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Orlando City vs. Charlotte FC: Final Score 2-1 as Lions Snatch Late Road Win on Tesho Akindele’s Goal

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CHARLOTTE, NC — Ercan Kara opened the scoring and his replacement, Tesho Akindele, scored late as Orlando City defeated Charlotte FC in its first trip to Bank of America Stadium. Akindele’s goal in the 89th minute lifted the Lions (10-10-6, 36 points) back to the .500 mark in the standings in a much-needed win over Charlotte (10-15-2, 32 points).

McKinze Gaines scored for the hosts but Orlando City was able to sweep the season series over the new MLS side. With the other results around the league on Sunday night, Orlando climbed back into fifth in the Eastern Conference.

“An excellent game to show the character of the players,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “Excellent game to prove that these guys are working hard and the game will reward them.”

Pareja’s lineup included Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Kyle Smith, Rodrigo Schlegel, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Robin Jansson picked up a foot injury late this week in training and was held out to allow time for evaluation. Cesar Araujo and Mauricio Pereyra played in central midfield behind an attacking midfield line of Jake Mulraney, Junior Urso, and Facundo Torres, with Kara returning to the lineup at striker.

The hosts had a half-chance in the third minute on a long-range free kick. The ball somehow cleared everyone and caught Gallese by surprise but he managed to fight it off at the last moment and Ruan cleared.

A minute later, the Lions got a free kick in a good spot to the right of the box. Pereyra found Carlos but he couldn’t get much weight behind his header. The ball fell to Kara’s feet but his shot attempt was blocked.

Kerwin Vargas sent a curling shot wide in the seventh minute after Mulraney lost an aerial duel — due in large part because he didn’t jump — and ignited Charlotte’s break. Mulraney was booked for a foul behind the play after the ball sailed wide.

The game settled into a cagey affair for the next segment, with each team probing for a way through. Orlando sent a couple of passes out right to try to unlock Ruan but weighted them poorly.

Torres finally tested Kristijan Kahlina in the 27th minute with a shot from outside the area but he left the effort too close to the middle of goal and the goalkeeper was able to make the save.

Three minutes later, Vargas tried his luck from outside the left corner of the box, smashing a near-post effort that Gallese parried away.

Urso got his head to a Mulraney cross in the 34th minute but his shot deflected off a defender for a corner.

The Lions were called for a foul on the ensuing corner when there was contact with Kahlina on a 50/50 cross, wasting the opportunity. Three minutes later, Urso badly scuffed a shot attempt from distance and it rolled weakly in for Kahlina to collect.

The Lions couldn’t make a couple of late corner kicks pay off, Smith smashed a screamer off target in stoppage time, and the teams went to the break tied at 0-0.

Orlando City finished the half with more possession (57%-43%), shots (7-3), shots on target (2-1), corners (4-0), and passing accuracy (86.5%-83.3%).

“The football that the team played in the first half was very good,” Pareja said. “We dominated the tempo. We created chances. We avoided (them) to create chances. We made superiority in the spaces that we needed. I saw a lot of discipline tactically, especially with the ball with this group of players.”

Charlotte came out of the locker room with more intensity to start the second half and the hosts’ press created some half-chances. But the half started with a good cross by Mulraney which he sent in way too early before teammates could arrive, and a weak dribbler on goal by Pereyra.

Carlos was booked in the 39th minute after conceding a dangerous free kick just outside the area. Karol Swiderski took the set piece and sent his shot into the outside netting to Gallese’s right.

Quinn McNeill fired at Gallese after a turnover in the 56th minute as Charlotte continued to attack.

But Orlando got back on the front foot and took the lead in the 62nd minute. Urso picked out Torres in the middle and the Young Designated Player sent a perfect through ball to pick out Kara, who finished calmly past Kahlina to make it 1-0. For Kara, it was his team-leading eighth goal of the MLS regular season.

“It was an amazing pass from Facundo Torres,” Kara said. “I saw the space and he gave me a real good ball. I saw the long side and that’s it.”

The home crowd wanted an offside call and the referee did appear to have a conversation with the video assistant referee but the goal stood. Kara said he wasn’t worried about it being pulled back.

“I saw the last man. I think it was (Christian) Fuchs,” Kara said. “In my mind, I was sure that it was clear that there was no offside.”

The lead didn’t last long, however. A cross in from Kamil Józwiak on the attacking left found Gaines, who split Schlegel and Smith and headed in from point-blank range to tie the match at 1-1 in the 66th minute.

