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Orlando City vs. D.C. United: Final Score 2-1 as Lions Choke Away All Three Points in Stoppage Time

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Orlando City played an outstanding first half and solid road match overall but threw away all three points by allowing the tying and winning goals in a 2-1 loss to D.C. United at Audi Field. The Lions (8-9-6, 30 points) threw away a one-goal lead in the second half for the third consecutive road match but made it worse by allowing a second to host D.C. (6-12-3, 21 points) in its first match under new manager Wayne Rooney.

Junior Urso’s wondergoal put the Lions ahead in the first half but two huge missed chances on empty nets cost the team what would have been a commanding lead. Still, it was hard to imagine Orlando getting nothing from the game until Chris Durkin and Taxi Fountas scored in the 91st and 95th minutes, respectively.

With tonight’s loss, the Lions were swept in the season series by the worst team in the Eastern Conference.

“We have tremendous pain on tonight’s result after a great first half and part of the second one too,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “We just ended up giving up a result that was very important for us. I think I did not coach them well, especially in the second half. I take that responsibility. I feel like I could have done a much, much better job of helping them.”

Pareja’s lineup reflected a “they can rest when they’re dead” attitude toward squad rotation, as the gaffer made no changes to the lineup that played Wednesday night in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Pedro Gallese started in goal behind a back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Cesar Araujo and Junior Urso took up their customary spots in central midfield behind an attacking line of Alexandre Pato, Mauricio Pereyra, and Facundo Torres, with Benji Michel in the striker role.

Despite a lack of rest, the Lions started the game on the front foot, harassing the hosts in their own end, causing turnovers, and getting numbers quickly into the attack. The waves of attack started in the fourth minute, with a fantastic pass from Pato sending Ruan down the right side. The right back’s crossing pass for Michel was just a tad too far out in front, however.

Three minutes later, Urso caused a turnover in the attacking third but Pereyra overcooked the entry pass. In the eighth minute, Michel sent a weak header on target that didn’t worry the goalkeeper. Nevertheless, the Lions grabbed the lead moments later.

Pato chipped a pass over the defense to Urso on the right side to create an attack in the ninth minute. Urso finished that attack with a chip of his own, sending an absurd ball over Rafael Romo and into the inside netting from the right side near the top of the box.

“Always in my career when I have that chance, I never tried to put it over the keeper,” Urso said of his unusual goal. “I always tried to bring the ball and tried to score on a hard shot. But today I had good confidence to do that. If I had the opportunity, I would change my goal for the three points.”

The rest of the first half seemed like a series of plays designed to test the will of all Orlando City fans, as the Lions continued to get into good scoring positions but refused to put a second shot in the net.

That started in the 19th minute when Torres took the ball down the left and fed into the box to Pato, who fired over the bar. Moutinho headed a recycled corner kick ball across the box to Michel in front in the 24th minute but he took too many touches and had his attempt blocked in front.

Urso sent a header wide in the 26th minute off a good cross from Ruan before the really egregious errors started. The first was a perfect ball over the top from Pereyra that sent Michel and Pato in behind the defense on the right. Michel pulled Romo way out of goal and fed to Pato, who turned and missed the gaping wide, goalkeeper-free net in front of him in the 28th minute.

In the 37th minute, Urso went for a brace with a good, low shot toward the right corner, but Romo made a good last-ditch diving save. A minute later, Michel had a worse miss than Pato’s empty-net whiff. Torres cut a beautiful ball back across the top of the six and Romo was caught at his post, but the Orlando attacker missed the net. The game could have been well over at that point but the Lions just weren’t ruthless enough.

Urso fired another shot at Romo in the 42nd minute but it was straight at the goalkeeper, giving him no trouble. It was the last decent look at goal for either side in the first half and the Lions took a 1-0 lead into the break that should have been three times that.

Orlando’s dominance in the game may not have shown on the scoreboard, but it did on the stat sheet, with the Lions leading in possession (51.8%-48.2%), shots (10-1), shots on target (4-1), corners (2-1), and passing accuracy (90.9%-87.3%).

The second half began a bit more evenly played after D.C. sent on Martin Rodriguez to add width to the midfield, substituting off Sofiane Djeffal. United found its footing in the match after Pereyra subbed off in the 55th minute for Andres Perea and started to create opportunities and get more possession in the attacking third.

