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Orlando City vs. Charlotte FC: Final Score 2-1 as Lions Win at Home

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Ruan and Facundo Torres scored in the first half and Orlando City survived in the second period for a 2-1 win over Charlotte FC at Exploria Stadium. The Lions (5-3-2, 17 points) had control of the match until a questionable penalty allowed Christian Fuchs to pull one back at the hour mark, but Orlando was able to hold off expansion Charlotte (3-6-1, 10 points) to claim all three points in the first meeting between the teams.

Charlotte FC remained winless on the road (0-5-1) since joining MLS and Orlando got a much-needed home win, improving to 3-3-0 at Exploria Stadium.

“It’s good to get back to the good results, the victory, the three points, the goals,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “I feel very pleased with the effort of the players and just coming from a difficult result and getting this one is what we needed.”

Pareja’s lineup included Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Ruan. Cesar Araujo and Junior Urso took their spots in central midfield behind an attacking line of Benji Michel, Mauricio Pereyra, and Torres, with Ercan Kara up top.

Charlotte got off to the quicker start in the match, pressing high and creating issues for the Lions in the midfield. Daniel Rios and Christian Ortiz sent shots wide in the game’s early moments.

Orlando’s first chance came in the 14th minute after earning a corner. The Lions played the corner short and Pereyra sent a cross that hit the back post and bounced out. Torres sent the ball back in for Michel to head on target but his shot was no problem for Kristijan Kahlina to save.

Two minutes later, the Lions broke the deadlock. Michel got the ball down the left side and after a cutback, he sent a cross into the area to Jansson, who had ventured forward to start the attack. Jansson flicked the ball to the back-post side for Ruan to finish easily into the empty side of Kahlina’s net.

“On the goal, I just traveled with the ball. I gave it to Benji and then I felt like I can go on this one,” Jansson said. “I flicked it a little bit to Ruan’s side because I felt like they were pushing to one side a lot. I’m not the most technical one but I tried to do something for a big guy, and it went over there. I couldn’t hit the ball on target because my body was not in that position so I had to do something else.”

Ruan was booked for his celebration, which included donning a Flash mask. After previous celebrations with sunglasses and cowboy hats, it seemed a strange place to draw the line, but nevertheless the right back went into Fotis Bazakos’ book.

Karol Swiderski tried his luck from distance in the 25th minute but he was under pressure and didn’t come close with his shot.

Pereyra sent Kara in behind in the 33rd minute and the Austrian fought off Christian Makoun the whole final third of the pitch. Kara tried to round Kahlina rather than shoot past him and in doing so he allowed Makoun enough room to get behind him to block Kara’s shot.

A minute later, Rios got his head on a cross in the box but Schlegel did well to pressure him into nodding well off target.

The visitors got a late opportunity to equalize just before halftime with a corner kick, but it was Orlando City that pounced. Orlando cleared and the ball ended up on Ruan’s foot as the speedy right back got 15 yards behind his defender. As he approached Kahlina’s goal, he spotted Torres on his right and sent the ball over for the Crow to finish easily. Torres’ goal in first-half stoppage time doubled Orlando’s lead just before the teams headed to the locker room.

Charlotte held more possession (51.5%-48.5%), and out-shot the Lions (5-4), but Orlando City got more shots on target (3-0) and was more accurate in the passing game (84.5%-82.3%). Each team finished the half with one corner kick taken.

Charlotte subbed leading assist man Ben Bender on at halftime for Ortiz and the visitors were the more lively looking team out of the break. Bender took the first shot of the second half but didn’t hit it well and it was off target.

The visitors got their lifeline on a controversial call. A routine ball over the top for Alan Franco had no shot at success with Schlegel and Moutinho converging and Gallese waiting to collect the ball. There was contact from Schlegel and the opposing forward went down to sell the call. Bazakos was buying and for the second straight game Schlegel conceded a penalty and was booked.

“I think the second half was not the same as the first,” Jansson said. “They had the ball more and obviously they got the 2-1 goal, which was a cheap one by the way.”

Fuchs waited until Gallese committed and scored easily on the ensuing spot kick to make it 2-1 in the 60th minute.

“I didn’t think it was a PK at all, but it is what it is,” Michel said. “I mean, both of our guys were in front of him. I guess he fell or someone touched him. I don’t know. It just happened so fast. But I didn’t see anything that was like, you know, bad for it to be a PK, but you know, I think the ref gave it to him. That’s my opinion.”

Just after the Charlotte goal, Orlando had a chance to pull it back. Pereyra was fouled on the left side and Brandt Bronico was booked for the foul. Pereyra sent the free kick across the top of the box for Jansson who hit his shot with his first touch but fizzed it over the bar in the 61st minute.

Both teams made substitutions as the visitors looked for an equalizer and the Lions looked for more balance. Charlotte got some half chances in the final half hour but nothing terribly dangerous.

Orlando had two decent opportunities but second-half sub Silvester van der Water didn’t get all of his shot on target, giving Kahlina an easy save in the 85th minute and on the second opportunity, Torres was pulled back by a defender and Bazakos inexplicably called no foul, despite it preventing a transition chance.

