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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. New England Revolution: Final Score 1-1 as Lions Earn Another Road Point



After falling behind on a Carles Gil goal, Orlando City showed some fight and earned another road point in a 1-1 draw against the New England Revolution. The Lions (6-5-4, 22 points) had opportunities to break the deadlock after Robin Jansson tied the match but couldn’t push another goal past the Revs (5-5-5, 20 points) as they remain winless in their history at Gillette Stadium (0-5-2).

Orlando is winless in its last eight league matches against the Revs going 0-4-4 in the regular-season series since September of 2017. That record falls to 0-5-4 when including the playoff loss to New England after the 2020 season.

Still, it was an important road result for the Lions, who stand at 3-1-4 with 13 points of a possible 24 away from Exploria Stadium this season.

“I think it was a game well played. We have the sensation that it could have been more than a point,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “We found in New England today, a team that wanted to play the transitions with players who were dangerous there. And I think we controlled them, but well-played by the players. The effort after 16 days without playing was much, much better and the rhythm was better than I thought and we’ll be ready for the next one.”

Pareja’s lineup was a bit unusual coming off the international break. Pedro Gallese, who played 120 minutes — plus a penalty shootout — on Monday in Qatar, not only made it back but started in goal. His back line was only three-quarters of the usual group, with Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, and Rodrigo Schlegel joined by Kyle Smith rather than Ruan. Junior Urso slid back into central midfield with Cesar Araujo after playing several games as a winger. Jake Mulraney started in the attacking midfield line with Mauricio Pereyra and Facundo Torres, while Alexandre Pato was a surprise starter over Designated Player Ercan Kara up top.

Pareja said it wasn’t an easy decision to start Gallese over Adam Grinwis after the Peruvian played Monday and spent half a day on a plane. However, Gallese beat the team to the hotel and made sure he was available.

As is typical with trips to New England, the Lions spent the early minutes getting used to the turf and as a result there were some passing miscues and poor touches. The Revs got the first opportunity three minutes in when Gustavo Bou fired from the right and although his shot appeared to be heading just wide, Gallese took no chances and knocked it behind for a corner. Nothing came of the ensuing set piece.

Bou got in behind the defense in the 12th minute. He didn’t make much contact with the entry ball, but he got a touch and Gallese did well to get down and make the save.

The first good scoring chance for Orlando took place in the 21st minute. Pato worked his way left to right across the top of the box and smashed a shot on target. The shot was a bit too central, which allowed Djordje Petrovic to make a good save. Moutinho found the handle and took a shot on the ensuing corner, but he hit Urso and the ball took an unfortunate bounce, allowing the Revs to counter.

Bou got around Araujo, who slid on the turf and was slow to recover when trying to block a pass, allowing the forward to get past. The ball cycled left to right to Gil and Mulraney played way too far off the Designated Player, who took his time, lined up his shot, and curled one just inside the upper left corner to make it 1-0 in the 22nd minute.

Orlando looked to pull that goal right back when Pato was fouled just outside the area. Pereyra took the free kick and sent a too-soft shot that gave Petrovic no trouble at all.

Bou was left in too much space in the 29th minute and fired a shot that didn’t miss by much.

Orlando pulled level in the 35th minute off a corner kick scramble. The ball fell to Jansson on the left and the defender dribbled toward the end line and smashed a shot from a tough angle that found its way just inside the right post to make it 1-1.

“I came at the back post after Rodri hit the ball on one of their guys, and then I picked up the rebound and just tried to get it past the first defender there,” Jansson said. “And then one-touched on the left and then hard between the legs on the goalkeeper. So yeah, I’m happy about that.”

New England lost midfielder Matt Polster to concussion protocol late in the half after a scary head-to-head clash with Schlegel. Tommy McNamara replaced Polster, while Schlegel was able to continue. Neither team was able to create another good chance in the remaining time before the break.

The Revs held more of the possession in the first half (53.6%-46.4%) and won more corners (6-3), but Orlando had more shots (9-4), with each team getting three attempts on target. The teams were just about even in terms of passing accuracy, with the Revs holding a slim 84.7%-83.3% edge.

Orlando looked good out of the break, getting more of the early second-half chances. Urso had an early shot blocked and it ended up with Torres, who got his shot on target but Petrovic made the save in the 48th minute. Two minutes later, a great ball from Mulraney nearly found Pato, but Andrew Farrell did some emergency defending to deny the ball to the Orlando forward.

The Lions should have had a free kick from just outside the area in the 57th minute due to a handball near the top of the box. The referee didn’t call it live and, because it wasn’t in the box, it was outside the jurisdiction of video review to correct.

New England’s first good chance of the half came on a set piece in the 63rd minute. Brandon Bye found himself with a free header as a backpedaling Moutinho couldn’t quite get to him. But the defender’s header skipped wide of the right post. Two minutes later, Jozy Altidore sent a shot from outside the area high above the crossbar. New England then had a number of crosses and set pieces during a spell in which the Lions struggled to hold possession.

The next decent chance for either side came in the 78th minute when Bye headed wide again.

Orlando’s best chance to find a winner came in the 80th minute. Smith found a loose ball on the right off a long Moutinho throw and sent a spinning shot on target, but Petrovic made a vital save to keep the match even.

The Lions survived a couple of late set pieces and the game finished all knotted up.

The Revs finished with more possession (53.3%-46.7%), corners (10-6), and passing accuracy (84.3%-84.1%), but the Lions had more shots (13-9) and shots on target (5-3).

Orlando was content with the result but realize that more points were there to be had. But the Lions did well to mostly contain the Revs’ strong counterattack.

“They came in a lot of transitions, and we knew before the game that they are strong in that (area) and they have some good players up there,” Jansson said. “You can see on their goal the quality of Gil there, but I think the longer the first half went, I think we started to control it a little bit better and then started to get better control of our game too. So, in the second half, I think we had some good scoring chances too. I think we created some chances and then we we started to get more control in the defense too.”

The Lions have a short turnaround with the Houston Dynamo visiting Exploria Stadium on Saturday night.

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!

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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.

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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.

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