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Orlando City vs. FC Cincinnati: Final Score 1-0 as Toothless Lions are Swept in Season Series

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Orlando City lost on the road for just the second time in 2022 at TQL Stadium — a place that has been more than kind to visitors since it opened. FC Cincinnati (7-7-2, 23 points) got a second-half goal from Brenner to lift the hosts to just their third home win this season, 1-0 over the toothless Lions (7-6-4, 25 points). FC Cincinnati improbably swept the season series after never tasting victory previously against Orlando.

A win would have lifted the Lions to the top of the conference but instead, the Lions reached the halfway point of the season in a precarious position due to having played more games than the teams around them in the standings. That includes Cincinnati, which pulled within two points of Orlando with a game in hand.

“I thought it was a game full of inconvenience for us,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the game. “We were trying to overcome from warmups with the needs of changing players and things needed to adapt according to our game plan. But with that situation I thought we had a decent first half when we tried to control the ball with not much ambition moving forward, but in certain ways we controlled the ball. That’s something that we like.”

Pareja’s lineup included goalkeeper Pedro Gallese behind a back line of Thomas Williams, Rodrigo Schlegel, Kyle Smith, and Ruan. Cesar Araujo and Junior Urso were deployed in the central midfield behind an attacking midfield line of Jake Mulraney, Andres Perea, and Facundo Torres, with Ercan Kara up top. Although not on the availability report, Mauricio Pereyra was not in the game day lineup.

An Orlando City spokesman said Mauricio Pereyra is being held out of the lineup for precautionary reasons. Additionally, Joao Moutinho experienced pain during warmups and was held out of the match.

However, center back Antonio Carlos did make the bench for the first time since sustaining his thigh injury in early April.

The hosts got the first good chance of the match on a corner in a sixth minute. Haris Medunjanin sent a pass to the top of the area for Brenner, who was open on the set play but fired his shot wide of the right post.

Nick Hagglund had a great chance on a set piece played short in the 14th minute. Geoff Cameron was played to the end line by Ray Gaddis and sent it to Hagglund right in front of goal for a glorious opportunity, but Gallese made a huge save to keep the game scoreless.

Orlando City struggled to break down Cincinnati’s back line, with slow movement, sloppy touches, and a lack of runs allowing the hosts to stay compact and organized. As a result, the Lions never looked a threat to score except during a play in the 31st minute, in which Mulraney was offside in the buildup. That sequence ended with Kara firing a hard shot that Roman Celentano saved. It was a good stop but Kara’s shot was too close to the keeper, giving him a chance. Also…you know…offside on Mulraney.

In the 33rd minute, the Lions did well to clear a set piece and looked to have a great counter opportunity, but Perea spoiled it with an extremely heavy touch in the open field, allowing John Nelson to come over and make a sliding tackle to break things up.

After that brief attacking phase, Cincinnati got two golden opportunities to open the scoring but Gallese thwarted both. Alvaro Barreal was left all alone at the top of the area when he took a pass from Brandon Vazquez. He had plenty of time to line up his shot but Gallese made a big stop to keep it scoreless.

On the ensuing corner kick, Hagglund was all alone at the back post for a free header, shaking free of Williams, but Gallese made his best save of the half from point-blank range, and the Lions cleared the rebound.

Orlando finally got a shot attempt on goal a few seconds into injury time, when Mulraney got his head on a cross near the top of the area. His shot was on target but had little power on it and gave Celentano no trouble. It was the last action of the half.

The Lions held more possession (56.4%-43.6%), but generated next to nothing in the attack despite having much more of the ball. The Lions were also more accurate in the passing game (83.8%-81.4%), while Cincinnati had more shot attempts (5-3), shots on target (3-1), and corners (3-0).

Carlos made his return to start the second half, coming on for Williams. Benji Michel also replaced Mulraney.

Not much changed in the run of play in the second period. Torres did get an opening to go for goal from distance in the 51st but he scuffed the shot and it didn’t trouble goal.

Two minutes later, Gallese again came up huge. Vazquez cut across Schlegel and got a powerful header on target at the near post. Gallese stopped it and then stuck out a foot to deny a rebound opportunity, allowing his defense to clean things up.

