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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Seattle Sounders: Final Score 3-2 as Lions Come from Two Down to Win



Orlando City overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Seattle Sounders 3-2 at Exploria Stadium. The Lions (12-10-6, 42 points) created plenty of chances but fell behind by two before the shots started going in. It was Orlando’s first-ever win against Seattle (10-15-3, 33 points) and the team’s fourth victory in a row — with the last three game-winning goals coming in the 89th minute or later.

Facundo Torres, Ercan Kara, and Kyle Smith provided the goals in the comeback after Albert Rusnak and Raul Ruidiaz had staked the Sounders to a 2-0 lead.

“I’m very proud of this group of players,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “We understand that the best teams in the world are not the ones who don’t have difficult moments, but are the ones who overcome. This gives us today a lot of optimism of what we are and how things are coming (together).”

Pareja’s lineup was heavily rotated apart from goalkeeper Pedro Gallese and the back line of Joao Moutinho, Rodrigo Schlegel, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Mauricio Pereyra returned from yellow card suspension and played deep alongside Cesar Araujo in central midfield. From there it was almost all new faces. Joining Junior Urso in the attacking line was Ivan Angulo and Niko Gioacchini, who both made their first Orlando City starts. Tesho Akindele started, rather than coming off the bench as a super sub.

The game started almost two hours late due to lightning in the area. When play got underway, the first half was a bit back-and-forth, with Seattle having more possession in the opening 20 minutes and Orlando coming into the game after the visitors scored.

The Lions got a look in the first half when Gioacchini headed wide off a good cross by Moutinho 10 minutes in.

The visitors had their first decent chance in the 22nd minute when Ruidiaz got down the right but fired wide. But moments later, the Sounders scored.

Carlos was called for a foul about 25 yards out from the goal line and the Lions were incensed with the call, with three players surrounding referee Alex Chilowicz. Orlando was perhaps fortunate not to pick up a yellow card for dissent. Rusnak sent the free kick into the upper left corner where Gallese couldn’t reach it, putting Seattle up 1-0 in the 26th minute.

The Lions seemed to wake up after the goal and fashioned a chance in the 27th minute off a nifty set piece from distance. The ball was sent from left to right across the field and a diagonal ball came to Schlegel to the left of goal. Whether the defender meant to head on target or back across the box is unknown, but he ended up sending his effort at goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

The Lions had a golden opportunity to tie the match moments later. Gioacchini cut back to free himself for a shot and was taken down in the box by Jimmy Medranda. Chilowicz immediately signaled for a penalty kick. Pereyra took the spot kick after a lengthy discussion — for some reason — but sent his kick way too close to the middle and Frei made the save. Moutinho got to the ball and his follow-up shot was deflected out for a corner by a sliding save by Jackson Ragen.

In the 36th minute, Frei made a huge save to preserve Seattle’s lead. Pereyra sent a ball from the left to Gioacchini on the right. The forward headed across the box to Angulo to head toward goal but Frei got his hand on it.

Orlando couldn’t do much with a late corner kick and trailed 1-0 entering halftime.

Seattle held a slight edge in possession (52.1%-47.9%) and was more accurate in the passing game (85.1%-84%). Orlando had far more shot attempts (9-3), more shots on target (3-1), and corners (4-2).

Pareja sent Torres onto the pitch to start the second half in order to get a left-footed player on that side, withdrawing Gioacchini — a move he said he didn’t want to make because of the USMNT forward’s play, but felt he had to.

The visitors doubled their lead in the 52nd minute when they broke in transition and Ruan ended up isolated on Ruidiaz. Although the Brazilian tracked Ruidiaz across the front of goal, he was unable to prevent the Designated Player from scoring to make it 2-0.

Orlando’s reaction was immediate. Torres took a pass from Moutinho in the middle and found himself in space. The Uruguayan smashed a shot into the corner to pull the Ruidiaz goal right back and get the Lions back in it.

“I think he’s understanding much better the league and not just his role in the team, but I have seen too what this league is demanding,” Pareja said of Torres’ recent run of form. “I think he’s great and a fantastic moment for us that he stepped up and carried our team.”

The Lions continued attacking and looked dangerous. Angulo fired a shot but hit it right at Frei in the 62nd minute and seconds later Akindele got onto a Ruan cross but Yeimar blocked his header from point-blank range.

Second-half sub Kara tried an audacious shot from a tight angle in the 66th minute and got it on target, forcing Frei to be alert to make the save. A minute later, the Lions got their second penalty of the game when the ball hit Morris’ arm in the box. Kara took the spot kick and fired home his ninth goal of the year to tie the match at 2-2 in the 68th minute.

Orlando had two golden chances to take the lead in the 70th minute. Kara and Michel each got headers in front but Frei made a good save to deny the Austrian and the Homegrown couldn’t get much power on his and it fell into the goalkeeper’s arms.