“He came out with a pain in his knee,” Pareja said of Pereyra’s substitution. “He let us know in the middle of the game. We decided to continue in the second half with him and after 10 minutes or so the pain was increasing and he couldn’t continue. We lost control in there with the ball. I thought we had a lot of connections from (Pereyra) dropping those 10-15 yards and creating from there.”

The first warning sign for Orlando came in the 61st minute when a cross from Jackson Hopkins found Fountas in front for a golden opportunity. Gallese made himself big and came up with a huge save to protect the lead. The hosts sent the rebound wide.

Pato made a good run through the D.C. defense in the 64th minute but his shot was deflected out for a corner by Brendan Hines-Ike.

Pato had another look — this time in space at the left corner of the box — in the 69th minute but he missed the target again.

Orlando got sloppy in the late stages (almost like a team that played a midweek cup semifinal). A poor exchange in midfield gave the ball away in Orlando’s defensive third in the 71st minute but Hopkins sent his shot wide. Moments later, Ravel Morrison had his shot at the top of the area blocked.

The rest of normal time consisted mostly of Orlando doing well to hold the ball and eat up minutes and it seemed as though the Lions would come home with all three points but disaster struck in the 91st minute with a simple ball over the top to Ola Kamara on D.C.’s left side. Kamara cut back a diagonal pass to Durkin who sent it past Gallese to pull the hosts level.

Ruan was shaken up on the play and the time spent tending to him cost the Lions the point they still had, because it turned four minutes of stoppage into more than six. Kimarni Smith sent a ball into the area and this time Fountas didn’t leave his shot where Gallese could reach it.

The D.C. Designated Player’s winner in the 95th minute seemed a harsh result for Orlando but that’s what can happen when a team wastes sitters like the ones the Lions missed.

United turned most of Orlando’s statistical advantages around in the second half, finishing with more possession (56.3%-43.7%), passing accuracy (90.3%-89.7%), and corners (4-3). Orlando still had more shots (15-8), but each team finished with four on target.

“They added more numbers up front and started creating some sequences that for us were difficult to sustain, especially on the left side with the winger that they brought up,” Pareja said. “But then that’s circumstances in that moment we needed to have control the way we did it in the first half and we couldn’t do it.”

“I think the last 10 minutes were terrible,” Urso said. “The first half, we were really good on the field. In the second half we were really deep and then they had more control of the game. I think we have to keep more attention.

“Oscar puts us on the field to do what he says. He tells us to keep the ball and try to find space to score the goals, but sometimes we don’t try that. Sometimes we just stay and wait on the (other) team coming, so this is not the idea of Oscar. So, I think we have to follow what he says. And sometimes we don’t follow, we just defend there and wait for the other team coming, so I think we made a mistake.”

Apart from the U.S. Open Cup, it was a July to forget, and a critical month to get through. The Lions hardly navigated it in optimal fashion and continue to be fragile when the game most calls for nerve — moments in front of net and defending late against teams throwing numbers forward.

It’s something that needs to be fixed quickly or Orlando City will be on the outside of the playoff chase at season’s end.


The Lions will get a bona fide normal work week, returning to action next Saturday night when the New England Revolution visit Exploria Stadium.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/13/24

Orlando City B hosts Chattanooga FC tonight, USMNT earns draw against Brazil, MLS’ Juneteenth celebrations, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Between my cat finally deciding I’m worth hanging out with and reading a pair of books that have been collecting dust on my shelf, I’ve been having a pretty good week. I’m looking forward to the feast of soccer both in Orlando and abroad over the next few days as well. But for now, let’s get this Thursday started with today’s links!

Orlando City B Hosts Chattanooga FC Tonight

In an enticing midweek match tonight at 7 p.m., Orlando City B will take on Chattanooga FC at Osceola Heritage Park. If not heading to watch OCB in person, you can catch the game on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+. The last time these two teams squared off was on May 4, with Chattanooga winning the penalty shootout for an extra point after a 1-1 draw in Tennessee. The Young Lions are coming off of a 2-2 draw with one of the league’s worst teams this season, Carolina Core FC, but winning the shootout after a late rally could give them the kind of momentum needed to take down Chattanooga. Beating one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference would be quite the statement from OCB during what’s been a middling season so far.

