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Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union: Final Score 5-1 as Lions’ Win Streak is Snapped



While many expected Orlando City to suffer a U.S. Open Cup hangover on short rest against the conference-leading Philadelphia Union at Subaru Park, the Lions came out in the mood for a battle. Unfortunately, some questionable officiating and a lucky deflection got the Union (18-4-9, 63 points) started and Orlando (12-11-6, 42 points) couldn’t climb back in it, suffering a lopsided 5-1 defeat on the road. That snapped City’s four-game MLS winning streak and five-game streak in all competitions.

It was the second straight time the Lions have gone to Subaru Park and had a legitimate complaint for an opponent to be sent off but nothing happened. Last year, Kacper Przybylko elbowed Rodrigo Schlegel in the face and then proceeded to score twice after not being sent off. This time, an early headbutt by Jose Martinez on Wilder Cartagena wasn’t seen by the referee and the video assistant referee didn’t bother to do anything about it either.

That could have changed the game, but instead the Union got goals from five different players — Oliver Mbaizo, Mikael Uhre, Daniel Gazdag, Alejandro Bedoya, and Jack Elliott — to more than offset Andres Perea’s goal.

“Well, first congratulations to Philadelphia and the way they were sharp in the box and the opportunities that they had, they just put it in the back of the net and that requires a lot of work,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “I know that it was going to be difficult in that end and in regards to the game, I thought it was very level. We tried to modify some positioning and some things worked, some things didn’t work.”

Pareja rotated his squad but perhaps a little less than expected. Mason Stajduhar got the start in goal behind a back line of Joao Moutinho, Schlegel, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Cartagena started in place of Cesar Araujo with Perea in central midfield behind an attacking line of Jake Mulraney, Mauricio Pereyra, and Niko Gioacchini, with Benji Michel up top.

The Lions played a decent first half, all things considered. Pereyra had a look in the 10th minute after Andre Blake punched a Mulraney cross out of the box. Orlando’s captain fired but the shot was blocked.

Martinez smashed a cannon shot over the bar in the 14th minute. Julian Carranza scored a minute later in transition but the flag came up and a VAR check confirmed the call.

Moments later, Cartagena and Martinez got tangled up and in the aftermath, the Philadelphia midfielder got up and appeared to headbutt Cartagena in the head. Referee Armando Villarreal didn’t see it because it happened behind the play but the broadcast picked it up. However, VAR Jose Carlos Rivero did not deem it worth a look for Villarreal and he continued.

“It was a very important play for sure,” Pareja said, without commenting further.

Moments later, Martinez took Perea down from behind in transition and wasn’t booked in a second curious non-call in quick succession.

Michel fired a shot at the end of that play and Blake got a piece of it to knock it out for a corner in the 20th minute. The Lions could not get the ensuing corner cross beyond the first defender.

Orlando had a golden opportunity in the 31st minute when Ruan shook free down the right side of the box. He needed only to get his pass through one defender to set up a sitter but couldn’t do it.

The Union found the breakthrough in the 39th minute on a lucky bounce that came after an Orlando giveaway. Perea had Mulraney wide open to his left in space but ignored him and tried to play a ball to Pereyra in traffic on the right instead. He got the pass wrong and Philadelphia came the other way. Mbaizo fired either a cross or a low-percentage shot that deflected off Moutinho and went high in the air, looped over Stajduhar and somehow found its way inside the far corner to make it 1-0.

“That first goal came on a very unfortunate play,” Pareja said. “It’s the game. We’ll take it, but it was a very unlucky play and then that kind of reduced (the team’s) energy.”

“Always in those situations when you score a goal or you make a good play, you firm up your confidence a little bit, and unfortunately, it just went the other way for us,” Perea said. 

That goal energized the Union and they started becoming more dangerous immediately. Uhre fired just wide in the 41st minute after clearing himself through the defense. But two minutes later he got his goal and doubled the lead. Cartagena tried to play Ruan in on the attack but the fullback was never making the run. The Union broke 3-on-2 and Uhre beat Carlos for pace and slipped his shot past Stajduhar to make it 2-0 in the 43rd minute.

“With this team, you have to be concentrated and organized all the time. You cannot allow them to go through that middle channel easily,” Pareja said. “That second goal came on a counter attack when we were trying to look for the game.”