Luciano Acosta came on as a sub for the hosts and his movement and passing opened things up for Cincinnati. He bounced a shot in on goal from long range with one of his first touches, that didn’t trouble Gallese, but he was a handful.

The Lions finally got a through ball to Kara in the 60th minute, but like Torres earlier, he scuffed the shot attempt. It ended up on goal but very slowly and easily for Celentano. That was it for Kara, as he was replaced shortly thereafter by Alexandre Pato.

Acosta shook free at the left corner of the box in the 64th minute and fizzed a curling shot just over the bar. But moments later the hosts found a breakthrough. Urso turned the ball over in his half and Cincinnati made the Lions pay for it. Acosta took a shot that deflected toward the near post and Gallese got over to stop it but he couldn’t handle the rebound. Acosta got to it first and sent it in front to Brenner, who got away from Schlegel. Brenner only had to redirect it in from point-blank range to make it 1-0.

“I think I did a good job with those eight saves, but obviously a shame that I wasn’t able to help the team on that one that got through,” Gallese said through a club interpreter. “A little bit of frustration there.”

Pato took a shot from outside the area that buzzed well over the bar in the 66th minute and then the match turned into a spell of Orlando passing it around without generating anything and then falling back to break up Cincinnati counters.

Orlando had a late opportunity to find an equalizer off a set piece. Although the service was poor from Pato and should have ignited a counter, the Lions quickly won the ball back in the attacking third and Pato was slipped in on the right. Unfortunately, the Brazilian had a poor touch that took him wide and his chance at a shot evaporated. He did well to cross it to Carlos at the back post but the defender’s header skipped wide.

The Lions kept coming but Pato’s uncharacteristically poor service on a couple of late set pieces and a wide-open chance to cross during open play from the right prevented any chance to rescue a late point. The latter opportunity was so poor that it ended up in the stands behind the end line rather than coming close to any teammates in the box.

Orlando finished with more possession (54.1%-45.9%) and passing accuracy (83.1%-80.7%) than the hosts, but FC Cincinnati fired more shots (14-7), and more shots on goal (9-2). Each team finished with three corner opportunities.

The Lions wasted Gallese’s stellar night, as the Peruvian international made eight saves, and most of them were difficult ones.

“In the second half I thought our roles changed,” Pareja said. “Cincinnati started having more of the ball. And then after the goal we found the reaction needed to be earlier from us and it was not much up front.”

Pareja took responsibility for the team’s poor movement and lack of ideas in the attacking third, but it seemed obvious that without Pereyra on the field, the Lions on the pitch lacked confidence in either themselves, their teammates, or both.

“As much as Mauro is an important piece of our team and he has that crafty game that opens doors for us in the last 20, 25 yards, we assume the responsibility,” Pareja said. “We have enough players that can create and then once again it could be as well the way I line (the team) up, the way that I present the plan, and I take that responsibility today. I did not feel I could help them to make sure we have that strength up front and where it could be position or just put people in places where they can have more possibilities. We were not creative today in those last 20 yards. Indeed.”

Neither the ball nor the players moved quickly enough to create any gaps in the Cincy defense and no one seemed particularly interested in even trying to beat an opponent 1-v-1. Sometimes decent shots were passed up in an effort to find a perfect one, and more than one opportunity to cross evaporated due to holding onto the ball too long on the wings.

For all his potential as a player somewhere in the Orlando midfield, Perea just isn’t a viable replacement for Pereyra and there doesn’t appear to be one on this current roster, although there is more than one way to create opportunities that don’t rely on a Designated Player’s ability to see passing lanes that are barely visible.


The Lions will next take the field Wednesday, June 29, when they host Nashville SC in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals. The next Orlando City league game will take place July 4 at home against D.C. United.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Charlotte FC: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in a 2-2 road draw at Charlotte?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

On the road and up a man for much the midweek match, Orlando City was forced to settle for a 2-2 draw. Looking to build off a good effort that unfortunately was coupled with a bad result the last time out, the Lions headed north to challenge one of the best defensive squads in Major League Soccer.