“Second half, we understand that just being away that sometimes you want to hold the game higher,” Pareja said. “That it’s normal that the reaction of the other team is aggressive and cost us that tied goal. But I noticed that our reaction after that goal was very professional and calm and that just made us score the second one, which is something that hasn’t happened much in this season, so we’re very proud.”

Kahlina made his best save in the 70th minute after Kara was knocked down from behind by Derrick Jones, who was booked, and the Lions got a free kick straight out from goal. Pereyra took the set piece and sent a good, accurate shot on target but couldn’t get enough oomph on it to sneak it past the diving goalkeeper.

Down the stretch, Orlando struggled to possess the ball. Pareja made some changes to try to solidify things and take off tired players or guys on a yellow card, but Charlotte dictated play, winning set pieces and throw-ins in the Lions’ end.

Akindele put the Lions ahead out of nowhere on the counter. He raced down the right to reach a pass from Urso and sent a shot on goal that Kahlina saved. The ball caromed back to the Canadian and this time he sent his shot into the net to make it 2-1 in the 89th minute. It was Akindele’s first goal of the season.

“Honestly, I don’t even remember starting to play, but the first thing I remember is Urso having the ball,” Akindele said. “And I just saw a gap and I was just like, ‘I gotta go.’ So, I just took off as fast as I could and Urso gave me the perfect pass. And you know, my first shot I should have done a little bit better, to be honest. But you’ve got to (have) short-term memory as a forward, like they say. That was the ultimate example of that. Ball came right back to me and I tried to stay calm and just place it in the corner.”

The Lions couldn’t have been too happy when the fourth official showed seven minutes of added time. There were two second-half injury stoppages but seven still seemed excessive. Orlando City was able to control the game for most of the first three or four minutes of injury time and saw out a second consecutive road win. First, the Lions had to survive a scare in the dying seconds as Brandt Bronico fired a shot just over the bar on nearly the last kick of the match.

Charlotte turned around the possession in the second half, finishing with a slight advantage (50.7%-49.3%) and even edged out Orlando in passing accuracy (82.9%-82.4%), but the Lions led in shots (13-9), shots on goal (7-3), and corners (5-2).

“We need to get better. We need to control those tempos,” Pareja said. “But suddenly, after they scored, we did that. We sustained the game and just tried to look for the second goal in transition, which is something that the boys brought — the substitutions — and we found a way to get these three points in a very difficult match, especially the second half.” 

“Super important for us because, just like every other team, our goal is to win the MLS Cup, and you can’t win if you’re not in the playoffs,” Akindele said. “That’s definitely step one. The bare minimum we need to do is get into the playoffs to give ourselves the chance to win MLS Cup. And so it feels good to stay in there, give ourselves a little bit of a cushion, but it’s still tight. If you kind of fall asleep for a week or two, all of a sudden you’re out of it again and we know that and we’re going to keep our foot on the gas.”


The Lions return home next Sunday for a home meeting with New York City FC.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/15/24

Lion Links: Orlando City tops New England, OCB wins shootout after Miami draw, Euro and Copa America champions crowned, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. I’ve been working at Under Armour all weekend and managing broadcast operations for tournament matches for the NISA Independent Cup. Let’s also wish Orlando Pride defender Carrie Lawrence a happy birthday. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Lions Win on the Road against the New England Revolution

Orlando City overturned a poor first half and a 1-0 deficit to defeat the New England Revolution 3-1 and secure its first win at Gillette Stadium. All the Lions goals came in the second half, as Facundo Torres found the back of the net twice and Ramiro Enrique added one as well. Orlando won its third consecutive game and fourth of its past five matches. Orlando stays in seventh in the Eastern Conference with 30 points, while New England dropped to 13th with 22 points. The Lions will be on the road for a clash against Nashville SC on Wednesday at Geodis Park.

Barbra Banda and Anna Moorhouse named on NWSL Best XI

Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda and goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse were named to the NWSL’s Best XI for June. Banda scored three goals and added three assists in four matches. She also became the first player in league history to score 12 goals in her first 12 appearances. Moorhouse recorded 20 saves and only allowed one goal last month. She also has seven clean sheets this year and has tied the club record for most clean sheets in a single season. Orlando’s next match will be on the road on Saturday against the North Carolina Courage in the NWSL x Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup.

