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Orlando City vs. Atlanta United: Player Grades and Man of the Match

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Orlando City took an early lead on the road and then held on for a 1-1 draw against Atlanta United. It was a bit of a disjointed performance from the Lions as they were defensively solid but struggled to get much going on offense. Mauricio Pereyra scored his first goal in over a year and Pedro Gallese came up with big saves yet again to help Orlando get another result on the road.

Let’s dive into how each Lion individually performed against Atlanta.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 8 (MotM) — El Pulpo had three saves in this match and they were all stellar. The best of the bunch came in the 82nd minute, as he leapt to stop former Lion Dom Dwyer’s shot that seemed destined for the back of the net. He came up with a nice reaction save to tip a headed effort over the bar in the 38th minute and made a crucial save to deny Luiz Araujo during a dangerous 2-on-1 situation in the 82nd. The shot in stoppage time from Josef Martinez that hit the post may be looked at as a lucky break, but Gallese did well, making himself big to force Martinez to shoot from a tough angle. There wasn’t much he could do about Atlanta’s goal, as Juan Jose Purata had a free header right in front of the net. Gallese’s distribution could’ve been a bit better, completing 70% of his 20 passes while connecting on seven of his 13 long balls. Still, Gallese is our Man of the Match for his impressive saves on the road against a rival side that threw the kitchen sink at him

D, Kyle Smith, 5.5 — The versatile defender started at left back in place of Joao Moutinho and Atlanta found success attacking his side of the field. In the 42rd minute, Marcelino Moreno beat Smith near the end line and surged into the box. Smith did well to recover and apply pressure though, with Moreno going to ground in hopes of drawing a penalty that was ultimately not given. Regardless, it was a nervy moment in the match. On offense, Smith didn’t have any crosses but was successful on both of his long balls. Smith did fairly well when passing, completing 85.2% of his 27 passes, but he had an errant pass in the second half that ended a nice run of possession from Orlando in the attacking third. He played for 67 minutes before being substituted off, finishing the game with four clearances.

D, Robin Jansson, 6.5 — It was a decent performance from Jansson, who played every minute of the match and recorded a tackle, an interception, and a clearance. His best moment of the match came in the 79th minute when he made a fantastic sliding effort to block a cross from Moreno right in front of goal. Atlanta mostly attacked in ways he couldn’t make much of an impact, either by going through the wings or setting up shots from distance, and he didn’t participate in any aerial duels. Offensively, he completed six of his 11 long balls and was successful on both of his dribbles. Of his 33 passes, 75.8% were accurate and he conceded a corner by making a bad back pass that went right out of play. For what it’s worth, it was also Jansson’s fourth league match in a row without committing a foul or being booked.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6.5 — Schlegel returned to the starting lineup and put in a solid defensive shift on the road. He led the Lions with seven clearances and two blocked shots to help stop Atlanta’s onslaught throughout the match. Of Schlegel’s 33 passes, 78.8% of them were successful and three of his six long balls found their mark as well. The Argentine defender chatted with Atlanta’s players all game long and did a good job backing it up with some nice plays on defense.

D, Ruan, 6 — Atlanta’s offense went after Ruan early and often in this match. As a result, he led the Lions with five tackles and did a great job to put out a dangerous fire in the box in the 17th minute before Moreno could get a shot off. That being said, there were times when his defending was frantic and desperate as he constantly conceded corners to the opposition. Along with his five tackles, he had two clearances, an interception, and blocked a shot. Ruan also led the Lions with 56 touches and completed 74.1% of his 27 passes. His speed was once again an asset on offense, especially late in the match when it looked as if Orlando would find a winner. However, he only completed one of his four crosses and had four unstable touches. Two of his four long balls were accurate and he was successful on one of his two attempted dribbles.