Let’s take a look at how the players performed individually in the draw.

Starters

GK, Mason Stajduhar, 6 — Making his second consecutive start while Pedro Gallese is away representing Peru, the Homegrown goalkeeper put in a mostly solid effort on the night. The first goal he allowed hardly could blamed on Stajduhar, as a save likely required super human reflexes, as a badly missed clearance from the combination of Felipe and Ivan Angulo led to a wide-open opportunity. He was slow to make a decision to come off his line on the second goal, arrived too late and was chipped easily for a late go-ahead goal. He also had some strange tendencies to wander outside his box on plays the defense had covered and unnecessarily headed what was not a back pass out for a Charlotte throw. It’s best not to take chances when unsure, but that play was a toe poke to knock it away from an attacker, not a pass. Stajduhar made three saves on the night, with his biggest coming on a point-blank chance for Liel Abada on a set piece in the second half. He completed all of his nine passes, which included three long balls, and was credited with a clearance.

D, Rafael Santos, 4.5 — Santos had 101 touches in this game, good for third on the team. He completed 95.3% of his 85 passes, which is good, but his crossing was dreadful to watch, as the Brazilian completed only one of nine, overhitting several of them badly and sending a couple completely out of play. His only shot attempt came nowhere close to the goal frame. One of his passes was a key pass. Defensively, Santos recorded one tackle and committed one foul. He should have prevented Charlotte’s second goal, recklessly taking a wild swing at taking the ball from Patrick Agyemang and falling down to leave Robin Jansson to deal with two attackers. Santos exited the match in the 91st minute for fellow defensemen, Kyle Smith.

D, Robin Jansson, 5 — Jansson was unspectacular on the evening as was a good majority of the defense on the night. The Swedish center back recorded 68 touches and completed 89.8% of his 59 passes, including three of his six long balls. Defensively, he added one interception, two clearances, and one blocked shot while committing one foul. He played a role in both Charlotte goals, getting roasted down the channel to allow Abada’s cross that ended in the opening goal. On the second goal, he was in position to stop Agyemang, but allowed the striker to get past. He almost atoned for his mistakes late, when his shot from point-blank range was saved. It was his only shot attempt of the match and it required a big save from Kristijan Kahlina.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6 — Schlegel was the more sound of the two center backs on the night when he was in position. He was caught up the field a few times, including on the second Charlotte goal. With Cesar Araujo already pushed up, Schlegel was easily beaten by a chipped ball over the top that gave the hosts numbers in transition. The Argentine recorded 62 touches on the night, completing an impressive 97.9% of his 47 passes, including two of his three long balls. Defensively, he contributed a team-high five tackles and one clearance while committing one foul. Offensively, Schlegel added two shots, with one on target that nearly produced a game winner. His shot was saved by Kahlina, who was able to deflect it off the left post.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 5.5 — Thorhallsson started in his usual right back position, but recorded only 25 touches, as the Lions played almost exclusively up the left side. He completed 86.7% of his 15 passes and was unsuccessful on both his lone crossing attempt and his one long ball. Defensively, he added one clearance, two interceptions, and one tackle. Offensively, he recorded one shot, which was not on target. Normally one of the most involved players throughout a match, Thorhallsson’s presence was lacking in this one and he was ultimately sacrificed for a more offensive minded player in Martin Ojeda after halftime.

MF, Facundo Torres, 7.5 (MotM) — Torres got back on the scoresheet in a big way against Charlotte while being involved in all aspects of the match, recording 107 touches. He put all four of his shot attempts on target, completed 96.3% of his 81 passes, including four key passes. If there was one blemish on his effort it was that only two of his 10 crosses were accurate, but he did complete his lone long ball attempt. His pass into the box off of a well-weighted header became an assist on Orlando’s first goal, as Duncan McGuire was able to flick it home. Later in the second half, again trailing by a goal, Torres collected a corner cross from Lodeiro near the back post, took one touch, and calmly picked out the opposite corner to tie the game. This is the type of outing that Torres, the coaching staff, and fans have been waiting to see and hopefully one he can build on over the summer.