OCB Draws at Home Against Inter Miami CF II

Orlando City B and Inter Miami CF II battled to a 1-1 draw at Osceola County Stadium on Sunday. Inter Miami CF II struck first, but the Young Lions came up with a great goal to equalize and send the game to penalty kicks. In the shootout, OCB won 2-0 to grab the extra point. OCB remains 10th in the Eastern Conference with 23 points, and its next match will be on the road on Sunday against New York Red Bulls II.

USWNT Beats Mexico in Friendly

The U.S. Women’s National Team avenged its loss to Mexico in the Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup earlier this year with a 1-0 victory in a friendly at Red Bull Arena on Saturday. Sophia Smith scored the lone goal in the second half. The USWNT has not conceded a goal in its last three matches with Emma Hayes on the sidelines. Also, the USWNT that won the 1999 Women’s World Cup was honored before the match as it was the 25th anniversary. The USWNT will have one more match against Costa Rica on Tuesday before it travels to Paris for the Olympics.

Spain Wins Its Fourth European Championship

Spain edged past England 2-1 in the Euro 2024 final in Berlin to win its fourth European Championship. Nico Willams put Spain in front before Cole Palmer got an equalizer for England. It looked like we were about to go to extra time until Mikel Oyarzabal struck late in the second half to seal the win for Spain. This was Spain’s first major title since winning Euro 2012. Spain won all seven of its matches and is the first team to score 15 goals in a tournament. As for England, it has lost consecutive European Championship finals and extended its major trophy drought to 58 years.

Argentina Wins Copa America Final

This year’s Copa America also came to a close, with Argentina beating Colombia 1-0 to win its 16th title. It took extra time to determine a winner after a scoreless 90 minutes. Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez, who led the tournament in goals, came off the bench and scored the winner. The result snapped Colombia’s 28-game unbeaten streak and it was the first time Colombia was shut out in this tournament. Lionel Messi exited the game in the second half due to an apparent ankle injury as well.

Free Kicks

  • Former Orlando City defender Ruan scored the winning goal for CF Montreal against Atlanta United over the weekend.
  • Kickoff for the 2024 Copa America final was delayed after fans without tickets breached one of the security gates at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. Police secured the gate, and kickoff for the match was delayed an hour and 20 minutes.
  • Celtic is reportedly close to an agreement to add former Leicester City, Nice, and Anderlecht goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
  • England manager Gareth Southgate stated he would discuss his future with the national team with important people behind the scenes, even though the English FA has indicated it prefers him to stay on. Southgate’s contract expires in December.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Monday and I’ll see you next time.

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Orlando City vs. New England Revolution: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 3-1 road victory at New England?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

There is probably a more eloquent Dickensian reference out there I could use about how this match was a tale of two cities halves. The Lions looked poor initially but started to find their footing toward the end of the first half and then came out and really lived up to our great expectations and smashed New England in the second half. A final score of 3-1 means that Orlando City finally won for the first time ever at New England and has now won three games in a row and four of its last five.

The Lions have a short turnaround with a game at Nashville coming on Wednesday, but for now, let’s bask in the glow of another high-scoring win and get to work on the report card. I have my purple pen out, and I am ready to issue those grades, so here we go.

Let’s take a look at how Orlando City’s players rated individually in their Eastern Conference matchup.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 6 — The Peruvian international did not have a lot to do during this match, as New England did not really threaten his goal often. The Revolution only had three shots on target all game long, and the one goal they scored was from point-blank range after a defensive breakdown. I think Gallese perhaps could have collected the initial ball over the top from Esmir Bajraktarevic, but that would have been a risky play and he likely did not assume that his defenders would all ball watch and let runners go unmarked right in the middle of the box. Gallese made one save and completed seven passes on the night, but it was a mostly unremarkable game for him.