MF, Jake Mulraney, 5.5  — Mulraney started on the left wing and looked good early on when taking on defenders. While both of his two crosses were unsuccessful, they were decent balls served into the box towards the far post. The Irishman quickly cooled off though, not making much of an impact beyond drawing three fouls. Mulraney had three unstable touches and just seven passes at an 85.7% success rate. He did contribute defensively with three tackles and a clearance before being subbed off in the 55th minute for Benji Michel. More consistency from Mulraney would have been great as he didn’t have a cross after the fifth minute.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 7.5 — It was yet another strong game from Araujo. He saw plenty of the ball, with 53 touches and a team-high 41 passes at an excellent 95.1% success rate. The 21-year-old was great when defending throughout the match, but his best moment came in the 64th minute as he chased down Atlanta on a fast break to make a critical tackle. It was one of four tackles for Araujo in the match as he helped support the back line. Both of Araujo’s long balls were successful and his lone shot was blocked. Araujo played every minute of the match and it was the first time since May that he wasn’t fouled.

MF, Junior Urso, 6.5 — The Bear was all over the pitch in this match, applying pressure and chasing down loose balls. The 33-year-old showed some tired defending at times as the match wore on, but he delivered a beautiful pass in stoppage time to set up Ruan right in front of goal. All three of his attempted dribbles were successful and he was never dispossessed in the match as he tried to build Orlando’s possession. His three long balls were all accurate and he completed 85.7% of his 35 passes. Urso committed four fouls in this one and was booked for the second consecutive match. Defensively, he finished with two tackles and two clearances. It was the third straight match in which Urso played every minute, so we will see how his minutes are managed in the future.

MF, Facundo Torres, 5.5 — Torres had a difficult time dealing with Atlanta’s press, making five unstable touches and being dispossessed five times. Neither of his two crosses were accurate and both of his two long balls were unsuccessful as well. He had 25 passes at an 80% success rate and just wasn’t able to provide much of an offensive spark that was desperately needed to keep Atlanta on its toes. Torres’s biggest contribution was winning the foul that led to Pereyra’s goal from the ensuing free kick. He was subbed off in the 67th minute while Orlando still had a lead. All in all, it was far from the Designated Player’s best performance and he’ll have to shake it off as the team continues its hectic July schedule.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6.5 — Pereyra found the back of the net for the first time in 2022, scoring off of a free kick just outside the box. Poor goalkeeping by Rocco Rios Novo left the goal wide open, but that shouldn’t take away from a superb strike from Pereyra that curled into the side netting. He fouled Caleb Wiley while chasing down a loose ball and the following set piece resulted in Atlanta’s goal. Pereyra completed 81.8% of his 22 passes and was accurate on just one of his five crosses. He helped out on the defensive side of things with four tackles and a clearance before being subbed off in the 85th minute.

F, Ercan Kara, 5.5 — The Austrian spent another match without much service, although the game’s flow definitely played a part as Atlanta dominated possession. In 54 minutes of action, Kara had 15 touches, seven passes at a 57.1% success rate, and didn’t take part in any aerial duels. The team certainly needed to find ways to get Kara more involved on offense, and some of that does fall on his shoulders. Kara did find ways to make an impact on defense though, coming up with four clearances and a tackle to limit Atlanta’s chances from set pieces. He didn’t have any shots in this match and that will have to change in the future.

Substitutes

F, Tesho Akindele (54’), 6 — Akindele came on for Kara and made some runs out wide to receive passes. One such run came in stoppage time as he won the ball down the wing, held up play, and then made a key pass to Pato for a shot that hit the post. The Canadian also did his part on defense to preserve Orlando’s point, making three tackles and two clearances. He completed 10 of his 12 passes for an 83.3% success rate, won one of his two aerial duels, and had 20 touches in a decent outing.

MF, Benji Michel (55’), 5 — The Homegrown Player replaced Mulraney, but wasn’t able to make much of an impact on the left wing either. He transitioned into more of a wingback role when Orlando brought on Antonio Carlos. He had just 12 touches and seven passes at an 85.7% success rate, finishing without any shots or crosses as Orlando had to spend most of the second half defending. Michel had one tackle and his speed allowed him to sprint ahead in transition while still being able to get back to defend when needed. He received a yellow card for a clumsy foul that gave Atlanta a free kick in a dangerous area, but Orlando cleared it.

