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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.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/23/24

Ivan Angulo makes Team of the Matchday bench, Americans in action, Sergino Dest to miss Copa America, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It was an excellent weekend for Orlando’s soccer teams, as the three sides took seven of the nine points on offer. There’s no rest for the wicked this week as the Orlando Pride travel to play the Washington Spirit on Friday, Orlando City hosts Toronto FC on Saturday, and Orlando City B finishes things up at home against Toronto FC II on Sunday. Let’s take a look at today’s links.

Ivan Angulo Earns Recognition

Ivan Angulo has been named to the bench of the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. The Colombian got the start on Saturday up in Montreal, and had a good game, going the distance and completing 82% of his passes and putting one of his two shots on target. That shot was an important one, as it gave the Lions a late equalizer and helped them salvage a valuable point on the road. Sean Rollins gave him a grade of 6 in his player grades from the match, a rating that likely would have been higher had Martin Ojeda’s pass been accurate enough to allow Angulo to grab a possible winner just a few minutes after he equalized. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Americans in Midweek Action

There are a number of Americans taking part in big games this week, and the good people over at Stars and Stripes FC have you covered with the whole rundown. First up, Weston McKennie, Tim Weah, and Juventus will try to advance to the Coppa Italia final this afternoon, as they enter the second leg of the semifinal against Lazio with a 2-0 lead on aggregate. Tomorrow sees Monaco and Folarin Balogun meet Lille in Ligue 1 action, while Chris Richards and Crystal Palace host Newcastle United in the Premier League. Things wrap up on Friday in Serie B when Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessman, and third-place Venezia face Cremonese as they try to overtake Como and finish in one of Serie B’s two guaranteed promotion places.

Sergino Dest Sidelined Long Term

Following up on a story from yesterday’s Lion Links, The Athletic is reporting that the knee injury suffered by Sergino Dest will keep him out of Copa America, and sideline him for the rest of the year. That would be a big blow for the United States Men’s National Team, as Dest has been the nailed-on starter at right back since winning a place in the team during the qualifying cycle for the 2022 World Cup. The Yanks aren’t without options at the position, as Joe Scally could step in for Dest, or Gregg Berhalter could try deploying Weah there, but neither of the two possesses Dest’s level of offensive threat.

Inter Milan Wins Serie A

Inter Milan dispatched rival AC Milan 2-1 guaranteed that Inter will win its 20th Serie A title in club history. Fikayo Tomori’s goal in the 80th minute was the closest Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah’s club could get to leveling the score, and Inter is now a whopping 17 points clear of AC Milan with five games left to play. Inter has been imperious on its way to a 20th Scudetto, scoring the most goals in the league while also conceding the fewest and losing only once this season.

Free Kicks

  • The Orlando Pride and Orlando City hosted a clean-up effort in honor of Earth Day on Monday.

That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with CF Montreal?



Image courtesy of Orlando City / Mark Thor

Orlando City scored in second-half injury time for the second consecutive weekend to claim points. However, this time it was an equalizer as the Lions drew CF Montreal 2-2 north of the border. The Lions ended their two-game road trip with four points and extended their points streak to four games after dropping three straight. It’s an improvement as they look to climb up the Eastern Conference standings.

Here’s how I saw the individual performances in the draw.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 5.5 — Gallese conceded a pair of goals in this game, though neither were necessarily his fault. The first was a breakaway after Robin Jansson kept Mason Toye onside and the second was blocked wide, but Kyle Smith was caught flat-footed. However, he did concede twice while saving three of Montreal’s five shots on target. Additionally, the Lions’ goalkeeper completed 55.6% of his 27 passes, including eight of his 20 long balls.

D, Kyle Smith, 5.5 — Smith had a solid game other than one specific play. The left back had a team-high 86 touches and completed 78.3% of his 60 passes, including five of his 12 long balls. Defensively, he recorded two tackles, two clearances, an interception, and a blocked shot. Unfortunately, his most impactful play was getting caught watching on a Gallese block while Ariel Lassiter beat him to the rebound to give the hosts a late lead. That play lowers his grade for this otherwise quality performance.

