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Orlando City

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



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.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/29/23

Orlando City prepares for CF Montreal, learning more about Duncan McGuire, Jack Lynn named to MLS NEXT Pro Best XI, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

It’s Friday, which means we’re just one day away from a pretty busy weekend of Orlando soccer. It should be a pretty fun next few days, with Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Orlando City B all in action. I don’t have many weekend plans beyond working and getting some writing and reading done. Let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Prepares for CF Montreal

Orlando City hosts CF Montreal tomorrow night in a showdown between two Eastern Conference teams with just four games remaining this season. It’s the second match between the two teams this year, with Montreal beating the Lions 2-0 in Canada on May 6. In the time since that game, the Lions have only lost three games this season and have not been defeated at home since April 22. Orlando’s next win will be Head Coach Oscar Pareja’s 60th with the Lions, and tomorrow’s match could also break club records for most wins and points in a season. A win for the Lions would be massive to put some breathing room between them and the other top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Get to Know Duncan McGuire

Orlando forward Duncan McGuire was the latest to go under the microscope as part of the club’s video series to learn more about the players. The rookie spoke on his upbringing as a middle child, as well as how he turned to soccer after struggling in other sports. McGuire also talked about his acrobatic goal celebrations and a clip is included of a time he didn’t quite stick the landing after scoring for Creighton. It’s a pretty fun interview, as he gave some details on how Mason Stajduhar is a quick learner when it comes to golf and how he wants to go out to dinner with Ana de Armas.

Jack Lynn Makes MLS NEXT Pro Best XI

Orlando City B forward Jack Lynn was named to the MLS NEXT Pro’s Best XI for the second straight year. Lynn fueled OCB’s offense this season, scoring 19 goals to help the Young Lions claim a spot in the playoffs. No MLS NEXT Pro player has scored more goals since the league’s inaugural season last year than Lynn, who has 34 goals under his belt. The 23-year-old is joined on the front line of this year’s Best XI with the two players he tied with for the Golden Boot, New York City FC II’s Matt Myers and Colorado Rapids 2 forward Remi Cabral.

Orlando City B Takes On Columbus Crew 2 This Sunday

The Young Lions will play their first MLS NEXT Pro playoff game this Sunday when they face Columbus Crew 2 on the road at 5:30 p.m. It will be the third and final match between the two sides this year, with each claiming a big win over the other earlier in the season. No team that qualified for the playoffs has lost more road games than OCB this season, which may be why Columbus elected to face Orlando. However, Orlando’s offense has been electric at times this year thanks to Lynn, Shak Mohammed, Wilfredo Rivera, and others. Sunday may be another wild game with the Young Lions involved and you can check it out on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Tahir Reid-Brown Called Up for Training Camp

United States U-17 Men’s National Team Head Coach Gonzalo Segares called up 20 players for a training camp in Brazil to prepare for the U-17 World Cup in November. OCB defender Tahir Reid-Brown was the lone Orlando representative called up for this camp. The 17-year-old was called up to the U-17 team earlier this April for a training camp in Florida. He’s had an impressive year, earning a spot in the MLS NEXT All-Star Game and making 10 appearances for OCB. The U.S. will take on Brazil on Oct. 4 and Oct. 6 in a pair of friendlies during this camp.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City center back Rodrigo Schlegel unveiled the meaning behind his tattoos, including the ones for his parents and his biggest moments as a Lion.

That’s all I have for you today. Hopefully the weather plays nice this weekend and you’re able to do everything you have planned. Have a great Friday!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points against CF Montreal this Saturday in Exploria Stadium?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City hosts CF Montreal in the second-to-last home match of the 2023 MLS regular season at Exploria Stadium this Saturday night. The Lions have already secured a spot in the playoffs but are now fighting for home field advantage. Montreal is currently sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and is fighting for a playoff spot.

What does Orlando City need to do to secure three important points against the Canadian Club Foots?

Time to Make the Donuts

It had been a minute since Duncan McGuire scored a goal for Orlando City — and by a minute I mean since July 29. McGuire had a few opportunities against Inter Miami and managed to get one to equalize for the Lions and ensure a point at home. I do think he might have scored on another of those chances if he was fully back in form after his injury time, but I’ll take the goal. 

My hope is that getting that goal will remind him that he can score goals when given the opportunity, and he will be better about finishing the chances he gets against Montreal. Sometimes it just takes getting that first goal to open up the muscle memory and to unlock the confidence needed in a striker. It’s time for Duncan to score more goals, and the match against Montreal is the first and best opportunity to do so since Montreal starting center back Joel Waterman will be serving a red card suspension.

