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Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union, U.S. Open Cup: Final Score 2-1 as Lions Survive and Advance

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Orlando City got second-half goals from Ercan Kara and Andres Perea and held on for a 2-1 fourth-round U.S. Open Cup victory over the Philadelphia Union at Exploria Stadium. The Lions advance to the Round of 16 with the victory, after holding on following a late Stuart Findlay goal.

With the win, the Lions avenged the Union’s 1-0 win over Orlando in Chester, PA, in the 2018 edition of the competition.

“The intensity (of the game) just shows the respect that both teams had for the Cup,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “It was not far from the high level in the league and I liked it a lot. The effort that our players did especially in a very difficult match against a very good team, too.”

Pareja’s starting XI included Homegrown Player Mason Stajduhar in goal behind a back line of Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Michael Halliday. Cesar Araujo and Perea started in central midfield with Junior Urso, Alexandre Pato, and Facundo Torres making up the attacking line behind Kara up top.

Orlando fashioned the first chance five minutes in when Torres sent in a cross from the left that found Urso in front of goal. Urso’s volley was wide of goal, however.

The miss was representative of the first half. The Lions were sloppy in possession, often giving the ball away carelessly. Halliday appeared the rustiest of the players in the opening half, with a couple of heavy touches wasting opportunities to create something in the final third and some poor passes that could have been costly.

The Union had a couple of opportunities in the ninth minute. Smith was unable to stop a foray down the right side and the ball was crossed in to Daniel Gazdag, who hit his shot right at Stajduhar. Seconds later, Paxten Aaronson fired over the bar from the right. Cory Burke hit a shot off target a minute later as the Union attempted to take control.

Jansson made a vital challenge in the 16th minute to deny Gazdag a 1-v-1 opportunity against Stajduhar, tracking back to recover after a poor pass by Halliday.

Orlando came into the game more after that and finished the first half pretty well. Torres got the ball out wide in the 17th minute and made a beautiful cutback pass to find Pato in the area but his shot was blocked by Stuart Findlay. In the 36th minute, Torres sent in a corner kick cross that fell to Pato’s foot. However, the Brazilian’s first touch got away from him and he wasn’t able to get back to it to take a shot before the defense cleared it.

Urso had two chances to open the scoring in stoppage time. The first one came on another good corner cross from Torres. The ball fell in the box for Urso, who put his shot on frame. Matt Freese came up big with his only save of the first half to keep it scoreless. A minute later, Torres was sent down the right. He fired a pass across to Urso on the left. Freese came out to challenge and Urso’s shot appeared to go off of Freese and over the bar but the referee awarded a goal kick, so the Bear may have just skied the opportunity trying to get it over the diving goalkeeper.

The Lions held the advantage in possession (59.3%-40.7%), shots (6-3), corners (3-0), and passing accuracy (84.4%-77.4%). Each team put one shot on target.

“The idea was to keep Ercan up front in his natural position,” Pareja said about the team’s improved connectivity over the previous few games. “We wanted to refresh (Mauricio Pereyra), he has been carrying the team for this period. We gave that responsibility to Alex Pato to drop and help us to connect with Urso.”

Pareja’s strategy involved Urso playing on the wing, a position he has played in the back, and that helped stabilize the team on both ends of the pitch.

“He played in that position as a very natural winger, who gave us possibilities to step in the box because he sniffed for the goal,” Pareja said. “He gave us presence in the back, and the best part is he glued us defensively too. So, today it was a phenomenal game for Urso.”

Orlando took control in the second half. In the first minute after the restart, Jansson smashed a shot from long range but hit it into the second deck. But that was just the start of the Lions getting a firm grip on the match, continuing their strong finish to the opening period.

Kara broke the deadlock in the 54th minute. Urso sent the ball to Halliday up the right side and then continued his run into the area. Halliday sent a good return pass to Urso, but the Bear’s shot was blocked by a defender in front. Kara was first to the rebound, turned and fired it into the back of the net to make it 1-0.

The fans were still celebrating when Philadelphia nearly pulled that goal right back. Quinn Sullivan was left all alone near the top of the area. The Union midfielder fired but missed the target with his shot.

Two minutes later, Orlando doubled the lead. The Union were able to dispossess Kara at the top of the box but the ensuing clearance fell to Perea about 30 yards out. With no Union defenders around him, the midfielder went for goal and sent a cannon shot just inside the left post, beating Freese and making it 2-0 in the 57th minute.

“I’m so happy for the goal,” Perea said. “I think for me it’s a very good point to start for my confidence and now I hope this helps me a lot with all my games and all this work. I just saw the ball and my mind said, ‘Shoot!’”

The Lions again left a Union player alone near the top of the area shortly after scoring. This time it was Gazdag, who sent his shot on target but Stajduhar parried it away in the 61st minute.

Philadelphia then tried to change the game by sending in starters Julian Carranza, Sergio Santos, and Jose Martinez.

Halliday sent in a good cross from right to left in the 66th minute that found Torres, but his header was right at Freese.

After that, the Union subs started to give Philadelphia a foothold in the match. Aaronson got down the right in the 67th but sent his shot into the outside netting. Ten minutes later, just seconds after Pareja sent three subs into the match — Mauricio Pereyra, Ruan, and Joao Moutinho — the Union pulled a goal back. Orlando dealt with a set piece from distance but the clearance fell for Martinez. He sent a pop-up back into the area that found Findlay, who bundled it toward the back post, just out of the reach of Stajduhar. With 13 minutes remaining in normal time, the Union were back in the match.

Schlegel made a critical challenge in the 85th minute to prevent Santos from slipping in behind the defense and in on goal.

“They all made incredible plays — Kyle. Mikey, Robin and Rodri,” Stajduhar said of his back line. “Even Mikey. First half he chased that one down on the left side and toe poked it back to me and I cleared it. Those guys are incredible. When they make plays like that, it makes my job a lot easier. I didn’t have to make many saves tonight.”

Ruan had two chances to put the match away late. On the first, he broke in behind the defense with Kara on his left. He tried to make the pass that would give Kara an easy goal but left the pass too close to Freese. On the second chance, the right back had a breakaway on goal and again had Kara mirroring him on the left. This time Ruan kept the ball but never even got a shot away as Freese came out to challenge him and the Brazilian simply dribbled the ball right to the keeper.

The Union had one more good chance to equalize at the death. Taking a free kick at midfield, the ball was flicked toward the middle of the box and then headed toward goal. Stajduhar dove to his left and secured the ball. Referee Elvis Osmanovic then immediately blew the full time whistle.

After the match, Stajduhar proposed to his girlfriend, Tatiana, on the Exploria Stadium pitch. The goalkeeper said he had given the ring to one of the team’s athletic trainers to hold onto for the big post-game moment.

“Yeah, I got engaged,” he said. “She said yes. I was more nervous than before the game for (the proposal).”

Orlando led in possession (55.1%-44.9%), shots (12-10), shots on target (5-4), corners (3-0), and passing accuracy (82.3%-78.1%).

“We were more consistent in the whole game,” Pareja said. “Not just in the possession side that we wanted to keep the ball and have sequences longer and things like that, but just have the creation of options, and it was much more like us. A good time today to bounce back and now we will refocus again on the league. But today was a match that we enjoyed a lot and congratulations to our players.”


The Lions are back in action this Saturday on the road against Toronto FC. Orlando City will learn its next U.S. Open Cup opponent on Thursday.

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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