D, Antonio Carlos (67’), 6.5 — Carlos came on to defend Orlando’s lead, but Atlanta scored just a few minutes later. During a free kick, Andres Perea kept Juan Jose Purata onside and Carlos appeared to expect Perea to stay with him. As a result, Carlos didn’t pick him up and he was unable to make a play on the ball. Carlos also had a bad pass that turned the ball over and required some heroic defending from Jansson to stop the threat. The Brazilian center back wasn’t able to wrestle Martinez off the ball in stoppage time, but he did help force the forward to shoot from a tougher angle with the match on the line. Carlos finished the game with four clearances, a tackle, an interception, and a blocked shot. Six of his seven passes found their target for an 85.7% success rate and he won his lone aerial duel.

MF, Andres Perea (67’), 5 — Perea kept Purata onside on his goal and wasn’t able to prevent the defender from having a free header. He had eight passes at a 62.5% success rate and neither of his two long balls connected. The 21-year-old did play a part in Orlando’s late surge for a winner in stoppage time. His three tackles definitely helped Orlando out on defense, but it was a fairly quiet game from Perea during a match where Orlando could have used some stability in the midfield.

MF, Alexandre Pato (85’), N/A — Pato wasn’t on the field very long, but he almost gave Orlando a winner with a nice shot outside the box that beat the goalkeeper but struck the post. He had 11 touches, eight passes at a 62.5% completion rate, and completed one of his two long balls. It wasn’t a fantastic game from him, but it was nice to see Pato look threatening after a rough start to this month.


That’s how I saw Orlando City’s individual performances in the team’s 1-1 draw with Atlanta United on the road. Let us know how you saw the game in the comments and don’t forget to vote for your Man of the Match below.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Pedro Gallese32
Cesar Araujo5
Rodrigo Schlegel2
Mauricio Pereyra4
Other (Let us know who in the comments)2

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Chicago Fire: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from Orlando City’s 4-2 victory over the Chicago Fire?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

That game was the most fun I’ve had watching this team all year. Orlando City jumped all over the Chicago Fire in the first half and took its chances well on the way to a 4-2 victory at home. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but it’s the best one we’ve seen all year, and it was exactly what the Lions needed. What follows are my five takeaways from the win.

Hot Start Pays Dividends

Orlando got things off to a hot start and had a claim for a penalty with barely a minute played. It ultimately wasn’t given, but Facundo Torres opened the scoring in the fourth minute anyway, and the Lions had a precious early lead. When a penalty kick was actually awarded to the Lions in the 19th minute, Luis Muriel coolly slotted it to Chris Brady’s left. Ivan Angulo’s finish from close range gave OCSC three goals in the first 30 minutes, and that big cushion eventually paid off when the Lions’ legs began to tire in the second half against the fresher visitors.

Facundo Finds His Footing

This was a much-needed performance by Facundo Torres, and continued his good form. He now has three goals and an assist in the team’s last two matches, and every time he touched the ball he looked capable of creating something. An encouraging aspect of his performance was that the two goals he scored were far from clear-cut chances and were more about him using his individual brilliance to find a way to create something from nothing. That sort of thing isn’t always sustainable in the long run, but the team has always looked better when Torres is oozing with confidence, and great players elevate their teams when they’re playing well. Hopefully, we’re seeing the start of the run that Facu normally goes on right around this time.

Mason Stands Tall

Even with the barrage of early goals and Facu firing away from distance, the game could have still ended in disaster if not for Mason Stajduhar. The Lions’ early lead meant that they didn’t try to possess the ball and press the attack as much as they normally would have, and Chicago found its way through the defense on several occasions. The Fire finished with 19 shots and put 12 on target, but Mason made 10 stops, tying a club record, and saved Orlando’s bacon in the process. He stonewalled the Chicago attackers on multiple occasions in both halves, and if not for Torres’ offensive fireworks, he would have been an easy pick for Man of the Match.