Instead, the visitors took the ball the other way, won a corner kick, and Jansson picked up his fifth yellow card — meaning he’ll be suspended for the team’s next game.

The Lions survived a few set pieces and several long throw-ins from Fuchs, including one that came after an obvious handball on Charlotte wasn’t called. Orlando had to defend one last long throw, rather than taking a free kick, and van der Water was injured in the aftermath of the play that should have drawn a whistle. Alexandre Pato cleared the final Charlotte ball in and the game ended with the Lions on top.

Charlotte held a big possession advantage (57.9%-42.1%), finished with more shots (8-7), won more corners (4-1), and passed more accurately (83.7%-81%). Orlando City got more shots on target (4-1).

“They changed their tactics and we didn’t adjust to it as we wanted to,” Michel said. “But I still feel like we were able to manage them.”

Pareja’s team has fired just 10 shot attempts in the last two matches — both at home — and he said that still has to improve.

“Offensively, we need to get better,” he said. “It’s something that we recognize and the boys know that. If we want to become that team that needs to dominate and aspire to become a protagonist in the league, we need to get that better. I’m just trying to build from those good things that we saw today.”

“We need to continue building the victories,” Jansson said. “We bounced back good (from the Red Bulls loss) and hopefully we will continue to stay in the good way in the future.”


The Lions return to the road for their next game as Orlando City visits CF Montreal next Saturday at 4 p.m.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Cavalry FC, Concacaf Champions Cup: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions play their first competitive match of 2024 north of the border in the Concacaf Champions Cup.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to your match thread for a Wednesday night Concacaf Champions Cup matchup between Orlando City and Cavalry FC of the Canadian Premier League at Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia at 10 p.m. (FOX Sports 2, TUDN). It’s the first meeting ever between the teams and Orlando City’s first ever match against a CPL team.

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

History

There isn’t any. These teams have never met, nor has Orlando City faced anyone in the Canadian Premier League before.

The Lions will be experiencing their fourth international cup competition and their second foray into Concacaf Champions League/Cup, having drawn twice against Tigres UANL last season. Orlando bowed out of last year’s competition due to the away goals tiebreaker. Orlando City has also competed twice in Leagues Cup.

Overview

Both teams will be playing their first competitive match of the 2024 season. Orlando City is coming off a 4-0-1 preseason, drawing 1-1 against Flamengo before reeling off four straight wins against Rhode Island FC, the New England Revolution, the Houston Dynamo, and the Colorado Rapids. City reached the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 2023 and is looking to build on its most successful season to date in MLS.

Cavalry FC is coming off a season in which it finished top of the table in the regular season, but fell 2-1 after extra time in the CPL championship match against Forge FC. As far as CPL teams go, the Lions will be facing one of the league’s best, as you’d expect in a competition called “Champions Cup.”

“We’re very proud and very happy to bring Orlando City to this beautiful city and this excellent competition,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “(We’re) Feeling proud of playing in Champions Cup in Concacaf and obviously aiming for the best prize, and here we are starting the season with obviously a very competitive game.”

Pareja is suspended for tonight due to his red card in the second leg against Tigres in 2023.


Projected Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Michael Halliday.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Nico Lodeiro, Facundo Torres.

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

Cavalry FC (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Marco Carducci.

Defenders: Bradley Kamdem, Daan Klomp, Eryk Kobza, Fraser Aird.

Defensive Midfielders: Charlie Trafford, Jesse Daley.

Attacking Midfielders: William Akio, Sergio Camargo, Ali Musse.

Forward: Myer Bevan.

Officials:

REF: Juan Gabriel Calderon (Costa Rica).
AR1: William Arrieta (Costa Rica).
AR2: Henri Pupiro (Nicaragua).
4TH: Keylor Herrera (Costa Rica).
VAR: Oscar Mejia (Mexico).
VAR1: Erick Miranda (Mexico).


How to Watch

Match Time: 10 p.m.

Venue: Starlight Stadium — Langford, British Columbia.

TV: FOX Sports 2, TUDN.

Streaming: The match can be streamed on FOX Sports GO, the FOX Sports app TUDN.com, and the TUDN app.

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


Enjoy the match. Go City!

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Lion Links: 2/21/24

Orlando City takes on Cavalry FC tonight, Lions sign Jeorgio Kocevski, USWNT wins in Concacaf W Gold Cup, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you in Florida as we get to watch the Lions in action tonight in the Concacaf Champions Cup. There’s not much new with me this week other than staying busy covering high school basketball and hockey. Let’s also wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Takes on Cavalry FC Tonight

Orlando City will be in action tonight in the first round of the Concacaf Champions Cup, as it takes on Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium at 10 p.m. This matchup will be the Lions’ first competitive match of 2024, with their MLS season opener against CF Montreal set for Saturday. The Lions were knocked out by Tigres due to away goals in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. Cavalry FC will make its debut in this competition tonight and qualified by winning the 2023 Canadian Premier League Shield. The second leg between these two sides will be on Feb. 27 at Inter&Co Stadium.