D, Kyle Smith, 5 — After two consecutive solid games starting in the back four, Smith looked almost subdued in the game Saturday night, completing a lot of short passes but not really accounting (see what I did there?) for any — for lack of a better term — oomph in Orlando City’s attack. He completed 30 passes at an 88.2% rate, but aside from one ball to Iván Angulo towards the left side of the box, there really was not a lot that was memorable about his play in the first half. In fact, he did not record a single defensive statistic, and I was not surprised that Rafael Santos was on the field in place of Smith when the second half started. This did apparently surprise Apple TV’s broadcasters, since they did not realize he was out for a few minutes, but Smith had not put on a Santos disguise, and he had indeed gone off after 45 minutes.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — New England has an excellent striker in Giacomo Vrioni, but he really did not do a lot to threaten the center of Orlando City’s defense, to the point that neither Jansson nor Rodrigo Schlegel had a tackle. Now, the obvious counter to this is that, you know, Vrioni scored a goal (aside from that whole gunshot thing, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?), but I thought Jansson helped limit Vrioni to really only be a target and not someone that the Revolution played through. On the play that led to the goal, Jansson was marking Jack Panayotou, so I do not think he takes much culpability in that goal, even thought it happened right in front of him. As I mentioned, the Beefy Swede did not have a tackle but he led the team with four clearances and one blocked shot, and he completed 36 passes at a 90% completion rate. It was a quiet night for Jansson after his Man-of-the-Match-level performance last week against D.C. United, but I do not think the captain will mind since the Lions picked up another three points.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6.5 — I thought Schlegel was excellent for most of the game, except for the three seconds from 22:44 to 22:47. During that time, he followed the ball instead of his man, and Vrioni slipped unmarked into the center of the box and smashed a shot home to give the Revolution the lead. Ugh. However, during the rest of the game, I thought Schlegel was really good, especially around the marking of Vrioni, and he showed why even with the return of David Brekalo from the Euros that Orlando City has not made a change to the pairing of Jansson and Schlegel in the middle. Rodrigo was third on the team with 51 completed passes, compiling a 98.1% completion rate (that’s 51/52, everyone), and he even advanced forward and got two shots off, though neither were on target. He also had two clearances and blocked one shot, and led the team with 11 accurate long balls on 14 attempts.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6.5 — I know Thorhallsson is listed as the starting right back, but I really think that D for defender should be a DD for Dagur Dan, because to call him just a defender or just a right back does not really satisfy what he brings to Orlando City. He is a Dagur Dan, and just like Tigger, he is the only one. On Saturday night, he was once again all over the field making plays, and although he did not contribute to any of the goals it was not for lack of trying, as in the first half he got himself into a great scoring position for a cross from Angulo that he just could not place properly to get by Aljaž Ivačič, and he was constantly probing and making runs off the right side of the box and helping to cause worry along the left side of the Revolution’s defense. He also completed 39 passes at an 88.9% completion rate, with one key pass among those passes, and he had one tackle and one clearance defensively. I have to ding him some early defensive mistakes. He was beaten early in the match by Panayotou but Jansson was able to intervene in the 11th minute. He was in position, but still got beat over the top on the cross into the box that led to New England’s only goal. Despite the early defensive errors, I thought on the whole his performance was solid on the evening.

MF, César Araujo, 7 — The Uruguayan defensive midfielder had another typical game, generally short on flash but long on making a difference in the middle of the field. Cesar was second on the team in passes completed (54), tackles (3), and shot-creating actions (3), with one of those shot-creating actions being the assist for the second goal when his header back into the middle of the box was knocked in by Ramiro Enrique in the 58th minute. The midfield pairing of Araujo and Wilder Cartagena has been excellent during the recent three-game winning streak. I do not think it is a coincidence that as soon as Cartagena returned from the Copa America tournament, the team got hot. Araujo and Cartagena know how to play with and off of one another, which showed Saturday night. I think it is instructive to look at this heatmap from whoscored.com in between the grades for Araujo and Cartagena, because you can see just how well they balanced each other with their play during the match.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 7.5 Saturday night’s performance was another outstanding showing from the Peruvian midfielder, as he was once again all over the field making plays and bossing the game with midfield partner Araujo. Wilder led the team with 60 completed passes at a 93.8% completion rate, and he also led the team with 16 completed passes in the attacking third, five tackles, two fouls suffered, and one (friendly) face slap of Facundo Torres, after Torres scored his second goal. I will be tracking friendly, and unfriendly, face slaps for the rest of the season, do not worry. I thought Cartagena dictated the game with his play in the center of the field, and though he did not play a major role in any of Orlando City’s three goals, he was the best two-way player on the field, and was definitely a candidate for the Man of the Match.

MF, Iván Angulo, 7.5 — During the first part of Saturday’s match it seemed like everyone wearing Orlando City colors was sluggish except one player, and that player was Angulo. As he seems to do every game, Angulo looked like he was perpetually playing on turbo mode, making runs up the sideline and getting around defenders to create opportunities. Orlando City was profligate in front of the net for most of those, but eventually his hard work paid off, as it was his driving run into the box and pass to Torres that led to the latter’s tying goal in the 51st minute. Angulo led the team in progressive carries (7), shot-creating actions (6), and key passes (4), and he completed 31 passes at an 81.7% rate. He chipped in a tackle and an interception defensively before coming off for Brekalo in the 84th minute in a defense-for-offense substitution, but the Colombian winger had well earned a few minutes of rest after another strong effort.

