Connect with us

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. New York Red Bulls: Final Score 3-0 as Lions Played Off Their Own Pitch



Orlando City’s three-game winning streak in all competitions came to a crashing halt, as the team’s worst performance of the year resulted in a 3-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Exploria Stadium. The Lions (4-3-2, 14 points) were second best from the jump, had no sense of urgency or precision, lacked ideas, were careless with the ball, and were generally played off the pitch by New York (4-2-2, 14 points), which moved into second place in the Eastern Conference with the win. Luquinhas, Cristian Casseres, and Lewis Morgan scored the goals for New York.

Orlando has now lost three straight games to the Red Bulls and the loss drops the Lions to 5-9-2 in the all-time series. The Lions were so comprehensively outplayed that they attempted just three shots in 90+ minutes and failed to get a single one on frame.

“Obviously very disappointed with the result,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “When we compete, we are trying to get a result, but more than that, I thought our performance, where I’m fully responsible, was far from our normal one. I thought New York outplayed us today and I have to accept that they were much better than us.”

“This is the worst game for us and this is difficult to understand now,” captain Mauricio Pereyra said. “Sometimes everything that you plan is good and it’s perfect and you get the result and you get the good soccer. Today it wasn’t like that.”

Pareja’s lineup included Pedro Gallese in net behind a back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Ruan. Cesar Araujo and Junior Urso played central midfield behind an attacking line of Facundo Torres, Mauricio Pereyra, and Alexandre Pato, with Ercan Kara up top.

Neither team got much going in the first 20 minutes. The Red Bulls came in looking to make it an ugly game and succeeded, committing fouls and being physical all over the pitch. Ruan got run over from behind and stepped on by Ashley Fletcher in the early going but got only a foul call and a warning. He later received another warning just before the first-half water break and finally got his yellow card just after the restart on what might have been his third bookable offense.

Orlando City moved too slowly and deliberately the entire first half and, as a result, the Lions spent most of the half penned in their own half. New York punished any off-line or poorly weighted ball by taking it the other way in transition.

That’s exactly how the Lions conceded the game’s first goal in the 26th minute. Several Orlando City players were caught up field and no one seemed particularly eager to get back defensively as the Red Bulls came forward. No one closed down Luquinhas at the top of the area and he slotted a well-placed ball just inside the left post to make it 1-0.

The chippy play continued as New York simply took fouls any time Orlando seemed to have even the slightest thing going offensively. That ended up in a double yellow card situation late in the first half, with Luquinhas and Morgan each getting booked on a play when Kara was knocked down to deny a counter opportunity.

Gallese made a huge save on Fletcher late in the half to keep it 1-0 at the break.

Orlando City held 62.8% of the first-half possession to New York’s 37.2% but most of that was kicking it around the back trying to figure out how to attack the Red Bulls’ 3-5-2 formation and press. The Lions were also the more accurate passing team (79.9%-65.8%), but New York had more shots (9-0), shots on target (3-0), and corners won (2-0) with the Lions seldom possessing the ball in the attacking half.

Pareja sent Benji Michel and Thomas Williams into the match at the break to change the shape. But a poor pass from Ruan in the attacking half allowed the Red Bulls a transition opportunity and the visitors doubled the lead just moments after the game resumed. New York broke toward goal with numbers and Casseres ended up in front of Gallese with the ball. El Pulpo made a great initial save but Casseres tapped in the rebound to make it 2-0 in the 48th minute.

Orlando looked to have a decent counter opportunity in the 54th minute, with the ball ending up at Michel’s feet in the box. Michel lost his balance and went down, shouting for a penalty but there was nothing in the challenge.

Araujo finally gave Orlando a shot attempt in the 60th minute, launching a shot well off target from outside the area.

Schlegel got his head to a Ruan cross in the 72nd minute on a recycled set piece but his shot was just wide and Carlos Coronel looked to have it covered.

The Red Bulls added a third after referee Alex Chilowicz went to video review and determined that Rodrigo Schlegel was guilty of a handball in the box. Schlegel went up for a 50/50 challenge but the ball cleared his head by inches. The attacking player in behind him appeared to head the ball into Schlegel’s arm and there’s little doubt nothing would have come of the play. But Chilowicz ruled in New York’s favor and Lewis Morgan scored from the spot for the final margin of victory.

Rookie Jack Lynn was given a cameo appearance late and made his MLS debut but the match was over and the Lions were cooked.