MF, Felipe, 5.5 — Felipe slotted into the starting 11, replacing Cesar Araujo. He recorded 24 touches and completed all of his 21 passes, including one long ball. Defensively, he recorded one clearance. His sliding clearance attempt failed to deal with Abada’s cross on the first goal, and whether he mishit it or was distracted by Angulo’s simultaneous arrival, only he can say, but it dropped his grade a bit. Offensively, Felipe added one shot that was off target. The Brazilian was injured after winning the ball and being tackled late and from behind by Scott Arfield, leading to the latter being sent off. Felipe was in visible discomfort after receiving treatment from the training staff, couldn’t continue, and was subbed off for Araujo in the 40th minute.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 7 — Lodeiro was the most active player in this game and for the second straight match, he recorded a team-high in touches, with 147. He completed 88.6% of his team-high 131 passes, including an incredible 10 key passes. Lodeiro also completed five of his 11 crosses, three of his six long balls, and one of his two through balls, putting on a passing clinic. The midfielder took one off-target shot and logged a successful dribble. Lodeiro logged an assist with his well-placed corner kick in the 81st minute that found Facundo Torres for the equalizer. He could have had a late shot at a winner in the 86th minute but opted to try to pick out Jack Lynn instead. Lodeiro did not log a statistic defensively as he was too busy making the offense run, which was contributed to Orlando’s problems. With only one true defensive midfielder on the pitch, Lodeiro was often up the field when Charlotte broke dangerously in transition.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 5.5 — The Orlando attack is at its best when Angulo is creating chaos with speed and overlapping runs, yet against Charlotte, there seemed to be less opportunity for the speedy Colombian to stretch his legs. The midfielder had 65 touches. He completed 92% of his 50 passes, including one of his two crosses, a successful long ball and added two key passes. He continues to struggle with decisions and turnovers in the final third, however, and clearly lacks confidence when presented with opportunities to shoot, as he failed to record a shot in the match. Defensively, he contributed two clearances, but he and Felipe both failed to deal with a loose ball on the first goal while not under any pressure from Charlotte in the penalty area. He was replaced by Alex Freeman in the 91st minute.

F, Luis Muriel, 6 — Muriel recorded 54 touches in his active role playing beneath McGuire. He completed 92.9% of his 42 passes, including three key passes. He picked up a secondary assist on Orlando’s first goal when he did well to pick out Torres on the left with a perfect ball. Muriel failed to connect on his one cross but was successful on his only attempted through ball. He was only able to get one of his four shot attempts on target. He was only dispossessed once, however, which is an improvement over previous outings. Defensively, he contributed one tackle and one interception. He was substituted off in the 83rd minute for Lynn.

F, Duncan McGuire, 6 — McGuire slotted into his usual role as the target man up top, recording 31 touches. He completed 83.3% of his 18 passes, including both of his long ball attempts. He only put one of his four shots on frame, which is a low percentage by his usual standards. McGuire had a gorgeous opportunity early in the match to give the Lions an early lead but smashed a shot wide of the net. It was a chance on which he should have done better, and he had another such opportunity in the second half when he knocked a good cross well wide of the near post with an open Torres making a run behind him. His only shot on target came in the 63rd minute and found the back of the net for his first goal since May 11 to tie the game at one. Ultimately, the timing for McGuire and his runs could have been a tad bit tighter but it was a welcome sign to see Big Dunc find the goal. Defensively, McGuire added two clearances.

Substitutes

MF, Cesar Araujo (40’), 6 — Araujo entered the match in the first half due to Felipe’s injury, and the Uruguayan managed 63 touches. He completed 94.6% of his 55 passes and was accurate on two of his three long balls. He also added three tackles and blocked a shot.

MF, Martin Ojeda (46’), 5.5 — Ojeda came on in the 46th minute for Thorhallsson and was unable to make the immediate impact that he had previously against LAFC, but it allowed the Lions to change shape. The attacking midfielder had 34 touches and completed 95.5% of his 22 passes. Ojeda was only accurate on one of his six crosses but did complete both of his long balls. He recorded three shots, which all failed to find the target, including a header which he certainly should have done better with.

