so let’s dive right into today’s links!

Orlando City Draws With Inter Miami

In the latest edition of the Tropic Thunder rivalry, Orlando City and Inter Miami split the points at Exploria Stadium in a 1-1 result. Miami struck first, but the Lions did well to find an equalizer, even though they couldn’t find a winner in the end. It wasn’t Orlando’s best game by any means, but it was a decent response to a 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC. Orlando now has 51 points, tying its club record for the most points in a season, set in 2021. The Lions will have a chance to break that record on Saturday when they host CF Montreal.

Viviana Villacorta Out for the Season

Orlando Pride midfielder Viviana Villacorta will miss the remainder of the NWSL season after suffering an ACL tear in her left knee during training. The 24-year-old was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft, but was not able to make her debut until 2022 due to sustained an ACL tear in her right knee that kept her out for all of the 2021 season. This year, she has 21 appearances across all competitions for the Pride and notched the first assist of her career in a big road win against the San Diego Wave on April 29. This is a tough blow to the Pride’s midfield with just three games remaining as she has ended her season early due to injury for the third straight year. The Pride are only a point out of a playoff spot and are back in action on Oct. 2 against Angel City FC.

Orlando City B Wins On Decision Day

On the final day of the MLS NEXT Pro regular season, Orlando City B won 2-1 at home over FC Cincinnati 2. The Young Lions had already clinched a spot in the postseason heading into this match, but the win secured their spot as the fifth seed. Jack Lynn briefly held the Golden Boot lead after scoring, but ended up tied at 19 goals with New York City FC II’s Matt Myers and Colorado Rapids 2’s Remi Cabral. The trio ended in a three-way tie for the league’s Golden Boot honors. OCB will hit the road for its first MLS NEXT Pro playoff game, although the opponent is not yet known thanks to the new rule where higher seeds choose which team they want to face.

USWNT Wins in Megan Rapinoe’s Final Match

The United States Women’s National Team beat South Africa in a 2-0 win at Soldier Field. Trinity Rodman and Emily Sonnett scored and the defense did well to secure its second shutout against South Africa after a 3-0 win this past Thursday. This game also marked forward Megan Rapinoe’s final game with the USWNT, with the 38-year-old subbed off for the last time in the 54th minute. These were solid wins from the USWNT following the World Cup and it will aim to keep the momentum rolling next month in a pair of friendlies against Colombia.

Free Kicks

  • Three Orlando City academy sides came up with shutout victories this weekend.
  • Before the USWNT’s friendly with South Africa, U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker stated that plans remain in place for a new head coach to be at the helm in time for the training camp in December
  • American midfielder Yunus Musah did well in his AC Milan debut, playing all 90 minutes in a 1-0 win over Verona.
  • A match in the Netherlands between Ajax and Feyenoord had to be abandoned due to fans throwing fireworks onto the field while Feyenoord led 3-0. According to police, tear gas had to be used to stop unrest outside the stadium after the match, and Ajax later fired Sven Mislintat, its director of soccer.
  • Newcastle became the first English Premier League team to have eight different players score in a match after crushing Sheffield United, 8-0.
  • Atletico Madrid ended Real Madrid’s perfect start to the season by beating its rival 3-1, with Alvaro Morata bagging a brace.

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have an easy Monday and rest of your week!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Final Score 1-1 as McGuire’s Goal Lifts Lions to Home Point

Miami’s new stars didn’t play and the Lions will feel they should have beaten the rest of the Herons instead of having to come back to earn a point.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Inter Miami sat its three new big stars but still managed to steal a point from Orlando City in a 1-1 draw in front of a sellout crowd of 25,527 at Exploria Stadium. David Ruiz gave Miami (9-15-5, 32 points) the lead early in the second half, but rookie Duncan McGuire equalized 14 minutes later for Orlando City (14-7-9, 51 points). Neither side could break the stalemate, and the Lions missed a big opportunity to add to their point total.

Orlando City went 1-0-1 in the season series and 1-1-1 in all competitions against the Herons. The Lions remain second in the Eastern Conference with four matches remaining.

“A very competitive match,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the game. “Many times the game became very rocky, and we could have more clarity in the two boxes when we were attacking and being clean to make a decision and not having to suffer that much to score a goal.”

Pareja’s lineup featured Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena manned the central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, and Facundo Torres, with Duncan McGuire returning to the starting lineup up top.

The opening 12 minutes were mostly played between the penalty areas, with the Lions probing for an opening and pressing high when they didn’t have the ball. Miami was able to create very little and was content to foul whenever there was a danger of someone getting behind. The Herons looked to hit over the top or with long diagonal balls and came close to connecting on a couple. Jansson had a strong first half, winning a number of balls forward that were intended for Miami’s forwards.

A chaotic sequence led to Orlando’s first attempt on goal in the 16th minute, as Angulo ran onto ball from McGuire in the middle of the penalty area, but his shot was blocked. A minute later, Cartagena dispossessed Ruiz and dribbled toward goal but referee Armando Villarreal pulled it back for a foul on the Peruvian, though there didn’t appear to be anything in it.

Miami defender Tomas Aviles picked up four fouls in the first half and three of them were of worthy of yellow cards — the first coming in the opening minutes. He got a talking to from Villarreal on what surely would be a yellow card in most games and then did pick up a yellow in the 23rd minute on his next such tactical foul. He did it again later in the half but Villarreal lacked the courage to send him off and instead merely gave him a second lecture.

