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Orlando City vs. Toronto FC: Final Score 4-0 as Lions Romp Over the Reds

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Orlando City bounced back from two straight losses in emphatic fashion with a 4-0 demolition of Toronto FC at Exploria Stadium. The Reds (9-16-7, 34 points) were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss as three different Lions scored and Toronto chipped in an own goal. Orlando City (13-12-6, 45 points) climbed back to .500 at home at 8-8-0.

Facundo Torres, Ercan Kara, and Tesho Akindele scored to go along with a Lukas MacNaughton own goal to provide all the scoring.

“A very complete performance with a group that is very responsible, with a group that in spite of these quantity of games with no time to rest, they came out today and put in a very important victory and, more important, a very good performance,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “I thought we were solid. I thought we were hard (to break down). We scored goals and we had good moments on the field where the team looked very connected.”

Pareja’s lineup included Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Joao Moutinho, Rodrigo Schlegel, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Wilder Cartagena started in central midfield with Junior Urso, behind an attacking midfield line of Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, and Torres, with Kara up top.

The Lions controlled most of the first half, working the ball through Pereyra in his now-familiar, deeper-lying position. Still, it was Toronto winning a corner shortly after the start of the game. Gallese did well to catch a sizzling cross that may have been an Olimpico attempt.

Orlando then went on the attack, with a Cartagena shot dribbling well left of goal in the fifth minute. Angulo took a layoff from Kara in the eighth minute and fired from inside the box but his shot deflected out for a corner. But a minute later, the Lions had the lead.

A switch in play from Angulo was flicked deftly by Carlos, who was still forward from the corner kick. His flick found Torres out on the right wing. The Uruguayan cut inside and smashed a shot past Quentin Westberg to make it 1-0 in the ninth minute. It was Torres’ seventh goal in MLS play this year and his 16th goal contribution.

“I love that type of play,” Torres said of Carlos’ backheel assist on the goal. “I know that he looked back and he already saw that I was behind him, and I just really love that type of play where you can take it back through the middle and get one on one with someone, so it was great.”

Toronto tried to pull that goal back, with Lorenzo Insigne firing over the bar in transition after shedding Ruan’s defensive efforts in the 15th minute.

Orlando doubled the lead shortly after. Pereyra sent a fantastic seeing-eye pass through the defense to Kara, who was streaking down the left. Kara carried it into the box and fired a shot past Westberg with his left foot to make it 2-0 in the 22nd minute. It was Kara’s 10th goal of the MLS season.

“I watched before the goalkeeper with my brother — he’s a goalkeeper and he analyzes the goalkeepers for me,” Kara said. “And he told me the near post is always open (against Westberg).”

“I think that those first 20 minutes gave us fresh air,” Pareja said.

Pereyra’s assist gave him 10 on the year, making him the first Lion to reach double-digit assists in a season twice.

After a shot high into the stands by Ruan in the 33rd minute, Toronto controlled the ball for a good chunk of the remainder of the first half. Federico Bernardeschi missed the target in the 35th minute after Carlos turned it over in his own end with a wayward pass that found Michael Bradley instead of a teammate.

Orlando nearly got a third in the 42nd minute when Torres took a pass and smashed a shot off the left post.

Urso sent a weak shot on goal in stoppage time and that was it for the opening period.

Orlando City held a slight edge in possession (50.2%-49.8%), and the Lions had more shots (9-3) and more shots on target (3-0). Both teams had two corners and Toronto passed slightly more accurately (89.3%-88.8%).

Orlando’s lead bulged to 3-0 early in the second half. A cross from Moutinho was deflected past Westberg by MacNaughton in the 47th minute for an own goal.

Toronto had a good flurry in the 52nd minute. Bradley had a shot blocked out for a corner and, on the ensuing set piece, Domenico Criscito fired over the crossbar.

Two minutes later, Angulo freed himself up on the left side at the top of the box and sent a soft shot to Westberg. Kara then saw a shot deflect out for a corner moments later and on the set piece he launched a shot off the facing of the upper deck.

Gallese made a nice save on substitute Jesus Jimenez in the 61st minute as Toronto made a nice cutting move in the attack. A minute later, Insigne headed a shot on target but Gallese was able to catch it, although he needed treatment on his thigh after landing on one foot and tweaking something.

Torres nearly scored again in the 79th minute but his shot fizzed just over the top left corner of the net. However, the Lions didn’t have to wait long for their fourth goal. MacNaughton was booked for taking down Angulo in transition, giving Orlando a free kick, although referee Nima Saghafi should have played advantage, as Akindele reached the ball first and Orlando had numbers forward. Akindele scored anyway after the restart, powering a shot through Westberg off an Angulo assist in the 84th minute.

Angulo notched his second assist of the night on the play and he was also involved on the MacNaughton own goal, sending Moutinho to the end line with a well-timed and well-weighted pass. His contributions in this win were vital.

“I think Ivan was definitely that player who could connect us all up front,” Pareja said. “It’s just amazing how a piece just makes things clear. I think the way that he possessed the ball and he kept it for us and protected the ball when we needed it. And also that change of speed that he has that provides as well some fast plays in the last third — all those things are helping us a lot, and we’re very happy with his contribution.”

Gallese robbed Jimenez in the 88th minute in a one-on-one chance for his best save of the night on his way to his ninth clean sheet of the year, extending his club single-season record.

After a couple of near misses by Andres Perea late, the game was over.

Toronto finished with more possession in the end (55.9%-44.1%) as Orlando was content to stay organized once the Lions built their big lead. The Reds also passed more accurately (88.8%-84.9%). The Lions had more shots (18-11) and shots on goal (7-3), while both teams finished with four corners.

“They kept going and I think that’s what I like from the effort today,” Pareja said of his team’s response to the Atlanta loss. “But I will highlight all the effort of the players. Today against Toronto, on a day we must win it, they came out with such a good performance, so that makes us feel very optimistic, that’s for sure.”


The international break is upon us, so the Lions won’t be back in action until Oct. 2 when they visit New York City FC.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/13/24

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

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

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

Orlando City B Hosts Chattanooga FC Tonight

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

USMNT Draws With Brazil in Orlando

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

MLS Announces Initiatives for Juneteenth

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

Euro 2024 Kicks Off on Friday

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

2026 World Cup Schedule Revealed

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

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

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/12/24

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

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

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

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

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

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

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

USMNT to Honor Pulse Victims

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

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

Lions on International Duty

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

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

Exploring NWSL Expansion Options

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

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

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/11/24

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

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

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

Julie Doyle Up for Goal of the Week

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

Brazil Scouting Report

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

Valencia Fans Convicted of Racial Abuse

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

The Soccer Tournament Concludes

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

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

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

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