“It was a moment I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, so I was ecstatic to get on the field, but you know what’s important is getting the three points,” Lynn said after his debut. “So, it’s always a little bit of a gut punch when we don’t get that.”

New York finished with more shots (17-3), shots on target (6-0), and corners (4-1), while Orlando City held more possession (64.2%-35.8%) and passed more accurately (80.8%-62.8%). But the Lions did nothing with that possession, passing sloppily and lazily all game long and falling into the traps the Red Bulls wanted them to walk into.

“We knew already how New York plays and we prepared in the week some plan, and we couldn’t do it in a good way,” Pereyra said. “I think we we didn’t have many positive things today. We know that this is maybe the worst game that we played in the season. Even the other games that we lost, we created many chances and we played so good, and today is the exception because we didn’t play and we didn’t create any chances.”

“We were outplayed, really,” Pareja reiterated. “The first step that we need to recognize today is that we couldn’t put together the soccer that we normally play because with their intensity they destroyed any idea that we wanted. And basically with recovering the ball in the middle third they started just creating their sequences and tried to create their chances. We were not connected. It’s not that they had more energy but they had more ideas up front too, and I thought it was a fair result.”

The Lions remain at home for their next match when Charlotte FC visits Exploria Stadium for the first time ever.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/30/23

Orlando City faces big questions, Matt Miazga suspended, Emma Hayes meets USWNT for first time, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

November is finally coming to a close. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster of a month for me, with highs, lows, and many things in between. All in all, I’m pretty glad it’s nearly over, although I expect December to be similarly hectic. At least this weather is allowing me to break out some winter clothes and turn on the fireplace in this new apartment. I’m not sure why a fireplace was installed in a Floridian apartment, but I’m not complaining. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Big Decisions Await Orlando City

With Orlando City’s season over, attention now turns to a critical off-season for the club. Head Coach Oscar Pareja is out of contract after leading the Lions to the playoffs for the past four years. The club will also need to decide if it will exercise the 2024 options on the contracts of both Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi and Technical Director and Assistant General Manager Ricardo Moreira. All three have orchestrated Orlando’s transformation that’s included winning its first trophy, having its best season this year, and qualifying for both the Concacaf Champions League and Champions Cup. Potentially transferring Facundo Torres to Europe, filling the empty Designated Player slot, and deciding which players to bring back for 2024 are also on the agenda. However, figuring out who will lead the Lions into this exciting next chapter is paramount. Personally, I think the club should do everything in its power to keep the people who brought Orlando to this point.

Matt Miazga Suspended for Three Games

FC Cincinnati will be without MLS Defender of the Year Matt Miazga for Saturday’s Eastern Conference final, as he was suspended by MLS for three games due to his misconduct after the match with the New York Red Bulls on Nov. 4. Miazga was also fined an undisclosed amount and will undergo a behavioral assessment as part of the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. Following that aforementioned playoff match, reports surfaced that Miazga gained unauthorized access to an area reserved for the referees and acted aggressively. Any suspended games not served during Cincy’s playoff run will carry over into the 2024 season, although Miazga can petition for a reduction based on compliance with recommended treatment plans.

Emma Hayes Meets With USWNT Players and Staff

Emma Hayes, who was hired as the next United States Women’s National Team Head Coach earlier this month, made the trip to Florida to meet the team for the first time. Although she won’t be coaching the team for its upcoming pair of friendlies against China, she collaborated with interim head coach Twila Kilgore on the latest training camp roster and will continue to work with her until taking over in May. There won’t be much time between Hayes’ official start date and the 2024 Summer Olympics, making these moments of face time between player and future coach all the more important. USWNT captain Lindsey Horan spoke on the team’s goals after meeting Hayes for the first time.

“There’s so much talent in this team, and I don’t think the world has seen enough of it yet just because we need to go out and show it,” Horan said. “We need to be able to mesh together and show everything that we have, and what we’re all about, and how we can really collaborate and play together — be more of a team and be a powerhouse again.

“It’s going to be exciting for us to have her and see what she can do with this team and how she can help us moving forward.”

