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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Nashville SC, U.S. Open Cup: Final Score 1-1 as Lions Advance on Penalties Again



Orlando City never does anything the easy way. The Lions needed a stoppage-time goal from Rodrigo Schlegel and a save in sudden death penalties to advance to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals after a 1-1 draw against Nashville SC at Exploria Stadium. Schlegel again donned his folk hero mantle with a 94th-minute equalizer after the Lions spent much of the second half trying to overcome Hany Mukhtar’s opening goal in the 52nd minute.

Orlando scored six times in the shootout, with only Andres Perea seeing his spot kick saved, while Alex Muyl skied the first Nashville attempt over the bar and Pedro Gallese made a diving stop on Eric Miller to end the match.

“We didn’t play well in the first half, at least 35 minutes where Nashville was much better than us,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “But, after after the goal, I thought we reacted and I want to recognize that reaction from the players. I think they had the personality to be patient and go through it. And then at the end, I thought we were a fair winner.”

Pareja’s starting XI included Pedro Gallese in goal in place of the injured Mason Stajduhar, who had handled all goalkeeping duties in this year’s U.S. Open Cup to date. Joao Moutinho did not make the lineup, so Kyle Smith lined up at left back next to partners Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Ruan. Cesar Araujo and Junior Urso handled the central midfield behind an attacking line of Tesho Akindele, Mauricio Pereyra, and Facundo Torres, with Ercan Kara up top.

Nashville dominated the first half from the jump, as the Lions played about like they did on Friday in Cincinnati. They were sloppy with the ball, made hopeful passes into areas where there were no teammates, and failed to create any threat to Elliot Panicco’s net. The visitors created dangerous opportunities off of needless and careless giveaways throughout the opening half.

The first of those came in the 16th minute when Pereyra turned down opportunities to pass out of pressure but instead held onto the ball until he was surrounded and dispossessed. The ball ended up with Mukhtar, who forced Gallese into a good save.

Orlando dealt with the ensuing corner and had a chance to break, but Ruan slowed as he approached the penalty area, allowing Nashville to get back into position and then made a poor pass trying to switch play to the right.

Nashville won a couple more corners and nearly scored when Walker Zimmerman got a free header. Smith was there to block the shot before it could find its way inside the right post in the 20th minute.

The Lions continued to give it away and Nashville accepted those gifts, fashioning dangerous chances. Sapong shook free in the 26th minute and fired on goal but Gallese was able to keep it out.

Moments later, Mukhtar got in close on the left side and El Pulpo did well to smother the point-blank shot.

Orlando nearly created something in the 33rd minute with the first half chance. Pereyra got into the right side of the box and cut a pass back across the six-yard box for Akindele, but his attempt to bundle it home was met with a sliding challenge by two defenders and nothing came of it.

Two minutes later, Gallese again made a big stop on Sapong to keep the game scoreless.

Randall Leal then slipped in behind the back line in transition on the right but fired his shot off target in the 37th minute.

Each team wasted a couple late set pieces and that was it for the first half.

Nashville led in possession (52.3%-47.7%), shots (6-1), shots on target (4-0), corners (4-1), and passing accuracy (77.8%-77.4%).

Orlando blew a golden opportunity to take the lead four minutes after the restart. Torres cut a ball back across from the right near the end line. The ball found Urso but the midfielder sent his shot over the bar, wasting the opportunity.

Moments later, Kara went for a bicycle kick near the top of the box but didn’t get all of it. The ball skipped over to the right and Pereyra was first to it, but it bounced just as he arrived and he couldn’t make good contact, sending it just wide.

Those misses were costly, as Nashville broke the scoreless deadlock in the 53rd minute. A harmless looking cross in from Alex Muyl found Mukhtar with Schlegel trying to wall him off. Since the defender didn’t play the ball, Mukhtar simply stuck his foot out and knocked it past Gallese to make it 1-0.

The Lions seemed to wake up at that point and had a good spell of play. Akindele got down the left in the 58th minute and found Kara in front. Panicco did well to come off his line and sprawl sideways to smother the forward’s shot.

Seconds later, Ruan made a slick move to free himelf down the right channel. He looked to have some options but spotted Panicco off his line and tried to chip the goalkeeper. Unfortunately, the ball sailed on him a bit and flew over the crossbar.

Torres freed himself for a shot from outside the area in the 70th minute but he scuffed the shot and it skipped harmlessly wide.