MF, Martín Ojeda, 6 — The Lions went with the same attacking midfield group that had been starting during the last few matches, but on Saturday night Ojeda just did not seem to have the same juice as he had brought during those other recent wins. As usual, this was not due to lack of effort, but something just was off from the Argentinean midfielder. Despite playing nearly 70 minutes, he only completed 27 passes, though he did complete them at a 96.4% rate, and he only crossed the ball four times all match, unusually low for him, completing two. He did play the corner that led to Enrique’s goal, and that was a well-placed corner kick to Araujo’s head that then came right back into the middle for the tap-in (one of Ojeda’s two key passes), but on the whole I thought it was just a muted performance by Ojeda on the night.

MF, Facundo Torres, 8 (MotM) Facu is so hot right now, not unlike how Hansel was during Zoolander. Since the official first day of summer, Torres has five goals in five matches, and he has now moved into a tie with Nani for third all-time on the Orlando City goal-contribution list (career goals + assists = 44). On Saturday night he started slowly, but as the first half came to a close he started to pick up. Then, in the second half, he was excellent. Hmm, sounds a lot like how Orlando City’s overall game flow was, too. Coincidence? No. Facu’s two goals were absolutely perfectly hit curling balls from the right side of the box that went exactly where every soccer coach tells you to shoot — low and hard to the far corner. Torres also put a third shot on target that was saved well by Ivačič, so he put all three of his shots on frame. The Uruguayan winger completed 44 passes at a 91.7% rate with two key passes. He also compiled a dribble, a tackle, and an interception. As he goes, so will this offense, and I think there is very little that we as fans love more than to see Facu over by the corner flag with his pretend phone up doing the Selfie Celebration with his teammates.

F, Ramiro Enrique, 7 — The one change in the starting lineup from the last two matches was Enrique in for Duncan McGuire, and that was most definitely not a like-for-like swap. Enrique is not as adept at holdup play and winning long balls to create possession for the offense, but what he does bring, which showed on Saturday night, was an extra burst of quickness and shiftiness to get something on the ball and create plays. This manifested in the first goal, when Angulo slipped a pass to a cutting Ramiro who then played it back, and it eventually made its way across the box to Torres. Enrique then made the dashing run on the second goal to beat everyone to Araujo’s header back across the box, tapping it into the net for his second goal in the last two games. Enrique had no key passes or defensive stats, only had 23 touches, and only completed seven passes on the night (87.5% rate), but he still contributed majorly to Orlando City coming from behind to take the lead before he made way for Luis Muriel in the 69th minute.

Substitutes

D, Rafael Santos (46′), 6 — Santos checked in after halftime and provided a spark that had not been there in the first half from the left back position. The raw stats show that Smith completed more passes and at a higher percentage, and that neither left back made many plays defensively, but Santos definitely looked more composed and threatening on the ball during the second half than what the Lions got from that position during the first half. His hustle to get to a ball that he nearly lost after a heavy touch led to the third goal for Orlando City, and while his passing accuracy (87%) was among the lowest on the team, the danger he brought to the field with his play during the second half definitely contributed to the second half comeback.

F, Luis Muriel (69′), 6.5 — The Colombian Designated Player had one of his best games as a Lion on Saturday night, which is both good news and bad news for Orlando City. I am writing grades specifically for this match, but it is hard not to also take a step back and consider that the fact that an appearance off the bench with one assist against a bottom of the conference team is one of the best games for Muriel this season does raise some questions. That said, I thought Muriel looked dangerous in this match and made the right decision with the ball on most of his possessions — in particular, his perfect pass to Torres for an assist on the third goal that effectively iced the game for Orlando City. He unselfishly played the ball with the outside of his foot to a sprinting Torres, and the weight of the pass allowed Facu to curl that ball in without ever breaking stride. That was the first Muriel-to-Torres combination for a goal, and I, for one, would enjoy seeing many more of those this season. I recommend they do this again on Wednesday. Muriel put his only shot attempt on target, forcing a save, had one key pass, and won an aerial duel.

MF, Nico Lodeiro (69′), 6 — I think the role of supersub off the bench fits Nico well, and he turned in another strong performance in his 21 minutes Saturday night. The Uruguayan took over for Ojeda and completed 14 passes at a 93.3% rate, including hustling to win a loose ball that he then played to Muriel that then went on to Torres for the backbreaking third goal from Orlando City in the 81st minute. Lodeiro was active throughout his minutes on the field, also making one tackle and intercepting one pass.

