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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Final Score 3-2 as Mistake-Prone Lions Flounder on Road



Orlando City lost a critical match in the MLS playoff race due to sloppy early play, falling 3-2 to the Columbus Crew at Stadium. Lucas Zelarayan set up two goals and scored another to lead the hosts. Daryl Dike scored from the penalty spot and Robin Jansson scored a late cosmetic goal but it was a devastating result for the Lions.

The loss snapped a five-match unbeaten run overall and a five-game winning streak against Columbus, and dropped the Lions (12-9-11, 47 points) to just 1-4-1 on the road against the Crew (11-13-8, 41 points) in the all-time series. The loss, along with results elsewhere dropped Orlando City to fifth place in the Eastern Conference, just four points above the eighth-place New York Red Bulls. The Crew avoided being eliminated for the moment, but sit in 10th, three points behind D.C. United in that final playoff spot.

“I think it’s a painful result for sure,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “After those two goals that we conceded the energy got lower. Columbus started getting more enthusiasim for the game. Half of the first half we did not react well.”

Pareja went with Pedro Gallese in net behind a back line of Kyle Smith, Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Andres Perea slotted into central midfield with Sebas Mendez as Junior Urso got a little rest. Mauricio Pereyra and Chris Mueller facilitated the attack to Nani and Dike.

The Lions were sloppy in the early going, giving the ball away cheaply in the attack and making too many mistakes in their own end, which led to both of the Crew’s first-half goals. Both of the first-half strikes by Columbus were preventable.

The first preventable goal came on the recycle of a corner kick. Zelarayan’s cross fell at Smith’s feet but he kicked it right back to the Crew’s best passer. Zelarayan sent a second cross into the area and found Berry who nodded home to make it 1-0 in the 20th minute.

The Lions generated a chance to tie things up in the 26th minute when Mueller was fouled by Pedro Santos. Pereyra’s service was perfect for Carlos but Mueller tried to get onto it and headed wide with Carlos in better position.

Four minutes later, the Crew doubled their lead on another preventable play. Ruan seemed to have a good view of the field and space to head the ball up the field and out of danger but he instead nodded behind for a corner. Zelarayan’s cross was a difficult one to the back post and Gallese couldn’t reach it. Ruan was trying to mark Derrick Etienne on the back post but was far too casual with it and allowed an easy tap-in in the 31st minute.

Etienne nearly had a second in the 38th minute, flicking on a pass from Steven Moreira. The ball skipped across the face of goal just outside the line and missed at the back post.

Jansson then made a terrific play in front to deny a cross from getting to Berry for another easy goal in the 44th minute.

The halftime stats were pretty even. Each team held 50% of the possession and each attempted four shots. Columbus, however, got two of their four on target (both goals), while the Lions didn’t hit the target. Orlando was surprisingly (to the naked eye) the more accurate passing team (85%-81.4%), while the Crew won more corners (4-2).

But where Orlando struggled was in the middle of the pitch. Pereyra sent a number of passes into too tight of a window, turning it over. Orlando struggled to get Nani involved and Darlington Nagbe and Marlon Hairston dominated the middle of the field.

Pareja made two changes at the break, sending on Tesho Akindele and Benji Michel for Nani and Mendez.

The Lions got exactly what they needed early in the second half. A shot by Michel looked to deflect out for a corner on first glance, but the attempt hit the outstretched arm of Jonathan Mensah. After going to the monitor, referee Joseph Dickerson awarded a penalty and it was clear-cut on the replay. Dike stepped to the spot and saw his shot saved by Eloy Room but Dickerson again went to the monitor and determined that the Crew keeper clearly came off his line early. Dike retook the spot kick, used the same approach, and blasted it past Room to make it 2-1 in the 52nd minute.

Dike improved to three-for-three from the spot this season and scored his eighth goal of the year. He matched his rookie season goal total in one fewer appearance and two fewer starts.

Rather than ride the momentum of getting back in the game, Orlando got sloppy again. A misplaced pass from Jansson started a counter that ended in Ruan conceding a dangerous free kick but Zelarayan hit the wall with his shot. Moments later, Perea tried to pass into traffic and ignited another Crew transition opportunity. This time Smith committed a foul just outside the box and was booked for it. Zelarayan went for goal again and Gallese made a save.

But Zelarayan got his goal moments later. Perea left Zelarayan to track Moreira on the wing with the ball and the right back sent it back to his Designated Player midfielder. Perea was caught in no man’s land, having to cover two attackers, with Michel too far up the field to help and Pereyra too far away toward the inside. No one closed Zelarayan down as a result and he did what Designated Players do, taking his time to tee it up and scoring a golazo from distance to restore the two-goal advantage.