Kara got his head to Torres’ corner kick cross in the 77th minute but his shot was just wide of the left post as the Lions continued to seek the game winner.

But the Sounders started to control the match over the final minutes, taking the ball away, keeping possession, and looking for a winner of their own. Lodeiro shook free from long range in the 82nd minute and forced a great diving save from Gallese.

Two minutes later, second-half substitute Andres Perea turned the ball over and the counter ended up with Morris, who fired wide. Lodeiro then baited Chilowicz into a soft foul call to set up a dangerous free kick but nothing came of it when Ragen popped his header over the bar and onto the roof of the net in the 86th minute.

Momentum flipped again as the end of the game approached. Smith sent a good cross to Perea at the back post but the midfielder headed his shot right at Frei in the 89th minute. Two minutes later, the Lions put the ball in the net but it initially didn’t seem to count.

Smith took a pass from Torres on the right and got into the box. He smashed a left-footed shot across the front of goal that deflected in but the flag came up as Kara was caught offside. Chilowicz went to the monitor and saw that the ball had hit Ragen and deflected past Frei and judged that Kara did not interfere with play, so the goal stood in the 91st minute and Smith had the game winner.

“ I was originally trying to get cross off,” Smith said. “But then I thought it was crowded in the box. So I chopped it back and then, at that point, I just wanted to put it on target as hard as I could. And then I hit it off the defender, I believe in the stomach and, you know, fortunately it went in.”

Smith said he originally thought he was being called for offside on the play.

After seeing out the last couple of minutes of stoppage time, the Lions had their initial win over the Sounders.

Seattle finished with more possession (54.1%-45.9%) and passing accuracy (84.2%-83.9%). The Lions had more shots (17-8), shots on target (8-3), and corners (7-3).

“We all know how good of a team we are,” Smith said of the current run of late game-winning goals. “And we all know that even if the goals don’t come in the first 60, 70 minutes, that they they still can come and very quickly. And we scored tonight three goals I think in like the last 30 minutes, maybe. So yeah, I think it’s just having confidence in ourselves to score goals.”

“One thing I like about the boys is they have their feet on the ground. They know where they are,” Pareja said of his team’s run of success with the upcoming cup final looming. “The league is still hard and we know we have a big challenge in front of us with our schedule and need to get points to qualify into the playoffs. We’re trying to live in the present today with Seattle. We didn’t want to touch the topic of playing in the final the last week or so. And after the game, I saw their faces and they said, ‘OK Oscar, we’re ready for the cup.’ Those things make you think that the team is getting mature. That’s important unity. But one day at a time. We’ll rest tomorrow. We’ll do anything that we have in our heart and in our bodies to give this trophy to Orlando in the next step — and without forgetting the commitment that we have in the league.”

The Lions will take a break from league play now as the Inter Miami game originally scheduled for this weekend was pushed into October. Orlando City’s next match will be the U.S. Open Cup final against Sacramento Republic FC next Wednesday at Exploria Stadium.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 1-1 home draw against the Herons?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Draws are never satisfying but there’s at least a much better feeling when your team scores the final goal that earns the point rather than conceding so the other team takes two away. Thus was Orlando City’s 1-1 draw at home against Inter Miami on Sunday. It feels better to score the last goal, despite the fact that the same number of goals are scored either way. It’s a grand illusion.

Duncan McGuire’s blast through the legs of Drake Callender at least kept the Pepto-Bismol-colored team from winning at the purple palace and added another point to Orlando’s fine 2023 total.

Here’s how I saw the individual performances from a feisty affair at Exploria Stadium.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 7.5 — It was another standout game from the Peruvian shot stopper, who made four saves on the night, including a big one to stop a Leonardo Campana attempt from just a couple yards out. Gallese couldn’t do much about the lone goal conceded, as it came off a rebound of a wicked Josef Martinez shot, offering Gallese little opportunity to control the rebound due to the angle and pace. El Pulpo also recorded a clearance and passed at an 81.8% rate, connecting on five of his nine long balls.

D, Rafael Santos, 6.5 — After a couple of somewhat underwhelming performances, the Brazilian had a solid night. He didn’t have a shot attempt, but he managed two key passes despite completing only 71.4% of his passes. He connected on three of his eight long balls and one of his four crosses, but that latter number says more about his teammates not getting onto some good-looking balls into the area. Defensively, he provided two clearances and an interception, committing just one foul and completing a dribble. He even led the team in touches (60).

