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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: 4/12/24

Orlando Pride play in Utah tonight, Orlando City B earns a point, Europa League quarterfinals begin, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Friday! I hope this week has gone smoothly for you as we gear up for even more Orlando soccer tonight and tomorrow. It should be a nice next few days, even if I’m working for most of it. I don’t have many plans outside of work beyond bonding with my cat and trying a new stuffed bread recipe. Let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world!

Orlando Pride Play the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride are on the road tonight for a showdown with the Utah Royals at 9:30 p.m., and you can catch the game on NWSL+ or through Bally Sports if you’re local. Although the Royals are an expansion team this year, the Pride last squared off against the previous Royals back in 2019, with Orlando losing all three games to Utah that season. This season, the Pride are riding a three-game unbeaten streak. However, they are also still on the hunt for their first win after three consecutive draws. While the offense awaits the arrival of Zambian striker Barbra Banda, the Pride have managed to score off of a set piece in each of their three games so far. While a draw on the road wouldn’t be awful by any means, hopefully the Pride can get a solid tally in the win column tonight.

Orlando City B Draws Philadelphia Union II

OCB went on the road to take on Philadelphia Union II and earned a single point after a 1-1 draw and penalty shootout. The two teams traded goals in the first half, but the Young Lions were on the back foot for most of the second half. While Orlando’s offense sputtered, the defense survived chance after chance from Philadelphia to send the game to a shootout. Orlando lost the lengthy shootout, 7-6, claiming just one point, but at least the Young Lions didn’t leave Pennsylvania empty handed. Hopefully OCB can return to its winning ways when it faces off with Crown Legacy FC on April 19.

New York City FC Stadium Plans Finally Approved

Plans to build a soccer-specific stadium in Queens for new grounds for New York City FC were approved by New York City officials. It will be a $780 million stadium expected to open in 2027 and serves as the centerpiece of a redevelopment project in the neighborhood. The 25,000-seat stadium will be right next to Citi Field, which has been one of the many home venues for NYCFC over the years since joining as an expansion side alongside Orlando City in 2015. It’s a bit wild that this stadium is set to open 10 years after Orlando christened its own soccer-specific stadium back in 2017. At least the Lions won’t have to play road games at baseball stadiums for much longer.

Europa League Quarterfinals Kick Off

The Europa League quarterfinals are underway, with the remaining eight teams squaring off in the first legs of their matchups. In England, Atalanta leaned on a brace from Gianluca Scamacca and stellar defense to win 3-0 against Liverpool. Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten streak stretched to 42 games after it beat West Ham United 2-0, thanks to a pair of late goals. The first match between Italian clubs AC Milan and Roma went to the visitors, as Roma scored early on and held on for a 1-0 win at San Siro. The only quarterfinal that wasn’t a shutout took place in Portugal, with Benfica beating Marseille, 2-1. The second legs will all take place at the same time next week, which should make for an exciting Thursday afternoon of soccer.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Orlando City

Orlando City at D.C. United: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn its first away victory of the season?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

Orlando City is back in action this Saturday night against D.C. United at Audi Field. Despite coming off back-to-back results, the off-week was well timed for the Lions. A little extra rest for the squad, plus giving players time to recuperate from various knocks should mean a nearly full strength Orlando City.

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points on the road against its Eastern Conference rivals?

The Dynamic Duo Return

Cesar Araujo returned to the Orlando City lineup against the New York Red Bulls, meaning the Lions should finally have their top choice defensive midfield pairing back together. The timing couldn’t be more perfect given Orlando City will be dealing with D.C. United striker Christian Benteke. He has five goals in five matches, which is half of the 10 goals D.C. United has scored all season.

So far this regular season, every match in which the Lions give up more than one goal has resulted in a loss. Keeping Benteke and the rest of D.C. United off of the score sheet is critical to getting a result. Orlando City can concede one goal and still walk away with points on the road, but only if the Lions manage to accomplish the next key below.

Goals are the Goal

To say Orlando City has been wasteful in front of goal is a bit of an understatement. So far this regular season, the Lions have 93 shots, with 27 on target, but only five goals. Orlando City has created scoring opportunities, but failed to convert them in anything close to an efficient manner. Of the five goals scored, Duncan McGuire has two, Nico Lodeiro has one, and Jack Lynn has one. The other was credited as an own goal on Lynn’s backheel attempt.

The list of players who haven’t scored yet this season is too long to type, but I don’t need goals from the defenders — though I will take them. I just need Facundo Torres, Ivan Angulo, Luis Muriel, and Martin Ojeda to get something going. Ideally, all four of them score in this match, but I’ll take whatever goals we can get.