USMNT Draws With Brazil in Orlando

Playing in Orlando at Camping World Stadium, the United States Men’s National Team drew 1-1 against Brazil in a friendly billed as the Continental Clasico. Brazil scored first, but Matt Turner and the USMNT didn’t collapse under the pressure and earned the team’s first ever draw against the South American powerhouse. All in all, it was a much better result than the USMNT’s 5-1 loss to Colombia on Saturday. This was the USMNT’s final match until Copa America later this month. The Yanks will start their campaign against Bolivia on June 23 before playing Panama on June 27 and Uruguay on July 1.

MLS Announces Initiatives for Juneteenth

In partnership with Black Players for Change and Adidas, MLS announced some of the ways the league will be celebrating Juneteenth. Pre-match shirts acknowledging the change players can provide will be worn during warm-ups and fans can buy their own shirts as well, with a portion of the proceeds going toward organizations focused on racial equity and social justice. There will also be a campaign highlighting the connection between professional and academy players, as well as educational content across the league’s social media to raise awareness of the holiday.

Euro 2024 Kicks Off on Friday

A loaded gauntlet of summer tournaments finally begins Friday, as Germany hosts Scotland for the first match of Euro 2024. From Cristiano Ronaldo’s potential swan song to a brutal group that includes Spain, Italy, and Croatia, storylines abound for the tournament and each team brings something worth watching to the table. For Orlando City fans, defender David Brekalo was called up by Slovenia, which was drawn in a group with England, Denmark, and Serbia. I’m looking forward to seeing which underdogs prevail and which players make a name for themselves in this tournament.

2026 World Cup Schedule Revealed

The full schedule for the 2026 World Cup was unveiled, which gives a slight glimpse at the paths each host nation could take in the tournament. If the U.S. wins Group D after matches in Los Angeles and Seattle, it will stay on the West Coast for a knockout game in San Francisco before a potential round of 16 game in Seattle and quarterfinal in Los Angeles. Mexico and Canada have similar incentives to win their groups, as they will then host in their country until heading to the U.S. for the quarterfinals, should they make it that far. Here in Florida, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami will serve as the venue for four group games, a round of 32 match on July 3, a quarterfinal on July 11, and the third-place match on July 18.

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  • Orlando Pride Assistant Coach Yolanda Thomas was announced as a panelist for the Black Soccer Coaches’ summer symposium on July 22. She will also have a field session at the event to discuss the role of the midfield when building out of the back.

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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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/12/24

Leagues Cup forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup win, USMNT U-23 loses to Japan, NWSL expansion options, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. The USMNT plays tonight in Orlando, and I hope that you have tickets. If not, we can still watch as we wait for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday. On a personal note, this Friday will mark my ninth anniversary with The Mane Land. It’s been a heck of a ride, and I’m glad you’ve been there with us. Here’s to many more years to come. Let’s get to the links.

Leagues Cup Forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup Win

Orlando City is playing in the Leagues Cup starting at the end of July and here’s a nice guide to Orlando’s group for the tournament. Of course, the Leagues Cup organizers want you to be pumped so that you watch and buy tickets. I think that is something we should do simply to support the club. However, I don’t think they went about promoting the competition in quite the right way. In a tweet that has since been deleted, the tournament’s social media team stated the Leagues Cup would be Orlando’s chance to win its first trophy. Did you catch the mistake? Taylor Twellman did.

Good on you, Taylor. Facundo Torres was indeed brilliant in that match, as was Benji Michel. Of course, there were others that caught the faux pas as well.

I think we should also be mentioning the USL Championships, but what do I know? Evidently, more than the Leagues Cup’s social media team.

USMNT to Honor Pulse Victims

There’s plenty of fake, corporate shows of support for Pride Month , but in general I think that the USMNT and USWNT have done a good job of being legitimate allies to the LGBTQIA+ community. Tonight, the USMNT will play a friendly against Brazil at Camping World Stadium on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The players will be wearing Pride jerseys to honor those who lost their lives so senselessly eight years ago.

In terms of the game, the USMNT will be without Josh Sargent for the match, and Tyler Adams will only get limited minutes if he plays, as both are coming back from injuries. Get well before the Copa America, lads.

Lions on International Duty

The United States U-23 Men’s National Team lost 2-0 to Japan in its final friendly match before the Olympics. Orlando City’s Duncan McGuire found himself on a bit of an island up top as the U.S. had difficulty moving the ball through the midfield. Hopefully, the U.S. got such play out of its system heading into the Olympics.