Nashville put more defensive-minded players on the field to try to see the game out and it seemed to be working. Orlando sent in passes from deep and the defense simply waited and overlapped with each other to knock them away.

Second-half sub Alexandre Pato had a great chance in the 90th minute from outside the area when he smashed a shot toward the right post. The ball started on target but swerved outside and went just wide.

As time wound down, Pereyra was fouled near the right corner of the box, giving the Lions a free kick. The captain sent in a cross that Panicco missed and Benji Michel nodded down. Schlegel was first to the ball and knocked it in to make it 1-1 in the 94th minute.

“I just saw the ball coming in,” Schlegel said of the play. “I saw Antonio and I saw a good header created a rebound for us, and I was able to get on the rebound, and thankfully I was able to score it.”

The goal sent the ball into extra time. After 90 minutes, Orlando held more possession (55.1%-44.9%), shots (13-9), and passing accuracy (81.4%-75.5%). Nashville had more shots on target (6-4) and corners (6-3).

The first 15 minutes of extra time didn’t provide much excitement, despite Sean Davis getting sent off with a second yellow card in the 91st minute for pulling Torres back to break up a transition play. Nashville packed their area tightly and repelled crosses and passes for much of the first period of extra time.

The closest Orlando came was a header from Perea just inches over the bar on a set piece in the 98th minute. Kara fired wide in the 100th minute and that was it for the scoring chances.

Orlando had more possession at the break (56.8%-43.2%), more shots (16-9), and more passing accuracy (82.8%-75.2%). Nashville had more shots on target (6-4) and more corners (6-4).

Jansson nearly put the Lions ahead in the 105th minute, smashing a shot just wide of the right post from the left corner of the box. Torres pulled a shot just wide of the right post in the 112th minute. Orlando couldn’t do much with a few set pieces with the height of the Nashville defenders in the box and the match went to spot kicks.

After 120 minutes, Orlando had more shots (23-9), corners (7-6), passing accuracy (83.8%-72.9%), and possession (59.8%-40.2%). Nashville still had more shots on target (6-5).

“No player wants a game to go to penalties. But we’re calm now and we can analyze the game,” Pato said. “We have to be more calm when we’re up a player.”

Kara stepped up to be Orlando’s first shooter as he did in the Round of 16 against Inter Miami, and he buried his spot kick to set the tone. Muyl stepped up first for Nashville but sent his shot high over the crossbar to give the Lions the advantage.

Jansson and Ake Loba traded goals in the second round, before Perea tried a stutter-step approach and fired too close to Panicco, who made the save. Jack Maher leveled the shootout at 2-2 after three rounds. Kyle Smith and Walker Zimmerman traded goals in the fourth round and Alexandre Pato and Ethan Zubak did likewise in Round 5, sending the shootout to sudden death. Antonio Carlos pushed Orlando back in front, only to see Dave Romney roof his shot to knot things up at 5-5.

Torres stepped up and fired home to give the Lions the advantage and put pressure back on the visitors. Eric Miller went sixth for Nashville and sent his shot to Gallese’s right. The attempt was poor and El Pulpo guessed correctly, making the save to send the Lions through to the semifinals.

“Very happy, obviously, with the (shootout) victory and going to the semifinal with this group of players against a very good rival, with the possibility to keep advancing,” Pareja said. “I think it’s a very good step for us.”

“I think it’s a situation where you have to be intelligent as a team,” Schlegel said. “You have to play each of these games in a way that you don’t commit an error that could hurt the team. I think this team, specifically in these Cup games, has shown that we’ve been intelligent, we’ve played that type of game, and continue to fight with these difficult moments.

“But more than that, it’s that this team doesn’t fear extra time. It doesn’t fear going to penalties, because we have confidence in each and every one of our teammates.”

Orlando City returns to league action Monday, July 4 when D.C. United visits Exploria Stadium. The Lions will host the New York Red Bulls in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals on July 27.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Photo Gallery

An album of images from Orlando City’s hard-fought draw at home against the Herons.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

The Lions brought much more roar on Sunday night to face their southern rivals but had trouble finding the net, allowing the Herons to nick a point even while short staffed. None of Miami’s high-priced talent traveled for the match after facing Toronto midweek, and physicality ensued, firing up the sold-out crowd at Exploria Stadium.