End the Trend

Orlando City hasn’t fared well against D.C. United recently. Nearly a year ago, the Lions lost at home 3-1 to the visitors. The last trip to Audi Field was a 1-1 draw in which Orlando City gave up a goal in the 80th minute to settle for a single point. In 2022, Orlando City lost both matches to D.C. United. It’s time to get things going in the right direction.

The Lions also need to stop losing on the road. Losses to Inter Miami and Atlanta both came on the road, with Orlando City yet to find any points away from home. Last season, the Lions were veritable road warriors. The team needs to find that form again as it was a major reason the club finished second in the Supporters’ Shield race.

That is what I will be looking for this weekend as Orlando City takes on D.C. United. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/11/24

Learning more about Morgan Gautrat, OCB plays tonight, Champions League action, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I’m having a fairly stressful but great week after adopting my first cat and getting him all set up here. It may take a few weeks to turn him into a loyal Orlando soccer fan, but I have high hopes. Regardless, I’m looking forward to the gauntlet of games with Orlando City B playing today, the Orlando Pride tomorrow, and Orlando City on Saturday. Let’s get to the links!

Getting to Know Morgan Gautrat

Orlando Pride midfielder Morgan Gautrat was the latest player to field questions as part of the video series for fans to learn more about the players who wear purple. She weighed in on how she changed her game once she transitioned to the United States Women’s National Team at age 19, going from a playmaking attacker to a player who slots in deeper in the midfield. Gautrat brings leadership, experience, and a strong skillset to a young Pride team that’s built a strong culture around it. She also spoke on how Florida is her soccer home, what her spirit animal is, and the team’s aspirations this season.

Orlando City B Takes On Philadelphia Union II

The Young Lions are on the road today at 4 p.m. for an MLS NEXT Pro match against Philadelphia Union II. OCB last played in Chester, PA in last year’s season opener, winning 3-1 in an impressive victory. The team will hope for a similar result tonight to get back on track after a loss to Inter Miami II earlier this month. Philadelphia has yet to lose in regulation this season and has won both of its home matches. It should be a tough match for the Young Lions, but a great chance to climb back up the Eastern Conference standings for them.

Assessing USWNT After SheBelieves Cup Win

The United States Women’s National Team is moving towards the Olympics with plenty of momentum after winning the SheBelieves Cup and Concacaf W Gold Cup. There were plenty of parallels between the SheBelieves Cup final and the Gold Cup semifinal against Canada, one was just a bit more waterlogged. Canada used a late penalty to send the game to penalty kicks, Sophia Smith scored, and Alyssa Naeher stood on her head in the penalty shootout. The key differences were that Mallory Swanson has given the attack some needed dynamism after returning, and the defense struggles without Naomi Girma to anchor it. It was also Twila Kilgore’s final game as the USWNT’s interim head coach, and now attention will turn towards how Emma Hayes can elevate the team once she takes over.

Champions League Quarterfinals Roll On

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona both won in their first legs of the Champions League quarterfinals, although neither match was a blowout. Atletico Madrid hosted Borussia Dortmund and scored twice in the first half. Dortmund brought one back in the second half, but Atletico Madrid held on to secure a 2-1 win. The road team completed the comeback in the other match though, with Barcelona winning a 3-2 thriller against Paris Saint-Germain that included four goals in the second half. All in all, this was a great round of quarterfinal first legs filled with plenty of goals, and the second legs next week should be pretty entertaining.

Free Kicks

  • Andrew Wiebe was the latest analyst to dive into Orlando’s attacking woes this season. I personally think things will naturally improve once the team gets some rest under its belt and Luis Muriel settles in. I agree with Wiebe though that Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo must return to form.
  • The Champions League shouldn’t overshadow a strong slate of Europa League quarterfinals today. My favorite matchup of the four would have to be the Italian showdown between AC Milan and Roma.
  • English forward Rachel Daly announced that she is retiring from international soccer. The 32-year-old scored 22 goals last season with Aston Villa and has scored 16 goals in 84 appearances with England.
  • Midfielder Dillon Serna is hanging up his cleats at age 30 after a career that included time with the Colorado Rapids and Colorado Springs Switchbacks.
  • Manchester City’s Rodri is feeling the wear and tear of his team’s pursuit for silverware. Rest may be hard to come by for him during a congested schedule, and he hasn’t lost in the past 66 games he’s played in.
  • Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy shared the struggle he had after retiring, providing details on his drug addiction and the despair felt after he quit playing.

That’s all I have for you today on this fine Thursday. Treat yourself to something you deserve, check in with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, and have a great day!

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