“I thought we conceded too much space for a player with that quality,” Pareja said. “We know he has that range of shooting. He’s always just waiting to have that possibility because he’s effective in that position.”

“I think, I don’t know maybe five minutes after we scored the PK, we kind of started to slow down and that’s when they scored their (third) goal, which was kind of obviously not good for us,” Akindele said. “So I think that little five-minute dip in our energy was was kind of the killer tonight.”

The Lions could have pulled that goal right back. A ball into the box bounced up for Mueller to head toward the target but the Orlando winger couldn’t have hit his shot any straighter at the goalkeeper than he did, letting Room off the hook from point-blank range.

Orlando didn’t learn from Zelarayan’s goal because the Lions left him alone at the top of the box again in the 65th minute, but the DP couldn’t make good contact with the cross to direct his shot on goal.

As the game wound down, Orlando didn’t get many chances to climb back into it. They didn’t do much with a couple of corner kicks and Perea fired over the bar from long range in transition when he perhaps could have set up one of his forwards who were running forward with him for a better opportunity in the 78th minute.

Dickerson awarded nine minutes of stoppage time due to the lengthy reviews on the penalty and an injury to Marlon Hairston in the second half. Orlando finally pulled back to within striking distance in the 92nd minute when Akindele got the ball on the left and sent in a perfect back-post cross to a streaking Jansson, who slotted it just inside the left post to make it 3-2.

“It’s funny, because the play started with Robin winning the ball in our half,” said Akindele, who picked up his career-high sixth assist on the play. “When I cut in Robin was there and I just tried to put the ball in a dangerous area.”

But an equalizer never came. The Lions struggled to keep possession and to work the ball into dangerous areas when they did get a hold of it.

Orlando had more possession (51.7%-48.3%), more shots (12-10), and a higher passing accuracy (82.3%-81.3%), while the hosts got more shots on target (5-3) and won more corners (5-4).

The loss doesn’t eliminate Orlando’s chances of hosting a playoff match but with a tough opponent coming to Exploria Stadium Sunday and a difficult trip to Canada to face Montreal on Decision Day, the Lions seem to be more in survival mode than playing for positioning.

“Not qualifying for playoffs would be a huge failure for our team,” Akindele said. “And we know that and honestly for us, qualifying for playoffs is just step one. So, we expect that we’re going to qualify for playoffs. I think we have the quality in our team. We have a good home game coming up. And we still have two games left in the season. So I think that we’re still in good position, and we expect that we’ll qualify.”

“We have to refocus again with the proximity of these games,” Pareja said. “There’s not too much time to feel sorry for ourselves. We have to just move on and try to focus on Nashville.”

The Lions return home for their home finale of the 2021 MLS regular season when they host Nashville SC on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, and More

The Lions return home hoping to bounce back from another rough night on the baseball diamond.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night Tropic Thunder matchup between Orlando City and the team’s Publix Enemies, Inter Miami CF at Exploria Stadium (7:30 p.m., FS1, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). It’s the third meeting between the sides this season and the second time in regular-season play. It is the only scheduled meeting in Orlando.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.


Orlando City is 5-4-3 in the series in all competitions, 2-0-3 in all contests at Exploria Stadium (2-0-2 in regular-season play and 0-0-1 with a shootout win in the U.S. Open Cup), and 3-0-3 in all games played in the Orlando area (adding the win in the MLS is Back Tournament at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in 2020).

The most recent meeting took place at DRV PNK Stadium on Aug. 2. The Herons were fortunate to not see Lionel Messi sent off with a second yellow late in the first half and even more fortunate to get a soft penalty call on Antonio Carlos as they won, 3-1 in Leagues Cup action. Messi opened the scoring after being ignored in the box early. Cesar Araujo made up for the defensive lapse by scoring 10 minutes later. Josef Martinez put Miami back on top with the Downy soft penalty just after halftime and Messi sunk in the dagger in the final 20 minutes.

The teams also met in Fort Lauderdale in MLS play on May 20, with Orlando City winning, 3-1. Ercan Kara’s early goal was canceled out by Leonardo Campana shortly before the hour mark, but Martin Ojeda and Rafael Santos found the net in the second half to power the Lions.

Inter Miami won at home, 4-1, on Oct. 5, 2022. Campana scored in the game’s first minute and Orlando City never settled in. Gonzalo Higuain added two goals — one from the spot — and Ariel Lassiter also scored before Kara pulled one back to spoil the shutout.