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signed 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a contract through the 2024 season, with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. Kocevski scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time in Orlando’s final preseason match against the Colorado Rapids this past weekend. The midfielder was selected 21st overall in the first round of the 2024 MLS SuperDraft by the Lions in December. He played four years for Syracuse, recording seven goals and 18 assists in 71 matches. Kocevski is the only player the club has signed from the Lions’ 2024 draft class and will likely get some minutes with Orlando City B this season.

St. Louis City and Philadelphia Union Win in Champions Cup

Orlando City isn’t the only MLS team kicking off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign this week. St. Louis City edged out the Houston Dynamo 2-1, with rookie Hosei Kijima scoring the winner in stoppage time. The Philadelphia Union were on the road in Costa Rica to face off against Deportivo Saprissa and won 3-2 thanks to a hat trick from Julian Carranza in the second half. As for other tournament matches this week, the New England Revolution face Independiente in Panama tonight, with Nashville playing Moca FC in the Dominican Republic and FC Cincinnati taking on Jamaica’s Cavalier SC tomorrow.

USWNT Beats the Dominican Republic in W Gold Cup

The United States Women’s National Team got its Concacaf W Gold Cup campaign off to a great start with a 5-0 win against the Dominican Republic in Group A. Olivia Moultrie scored her first USWNT goal to give her team an early lead, with Lynn Williams giving the U.S. another goal before halftime. Moultrie scored another in the second half to earn her brace, and Jenna Nighswonger converted a penalty for her first USWNT goal as well. Former Pride forward Alex Morgan replaced Mia Fishel on the roster due to injury and scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time. The USWNT’s next game will be against Argentina on Friday at 10:15 p.m.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

The UEFA Champions League had plenty of drama as the round of 16 continued. Inter Milan won 1-0 in its first leg against Atletico Madrid at home, with Mark Arnautovic scoring the only goal in the match. In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund played to a thrilling 1-1 draw. The second legs for both matchups will be played on March 13. There is more Champions League action today, as FC Porto hosts Arsenal while Napoli takes on Barcelona.

Free Kicks

  • The latest MLS power rankings are out just before the regular season begins. Orlando City begins the season in the fifth spot.
  • Orlando City and the Orlando Pride announced fan experience upgrades at Inter&Co Stadium featuring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in merchandise shops, stadium Wi-Fi upgrades, and a jersey history experience.
  • The MLS Players Association released a statement on the ongoing referee lockout.
  • Here is the list of MLS Season Pass commentator assignments for opening week.

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signs its first-round draft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a one-year deal with three option years.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City SC announced the signing of first-round 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski today. The deal is through the upcoming 2024 season with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. The Lions selected the Syracuse midfielder with the 21st overall pick in the draft in December.

“Jeorgio has had a really strong preseason camp with us, demonstrating everything we saw in him when we were scouting him and analyzing his game in college,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “He’s done well working his way into the group, even starting in our friendly against Flamengo and holding his own against some of the best in Brazil, and we’re excited to have him with us this season.”

The box-to-box midfielder made three appearances this preseason, starting against Brazilian club Flamengo and the following scrimmage against USL Championship side Rhode Island FC. He came on at halftime against the Colorado Rapids last weekend, scoring the winning goal in the 90th minute.

Prior to being selected by the Lions, the Liverpool, NY, native made 71 appearances with 65 starts and logged 5,599 minutes for Syracuse in four years. He scored seven goals and recorded 18 assists, putting 33 of his 93 shots on frame. Additionally, he was part of Syracuse’s 2022 NCAA national championship team, playing 90 minutes in the 2-2 draw, but missing in the team’s victorious shootout over Indiana.

Kocevski had a breakout junior year, being named to the United Soccer Coaches’ All-South Region third team, All-ACC third team, NCAA All-Tournament team, and ACC All-Tournament team. During his senior year, he wore the armband for the Orange and was named All-ACC first team and ACC Co-Midfielder of the Year.

What It Means for Orlando City

Kocevski was the most likely pick from this most recent draft to be signed by Orlando City. The departure of club captain Mauricio Pereyra left a spot in the midfield and Head Coach Oscar Pareja seemed to feel the rookie could fill it from early on. His start against Flamengo was in the place of regular starter Cesar Araujo, who was on international duty with the Uruguay U-23 national team. He played against Flamengo’s best lineup and did quite well in almost an hour on the field in his first minutes of play at the professional level.

While a spot was open for the signing of Kocevski, he likely won’t see much of the field for the first team this season. In addition to being behind starters Araujo and Wilder Cartagena, the defensive midfielder will be behind Felipe on the depth chart. In all likelihood, the rookie will slot in with Orlando City B in MLS NEXT Pro to get some minutes, but there is room for him to start regularly with that team.

Kocevski is currently the only player signed by the club from the Lions’ 2024 draft class. West Virginia midfielder Yutaro Tsukada, Pittsburgh midfielder Filip Mirkovic, and Charlotte midfielder Riyon Tori remained unsigned, with the latter opting to return to school for his senior season.

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