D, Robin Jansson, 7.5 (MotM) — In the first half, Jansson was the best player on the pitch and, in my opinion, it wasn’t close. The Beefy Swede vaccuumed up almost everything sent forward by Miami that was intended for Campana and Martinez on his side of the field. He finished the night with two tackles and two interceptions but it seemed like more than that. His passing was magnificent, as he completed 89.4% of his 47 passes, including six of seven long balls and his only through ball attempt. He had a key pass as well. He didn’t attempt a shot but he completed one dribble and drew a foul as he stymied the Miami attack. He did his best to cover Martinez’s quick, incisive run to the opposite side but couldn’t block the shot with his sliding effort. His biggest blemish was getting yet another yellow card for dissent — something he’s mostly been able to avoid this season.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 5.5 —While I thought Schlegel had a much better night Sunday than he had in the previous two games, it was far from where he was just a week or two earlier. The quick transition gave him a tough choice of backing off Campana and allowing a dangerous shot or doing what he did — stepping out and allowing a through ball. His closeout wasn’t tight enough. His marking on set pieces also left a lot to be desired at times. His passing was mostly accurate (91.5%), and he connected on two of three long balls, but there were a few dicey ones in his own end. He recorded two aerials won, one tackle, two interceptions, and a clearance. He committed three fouls and picked up a yellow card, conceding a dangerous free kick. His lone shot attempt was an off-target header.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6.5 — After a couple of tough games, the Icelandic midfielder-turned-fullback acquitted himself pretty well, considering Inter Miami attacked his side quite a bit. He passed well, connecting 82.5% of the time with one key pass and hitting the target once on two crosses, four times on six long balls, and sent a marvelous through ball that should have resulted in an Ivan Angulo goal, but the winger flubbed his lines. His lone shot attempt was a difficult one and did not threaten goal. He did not record a single defensive stat, although much of the time his opponent curled in toward the top of the area and was passed off to another defender.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 5.5 — The young Uruguayan had a quiet night, without recording any defensive statistics in his 45 minutes before being subbed out at the break for Martin Ojeda. He managed only 23 touches and his passing rate of 73.3% was much lower than his usual standard and he completed one of his two long balls. He also drew two fouls and completed a dribble. He simply wasn’t able to impact the game to the extent we’re used to seeing.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 7 — It was a good night for the Peruvian midfielder, who was constantly getting under the opponents’ skin. He drew yellow card fouls on Dixon Arroyo and Benjamin Cremaschi — the latter after a slick nutmeg move — and had a steal that was set to ignite the break called back for a foul that I don’t agree was committed. Defensively, he recorded a tackle, a clearance, and an interception. He passed at a 91.1% success rate, created one scoring chance, and completed both of his long-ball attempts.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 5 — Whether it’s a lack of confidence and/or composure or being intimidated by a good goalkeeper, the Ivan Angulo who shoots in warmups is not the same guy in front of goal once the game is underway. He completely flubbed his lines when Thorhallsson sent him in behind for a 1-v-1 chance against Callender. The number of times he gets into dangerous spots and either a bad pass, shot, or decision keeps Orlando City from generating a scoring chance from it is maddening. Angulo failed to get any of his three shot attempts on target. His passing rate was just 60%, he did not have a single key pass, and neither of his two crosses were on target, although his single long ball was. He also didn’t record a single defensive statistic. There are many things Angulo does well, and his speed is tantalizing, but the final product is often lacking.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 — The captain had a mostly quiet match except when he was scissored down from behind by David Ruiz, somehow only producing a yellow card for the Miami midfielder. Pereyra produced only one key pass and no shot attempts, starting at central attacking midfielder before dropping into central midfield in the second half to pull the strings from a deeper position. He passed at an 80.5% success rate, completing one of three crosses and two of five long balls. He did not record any defensive stats and committed two fouls while drawing three.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6.5 — Torres led the Lions in shots (4), putting two on target, contributing one key pass and winning an aerial. He passed pretty well overall (81.5%), though he did not complete either of his two crosses or his lone long ball. He contributed an interception and a clearance defensively. Miami concentrated on double-teaming the Designated Player whenever possible. Torres still created some opportunities for himself and others, but it was a fairly quiet night overall.

F, Duncan McGuire, 7.5 — The rookie is still getting back to form after returning from injury, so he managed only 18 touches on the night but he did well with the touches he had. Both of McGuire’s shots were on target and both were rockets. Unfortunately, both were right at goalkeeper Callender. Fortunately, the second of those went through the keeper’s legs for the equalizing goal — his ninth of the MLS season. He also created a chance with a key pass, completed 83.3% of his pass attempts, and connected on his only long ball. He even contributed a defensive clearance. It was a good night for the rookie striker, although he wasn’t able to get that many touches.


MF, Martin Ojeda (46′), 6.5 — The Argentine Designated Player came on at halftime for Araujo to give the Lions more attacking presence and an extra playmaker on the field. He continues to grow in recent games, as he put his only shot attempt on target, created a chance with a key pass, and completed two dribbles, although he did have four unstable touches and was dispossessed once. He completed 89.5% of his 19 passes and all three long balls, but missed on his only cross attempt. He helped with the ball back with two tackles, and added a clearance.