Gallese made a comfortable save on a shot from distance by Leonardo Campana in the 26th minute.

Orlando City won several set pieces from the wings throughout the half but couldn’t produce anything from them. Schlegel got onto a cross in the 29th minute but headed well over the bar. Seconds later, the Lions got their best chance of the half when Jansson sent a gorgeous through ball past the defense and found McGuire. The rooke smashed a shot from the top of the area but Drake Callender made the save. Torres picked up the rebound but his follow shot was blocked.

Benjamin Cremaschi went into the book moments later when Cartagena nutmegged him and rounded him. The young midfielder reached out and grabbed his counterpart to earn the yellow card.

In the 38th minute, Thorhallsson tried to hit a shot on the half volley after the defense cleared a long throw from Araujo. The shot bounced harmlessly wide as the Icelandic fullback didn’t hit it cleanly.

Gallese made a terrific save to keep the game scoreless in the 42nd minute. Campana bowled over Cartagena to free himself for a header on a corner kick and nodded on target but Gallese denied him with a clutch save.

Josef Martinez sent a shot sailing into the stands late on the last chance of the half, and the teams went to the break scoreless.

The visitors held more first-half possession (53.7%-46.3%), put more shots on target (2-1), won more corners (3-0), passed more accurately (82.7%-78.9%). The Lions attempted more shots (7-4).

“We knew that they were going to crowd the middle with this defense of five and the three midfielders,” Pareja said of attacking Miami’s system. “Normally, when you have these eight players in front of you, there’s not much space there.”

Pareja subbed Martin Ojeda on for Araujo at halftime, dropping Pereyra to central midfield. Miami made two defensive subs, removing Aviles and Sergii Kryvstov, who was injured late in the half, and brought on Kamal Miller and Ryan Sailor.

The Herons opened the scoring in the 52nd minute off of what appeared to be a foul on Torres, but no call was made and Miami broke in transition. Martinez ended up with the ball on the left and sent a shot on goal that Gallese stopped but Ruiz swooped in to tap in the rebound, making it 1-0.

A couple of minutes after the goal, Ruiz picked up a yellow card that was perhaps fortunate on an ugly looking foul from behind on Pereyra. Pareja referred to the foul as “insane” after the match. DeAndre Yedlin then picked up a yellow during the same stoppage in play for time wasting as Jansson tried to retrieve the ball from him for the restart.

Ojeda sent a good shot through traffic in the 59th minute, but Callender saw it and was able to get over to make the save. A minute later, Schlegel was booked after an aerial challenge as the chippiness of the game continued. The teams combined for 27 fouls, with the visitors picking up 16 of them.

Angulo should have equalized in the 63rd minute. The Lions sprung a good transition and Thorhallsson sent a marvelous through ball that sent the speedy left winger in behind. He tried to fool Callender and sent it toward goal but got it wrong and sent it wide of the target.

Two minutes later, Thorhallsson sent in a wicked cross just in front of goal but McGuire couldn’t get his foot on it and Callender caught it before it could cause any more mischief.

McGuire tied the match moments later. Cartagena sent Ojeda up the right side and the midfielder tried to cut back to his left for a shot but it was poked away. The ball fell kindly for McGuire to run onto and he smashed it through Callender’s legs to tie the match at 1-1 in the 66th minute. It was the rookie’s ninth league goal of the season.

“I saw the guys making a lot of good runs forward, opening up spaces, and I was left one-on-one with the defender,” McGuire said. “Luckily the ball bounced into my path and I saw my chance and took it.”

Robert Taylor cut inside on his right foot and fired a shot in the 70th minute but hit it right at Gallese.

Pareja sacrificed Angulo to send on Ramiro Enrique in the 73rd minute as the Lions looked for a winner.

Santos ended up on the right side after a long-range free kick attempt for Orlando and it nearly paid off. With his weaker right foot, the Brazilian sent in a good cross to Torres, who headed it on frame but the Uruguayan couldn’t get much power on it and that made for an easy save.

Pareja emptied his bench over the next few minutes and sent on Michael Halliday, Gaston Gonzalez, and Junior Urso for a visibly tiring Thorhallsson, McGuire, and Pereyra.

Neither side could find a good look at goal for a potential winner in the final minutes of normal time plus a seemingly short amount of stoppage — just four minutes. The two Tropic Thunder rivals had to settle for splitting the points.

Orlando City’s desire to win the game was reflected in the final statistics. The Lions finished with more possession (51.2%-48.8%), shots (13-9), shots on target (6-5), and passing accuracy (83%-82.6%). The Herons ended up with more corners (7-0), as the Lions failed to earn a single one. The Lions had way more touches inside the opponent’s penalty area (21-10), but failed to produce much in the way of final quality aside from McGuire’s strong finish.

“At the end, I think we pushed. We played well,” Pareja said. “I don’t like to say (we) deserved more because that in soccer is not a good phrase. What I want to say is we have to be clearer in this type of game where there’s not many options, the gaps are closed, and we had our moments to finish it out. But we’ll take the point.”

“We’re definitely not satisfied yet,” McGuire said. “We still want to get more points. We want to keep pushing. And definitely we want to make a deep run in the playoffs and win the entire thing.”

After three matches in nine days, Orlando City has more of a normal week of work before welcoming CF Montreal to Exploria Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

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