The half came moments later and the Lions, who played well overall, were in a two-goal hole. Orlando City had more possession (52.6%-47.4%) and passing accuracy (80.8%-79%), but the hosts had more shots (7-3) and shots on goal (2-1). Each team had one corner opportunity.

Pareja sent Facundo Torres and Ivan Angulo on for Gioacchini and Mulraney to start the second half but the Lions couldn’t get back into it. In fact, things got worse and a Villarreal decision again was involved. Stajduhar spilled a cross in from his left and he and Uhre went for the ball. Uhre touched it first and sent it over the end line while at full stretch and there was some light contact. Villarreal gave a penalty and even though Rivero had him take a second look at it, he stuck with his initial call. Gazdag scored from the spot and the game was effectively over in the 55th minute.

Orlando’s legs left them after that and the Lions created very little. Stajduhar made a save on a long-range try in the 60th minute and then stoned Uhre 1-v-1 in the 62nd after the striker again beat the back line for pace on a ball over the top.

But the Union struck again in the 63rd minute when Schlegel failed to track Bedoya’s run and a perfect cross split the center backs for the former USMNT midfielder to head home, making it 4-0.

In the 67th minute, Stajduhar punched away a shot from distance off a set piece and then had to come up big to deny both Uhre and Gazdag in quick succession. Leon Flach tried his luck from outside the area in the 71st but Stajduhar made another save.

Perea gave the Lions a consolation goal in the 75th minute. Moutinho sent a long throw into the box that deflected to Perea’s feet. The midfielder smashed his shot inside the left post to make it 4-1.

Two minutes later, Moutinho sent in a great cross for second-half sub Junior Urso but he got under his header and popped it well over the goal.

Philadelphia tacked on a late goal off a corner kick when nobody on Orlando tracked Elliott and he easily headed in Kai Wagner’s cross for the final margin of victory.

The Lions held more possession in the game (51.8%-48.2%) and passed more accurately (80.5%-79.5%) but the Union led in all of the other major categories, including shots (19-9), shots on target (12-2), and corners (2-1).

“In that second half we did not have energy to cope with the game, and that was the difficult part of the game,” Pareja said. “ That first goal just made us lose a little bit of confidence and they raised. But at that point, we were better than them. And then after that, it was a normal game. There’s a way to play that they have, very direct, and they affect us. Any inch that you give them in the back they’re alert on them. And we couldn’t cope with that. There were no excuses. I thought on that part of the field they were much better than us.”

“We’re all trying to push. Every team is trying to qualify for the playoffs,” Perea said. “And we’ve got to make sure that we’re continuing to fight, because those situations depend on us. The situations that are coming ahead depend on us and the results that we make of them. So, we have to make sure that we’re keeping the energy high in the group, we have to find our way back to what we did these last five games, where we were able to take stronger results.”

The Lions come home for two matches next week, starting Wednesday against Atlanta United.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 12/8/23

Orlando City will play Flamengo in preseason friendly, Kylie Strom signs new deal, USMNT’s Copa America group draw, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Friday! The work week is almost over and I’m really looking forward to the weekend. I’ll be celebrating a friend’s birthday and knocking out most of the holiday shopping that I haven’t gotten around to just yet. Hopefully the malls aren’t too chaotic. Regardless, it should be a nice next few days. But for now, let’s get to the links!

Orlando Will Face Flamengo in 2024 FC Series

Orlando City’s first preseason game will take place on Jan. 27 when it takes on Flamengo at Camping World Stadium as part of the 2024 FC Series, which was previously known as the Florida Cup. Going up against one of Brazil’s powerhouses should be great preparation for the Lions after a record season in 2023 that earned them a spot in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup. It will be the second meeting between the two sides after a 2015 friendly in Brazil that Flamengo won 1-0. It will be nice to see the Lions in action at Camping World Stadium again and the kickoff time for next month’s match will be unveiled at a later time.

Kylie Strom Signs New Deal With Pride

Defender Kylie Strom, who was a free agent following the 2023 season, will return to the Orlando Pride after signing a three-year deal with the club. She joined the Pride in the summer of 2021 from Atletico Madrid and started in 26 games this past year, holding down the left back position. The Pride now retain their starting back line heading into 2024 and have full protection in Tuesday’s expansion draft. Although the defense struggled at times, it improved as the season wore on and the Pride nearly made the playoffs. Jordyn Listro is now the only free agent left from last year’s squad.