F, Jack Lynn (83’), N/A — Lynn came on with seven minutes to go for Muriel. Orlando was looking for a game-winning goal, but Lynn was unable to help. He was able to get into a few dangerous spots, but his best chance was his only shot attempt, which he sent wide after he was sent in behind the defense. Lynn gathered the ball and slowed for some reason, allowing the defense to recover on the play and preventing him from going more directly to goal. Lynn had three touches on the night and completed his only pass.

D, Kyle Smith (90’ + 1), N/A — Smith came on in stoppage time for Santos to try to help secure the draw. He logged nine touches and completed 88.9% of his nine passes. The Accountant failed to record a defensive stat in limited stoppage time minutes.

MF, Alexander Freeman (90’ + 1), N/A — The young fullback came on in the 91st minute, replacing Angulo. Freeman put his lone shot attempt on target, earned a corner, and ended the game with four touches.


That’s how I saw the individual performances in Orlando City’s draw against Charlotte FC. Let us know how you saw the game and don’t forget to vote on your Man of the Match below.

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Charlotte FC: Five Takeaways

Here’s what we learned from a 2-2 road draw against 10-man Charlotte FC.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City traveled to North Carolina looking to get back on the winning side of things. Unfortunately, despite being a man up for more than 52 minutes and scoring two goals, Orlando City was only able to secure a 2-2 draw for a point on the road. It was not the result we were hoping for, but at least Orlando City scored some goals. What follows are my five takeaways from the match against Charlotte FC.

Worst Clearance Ever

Charlotte doesn’t score a lot of goals, but even the hosts couldn’t miss the gift-wrapped chance that Felipe and Ivan Angulo combined to give Kerwin Vargas in the 11th minute of the match. As the defender ran back towards his own goal, the ball came across and he tried to kick it out. However, he and Angulo came together at the worst moment. Felipe didn’t get anything on his clearance and Angulo was in position to intervene but perhaps was trying harder to get out of the way than to intercede. As a result, neither made the play and the ball trickled to a wide-open Vargas to slot it into the back of the net. Mason Stajduhar had no chance at the ball.

Red Card Call

Orlando City got a lifeline in the 38th minute when Scott Arfield was given a red card following a video review of his foul on Felipe. It was definitely the correct call, I’m just not used to PRO referees making decisions that benefit Orlando City, especially on video review. You would think that would give the Lions the advantage, but Orlando City did not manage to get a shot on goal the rest of the half. Things did get better in the second half, but it still took a while for the Lions to even the score. Orlando City really needed to take advantage of being a man up to bring home all three points, but it was not to be.

Welcome Back, Duncan

It had been 39 days since Duncan McGuire scored a goal for Orlando City. The last time was on May 11 against the Philadelphia Union. Fortunately, the dry spell is over as the young striker scored in the 63rd minute of the match — after a pair of uncharacteristic misses — to even the score. Luis Muriel chipped the ball over to Facundo Torres on the left side of the box. Torres headed the ball into the center, where McGuire managed to get a foot on the ball, redirecting it into the back of the net. Goals change games, and Orlando City needed that one.

Frustrating Defense

Orlando City was a man up and had the lion’s share of the possession and still managed to go down a goal again in the second half. On one of Charlotte’s many odd-man transition attacks, Rodrigo Schlegel got caught upfield on a ball over the top. Robin Jansson looked to be in good position but allowed Patrick Agyemang to get inside of him. Rafael Santos arrived and had a clear opportunity to knock the ball away, but he muffed his chance and his problems got worse when he fell, leaving a two-on-one Charlotte break. Agyemang found Brandt Bronico on the right side while Jansson tried to recover. He nearly got there in time. Stajduhar was late getting off his line and couldn’t get there in time. Bronico chipped it in to give Charlotte the lead again. Frankly, there were too many such attacks, and that particular one was horribly defended.