D, Robin Jansson, 5.5 — Similar to Smith, Jansson had a solid game apart from one play. He had 72 touches and completed 79.7% of his 59 passes, including a key pass and three of his 14 long balls. He added a tackle, an interception, a blocked shot, and a team-high seven clearances to his stat sheet. But his failure to step up in the 16th minute enabled Toye to get behind the back line and score the opening goal, lowering his grade.

D, David Brekalo, 6 — Brekalo has proven himself to be the first-choice partner for Jansson and he was arguably the better center back in Montreal. The Slovenian international had 53 touches and completed 85.1% of his 47 passes, including two of his five long balls. The defender recorded two tackles, an interception, and three clearances defensively in a strong performance.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Thorhallsson was in his usual right back position for this game, playing 90 minutes and recording 44 touches. He completed 82.8% of his 29 passes, but only one of his four long balls and neither of his two crosses. He cleared the ball twice and didn’t really get into the attack, but was solid in his defensive duties.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 6.5 (MotM) — This was possibly Cartagena’s best performance of the season. His 85 touches were second-most on the team and he completed 76.5% of his team-high 68 passes, including a key pass and two of his six long balls. It was his shielding of Nathan Saliba and strong pass forward for Duncan McGuire that started the last goal, though he didn’t get an assist. The defensive midfielder was also active defensively with five tackles and three interceptions, and he won a pair of aerial duels. His overall performance earns him my Man of the Match.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6.5 — Araujo had a similar performance to Cartagena, but fewer touches and more accurate passing. He recorded 55 touches and completed 93.9% of his 49 passes, including a key pass. He was less active than his partner defensively, recording three tackles, and was booked in the 63rd minute.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — Angulo had one of his better performances in this one, recording 48 touches and completing 82.1% of his 39 passes. His biggest impact on the game came two minutes into second-half stoppage time, when he connected with an excellent Martin Ojeda cross to even the game at 2-2. He nearly scored a winner five minutes later, but the pass from Ojeda was just a bit too far for him. His goal was one of his two shots and the only one on target.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6 — Lodeiro’s 45 touches were the fewest of the Orlando City midfield, but he did the most with them. The playmaker completed 91.4% of his 35 passes, including a key pass, but couldn’t connect on his long ball or either of his two crosses. He was also caught offside and dispossessed twice before being replaced by Ojeda in the 77th minute.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6 — Torres’ 65 touches were the most in the Lions’ midfield and the fourth most on the team. He completed 83.7% of his 49 passes, but didn’t connect on his two crosses or four long balls. The attacker took three shots and put one on target. In the 22nd minute, the midfielder stepped up and buried his second penalty of the season and ninth as a Lion, continuing her perfect record from the spot.

F, Luis Muriel, 6 — While Oscar Pareja had previously been starting Muriel behind McGuire, the forward got the start alone up top for the second consecutive game. He had 34 touches and completed 68.4% of his 19 passes, including his lone long ball but neither of his two crosses. His biggest impact on the game came in the 20th minute, when he tipped the ball past Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois, drawing the penalty that resulted in the first equalizer. He also had a shot of his own, but it was off target.


F, Duncan McGuire (63’), 6 — McGuire came on in the 63rd minute for Muriel. He had 16 touches in 27 minutes, completing eight of his 10 passes (80%) with a key pass. His lone shot came in the 90th minute, when Jansson headed the ball over to him and he probably should’ve equalized, but his volley was just wide. The striker also won three aerial duels.

MF, Martin Ojeda (77’), 6.5 — Ojeda came on in the 77th minute for Lodeiro and, similar to Lodeiro last week, made a big difference. He had 15 touches and completed four of his six passes (66.7%), including a key pass. Two minutes into second-half injury time, his excellent cross found Angulo, who touched it in for the equalizer. Five minutes later, he had another great cross that nearly found Angulo for the winner, but was just out of his reach.