The first regular-season meeting of 2022 resulted in a 1-0 Orlando City win at Exploria Stadium on July 9, as a stoppage-time own goal by Damion Lowe was the difference between the Lions earning just one point or all three. The ball was sent into the box by Jake Mulraney.

The teams also met at Exploria Stadium on May 25, 2022 in U.S. Open Cup action, with the two sides needing extra time after a scoreless 90 minutes. In extra time, Miami got a goal from Jean Mota against the run of play, but Facundo Torres quickly equalized for Orlando. The match ended 1-1 and Orlando won the ensuing penalty shootout, 4-2. Bryce Duke was denied by Mason Stajduhar and DeAndre Yedlin missed the net during the spot kicks, while all four Orlando shooters scored.

The intrastate rivals played to a scoreless draw in Orlando on Aug. 27, 2021. Tesho Akindele missed a penalty in the match, but the Lions had several other good opportunities to score (but didn’t) in a wasteful performance. Orlando and Miami battled to a 1-1 draw at Exploria Stadium on Aug. 4, 2021. Carlos scored in first-half stoppage time but was knocked into concussion protocol on the play by Kelvin Leerdam. Kieran Gibbs equalized in the 66th minute on a header in front of a less-than-attentive Ruan. Akindele had a goal called back after video review for being offside and the teams split the points. Earlier in the season, the Lions came from behind in Fort Lauderdale to win 2-1 on a pair of brilliant goals by Chris Mueller and Nani on June 25, 2021.

In the final meeting of 2020, the Lions saw their 12-match unbeaten streak end on Oct. 24 in a 2-1 road loss in Fort Lauderdale. Miami defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez’s header in the 89th minute was the difference after a Daryl Dike goal and an own goal off Robin Jansson saw the game tied up at halftime. The teams met in Orlando on Sept. 12 of 2020 with Orlando battling to a 2-1 win on Mauricio Pereyra’s goal. The Lions had taken the lead on an own goal by Andres Reyes. Former Lion Brek Shea tied things up in the 65th, before Pereyra answered with a nice goal off the left post in the 69th minute.

The first meeting in Fort Lauderdale opened Phase 1 of Major League Soccer’s return to regular-season play after the MLS is Back Tournament. That one was an uncharacteristically sloppy match for the Lions, who fell 3-2 in Inter Miami’s first-ever home match. It was Miami’s first franchise win after an 0-5-0 start. Orlando trailed by more than one goal for the first time all season in that game. Dike and Nani provided the offense for Orlando but Julian Carranza’s brace and Rodolfo Pizarro’s insurance goal were enough to lift the Herons.

The first Tropic Thunder match went Orlando City’s way, with Nani scoring late to lift the Lions to a 2-1 win over the upstarts from South Florida in the opening match of the MLS is Back Tournament. Despite it being a tournament match, it was also a league game. Juan Agudelo opened the scoring for the Herons, but Mueller equalized, setting the stage for Nani’s 97th-minute winner.


The Lions are coming off their first loss since getting knocked out of Leagues Cup with Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at New York City FC in a match they never settled into. Clinching a playoff spot that night likely took a little of the sting out of the loss, but it will be interesting to see how the team responds. Orlando City is 7-3-4 at home this season in MLS play and will look to extend an unbeaten run of 7-0-4 in all competitions at Exploria Stadium.

Inter Miami is coming off a 4-0 home destruction of Toronto FC in the midweek. The Herons are just 3-10-1 on the road in MLS play this season but much of that record was compiled prior to the league and its major sponsors helping Miami’s ownership bring Messi to MLS and Messi getting his buddies to take less money than they could get elsewhere to come help his new project in Fort Lauderdale, while fitting within the league’s roster rules. Inter Miami is 2-1-0 on the road since Leagues Cup ended.

Tonight’s visitors may or may not have Messi and Jordi Alba for this match. Miami coach Gerardo Martino declared they would miss the game after Wednesday’s match but neither are on the MLS availability report. Did the Herons intentionally leave injured guys off the report to keep them eligible for the U.S. Open Cup final or will the visitors’ stars play?

Regardless, the rest of Inter Miami has played better and more confidently since the arrival of Martino, as well as Messi and friends. An Orlando City defense that leaked badly despite the modest scoreline Wednesday will have to deal with the likes of Campana, Martinez, Robert Taylor, and others tonight, while trying to beat one of the best young goalkeepers in MLS in Drake Callender. They will also have to press high to keep Sergio Busquets from picking out forward runs from deeper positions.