Some Rest for the Wicked

With Orlando holding a 3-1 lead in the 59th minute and Oscar Pareja having deployed almost the exact same team that he did midweek, Papi took the opportunity to get a few guys some rest. Muriel and his 33-year-old legs were the first to exit, and once Torres made the lead 4-1 in the 60th minute, 35-year-old Nico Lodeiro was only a few minutes behind him. Kyle Smith then relieved Rafael Santos in the 78th minute, and that was the last change Pareja made, having used all three allotted substitution windows. It would have been nice to get Torres and McGuire off the field with a trip to New York City FC on Friday, but Pareja would have needed to have made those switches in one of the three windows. He perhaps could have introduced Ojeda at halftime to save a window, but it worked out.

A Step in the Right Direction

It wasn’t a perfect performance, but it contained easily the best first half of soccer that Orlando has played all season. Chances were created, chances were finished, and when shots were given up at the other end, Mason was on hand to snuff out the danger. The defense leaking two second-half goals wasn’t ideal, but one goal came from an unlucky penalty kick given for a Rodrigo Schlegel handball, and the other from a miscue by a no-doubt-exhausted Jansson and an unfortunate bounce off of Santos behind him. There were other good opportunities for the visitors during the final 30 minutes when the OCSC defense was visibly out on its collective feet.

Orlando only took eight shots, but put six on target and scored from four of those, doing its damage early and efficiently, meaning that the team didn’t need to open itself up and continue aggressively hunting chances. Whether Orlando can continue to build off this remains to be seen, and the Fire aren’t exactly the best barometer for success, but the Lions have started to lay a good foundation in the last two matches.


Those are my big impressions from a fun match that had a little bit of everything. Next up is a desperately tricky test on the road against a good NYCFC team, and that performance should give us a lot more information about whether the Lions are trending in the right direction or not. What were your thoughts from this game? Be sure to make your voice heard down in the comments. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City vs. Chicago Fire: Final Score 4-2 as Facundo Torres Leads Lions to Home Win

The Lions woke up offensively and goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar made up for a leaky defense in a much-needed home win.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City’s offense exploded for a season-high four goals and Mason Stajduhar made several critical saves as the Lions defeated the Chicago Fire 4-2 in front of an announced crowd of 22,038 at Inter&Co Stadium. Facundo Torres’ brace paced Orlando (5-8-6, 21 points), which also got goals from Luis Muriel and Ivan Angulo to offset scores by Maren Haile-Selassie and Hugo Cuypers for Chicago (4-9-6, 18 points). It was just the second home win for the Lions this season (2-5-3), and a much-needed one.

While a leaky defense was a concern, forcing Stajduhar to make 10 saves — several of the spectacular variety — the Lions will take the home win after struggling at Inter&Co Stadium all season. The 10 saves equals Joe Bendik’s single-game club record set against Sporting Kansas City on May 15, 2016.

“We feel very happy with the result, winning at home in front of our fans,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “Despite the difficult moments, they came and supported us and I wanted to spread our message to them. That energy that they brought to us in a game that needed an extra push from us…a difficult week playing on turf three days ago. We knew that today was going to be a big challenge on (us physically) with the humidity and all those things. But we had a lot of positive things. We scored four goals. We started seeing individuals improve their performances. The collective obviously looks much better.”

Pareja started nearly the identical lineup that started Wednesday’s match in Charlotte, with the exception of Cesar Araujo stepping back into the XI in place of Felipe. Stajduhar started in goal behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. The midfield consisted of Torres, Araujo, Nico Lodeiro, and Angulo, with Muriel and Duncan McGuire leading the attack up top.

Orlando started quickly in this game and had a shout for an early penalty when Torres was knocked down from behind in the box in just the second minute. Referee Natalie Simon saw nothing wrong with the play and the video assistant referee determined no obvious error had been made without her going to the monitor herself.

