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Orlando City vs. Sacramento Republic FC, U.S. Open Cup: Final Score 3-0 as Lions Win First Major Trophy of Club’s MLS Era



Orlando City won its first major trophy since the club joined Major League Soccer, beating Sacramento Republic FC 3-0 at Exploria Stadium to claim the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Facundo Torres scored two second-half goals and set up Benji Michel’s insurance goal to lead the Lions to victory.

The Lions struggled to break down the visitors from California but eventually forced a turnover in a dangerous area and once Torres provided the lead, the Lions stomped on the Republic’s throats.

“I think it’s important to recognize that Orlando has won the first title here and we are very proud of the community, of the club, the fans, the players,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after winning his second USOC title as a head coach. “And having this opportunity to bring this trophy means a lot against a very tough rival.”

Pareja’s lineup featured Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Joao Moutinho, Rodrigo Schlegel, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Cesar Araujo played in central midfield with deep-lying playmaker Mauricio Pereyra behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Junior Urso, and Torres, with Ercan Kara up top.

The first half was a nervy, choppy, back-and-forth game that was exactly what the visitors wanted. Sacramento gummed up the field, wasted time whenever possible, and played a physical game that referee Ramy Touchan allowed. Pereyra was knocked down several times in the opening period without a call and Angulo was pulled back while in possession in the final third and no call was made. Touchan even allowed Orlando to play on after one foul and although the Lions lost the ball almost immediately, he didn’t pull it back for the foul.

Neither team even got into the opposing third of the field in the opening five minutes. The game’s first shot attempt came eight minutes in when Torres fired from outside the area but it was always going over the bar.

A minute later, Jack Gurr crossed a ball into Orlando’s area but Gallese came off his line to claim it.

Orlando was at its best when it moved the ball quickly and accurately. Ruan got a cross into the area in the 17th minute for Angulo but it was headed away at the last second. Three minutes later, the Lions worked a long-distance set piece that ended up on the left with Moutinho. His cross into the box found Carlos’ head but he could only direct it toward the post. Kara had a bead on it but Angulo cut across him and in the confusion the ball went out for a goal kick.

Sacramento’s best chance came in the 22nd minute when Pereyra was knocked down with no call and the Republic came forward in transition. Maalique Foster fired a shot that was just wide of the post to Gallese’s left.

Torres got a couple more shot attempts blocked down the stretch and the half ended scoreless.

Orlando finished the half with more possession (55.7%-44.3%), shots (6-1, but neither side got one on frame), passing accuracy (84%-81.3%), and corners (1-0).

The second half began much like the first half went. Orlando probed for ways through but couldn’t string together enough sharp passes to break through what was essentially a 5-4-1 formation in defense at times. Sacramento won more set pieces in the second half but Orlando was able to withstand them.

The Lions continued to press forward and had an opportunity in transition in the 53rd minute but Torres’ layoff for Ruan was a little heavy and by the time the right back got to it, he had to lunge on his cross and he overcooked it.

Urso fired a shot that was blocked in the 63rd and there were shouts for handball but none was given. Urso followed his initial shot but hit it over the bar on the second try.

Sacramento’s best chance of the second half came in the 75th minute when a cross in found Douglas Martinez, who got in front of Moutinho and headed the ball on target. Gallese was able to get over and make the save.

Seconds later, the Lions finally broke through.

Angulo won the ball in the corner with pressure, taking it from Dan Casey. Second-half sub Michel picked up the loose ball and found Torres cutting into the top of the box. The Uruguayan smashed it home to make it 1-0.

“I was really happy with everything that the guys had done to that point, but when you play against world class players, you make a mistake and you get punished,” Sacramento manager Mark Briggs said. “And unfortunately, we learned the hard way.”

“They have a defense of three that is very difficult to break,” Pareja said when asked about the decision to bring on Michel. “We knew that Ercan will give us presence in the box but there was a time in the game that we stuck (Michel) in there because we needed to stretch the field. Benji gave us that possibility to run in behind, to help us with the presence too. It was a good job by Ercan but at that point we needed more energy. And I thought Benji changed (the energy) tremendously.”

Sacramento had to open up and pursue the game at that point and it helped the Lions find space and transition chances. Michel was first to a ball over the top and gathered it in the box for a shot but he was taken down and a penalty was given in the 79th minute. One minute later, Torres fired home from the spot to double the lead.

“Very happy for the production that Facu has gave us, especially in the last month and a half when we need it the most,” Pareja said of his Young Designated Player. “I think those players that change the games and take their teams on their shoulders are difficult to find. In Facu we have found that already.”

Torres had a good opportunity for his hat trick in the 82nd minute on the counter but he fired just inches wide of the right post.

Sacramento’s Rodrigo Lopez fired just wide of the right post from long range in the 87th minute.

The fourth official signaled eight minutes of stoppage time, but the Lions didn’t dig in and absorb pressure. Instead, they moved the ball quickly and tried to possess it and stuck an insurance goal on the board.

Torres sent a ball into the area for Michel, who was making a run from left to right. Michel gathered the ball and the Homegrown and Orlando native sent a shot just inside the far post to put the game away in the 96th minute, celebrating with his signature back flip.

Moments later, the whistle blew and the Lions were USOC champions. Orlando finished with more possession (52.1%-47.9%), shots (15-5), shots on target (3-2), and passing accuracy (82.0%-79.1%). Sacramento had more corners (2-1).

“I’m really happy, I’m really proud of this team,” Pereyra said. “I said many times when we lose here in this (press) conference that I was really proud to be the captain of this team. They show a lot of energy and a lot of commitment during the whole season. And in this cup, I think we deserve to be the champions and now we are.”

The team will celebrate its U.S. Open Cup championship on the steps of City Hall on Thursday at 12 p.m. and it is open to the public at no cost. Orlando City is back to regular-season play on Saturday night when the Lions visit the first-place Philadelphia Union.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/13/24

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



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.

Free Kicks

  • 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.



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.

Free Kicks

  • 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.



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.

Free Kicks

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

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