D, David Brekalo, (84’), N/A The Slovenian international came on for Angulo shortly after the Lions took a two-goal lead, moving the team to a five-man back line and playing as the right center back in between the Nordic duo of Jansson and Thorhallsson. Brekalo made one interception and completed four of his five passes, including one long ball, but he did not contribute enough in his short outing to earn a grade this week.

MF, Jeorgio Kocevski (90 +2′), N/A — Jeorgio subbed in for Araujo during stoppage time to help close out the game. He was able to get four touches of the ball and complete two passes, but he was not on the field long enough to earn a grade this week.


That’s how I saw the individual performances on Saturday night. What did you think? Be sure to let us know in the comments, and vote in the poll below for your Orlando City Man of the Match.

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Orlando City vs. New England Revolution: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from the Lions’ road victory against the Revolution?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City traveled north to battle the New England Revolution in a stadium where the Lions had never secured three points. Falling behind early, the Lions were able to ride a dominant offensive performance in the second half to walk out of Gillette Stadium with a 3-1 win. What follows are my five takeaways from a match in which the final result was both needed and a surprise all at the same time.

Poor Marking Early

Orlando City started the match flat and the Revs looked to be the aggressors for the majority of the opening half hour of the game. New England should have capitalized on poor defensive marking in the 11th minute of the match but a sliding attempt on goal was deflected wide of the near post by a recovering Robin Jansson. The poor effort ultimately came back to bite the Lions in the 23rd minute, as Dagur Dan Thorhallsson was in decent position but was too passive in defending DeJuan Jones on a back-post cross, allowing him to get to it and lay it off. Rodrigo Schlegel also attempted to defend Jones at the back post and seemed surprised when he saw Thorhalsson, peeling off but then not locating a wide-open Giacomo Vrioni in his area. New England capitalized and took a 1-0 score into the break.

Torrid Torres

Who knows what the Lions had for a halftime snack? Whatever it was, it needs to become a staple going forward. Six minutes after the start of the second half, Orlando City leveled the game, as Facundo Torres ran onto a ball near the top of the 18-yard box and skillfully placed a shot into the bottom left corner. The Uruguayan has been in top form over the last six matches, and Saturday night illustrates that when Torres is on his game, it elevates the entire team. I am calling it now…summer time Facu has officially arrived.

Success from Set Pieces

Orlando City won a corner in the 58th minute after a strong shot attempt by Torres from outside the box had been parried out of play by New England goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic. Martin Ojeda then sent in an in-swinging corner kick to the far side of the box, which found Cesar Araujo rising to meet it. Araujo wisely put the ball back across the face of the goal, as he wasn’t in a great position to make an attempt on goal himself. At the same time, Ramiro Enrique made a smart, curling run behind the defense and in front of Ivacic. Enrique met the ball as it landed and flicked it past the keeper and into the back of the net. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, Orlando City went from a goal down to having a one-goal lead.

Securing the Victory

Orlando City fans did not have to sweat out the final minutes of the match clinging to a one-goal lead thanks once again to Torres. In the 81st minute, a quick takeaway transition was sent from second-half substitute Nico Lodeiro to fellow sub Luis Muriel. Although Muriel could have tried to get into the box himself, he spotted Torres open on the right and made the pass. Torres shot with his first touch and again picked out the inside of the left post to give the Lions breathing room. With his brace in New England, Torres is up to six goal contributions in the last three matches. Torres seems to be thinking less and doing more. Against the Revolution, both goals that Torres scored were instinctual, with no extra touches or dribbles.

Resilience on the Road

Orlando City had been winless at Gillette Stadium throughout the entirety of the club’s existence in Major League Soccer, entering the match with a mark of 0-6-2 in eight previous visits to Foxborough, MA. It is a tall task to win matches on the road in MLS, but Orlando City’s ability to grind out results away from home propelled the Lions to their best finish in team history in 2023. It’s also helped keep the ship afloat this season. Not only did the Lions make some history with the victory in Foxborough; they did it by coming from behind, demonstrating a strong desire to earn all three points on the road. It is these kind of performances that the team will be able to draw upon as the season continues.


That is how I saw things in an exciting, come-from-behind, 3-1 victory. What players or moments stood out to you the most? Let us know in the comments below and as always, vamos Orlando!

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