Talking with some of the other photographers on the sideline who had flown in for this match, they rated the Orlando atmosphere top-notch; in their experience, other cities don’t compare to the in-stadium fan enthusiasm.

The Lions were in “the net is lava” mode, with Duncan McGuire and Iván Angulo each missing prime one-on-one chances with Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender in each half, McGuire leaving it straight at Callendar, and Angulo badly missing the net after a missed first touch. So of course Miami struck first, with David Ruíz scoring early in the second half.

This fired the Lions up even more and Martín Ojeda pinballed McGuire in behind the Miami back line, allowing Duncan to do what Duncan does to draw the score level. The Lions generally looked the more dangerous team for most (but not all) of the night. However, it is scorin ggoals that actually counts, leaving both teams unchanged in their respective Eastern Conference standings. Orlando remains second at 14-7-9, while Miami stays in 14th at 9-15-5.

The Lions continue to control their own destiny in terms of getting a top-four finish as they look to lock up home field advantage for a best-of-three matchup in the MLS Cup playoffs.

With home dates left against Montreal and a sputtering-but-dangerous New England remaining, there’s still plenty of time to be part of that world-class gameday atmosphere by going out to support the team as they push for a strong finish.

We hope that you enjoy these images from a hard-fought, come-from-behind draw against Inter Miami at Exploria Stadium.

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Five Takeaways

Here’s what we learned from Orlando City’s 1-1 draw at home against Inter Miami.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City returned to Exploria Stadium after a midweek loss to New York City FC and had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Inter Miami. The Lions did well to equalize after conceding first, but will likely feel that they left opportunity knocking as the Eastern Conference remains tight near the top. Here are my five takeaways from the third Tropic Thunder clash this year.

Lack of Execution Plagues the Lions

Orlando’s offense struggled to put the ball in the back of the net in this match. That’s not to say they didn’t create quality chances, as the Lions served up good crosses and dangerous long balls throughout the match. Only three of Orlando’s 16 crosses found their mark in the end. The execution just wasn’t there when it came to finishing attacks, whether it be poor decision-making when the time came to play the final ball or just missing the target completely. Of Orlando’s 13 shots, six were on target and only a couple of those gave Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender much difficulty. Ivan Angulo missing the goal entirely after Dagur Dan Thorhallsson picked out a perfect pass for him stands out. Expecting every promising attack to end with a goal is unfair, but weak finishing cost the Lions from claiming a big win at home.

Corner Kicks Gave the Lions Headaches

While the Lions didn’t have any corner kicks in the match, Inter Miami had seven and created some of its best chances with them. In the 61st minute, a corner kick taken by Robert Taylor found Leonardo Campana all alone in the center of the box. The Ecuadorian forward’s header mercifully went wide, but it was indicative of how Orlando had its hands full on set pieces. Pedro Gallese had to come up with a remarkable save in the first half as well after Campana barreled through Cartagena to head the ball at goal. Even though the Lions didn’t concede from a set piece, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s something focused on this week just to ensure the team is organized enough to overcome uncalled fouls without needing its star goalkeeper or some luck.

Plenty of Physicality in Rivalry Match

It was easy to tell these two teams didn’t care much for each other, as they both fought hard on and off the ball. There were 27 fouls and seven yellow cards handed out by referee Armando Villarreal. Miami committed 16 of those fouls and received five of the yellow cards as they did whatever it took to slow down Orlando’s progress. Facundo Torres suffered the brunt of it and was fouled four times so that he couldn’t work his magic against Miami’s defense. It was the kind of physical match that can be expected of two rivals and made for an intense match that will likely have players from both sides seeking an ice bath. The Lions did well to stay composed for a majority of a very chippy match.

Duncan McGuire Shakes Off the Rust

Forward Duncan McGuire got back to his scoring ways with a crucial equalizer for his ninth goal of the MLS season. It was an important goal for reasons beyond the scoreline as well, as McGuire had squandered a golden opportunity to score earlier in the match by not being able to get his shot past Callender. He was also kicking himself for not getting on the end of a few other chances as well. His 84 minutes on the field were the most from him in one game this season, and the Lions will need him more often now that Ercan Kara is in Turkey. It was the rookie’s first goal since July and, although not perfect, the kind of performance to build upon moving forward.