MF/F, Ramiro Enrique (74′), 5 — Enrique came on for Angulo, which I thought at the time was the exact sub that was needed, but the Argentine didn’t offer much for the second straight game after winning Player of the Matchday. He did not attempt a shot or create a key pass and managed only seven touches on the night, passing at an 83.3% clip. He chipped in a clearance.

D, Michael Halliday (77′), 5 — The Homegrown defender spelled Thorhallsson but didn’t offer much, despite completing all four of his passes on 13 total touches. He had two unstable touches and was dispossessed once, which is not what you want to see from your fullback in the final 15 minutes of the match. Defensively, he blocked a shot, but he also conceded an unnecessary late corner when he pulled up, thinking he’d won a foul that didn’t end up getting called.

MF, Gaston Gonzalez (84′), N/A — As the MLS U22 Initiative attacker works his way back to fitness, he got a late runout, replacing McGuire, which pushed Enrique to the top of the formation. He conceded a free kick, but I honestly thought his challenge was clean and should have led to an Orlando counterattack. He put his only shot on frame, but it was a weak dribbler right at Callender. He did not complete his only pass attempt of the match.

MF, Junior Urso (84′), N/A — The Bear entered for Pereyra and was active, gettin 12 touches in late. His 90% passing rate on 10 attempts was solid, missing only on his only attempted long ball. He didn’t record any defensive stats, but he also didn’t make any mistakes in his brief spell.

That’s how I saw the individual performances by Orlando City on Sunday night at the stadium. Let me know where I got things right or wrong in the comments below and be sure to vote for your Man of the Match in our poll below.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/26/23

Pedro Gallese honored, Orlando Pride and Lions celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Campeones Cup preview, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I won’t lie to you, I’m dragging a bit to start this week. I’m still recovering from being sick and frankly had to fight the urge to take Monday off. I’m soldiering on though, and there’s plenty of soccer happening this week to help keep me entertained and in good spirits. Let’s have a look at today’s links.

Pedro Gallese Recognized

Pedro Gallese turned in another superb performance during Orlando City’s 1-1 draw with Inter Miami on Sunday, and he’s been rewarded with a place in the most recent edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. El Pulpo made four saves on the night, including a fantastic stop on a header from close range, and helped the Lions stay in the game until they could find the equalizer. Congratulations to Pedro, and here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Orlando Pride and Orlando City Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Orlando Pride defender Celia fielded questions for fans to learn more about both her and Spain. Celia is from Alicante, a port city in southern Spain, and shared her favorite food, music, and activity while in her home country. She also spoke on a common misconception about spices used in Spain being spicy.

Orlando City’s Facundo Torres also shared the meaning behind some of his tattoos, which include the Uruguayan flag and La Paz, the city he grew up in. Orlando City’s match with CF Montreal on Saturday will also be Hispanic Heritage Night at Exploria Stadium.

Campeones Cup Preview

You can be forgiven if you forgot that the Campeones Cup is still a thing, because I know I did. Here’s a little refresher on the annual match. It’s being played tomorrow night at BMO Stadium between LAFC and Tigres, which are the reigning MLS and Liga MX champions, respectively. The MLS representative has won three out of the four contests, with Tigres beating Toronto FC 3-1 in the first iteration of the competition in 2018. This match will also be a rematch of the 2020 Concacaf Champions League final, which saw Tigres emerge victorious 2-1 at Exploria Stadium.

Americans in Midweek Action

A number of Americans will be taking part in games for their clubs this week. Tim Weah and Weston McKennie’s Juventus will take on Lecce today in Serie A, while Chris Richards and Crystal Palace face Manchester United in the Carabao Cup. Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah have a league match when AC Milan plays Cagliari tomorrow. PSV Eindhoven has a game against Go Ahead Eagles tomorrow as well, which means Ricardo Pepi, Sergino Dest and Malik Tillman could all be involved. Friday closes out the week with Hoffenheim taking on Borussia Dortmund, which could see John Brooks matched up against Gio Reyna depending on Reyna’s fitness.

Spanish Players Will Testify Against Rubiales

Alexia Putellas, Irene Paredes and Misa Rodriguez have all been called to testify as witnesses in the case against Luis Rubiales. Jenni Hermoso’s brother and a friend of the player both testified on Monday afternoon, as Rubiales is facing charges of sexual assault and coercion. Rubiales has already testified and maintains he did nothing wrong amid uproar that has led to a number of Spanish players refusing to return to the team until changes are made, and a general overshadowing of Spain’s victory at the Women’s World Cup. Putellas, Paredes and Rodriguez will testify next Monday.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for today. Y’all stay safe out there!

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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 scoring goals 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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