OCB’s Wilfredo Rivera made the most of his time playing in Puerto Rico’s World Cup qualifier against Anguilla, scoring a brace in the 8-0 victory. This win comes after a scoreless draw with El Salvador last week and Puerto Rico’s remaining group games during this round of qualifying will be next June.

Exploring NWSL Expansion Options

The NWSL will be expanding to 16 teams in 2026 with many cities vying for the next franchise. The leaders include Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Minneapolis. Atlanta, Denver, and Jacksonville are potential choices as well. If it was to be given to either Atlanta or Jacksonville they would be regional rivals for the Orlando Pride. The league is expected to make a decision by the fourth quarter of 2024.

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  • Congratulations to the U-15 United States Women’s National Team, which won 4-0 over Germany.
  • Did you ever have one of those dreams that was a little scary, but also absolutely hilarious? This preview of Inter Miami’s new mascot is a bit like that. To misquote Jaws: “Ever seen an Inter Miami mascot’s eyes, Chief? He’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes.”
  • The Cayman Islands Men’s National Football Team forfeited its match against Cuba because many of its players are on visas in the United States. If those players were to travel to Cuba, the U.S. may have canceled those visas due to travel restrictions.
  • This is one of the most ridiculous no-calls I’ve ever seen. India got royally hosed.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday night. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/11/24

Julie Doyle up for Goal of the Week, scouting Brazil ahead of USMNT match, Valencia fans convicted of racial abuse, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. After a brief break, Orlando City will be back in action when it takes on LAFC at home on Saturday. The Orlando Pride will visit a struggling North Carolina Courage side on the same day, while Orlando City B will have an oddly placed Thursday match against Chattanooga FC. With such a busy week ahead of us, it’s little surprise that we have a lot to talk over this morning. Let’s get into it.

Julie Doyle Up for Goal of the Week

Pride forward Julie Doyle has been nominated for NWSL Goal of the Week for her strike against the San Diego Wave during Friday’s 1-1 draw. Doyle opened the scoring in the 36th minute with an extremely well taken goal that came from a Barbra Banda assist. The Zambian forward made a run down the right wing and crossed for Doyle, but the ball was a little behind her and the chance looked to have gone. It hadn’t though, because Doyle contorted her body, hung out a foot, and let the momentum from the ball carry it into the back of San Diego’s net. Make sure you go vote for her to win!

Brazil Scouting Report

The United States Men’s National Team will play its final friendly before Copa America Wednesday night at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The idea of any USMNT game is slightly nauseating after the Yanks were throttled 5-1 by Colombia on Saturday, but the fact that they’ll square off against a loaded Brazil side means things aren’t going to be any easier. While Brazil has struggled early in World Cup qualifying, it will likely run out a front three of Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr., and Raphina that’s capable of causing plenty of damage. Brazil prefers to control the ball and build from the back with short passing movements, but has no qualms about ceding possession and breaking on the counter, something that caused no shortage of issues for the U.S. against Colombia.

Valencia Fans Convicted of Racial Abuse

A trio of Valencia fans will serve eight months in prison after being convicted of racially abusing Vinicius Jr. Additionally, they are barred from entering soccer stadiums for two years and will pay for court proceedings. The convictions are the first for racism in professional soccer in Spain, and a case was opened after the fans made monkey noises and gestures during a game in May of 2023. The Brazilian forward in particular has faced racial abuse during his time playing in Spain, but he’s far from the only player, as the trial for a fan accused of abusing Inaki Williams during a match in 2020 has still yet to even begin.

The Soccer Tournament Concludes

The Soccer Tournament wrapped up Monday night with a pair of engrossing championship matches. In the women’s bracket, US Women defeated the North Carolina Courage 6-3, with Talia Dellapuerta scoring the winning goal. US Women featured United States Women’s National Team greats Heather O’Reilly and Ali Kreiger, and the team won the first women’s edition of the tournament and the $1 million prize that comes with it.

On the men’s side, former Orlando City player Nani and his team, Nani FC, fell to La Bombonera, which scored mere minutes into the match and never looked back on its way to a convincing 4-0 win. La Bombonera becomes the second team to win it all following Newtown Pride FC’s victory in last year’s inaugural tournament.

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That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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