Orlando Showcased Its Depth and Versatility

Head Coach Oscar Pareja switched things up at halftime, replacing Cesar Araujo with Martin Ojeda and having Mauricio Pereyra sit a bit deeper in the midfield to potentially create chances on the break a bit quicker using his service. Although Ojeda didn’t get a goal or an assist, his presence was notable on both sides of the ball and he played a key role in Orlando’s goal. Having a player of his caliber able to come off the bench has been a boon for Orlando this season, letting Pareja really kickstart the changes he wants to make to the team. Similar things could be said about Orlando’s other substitutes: Junior Urso, Ramiro Enrique, Gaston Gonzalez, and Michael Halliday. Their energy and skill kept Orlando pushing for more and gave the sense that a winner would have come had the game lasted a bit longer.

That’s what I took away from Orlando’s 1-1 draw with Inter Miami. Let me know what you gathered from the match in the comments below

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/25/23

Orlando City draws with Inter Miami, Viviana Villacorta out for the season, OCB wins last game of the regular season, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Last night’s Orlando City match wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst either. It’s a pretty fitting feeling on a Monday, as we all get back into the swing of the work week after a nice weekend of soccer. There are plenty of ups and downs from a rollercoaster Sunday, so let’s dive right into today’s links!

Orlando City Draws With Inter Miami

In the latest edition of the Tropic Thunder rivalry, Orlando City and Inter Miami split the points at Exploria Stadium in a 1-1 result. Miami struck first, but the Lions did well to find an equalizer, even though they couldn’t find a winner in the end. It wasn’t Orlando’s best game by any means, but it was a decent response to a 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC. Orlando now has 51 points, tying its club record for the most points in a season, set in 2021. The Lions will have a chance to break that record on Saturday when they host CF Montreal.

Viviana Villacorta Out for the Season

Orlando Pride midfielder Viviana Villacorta will miss the remainder of the NWSL season after suffering an ACL tear in her left knee during training. The 24-year-old was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft, but was not able to make her debut until 2022 due to sustained an ACL tear in her right knee that kept her out for all of the 2021 season. This year, she has 21 appearances across all competitions for the Pride and notched the first assist of her career in a big road win against the San Diego Wave on April 29. This is a tough blow to the Pride’s midfield with just three games remaining as she has ended her season early due to injury for the third straight year. The Pride are only a point out of a playoff spot and are back in action on Oct. 2 against Angel City FC.

Orlando City B Wins On Decision Day

On the final day of the MLS NEXT Pro regular season, Orlando City B won 2-1 at home over FC Cincinnati 2. The Young Lions had already clinched a spot in the postseason heading into this match, but the win secured their spot as the fifth seed. Jack Lynn briefly held the Golden Boot lead after scoring, but ended up tied at 19 goals with New York City FC II’s Matt Myers and Colorado Rapids 2’s Remi Cabral. The trio ended in a three-way tie for the league’s Golden Boot honors. OCB will hit the road for its first MLS NEXT Pro playoff game, although the opponent is not yet known thanks to the new rule where higher seeds choose which team they want to face.

USWNT Wins in Megan Rapinoe’s Final Match

The United States Women’s National Team beat South Africa in a 2-0 win at Soldier Field. Trinity Rodman and Emily Sonnett scored and the defense did well to secure its second shutout against South Africa after a 3-0 win this past Thursday. This game also marked forward Megan Rapinoe’s final game with the USWNT, with the 38-year-old subbed off for the last time in the 54th minute. These were solid wins from the USWNT following the World Cup and it will aim to keep the momentum rolling next month in a pair of friendlies against Colombia.

Free Kicks

  • Three Orlando City academy sides came up with shutout victories this weekend.
  • Before the USWNT’s friendly with South Africa, U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker stated that plans remain in place for a new head coach to be at the helm in time for the training camp in December
  • American midfielder Yunus Musah did well in his AC Milan debut, playing all 90 minutes in a 1-0 win over Verona.
  • A match in the Netherlands between Ajax and Feyenoord had to be abandoned due to fans throwing fireworks onto the field while Feyenoord led 3-0. According to police, tear gas had to be used to stop unrest outside the stadium after the match, and Ajax later fired Sven Mislintat, its director of soccer.
  • Newcastle became the first English Premier League team to have eight different players score in a match after crushing Sheffield United, 8-0.
  • Atletico Madrid ended Real Madrid’s perfect start to the season by beating its rival 3-1, with Alvaro Morata bagging a brace.

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have an easy Monday and rest of your week!

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