D, Rafael Santos (85’), 6 — Santos came on in the 85th minute for Torres as the Lions looked to see out a point. He had nine touches and completed two of his three passes (66.7%), but didn’t connect on his cross or long ball. Coming on to assure the defense, Santos did his job as he recorded a tackle, an interception, and two clearances.

This is how I saw Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with CF Montreal. Let us know how you saw the game and don’t forget to vote for your Man of the Match.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/22/24

Orlando City draws CF Montreal, Pride and OCB win, FA Cup drama, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. Orlando City drew, while the Pride and OCB both won over the weekend. I had friends in town, so I went to Wrigley Field to check out a Cubs game and show them around Chicago. Let’s wish former Orlando City midfielder Kaka and Pride defender Brianna Martinez a happy birthday! There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Draw at CF Montreal

Orlando City again had to overcome a 2-1 deficit on the road when it faced CF Montreal Saturday night. The Lions needed a late stoppage-time goal from Ivan Angulo to walk out of Stade Saputo with a 2-2 draw. Orlando has now picked up points in each of the last four matches. Orlando City will face CF Montreal again on July 26 in the MLS Leagues Cup during the competition’s group stage. The Lions’ next match will be Saturday at Inter&Co Stadium as it takes on Toronto FC.

Orlando Pride Defeat San Diego Wave

The Orlando Pride shut out the San Diego Wave 1-0 on Friday at Inter&Co Stadium and got their second consecutive win with that same scoreline. Summer Yates scored the lone goal in the first half to seal the win for Orlando. Zambian international striker Barbra Banda made her debut for the Pride, coming off the bench in the second half. The Pride remain undefeated through five league matches and are fifth in the NWSL table with nine points. The team will be on the road to face the Washington Spirit Friday.

OCB Wins on the Road at Crown Legacy FC

Orlando City B got a 2-0 win against Crown Legacy FC at the Sportsplex at Matthews on Friday. Alex Freeman and Shak Mohammed scored for the Young Lions, and Javier Otero made six saves. OCB completed its two-match road trip, securing four out of a possible six points, and has kept its unbeaten streak on the road alive at four matches. OCB is in fifth in the MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference with nine points, while Crown Legacy is winless in five matches. OCB will be back in action this Sunday as it hosts Toronto FC II at Osceola County Stadium.

Manchester United and Manchester City Advance to FA Cup Final

Manchester United won 4-2 on penalties after a 3-3 draw against Coventry City in the FA Cup semifinals to advance to the final. It was a thrilling match at Wembley as United had a 3-0 lead before Coventry City rallied to get back into the match. USMNT forward Haji Wright scored the equalizer to tie the match 3-3 late into stoppage time. Coventry City thought it scored the game-winning goal late into extra time from Victor Torp, but it was ruled offside after video review. Casemiro missed his penalty for United, while Wright and Torp gave Coventry City a 2-1 advantage. United converted four straight penalties while Coventry City missed two to seal the win for the Red Devils. Manchester City edged past Chelsea 1-0 in their semifinal matchup, with Bernardo Silva scoring the lone goal in the second half. The FA Cup final will be played at the end of May and will feature a Manchester Derby for the second consecutive time.

Free Kicks

  • In case you missed it, check out this video on Orlando City’s social media page on Ivan Angulo’s equalizer to tie the match in stoppage time against CF Montreal on Saturday.

According to OptaJack, the Pride have secured the most points at home during the regular season since last May, with 26.

  • USMNT defender Sergino Dest suffered a knee injury during training with PSV Eindhoven over the weekend. Dest will miss the remainder of the Eredivisie season and could miss the 2024 Copa America this summer.
  • Real Madrid came back from being 2-1 down to defeat Barcelona 3-2 and stay ahead of its rivals by 11 points with six league matches left.
  • Bayer Leverkusen extended its unbeaten run to 45 matches after scoring a late goal from Josip Stanisic in stoppage time to get a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund.
  • Serie A side Udinese is reportedly set to hire former Juventus and Real Madrid player Fabio Cannavaro as its next head coach.

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

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