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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Chicago Fire: Final Score 1-0 as Ercan Kara Opens His Account in Lions Win



Ercan Kara opened his Orlando City account to lift a massively wasteful Lions team to a 1-0 win over the 10-man Chicago Fire at Exploria Stadium. Orlando (3-2-2, 11 points) snapped a two-match home losing streak and finished the season set against the Fire (2-1-3, 9 points) with a 1-0-1 record and four points. It was Chicago’s first loss of the season, which might have been two if not for a poor refereeing decision in the two teams’ first match-up of the season.

The Lions wasted numerous opportunities to stretch the lead by missing the net from excellent scoring positions throughout the second half against the 10-man Fire, who were without Brian Gutierrez from the 43rd minute on. The 18-year-old Chicago Homegrown Player received two first-half yellow cards, putting his team a man down.

“Good day to walk out with three points,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “The red card changed a lot for the rival. We may think that just winning 1-0 isn’t enough, but I said to the players that we can choose just being worried about things, be negative about things that didn’t work the way we wanted, or enjoy the victory that was necessary for the team. It was not an easy game and we created a ton of chances. I know we all have that feeling now we need to be more precise. Sometimes we get worried by not creating them.”

Pareja’s lineup included goalkeeper Pedro Gallese behind a back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel (in for the injured Antonio Carlos), and Ruan. Sebas Mendez replaced Junior Urso in central midfield with Cesar Araujo behind an attacking midfield line of Facu Torres, Mauricio Pereyra, and Alexandre Pato, with Ercan Kara at striker.

The opening minutes were played between the boxes as the teams settled in and Gutierrez took a silly early yellow for delaying a restart, which ended up coming back to haunt him later in the half.

Orlando got the game’s first scoring opportunity when Pereyra slipped a ball down the left side of the penalty area for Kara. The Austrian fired a hard, low shot from a tough angle and Gabriel Slonina made a good save.

Four minutes later, Pato sent either a shot or a cross wide of the left post from the right side and afterward said something to Kara, so I’m inclined to think it was a pass.

Gutierrez found himself in acres of space at the top of the Orlando area in the 15th minute. He fired a shot but it was parried away by Gallese, who kept the game scoreless. Two minutes later, Jansson did well to block a shot by Stanislav Ivanov.

Pato forced a near-post save from Slonina in the 20th minute as the Lions regrouped and continued to look dangerous. However, Orlando often struggled to get that final pass through Chicago’s defense or get the proper weight on the ball.

Orlando City was fortunate not to fall behind in the 24th minute after a Mendez turnover ended up giving Kacper Przybylko an open look from the right. He fizzed his shot just off target.

Pereyra slipped Ruan down the right side of the box in the 31st minute and the fullback sent an easy near-post shot at Slonina when a better option may have been a cut-back ball across the top of the six for Kara and Pato.

Three minutes later, the Lions were fortunate again when they turned the ball over on a too-deliberate counter-attack and Schlegel was caught up the field. Chicago came forward and Gutierrez tried an ill-advised long-range shot that didn’t trouble Gallese.

Moutinho came close in the 37th minute with a volleyed effort that went just over the crossbar. Torres fired a shot into the ground a few minutes later and it bounced over the net.

Gutierrez fouled Araujo from behind in the 43rd minute and saw his second yellow card of the match, putting the Fire down a man for the remainder of the match.

Orlando didn’t do much with the last two minutes of normal time and a minute of stoppage, getting just a long-range Araujo shot that the midfielder wasn’t able to get any power into, and Slonina easily stopped it.

The Lions held a halftime advantage in possession (57.2%-42.8%), shots (10-5), shots on target (4-2), and passing accuracy (86.7%-79.1%), with each team earning just one corner.

Pareja sent Junior Urso into the game for Araujo at the break and it helped the Lions play quicker through the Chicago defense. He won the Lions an early corner and Orlando fashioned a chance in the 51st minute on a ball over the top that Kara took in the air but hit well over the bar.

“It (was) a big difference when Junior Urso on the field because Junior Urso is more box to box,” Mendez said. “It was a little better for our team because Junior Urso helps in the marking and to attack, and Junior Urso is a very good player for us.”

Pato smashed a shot just wide in the 56th minute and then had a shot deflected out by the defense a minute later for an Orlando corner. Jansson got a head to the ensuing cross but could only knock it up in the air and Chicago cleared.

The breakthrough came in the 59th minute. Torres was fouled near the left corner of the box, setting up an Orlando free kick. The Young Designated Player took the kick and sent a cross to Pato at the back post. Pato headed the ball across the top of the six and Kara nodded it home for his first MLS goal.

“I saw the space and it was a great assist from (Pato) and he played a very good header to me,” Kara said. “It was not the hardest goal for me but I’m happy.”

“We have suffered a lot of fouls. It was a concern for us,” Pareja said after his team finally punished a team for fouling often. “But then we need to take advantage of those moments. We were not taking advantage. Today we did. We’ll take it. Being effective in set plays is important.”

The Fire sent offensive subs into the match after the goal and had a bit more possession for the next five minutes before Orlando regained control of the match. Ruan’s last opportunity to affect the match took place in the 73rd minute when he got forward in transition but again opted to take a bad-angle shot that gave Slonina no trouble, despite having some passing options.

A minute later, the Lions should have doubled the lead. Torres got on the ball in the box but opted not to shoot, instead passing back to Pato, who fired from the top of the area. Slonina made a sprawling save but couldn’t control the rebound, which popped up into the air perfectly for Kara, who sent his point-blank header wide of goal.

Pareja subbed off Kara, Torres, and Ruan just after that, sending on Benji Michel, Tesho Akindele, and Kyle Smith.

Michel’s introduction almost paid dividends instantly, as Pato found him at the back post with a cross, but the Homegrown sent his header wide in the 77th minute. Akindele’s hustle won the team a corner shortly after that and a well-worked short corner ended up getting crossed in by Pato but this time it was Schlegel heading wide of the near post.

Orlando City again should have put the game away in the 88th minute. Akindele slipped Pato in between the defenders and he managed to work around Slonina but sent his shot off the crossbar.

That was the last good opportunity and the Lions were content to knock the ball around and eat up the final few minutes of the match to earn the victory.

Orlando held lopsided advantages in possession (61.7%-38.3%), shots (21-7), shots on target (6-2), corners (6-2), and passing accuracy (89.3%-78.9%).

“The players did a terrific effort today and they walked out with three points that (were) very necessary, so we’re good,” Pareja said.

“Today was a very important game for us because we lost the last game against LAFC,” Mendez said. “But now we need to continue to work because we have another game. Every single game in MLS is difficult so we need to continue to work.”

The Lions are back on the road next Saturday when they visit the Columbus Crew at 7:30 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: 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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