NWSL Announces Blueprint for 2024 Schedule

The framework for the 2024 NWSL season was revealed and the 182-match regular season has been formatted so that NWSL games don’t take place during international breaks. The biggest change is that the NWSL Challenge Cup is no longer a tournament and now just a match between the NWSL Shield winner and the NWSL champion, meaning San Diego Wave FC will play NJ/NY Gotham FC on March 15. However, there will be a weekend tournament organized by the league for all 14 teams during a break in the regular season while the Summer Olympics take place. The playoffs will feature eight teams and won’t include byes this year, with the quarterfinals starting on Nov. 9 and the NWSL Championship set for Nov. 23. Clubs can begin their preseason camps as early as Jan. 22 and no later than Jan. 29.

Copa America Teams Learn Their Groups

The United States Men’s National Team will take on Uruguay, Panama, and Bolivia in its group in the 2024 Copa America. Uruguay was one of the strongest opponents the U.S. could get drawn against, as the South American team has scored 13 goals so far in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. The important match between the USMNT and Uruguay will take place on July 1 in Kansas City. We’ll see how much Orlando City winger Facundo Torres plays for Uruguay in the tournament. As for Orlando’s Peruvian pair of Pedro Gallese and Wilder Cartagena, Peru is in a tough group against Argentina, Chile, and whichever nation prevails between Canada and Trinidad & Tobago.

We also have a clearer idea on which teams will be playing in Orlando. Two games will take place at Exploria Stadium, with Chile playing either Canada or Trinidad & Tobago on June 29 before Bolivia and Panama face off on July 1.

Gisele Thompson Signs With Angel City FC

Angel City FC signed young defender Gisele Thompson to a three-year contract that had this year count as the first year, with an option for an additional year in 2026. She turned 18 earlier this month and turned down an offer to play at Stanford to instead sign with Angel City, meaning the club did not need to use a draft pick for her to join. Gisele is the sister of Alyssa Thompson, who Angel City traded up to select with the first pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft. They are the youngest players on Angel City’s roster and will become the second pair of sisters to play in the league.

Free Kicks

  • The Colorado Rapids are reportedly in talks with American goalkeeper Zack Steffen to sign him from Manchester City.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Favian Loyola

The Homegrown midfielder spent most of the year with OCB but made his MLS debut in July.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City signed midfielder Favian Loyola to a Homegrown Player deal through 2025 on Dec. 2, 2022, with club options for 2026 and 2027. The OCSC Academy product became the club’s 13th all-time Homegrown signing and it was no surprise after his fantastic 2022 season. The Camp Lejeune, NC, was coming off a breakout year in the club’s youth system, which culminated with his selection to the 2022 MLS NEXT All-Star Game, in which he was named MVP. After starting the 2022 season on an academy contract, Loyola earned an MLS NEXT Pro deal, signing it last August. When he signed his Homegrown deal in December he became the first player to climb the club’s developmental ladder from the academy, to the current OCB setup in MLS NEXT Pro, to the first team.

Let’s take a look back at Loyola’s 2023 campaign, which was abbreviated due to surgery on his arm to remove a blood clot on Aug. 27.

Statistical Breakdown

Loyola played in just one MLS match with the Lions, making his first-team debut July 1 in a 3-1 home win over the Chicago Fire. The 18-year-old came on as a substitute in the third minute of stoppage time for Facundo Torres and is officially credited with one minute played, although that match went to nine minutes of stoppage. In that short amount of time he managed six touches and attempted six passes, completing all of them — one of them being a key pass. Loyola did not attempt a shot or record any defensive stats, but he did commit one foul, but he was not booked for it.

The bulk of Loyola’s 2023 season was spent with Orlando City B in MLS NEXT Pro, where he was a key player off the bench for Martin Perelman’s side. He appeared in 20 of the team’s 28 matches, starting seven, and logging 732 minutes. He scored two goals and added three assists, putting 10 of his 21 shots on target during the year. Loyola completed 80.3% of his passes with OCB, served up seven key passes and six successful long balls, and completed three crosses. He recorded four tackles and three interceptions, committed 11 fouls while drawing 10, and was booked three times.