It’s a rivalry game, so anything can happen. History suggests it’ll be tight.

“We returned from New York and (have been) trying to get some corrections from the game, but we are still looking at the better things we did in that match also and keep going,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “I have to evaluate it, but the team has been playing very well and we have to keep going in that direction. Now we have a rival, we have Miami in a very important game, not just because it is a derby but because those points will get us closer to the objective that is to keep fighting for that first position or at least qualify in that first four. The team is good, the boys are recovering from the trip, and we are good.”

The Lions will be without reserve players Adam Grinwis (thigh) and Favian Loyola (arm), but defender Antonio Carlos has been upgraded to questionable. Miami will not have Ian Fray (ACL), Gregore (Lisfranc), Franco Negri (ACL), or Corentin Jean (ACL). Will the Herons have Messi and Alba? Their coach said no, but their availability report says yes.

Match Content

Here’s your match content for this one:

Projected Lineups:

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

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

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, Facundo Torres.

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

Inter Miami (5-3-2)

Goalkeeper: Drake Callender.

Defenders: Noah Allen, Kamal Miller, Sergii Kryvstov, Tomas, Aviles, DeAndre Yedlin.

Midfielders: Fadundo Farias, Sergio Busquets, Benjamin Cremaschi.

Forwards: Robert Taylor, Leonardo Campana.


REF: Armando Villarreal.
AR1: Jeremy Kieso.
AR2: Stefan Tanaka-Freundt.
4TH: Lukasz Szpala.
VAR: Carol Anne Chenard.
AVAR: Fabio Tovar.

How to Watch

Match Time: 7:30 p.m.

Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.

TV/Live Stream: FS1, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English), Acción 97.9 FM, 810 AM (Spanish).

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

Enjoy the game. Go City!

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Orlando City

Orlando City Enjoyed the Best Summer Stretch in Team History

Orlando City climbed the table in the club’s best summer since joining MLS.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

June, July, August (plus, most of September), and the dog days of summer are officially in the rearview mirror and Orlando City is set to put a cherry on top of what was the best summer stretch in team history when they face Inter Miami tomorrow night at Exploria Stadium. As the season starts to wind down, I felt it was only necessary to take some time to examine the what we all just witnessed…the best summer in team history.

A quick Google search says that the season of summer in the U.S. traditionally starts June 21 on the summer solstice, which we will use as the starting point. I looked historically at the team’s performance from that point in time through the end of summer each season, a.k.a. today, Sept. 23. As a new expansion team in Major League Soccer, Orlando City dealt with the summer heat fairly well and earned 15 and 17 points in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The next two seasons, on the other hand, were much darker times to be a city fan, as Orlando City racked up seven and 10 losses in 2017 and 2018, respectively, during those two seasons. It does not take Sherlock Holmes-level detection skills to know that those summer stretches did not lead to postseason playoff berths. In 2019, the team amassed a decent 18 points during the summer, but only tallied 37 on the season overall.

It should not come as a surprise to any OCSC fan that the team’s best years of success have all come while Oscar Pareja has been at the helm. Prior to this season, the best summer stretch that the team had enjoyed was back in 2021 — also under Pareja’s reign — when the boys put up 23 points, setting a summer team record with six wins. Despite their great summer success, the 2021 Lions were unfortunately not able to keep their strong summer momentum going as they dropped four straight matches after Labor Day that year. Enter 2022, or as I like to call it “the summer of the trophy.” Technically speaking, in the MLS regular season, it was the team’s second best summer, with 20 points to their name. Orlando also happened to lift the U.S. Open Cup during that span last year, so there is an argument to be made that without the additional fixtures, the Lions may have been able to commit more resources to the regular season and would have wound up with more points. I will take the hardware!

This summer it has seemed as though Papi has pulled all the right strings at the right times. Orlando currently not only sits in second place in the Eastern Conference, but second overall in the Supporters’ Shield race and has only dropped two matches from June 21 to Sept. 23 while sporting a +6 goal differential. The Lions amassed 24 points during the summer this year.

Orlando City finding the back of the net more often than conceding makes for quite fun matches to enjoy. The two losses OCSC has picked up throughout the summer this season both have come on the road (at Real Salt Lake and at NYCFC), despite Orlando City earning an MLS-best 25 points away from Central Florida this year.

Orlando City did a great job getting through the hottest part of the calendar while locking up results left and right. Orlando has already secured a spot in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year in no small part due to the amazing summer the team just enjoyed. As fall comes barreling at us and the MLS playoff home-field advantage race begins to heat up, the performance of the squad this summer should not be taken for granted as championships might not be won in June, July, or August, but poor performances can certainly ensure that they are lost.