Ricardo Pepi Sends PSV Into Champions League Knockout Stage

PSV Eindhoven clinched its spot in the next round of the UEFA Champions League in dramatic fashion, with American forward Ricardo Pepi scoring the winner in a 3-2 comeback win over Sevilla in Spain. Trailing 2-0 in the second half, American left back Sergino Dest provided the assist on PSV’s first goal and Pepi found the winner in stoppage time, with fellow American Malik Tillman also coming off the bench. From his little flick to send a teammate forward to his run and clinical header, it was a great goal by the 20-year-old.

Elsewhere in the Champions League, Arsenal beat Lens 6-0 to advance, Real Madrid won 4-2 against Napoli to win its group, and Real Sociedad played to a scoreless draw with RB Salzburg. Manchester United remains in last place of its group after a 3-3 draw with Galatasaray, with goalkeeper Andre Onana unable to stop Hakim Ziyech from scoring off of two free kicks. All’s not lost for United though, as it can still qualify for the round of 16 by beating Bayern Munich at home so long as the other match ends in the group ends in a draw. It all makes for what should be an exciting final matchday in the group stage.

Free Kicks

  • The Kansas City Current announced that American midfielder Sam Mewis will not be returning to the club for the 2024 season. The 31-year-old has not played since 2021 as she continues to recover from a knee injury.
  • The Utah Royals have signed free agent forward Imani Dorsey on a contract through the 2025 season. Dorsey has most recently played for NJ/NY Gotham FC, although she didn’t participate in this past season due to mental health reasons.
  • Manchester United is reportedly ready to move on from Mason Mount just six months after he joined the team from Chelsea.
  • Tomasz Kwiatkowski, the video assistant referee involved in a controversial handball that eventually led to Paris Saint-Germain’s equalizer in stoppage time against Newcastle, was removed from his next scheduled duty by UEFA.
  • Amidst a four-game winless streak, French club Nantes has fired Pierre Aristouy as its manager, immediately replacing him with Jocelyn Gourvennec.
  • We’ll end our links with this interesting article that dives into how Romelu Lukaku unexpectedly arrived at AS Roma and how he’s thriving at the Italian club.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

Continue Reading

Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Alex Freeman

We start our Orlando City player reviews with a look at a Homegrown fullback who made his MLS debut this season.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Orlando City signed fullback Alex Freeman to a Homegrown Player contract on February 15, 2022. He became the Lions’ 12th Homegrown signing and his deal runs through the 2025 season with a club option for 2026, but the youngster did not see action in Major League Soccer last season. With the departure of Ruan, there was an opportunity for Freeman to win a job with the first team in camp but he wasn’t quite ready to make the jump, instead playing an important role with Orlando City B throughout the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season.

Let’s take a look back at Freeman’s 2023 campaign.

Statistical Breakdown

Freeman made his MLS debut on April 29 in a 2-0 home win over the LA Galaxy. It was not just his debut with the first team, but it was also his only appearance with the senior squad in 2023, although he did make the substitutes’ bench a few times after that. Officially, he logged only one minute, entering in the 93rd minute. He was only on the pitch a matter of seconds, so it’s unsurprising that he registered nothing on the stats sheet.

The son of former NFL receiver Antonio Freeman, Alex starred with OCB in 2023. In MLS NEXT Pro play, Freeman appeared in 24 of OCB’s 28 matches, starting 22, and logging 1,855 minutes. He finished tied for third on the squad in goals (4), adding three assists and passing at a 79.1% success rate. Freeman attempted 25 shots, putting 11 on target, and contributed 10 key passes. He committed 22 fouls, drew 27 on the opposition, and was booked four times. He also started OCB’s playoff match at Columbus, playing 89 minutes in the Young Lions’ 2-1 road loss. Freeman didn’t contribute a goal or assist or attempt a shot in the match, but he passed at an 88% rate, created one scoring chance, and committed one foul.

Best Game

With only one MLS appearance to his credit, the default best game for Freeman came on April 29 in Orlando City’s 2-0 home win over the LA Galaxy. Freeman didn’t even officially touch the ball in the game, but it’s not every day a teenager gets to play in an MLS match, and I’m sure it was a special moment for him. It was certainly a milestone in his professional soccer career.

2023 Final Grade

As Freeman fell well short of the minimum 450 minutes played mark to receive a rating on our 1-10 scale, The Mane Land has no choice but to mark his grade as incomplete for the 2023 season. There are areas of Freeman’s game that need a bit of refining, but at the same time, it’s easy to see why he landed a Homegrown contract, why Orlando City would find him an intriguing prospect, and why he’s been getting called up by the United States for U-20 international duty. His attacking presence was huge for OCB in 2023 and he was one of the key players that led the Young Lions to the postseason.