Best Game

With just the one MLS match to his credit, Loyola’s MLS debut against Chicago was his best game of the 2023 Major League Soccer Season. It was a memorable match, as he subbed on for Torres, who set the tone for the Lions with a brace that night, and it was also the game in which Mauricio Pereyra made his 100th appearance with Orlando City. Loyola made the most of his short amount of time on the pitch, despite committing a foul during his first minute of MLS play. He settled in and completed all six of his passes and created a scoring chance just seconds after his foul, when he sent a ball to Ramiro Enrique, although the Argentine had his shot attempt blocked from a tight angle.

2023 Final Grade

As Loyola came up short of the minimum total of 450 minutes played to receive a rating on our 1-10 scale, The Mane Land has no choice but to mark his grade as incomplete for the 2023 season. If his meteoric growth continues, Loyola will likely have much more than one appearance next season as his skills at passing and finding pockets of space translate well to the next level. He wasn’t able to return to the pitch after the surgery for his blood clot, but he should be ready to go for 2024.

2024 Outlook

With Loyola being just 18 years old and the club having him under contract, I would expect his role to be the same in 2024. He’ll be learning the ropes with OCB, playing most of the season with the club’s reserve side in MLS NEXT Pro, where he will continue to be a key player. However, if he continues to develop his game, he could push for more late substitute appearances with the first team or even get a start if the Lions draw a lower-league team in the U.S. Open Cup. One thing Loyola will need to work on is controlling the ball, as he turned the ball over 15 times with OCB in 2023.

Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)

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Orlando City

Orlando City to Play Friendly vs. Brazilian Side Flamengo

The Lions will face the Brazilian giants for the first time since November 2015.



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Orlando City announced its first preseason match of the 2024 season this morning. The Lions will square off against Brazilian Serie A side CR Flamengo in a friendly on the afternoon of Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024 to kick off the team’s preparations for the 2024 MLS season. The match, which will take place at the club’s former home grounds at Camping World Stadium, will be OCSC’s second meeting with Flamengo and is part of the 2024 FC Series (formerly known as Florida Cup). Kickoff time will be officially announced later this month.

“This is both an exciting way to open the new year for our supporters and a great test for our team, as we look toward a 2024 that also includes Concacaf Champions Cup early on,” Orlando City SC Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “We’re excited to have the eyes of the Nação on Orlando during this time and are hopeful that this match will be the springboard for a very successful 2024 for our team and fans.”

“We are thrilled to return to our traditional January preseason window focused on top South American clubs,” FC Series / Florida Cup CEO Ricardo Villar said in the press release. “We look forward to delivering a first-class experience to Flamengo while in town and welcoming the Orlando City fans back to Camping World Stadium, where the club’s MLS campaign began back in 2015.”

The two sides met after the MLS season in 2015, when the Lions traveled to Rio de Janeiro on Nov. 15 of Orlando City’s inaugural season in Major League Soccer. Flamengo claimed a 1-0 win at the Maracana that day on a goal by Luis Antonio on a free kick that deflected off of Orlando City midfielder Darwin Ceren and left trialist goalkeeper Thierry Graca unable to recover. That match could have gone differently had Lions striker Bryan Rochez converted a first-half penalty, but he had a weak effort saved.

The match should serve as a good early test for the Lions, who are coming off their most successful season in Major League Soccer play and reached extra time all square with MLS Cup finalist Columbus despite being down a man in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Flamengo is one of Brazil’s most storied clubs, having won eight Serie A championships, three Copa Libertadores titles, four Copa do Brasil crowns, and one Intercontinental Cup.

“This preseason in the United States, including games with MLS (conference) semifinalists, is a great opportunity to grow the Flamengo brand inside the very important American market, where we will play in the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup,” Flamengo Vice President for Communications and Marketing Gustavo Oliveira said in the press release. “With the 2026 FIFA World Cup and the investments that are being made by the country, world football has in the United Stated, a new, enormous point of attention. Flamengo, as major European clubs, are alert to this and will, more and more, reinforce their presence in the country, may that be with work on social media focused on the American public, may it be by way of in-person events of the Flamengo brand, as this pre-season will be.”

Ticket information for groups and individuals can be found at Public tickets go on sale Tuesday, Dec. 12. Orlando City Season Ticket Members will have a match ticket presale and will be contacted directly by their ticket representative at a later date.

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