Did you have a favorite moment or match from this summer? My favorite moment was what I am calling the Hail Ojeda Mary goal in Charlotte, and my favorite match was the electrifying 4-3 come-from-behind victory against the Columbus Crew. Let us know in the comments below your favorites, and as always, vamos Orlando.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/23/22

Lions and Herons meet again, Carly Nelson is writing a book, NWSL free agency opens, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Founder’s Day, Mane Landers! It was on this day in 2014 that our fearless leader and Managing Editor Michael Citro started our first ever WordPress website. It’s safe to say that I’m sure The Mane Land has impacted your life as much as it has mine over the years, whether that be through daily reading or weekly podcasts. Cheers to Michael and all those who have come before me.

In my own personal news, I have been grinding away on the new EA FC 24 (the franchise formerly known as EA’s FIFA.) So far, the gameplay and updates have been great in my initial 15+ hours of play, and my online Ultimate Team is starting to really take its shape. I’m sure in a couple weeks that I’ll transition to a traditional Career Mode and take the Lions all the way to an MLS Cup and beyond.

Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a very happy birthday to everyone’s favorite defensive midfielder, Wilder Cartagena!

Third Bout for Orlando City and Inter Miami

Orlando City and Inter Miami have already met twice this campaign. Sunday’s match will look to break the deadlock between the two rivals as both clubs have a victory to their name in this year’s series. In May, the Lions grabbed a 3-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale-based club. The two sides met for a second time in the knockout round of Leagues Cup 2023 with Inter Miami taking the 3-1 result at DRV PNK Stadium. No matter the result this time around, Orlando City has already clinched a playoff spot, however, the Herons need every point they can get to attempt to do the same.

Carly Nelson, Goalkeeper and Author

It isn’t unheard of to learn that an athlete might have tried another sport before finding soccer, Orlando Pride goalkeeper Carly Nelson came from a background of gymnastics, tennis, basketball, and baseball before her father started a club soccer team with her in mind. While Nelson might have idolized USWNT legend Hope Solo as a child, she started her playing days as a forward, winger, and midfielder. Outside of protecting the Pride’s net, Nelson is spending time writing a book about her life growing up in Utah and the issues her family faced to hopefully help others that might find themselves in similar situations.

NWSL Opens 2024 Free Agency

The National Women’s Soccer League has officially opened the league’s unrestricted and restricted free agency periods. In accordance with the NWSL Players’ Association’s collective bargaining agreement, eligible free agents can begin negotiations for their 2024 Standard Player Agreements. Players eligible for unrestricted free agency include all who have at least five years of service within the NWSL and contracts expiring in 2023, while players eligible for restricted free agency include those who have at least three years of service. For the Orlando Pride, defender Kylie Strom is set to be an unrestricted free agent and midfielder Jordyn Listro is under restricted terms. Any club that currently holds the rights of a restricted free agent has a seven-day period to match an incoming offer from another club or else the player may sign with the new club under the terms of the offer.

USMNT’s Tyler Adams Nearing Return

Tyler Adams will not make his Bournemouth debut this weekend, but he could return as early as next week. Bournemouth’s manager, Andoni Iraola, provided a positive update on the U.S. Men’s National Team captain as he finishes up rehabbing a long-term hamstring injury.

“He has started this week at least to train partially with the group, so probably we can have a chance of having him next week or two weeks, something like this. Tyler is really close because once you start training partially with the group, it’s a matter of sensations, and if you are physically good enough. He has a very good physical base. So I think it will take not a long time to see Tyler with the team.”

Adams has not played since March after having a hamstring surgery. Even with a known injury, the 24-year-old still completed a move from Leeds United to Bournemouth following Leeds’ relegation to keep him in the top flight.

MLS Weekend Preview

Aside from the Florida derby, there are plenty of matches to be excited about around the league this weekend. Personally, I’m looking forward to catching a bit of the D.C. United and New York Red Bulls match. Manager Wayne Rooney’s club is right on the bubble in a tight Eastern Conference race while the Red Bulls can do themselves a huge service and come back into the playoff picture with a win. Out in the Western Conference, there is a real buzz around a Portland Timbers squad after a manager sacking. It could be a huge win for the Timbers and likely push them above the play-in round should they find a result against the Colorado Rapids.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Saturday. Be safe on Sunday at the match. Stay hydrated and look out for those around you. Vamos Orlando!

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