Switch up the Lineup

I propose a change to the starting lineup — something Oscar Pareja does not do very often. Due to injuries and other factors such a move wasn’t possible earlier in the season, but I think it could work now. I have a ton of respect for Mauricio Pereyra, but he could probably use a rest to be fresh for the playoffs as the regular season winds down. 

I suggest letting Martin Ojeda get the start in the 10 spot, moving Dagur Dan Thorhallsson up the wing, and having Michael Halliday take over at right back. Ojeda’s play as of late has been much improved, and with Halliday healthy again, why not take advantage of Dagur Dan’s versatility along the wing. I think this move provides energy, a surprise for opposing defenses, and allows Facundo Torres more freedom. 

Same Old Effective Defense

Orlando City’s defense has only allowed 37 goals this season — which is good enough to tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. On the flip side, Montreal has only scored 30 goals so far — which is only better than Toronto at 24 goals. Montreal has a goal differential of -15.If the Lions play their normally solid defense in front of the outstanding goalkeeping of Pedro Gallese, Montreal should not get too many opportunities to score. There’s no doubt that we will see Robin Jansson and Rodrigo Schlegel paired together with Rafael Santos on the left and either Dagur Dan — or Michael Halliday as I suggested — on the right. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena can stop most attacks before they get to the back line. If Orlando City plays defense as well as the club did against Miami, things should be fine.

That is what I will be looking for this Saturday as the Lions take on the boys from North of the border. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/28/23

Ajax is reportedly scouting Facundo Torres, Orlando Pride focus on upcoming matches, Houston Dynamo win U.S. Open Cup, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this work week has gone smoothly for you as we get ready to bid farewell to September. It’s been a hectic week for me, but I started and then promptly devoured all of Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. It was a nice read, albeit a bit intense at times. I’m not sure what I’ll read next as most of my reading list is packed up for a move, but if you have any recommendations then let me know in the comments below. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Ajax Reportedly Interested in Facundo Torres

Orlando City forward Facundo Torres has reportedly garnered the interest of Dutch club Ajax according to Fabrizio Romano.

It’s not too surprising that Ajax, which currently sits in 14th in the Eredivisie with just seven goals from five games, has scouts keeping tabs on Torres. The 23-year-old has scored 12 goals this season, powering Orlando to second in the Eastern Conference. It wouldn’t be the first time Torres has received attention from European clubs and likely won’t be the last as he continues to impress with the Lions

Orlando Pride Focus During Playoff Push

The Orlando Pride are back in action on Monday for a crucial road match with Angel City FC. Both teams have 25 points this season, one point from the sixth and final playoff spot currently held by the Washington Spirit. It will be the first of three remaining games for the Pride this season, with matches against fellow playoff hopefuls Racing Louisville and the Houston Dash set for later in October. As a result, there’s not much margin for error if the Pride wish to make the playoffs and Kylie Strom talked about how the team is focused for these games.

MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs Begin This Weekend

The first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs kicks off this weekend with six matches that can all be watched on MLS Season Pass. Unlike last year, Orlando City B will be taking part and is set to face off with Columbus Crew 2 on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Although the Young Lions have struggled on the road against Columbus, Jack Lynn and Shak Mohammed can make things difficult for the hosts. Hopefully we’ll see OCB make Columbus regret its choice of opponent in the postseason. I like the wrinkle and mind games to the playoffs the new rule gave and am interested to see which of the lower seeds plays with a chip on their shoulder. The playoffs begin on Friday when Sporting Kansas City II hosts Austin FC II in a battle between the third and fourth seeds of the Western Conference.

Houston Dynamo Win U.S. Open Cup

The Houston Dynamo have lifted the U.S. Open Cup trophy after winning 2-1 on the road against Inter Miami. A pair of goals in the first half were enough for Houston to win its second U.S. Open Cup title after also winning in 2018. A goal in stoppage time from Josef Martinez made things interesting, but the Dynamo defense did well to secure the win and deny Miami its second tournament title this year. It was a strong end to a solid tournament campaign from the Dynamo, as they beat four MLS sides before taking down Miami in the final.

Albertin Montoya Hired as Bay FC Head Coach

Ahead of its inaugural NWSL season next year, Bay FC named Albertin Montoya as the club’s first head coach. Montoya, who has lived in California for most of his life, served as the interim coach for the Washington Spirit in 2022 and also coached the U.S. U-17 women’s national team in 2011. Bay FC General Manager Lucy Rushton spoke on how Montoya’s name came up often while the club searched for a head coach, as well as how his skill at developing players will help build the club’s foundation.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja called for the supporters to continue filling Exploria Stadium and pushing the Lions forward for the team’s remaining home games this season.
  • St. Louis City midfielder Njabulo Blom won MLS Goal of the Week for his winner against Minnesota United. It was also the 23-year-old’s first professional goal.

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

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