2024 Outlook

I would expect Freeman to get more seasoning at OCB in 2024, although he’ll be given opportunities in preseason camp to show whether he’s closed the gap on the likes of Michael Halliday and Kyle Smith (assuming both return). If the club moves on from both Halliday and Smith, it’s not hard to picture Freeman starting the season providing depth at right back for the first team. Having just turned 19 in August, Freeman has a lot of potential and he should start to unlock that within the next year or so.

This is the first of our 2023 Orlando City Season in Review articles. Every player who played minutes this past season and who finished the year on the club roster will be reviewed (exceptions may be made for players let go when the club officially announces its roster moves). Players who logged fewer than 450 minutes (combined regular season plus playoffs, Concacaf Champions League, U.S. Open Cup, and Leagues Cup) will receive a composite score between 1 and 10 as determined by a panel of The Mane Land writers, while those who did not reach that threshold will receive an incomplete grade.

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/29/23

Orlando Pride players called up by Brazil, MLS announces 2023 Best XI, latest MLS roster moves, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers I hope all is well down in Florida. I’ve been very busy working throughout the holiday weekend at Under Armour. This week I’ll be working at Wrigley Field for Winterland while getting ready to cover high school wrestling tomorrow night. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Pride Players Called Up By Brazil for Friendlies

Orlando Pride defender Rafaelle and forwards Marta and Adriana have been called up to the Brazil Women’s National Team for its upcoming friendlies.

Brazil will play two matches against Japan on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 in Sao Paulo before playing Nicaragua on Dec. 6 at Estadio Fonte Luminosa in Araraquara.

MLS Announces the 2023 Best XI

Major League Soccer announced its 2023 Best XI, recognizing the league’s top players at each position. There were no Orlando City players selected for the team and eight players received the honor for the first time. Those players are St. Louis City’s Roman Burki and Tim Parker, FC Cincinnati defender Matt Miazga, Atlanta United duo Thiago Almada and Giorgos Giakoumakis, Houston Dynamo midfielder Hector Herrera, LAFC’s Denis Bouanga, and Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez. Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar made the Best XI for the third consecutive time, while teammate Walker Zimmerman was named to it for the fifth time. MLS MVP Luciano Acosta of FC Cincinnati rounds out the list.

Latest MLS Off-season Roster Moves

The Colorado Rapids announced their latest roster changes as they prepare for the the 2024 season under new Head Coach Chris Armas. The club exercised its options for defender Andrew Gutman, midfielder Ralph Priso, and forward Calvin Harris. The Rapids declined contract offers to seven players, with the most notable names being defender Steven Beitashour and goalkeeper William Yarbrough, although the Rapids are in discussions about re-signing Yarbrough. Elsewhere, the New England Revolution exercised the permanent transfer option on forward Tomas Chancalay, signing him to a Designated Player contract through 2026, with a club option for the 2027 season.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

Champions League action returned in Europe, as we get close to wrapping up the group stage in a couple of weeks. Manchester City overcame a two-goal deficit to beat RB Leipzig 3-2 and win Group G. Newcastle United had a chance to qualify for the round of 16 but gave up a late penalty to Paris Saint-Germain, which Kylian Mbappe converted to end the match in a 1-1 draw. Borussia Dortmund beat AC Milan 3-1 to book its spot in the knockout stage. PSG, Newcastle, and AC Milan are all still alive in Group F heading into the final matchday in December. Shakhtar Donetsk won 1-0 against Royal Antwerp and also still has a shot to advance on the final matchday. Lazio, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and Young Boys all won their respective matches as well. Today’s matches include Manchester United on the road against Galatasaray, Real Madrid taking on Napoli, and Sevilla facing off with PSV Eindhoven.

Free Kicks

  • Concacaf has announced that BMO Stadium, Dignity Health Sports Park, Shell Energy Stadium, and Snapdragon Stadium will be the four venues that will host matches for the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.
  • Barcelona midfielder Gavi will be sidelined for up to 10 months after undergoing knee surgery after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee.
  • The International Football Association Board approved a trial for sin bins, meaning players punished for dissent or specific tactical offense would be temporarily removed from the match for a set amount of minutes.
  • You have got to see this goal from Cwrt Rawlin FC in the Welsh seventh division.

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

Continue Reading