It didn’t matter as much two minutes later when Torres opened the scoring. Taking a pass from Thorhallsson, the Uruguayan cut inside and smashed the ball into the far corner to make it 1-0. It was his second goal in the fourth minute against Chicago this season and his fifth strike against the Fire in the last four meetings.

“I think the first (goal) was a play that’s just very typical of me,” Torres said. “When I receive it outside like that on the wing, I like to bring it inside to try to give myself a better chance to finish and to find the goal. So, when I took it inside, I was one-on-one with the defender, and thankfully I was able to cut it just one more time and give myself an even better opportunity, which was just really typical of me and the way I like to play.”

Chicago nearly tied the match in the 11th minute. Stajduhar made a huge stop to deny Cuypers after a turnover by McGuire gifted the ball back to the visitors. After the save, Haile-Selassie put the rebound over the net.

Angulo blazed through the Chicago defense in the 19th minute and was pulled back by Allan Arigoni in the box. This time, Simon immediately pointed to the spot. Muriel took the penalty and sent a shot right with Chris Brady diving the other way in the 20th minute.

The Fire came within inches of pulling the goal right back in the 24th minute. Brian Gutierrez, who was given too much space multiple times in the first half, cut inside from the left and smashed a shot that crashed off the right post and stayed out. Two minutes later, he was left alone about 25 yards out from goal and sent a shot at Stajduhar from distance.

Orlando tripled the lead in the 29th minute. Thorhallsson whipped in a good cross for McGuire that was redirected on goal but saved by Brady. Angulo swooped in and picked up the loose change, putting the ball into the empty net to make it 3-0.

“The play was a situation where Dagur was bringing it in from the right and he was trying to cross it over to get it to Duncan in the center,” Angulo said. “When the deflection happened, it just kind of bounced to me and all I had to do was push it into the goal.”

Haile-Selassie was left alone in the box in the 40th minute and fired a shot that Jansson got a piece of, slowing it enough for Stajduhar to make the save. Two minutes later, the Homegrown goalkeeper made a much more difficult stop when the ball pinged around the box and was headed on frame by Cuypers from point-blank range.

McGuire got in alone on goal late in the half but his shot was saved and he was offside anyway. Arnaud Souquet then was left in too much space and sent a shot just wide of the target deep in stoppage time on the final look for either team.

With some long spells of possession late in the half, the Fire took a halftime edge (55%-45%) into the break in that category, as well as in shots (8-3), shots on target (4-3), and passing accuracy (93%-88.3%). Each team earned one corner.

Stajduhar was once again called upon to stop Gutierrez in the 47th minute and once again the keeper made the save.

A minute later, McGuire was nearly sent in behind by Santos but Brady was quickly off his line and got there just ahead of the Orlando striker.

The shutout was spoiled moments later. Schlegel and Jansson got switched up and each was on the other’s side. Schlegel went to ground to block a cross that hit the arm he was putting down to arrest his fall. Simon ruled that his arm was not yet supporting his body and therefore it was a penalty, and the call on the field was upheld. Haile-Selassie sent Stajduhar the wrong way and put the Fire on the board in the 53rd minute.

McGuire won a free kick near the left corner of the box after the restart and Muriel went for goal on the set piece. Brady got over to make the save in the 55th minute. That was one of the final actions for the Colombian, who was subbed off a few minutes later for Martin Ojeda.

Torres scored a fourth Orlando goal in the 60th minute, cutting across the top of the area and smashing a shot from distance that beat Brady. The four goals represents a season high for the Lions.

“The second one, when I receive it on the outside like that, I do like to hit it when I’ve got the opportunity,” Torres said. “Sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn’t.”

His second of the night was a milestone goal for Torres, who scored his 28th league goal in two-and-a-half seasons to tie Nani for second on Orlando’s all-time, goal-scoring list in MLS matches.

Orlando’s defense was visibly tired in the final half hour. Just after the second Torres goal, a series of defensive turnovers kept Chicago on the attack for about a minute but it broke down on an offside.