Ban Short Corners

Orlando City took several short corners in the match and every single one of them amounted to absolutely nothing. Alternatively, two corners taken late in the match resulted in two shots on goal, including Orlando City’s second goal to even the score at 2-2. Nico Lodeiro put his corner kick from the left all the way over to an open Torres on the right side of the box. Torres settled it and put it in the back of the net. Minutes later, another corner fell for Schlegel in the box and he sent a shot on target that Kristijan Kahlina saved off his post to keep the game tied. I’m just saying that perhaps one way works better than the other.


That is how I saw things in the 2-2 draw against Charlotte FC. What stood out to you in the match? Let us know in the comments below and as always, vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/20/24

Orlando City draws against Charlotte FC, Wilfredo Rivera joins first team, Ally Watt speaks on Black Women’s Player Collective, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Last night’s Orlando City match featured plenty of ups and downs, but it was a pretty exciting way to spend a Wednesday night. Hopefully the Cardiac Cats weren’t too hard on your heart. Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride defender Celia!

Orlando City Draws Against Charlotte FC

The Lions went on the road for a match against Charlotte FC and earned a point with a 2-2 draw. Matches between the two teams are usually close affairs and this one was no different, as neither team did enough to claim victory. One one hand, equalizing twice on the road against a stingy defense isn’t the worst outcome for Orlando. On the other hand, Charlotte played most of the match a man down and a win was definitely in the cards for the Lions. Hopefully Orlando can break this five-game winless streak when it hosts the Chicago Fire on Saturday.

Wilfredo Rivera Available for the First Team

Orlando City B midfielder Wilfredo Rivera is with the first team this week after signing a short-term agreement with Orlando City. He was an unused substitute in Wednesday’s match in Charlotte and will be available for selection in Orlando’s match against the Chicago Fire on Saturday. The 20-year-old signed a similar agreement in March of this year, but has yet to make his MLS debut. Rivera came off the bench in OCB’s match against Chattanooga FC on Thursday and scored a brace earlier this month while on international duty with Puerto Rico. The signing was necessary as Ramiro Enrique is on an excused absence for a personal matter.

Ally Watt Discusses Black Women’s Player Collective

Orlando Pride forward Ally Watt talked about her role as the team’s representative for the Black Women’s Player Collective, which is a non-profit organization created by Black players in the NWSL. Watt spoke on how the collective allows her and other players to provide opportunities for young girls that they didn’t have. One such initiative is the creation of mini-pitches to give more safe and equitable spaces for Black girls to play soccer.

Copa America is Upon Us

This year’s Copa America, which will pit the top 16 nations in the Western Hemisphere against each other, kicks off tonight. Here’s a great guide to each team’s notable players and chances to win the tournament. Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was noted as the star to watch on Peru’s squad. He has his work cut out for him though in a group that includes Argentina, Canada, and Ecuador. As for the U.S., Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna are key players for the team’s aspirations at a deep run.

Chuck Booth over at CBS Sports also ranked each team heading into the tournament, placing the U.S. fifth on the list. Argentina tops the rankings, and I was a bit surprised to see Brazil in fourth. Peru is last, but hopefully Gallese and Wilder Cartagena can help prove the doubters wrong.

Germany Advances in Euro 2024

Germany followed up its opening win against Scotland with a 2-0 win over Hungary to become the first team to clinch a spot in the knockout round of Euro 2024. In the other Group A matchup, Switzerland and Scotland battled to a 1-1 draw that included a great goal from Xherdan Shaqiri after a bad giveaway by Scotland.

It looked like Albania was headed towards another frustrating loss after giving up the lead in the second half, but a late strike by Klaus Gjasula salvaged a 2-2 draw against Croatia. Today’s slate of matches features a showdown between Spain and Italy, along with Denmark’s clash with England. We also may get to see Orlando City center back David Brekalo take the field in Slovenia’s match against Serbia.

Free Kicks

  • Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Ryan Gauld won MLS Goal of the Matchday for his strike in stoppage time against the New England Revolution.
  • FC Cincinnati’s Luca Orellano scored one of the best goals of the season with a pinpoint strike from downtown.
  • NJ/NY Gotham FC extended its unbeaten streak to nine games, with rookie Maycee Ball scoring a late winner to beat the San Diego Wave 2-1.

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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