The Lions gifted Chicago a second goal in the 69th minute. A routine cross into the box should have been dealt with by Jansson. The Swede swung and missed at the ball, which hit the back of Santos’ leg and bounced toward goal, where only Cuypers was waiting. He swept it past Stajduhar to make it 4-2.

From that point, it was a matter of Orlando managing the game, and the Lions did so, but not without a few more nervy moments in the defensive end.

Substitute Kyle Smith turned the ball over in his defensive third in the 79th minute, leading to another Gutierrez effort from long range. This one had a lot of movement on it and Stajduhar punched it away. A minute later, Gaston Gimenez sent a shot through traffic. Stajduhar didn’t see it until it was almost on top of him and he had to make a sprawling save to knock away what might ordinarily be a routine stop.

Former Lion Chris Mueller sent a long-range effort right at Stajduhar in the 83rd minute as the Chicago pressure continued. One of the goalkeeper’s best saves came in the 86th minute. An aerial ball cleared the defense and found Georgios Koutsias, who tried to head it over Stajduhar, but he was able to get a hand up quickly to reject the shot with an athletic save.

“I think tonight we saw the best of Mason, and I know he has more than that,” Pareja said. “He has been very patient in waiting for his opportunity. And in this moment when we needed that position to step up, he did and provided us a lot of security. We were drained at the end and Chicago was taking shots, but Mason provided us a lot of security and we felt safe. So, congratulations to Mason. We’re very proud of him and his performance. He deserves it because he works tremendously hard.”

Orlando nearly added an insurance strike in the 88th minute. Brady came out of his box to beat Angulo to a ball over the top, but he could not touch it and could only knock it to OJeda, who volleyed it inches over the crossbar from distance.

The game entered nine minutes of stoppage time and Chicago kept coming. Carlos Teran had a free header right in front on a corner kick but sent a powerful shot at Stajduhar’s feet and the keeper was able to trap it. He made a long throw to set up the counterattack, which ended up with Angulo down the left channel. The winger tried to pick out the far post but missed the target in transition in the 95th minute.

Stajduhar did well to punch away a couple of threatening crosses in the final minutes of injury time and the final whistle ended the proceedings without another goal.

Chicago finished with the advantage in possession (59.7%-40.3%), shots (18-8), shots on target (12-6), corners (3-1), and passing accuracy (90.3%-82.2%), but it was Orlando that was more clinical in front of goal and Stajduhar was a difference maker.

“It was a difficult game,” Pareja said. “Chicago pushed a lot and they had a lot of sequences, and we had to defend lower than we wanted, but it’s a good result, especially in front of our fans. And hopefully we can continue adding points because we need to find our way to turn these things around.”

“It’s a great feeling tonight to get the victory,” Angulo said. “That was the form that we had been looking for, and it was nice tonight to finally see it come to fruition on the field and together as a team.”

Torres has come on this week, not only scoring three goals and adding an assist across the two most recent matches, but also putting all six of his shot attempts on frame. If the old adage that your best players have to play well for the team to find success, Torres is doing that now after a difficult first half of the season.

“(The game) gives us and gives myself a lot of confidence, especially for when you’re going through a period where you’re working so hard and things just don’t seem to come off,” Torres said. “It can get really frustrating. It can be really difficult to get through, especially a couple of weeks ago, getting left off the Copa America roster. It hurts, but the only thing you can do is pick your head up and go back to it and just work even harder. So, that way you can find those successes that are yet to come.”


The Lions go back on the road Friday when they’ll play at New York City FC.

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Orlando City vs. Chicago Fire: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions continue their search for a win at home as the Fire make their annual visit to Orlando.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to your match thread and preview for a Saturday night matchup between Orlando City (4-8-6, 18 points) and the Chicago Fire (4-8-6, 18 points) at Inter&Co Stadium (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the second and final scheduled meeting between the Eastern Conference rivals in 2024 and the only matchup in Orlando.

Here’s what you need to know about the match.

History

The Lions are 7-5-7 in 19 MLS meetings with the Fire and 7-6-7 in all competitions. Orlando City is 4-2-3 against the Fire at home.

These two teams just met a few weeks ago on May 29 at Soldier Field, playing to a 1-1 draw. Facundo Torres opened the scoring early with a scrappy goal in traffic, and the Lions should have had a penalty late in the first half when Ivan Angulo was clipped while in alone on a goal after rounding the goalkeeper, but the video assistant referee did not overturn the no-call and referee Malik Badawi did not look at the play himself. The Fire tied the match in the final 20 minutes on a Hugo Cuypers goal.

The Lions swept the two-game season series in 2023 by identical 3-1 scorelines. On Aug. 21, Orlando City got goals from Wilder Cartagena, Ivan Angulo, and Torres (from the penalty spot) to overcome a 1-0 deficit supplied by Mauricio Pineda, winning 3-1 on the road.

When the teams met in Orlando, the Lions rode a Torres brace to a 3-1 win on July 1. Xherdan Shaqiri pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after a Kyle Smith foul in the box against Brian Gutierrez, but Ramiro Enrique added an insurance goal.

Orlando City claimed a 1-0 victory at Exploria Stadium on April 9, 2022 on Ercan Kara’s first MLS goal. The two sides met at Soldier Field just over a month prior to that match and played, officially, to a 0-0 draw on March 5. The game is another Orlando City match that will live in infamy due to the Professional Referee Organization’s statement after the game that Junior Urso’s goal should not have been overturned upon video review by Ismir Pekmic due to Kara not having clearly and obviously handled the ball in the buildup in any of the available replay angles. Alas…

The teams met in Orlando on Aug. 21, 2021, with a second-half Benji Michel strike lifting the Lions to a 1-0 victory. Tesho Akindele set up the play by forcing a turnover. In that year’s meeting at Soldier Field, the Fire got the better of the Lions to the tune of 3-1 on July 7. Andres Perea scored his first career MLS goal to open the scoring, but a defensive lapse in first-half stoppage allowed Boris Sekulic to equalize just before the break. Chicago rode that momentum, adding goals by Robert Beric and Chinonso Offor.

The Lions were 0-4-4 in the eight meetings before smashing the Fire 4-1 in Orlando on Sept. 19, 2020. Orlando City withstood two Chicago penalties and saw two Fire goals overturned by video review in that rain-soaked match. (Weird things usually happen when Chicago visits Orlando.) The Lions got goals from Chris Mueller, Nani, Urso, and Michel, while Chicago had only a Beric penalty to show for an otherwise good offensive performance.

The last meeting of 2019 was the last time the Fire won on the road in the series. It was a debacle for the Lions, who lost defender Robin Jansson to a back/neck injury early and shipped a handful of goals in a 5-2 home loss in the regular-season finale. Orlando got goals from Akindele and Michel but largely played like a team that couldn’t wait to end its season. Chicago got an own goal from Orlando’s Smith and strikes from CJ Sapong, Aleksandar Katai, and Przemyslaw Frankowski (twice) in the rout.

Orlando City was seconds away from a road win on March 9, 2019 before Sapong’s free header in the 95th minute leveled things in a 1-1 draw in Chicago. Dom Dwyer scored Orlando’s goal.

In 2018, the Fire swept the season series. Orlando fell 2-1 at home on May 26, 2018, with Alan Gordon’s wondergoal breaking a 1-1 deadlock. The return leg in Chicago that September was an abysmal performance by Orlando in a 4-0 Fire victory.

Chicago went 1-0-1 in 2017, with the teams playing to a 0-0 draw on June 4, 2017, with the Lions reduced to nine men. The previous 2017 meeting was the Fire’s 4-0 beatdown of Orlando on June 24 of that year. David Accam figured in all four goals, with a hat trick and an assist on Nemanja Nikolić’s goal.

The teams split the points in 2016, drawing both meetings. Cyle Larin and Accam traded goals in a 1-1 draw in Orlando on March 11. The Fire again came from behind to draw, 2-2 in the return leg that August.

The teams met once in Orlando in 2015, with the Lions and Fire battling to a 1-1 draw. You may recall that five-hour, weather-delayed affair with Eric Gehrig’s own-goal canceling out an Accam strike. The other three meetings came in Chicago, with City winning 3-2 and 1-0 in MLS matches and falling 3-1 in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal action.

Overview

The Lions are coming off a 2-2 road draw at Charlotte FC Wednesday night. The hosts scored early off an Orlando defensive gaffe but went down a man late in the first half. Orlando took initial advantage when Duncan McGuire tied the match in the second half, however, another defensive mishap led to Charlotte regaining the lead late. Torres tied the game again but the Lions could not find a winner. It was Orlando’s fifth consecutive game without a win (0-3-2) but the team’s first point since the last game against Chicago. Orlando is an abysmal 1-5-3 at home this season, so the club is starving for three points at Inter&Co Stadium.

Conversely, Chicago is 2-0-0 since hosting Orlando City last month. The Fire are coming off a 4-1 dismantling of Toronto FC last Saturday and will be on a full week’s rest. That win was Chicago’s first on the road this year (1-3-4), so the two teams with identical overall records have been headed in opposite directions than when they last met. Cuypers has gotten hot and leads the Fire with six goals on the season, while Gutierrez has four. Fabian Herbers and Maren Haile-Selassie pace the team with four assists each. USMNT midfielder Kellyn Acosta has two goals and two assists.

“We played them not too long ago. Chicago is a team that has been evolving too. We understand that evolution since we have information [and analysis] in our game against them in Chicago, but I think we played them well there and I think we had another good game,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said ahead of the match. “We’ll try to improve some things and see if we can get better at those things that we’re talking about, being more precise and taking advantage of that volume that we had in front of the goal, but also just being cautious and smart defending them.”

The Lions list Mikey Halliday (knee), and Tahir Reid-Brown (thigh) as out on the availability report, along with international players Pedro Gallese, Wilder Cartagena, and David Brekalo. Ramiro Enrique (personal matter) and Felipe (foot) are listed as questionable. Chicago will be without Chase Gasper (leg), Andrew Gutman (leg), Tobias Salquist (leg), and Xherdan Shaqiri (international duty), while Federico Navarro (leg) is listed as questionable.

Match Content


Official Lineups

Orlando City (4-4-2)

Goalkeeper: Mason Stajduhar.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Midfielders: Facundo Torres, Cesar Araujo, Nico Lodeiro, Ivan Angulo.

Forwards: Luis Muriel, Duncan McGuire.

Bench: Javier Otero, Kyle Smith, Alex Freeman, Thomas Williams, Jeorgio Kocevski, Felipe, Wilfredo Rivera, Martin Ojeda, Jack Lynn.

Chicago Fire (3-4-3)

Goalkeeper: Chris Brady.

Defenders: Mauricio Pineda, Carlos Teran, Arnaud Souquet.

Wingbacks/Midfielders: Jonathan Dean, Kellyn Acosta, Fabian Herbers, Allan Arigoni.

Forwards: Brian Gutierrez, Hugo Cuypers, Maren Haile-Selassie.

Bench: Spencer Richey, Rafael Czichos, Wyatt Omsberg, Gaston Gimenez, Javier Casas, Chris Mueller, Tom Barlow, Georgios Koutsias.

Referees

REF: Natalie Simon.
AR1: Corey Rockwell.
AR2: Kevin Klinger.
4TH: Chris Penso.
VAR: Sorin Stoica.
AVAR: Mike Kampmeinert.


How to Watch

Match Time: 7:30 p.m.

Venue: Inter&Co Stadium — Orlando.

TV/Streaming: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Mega 97.1 FM (Spanish).

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).


Enjoy the game. Go City!

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