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Orlando City vs. Inter Miami CF: Final Score 4-1 as Lions in Free Fall with Another Loss

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Orlando City sank beneath the weight of bad bounces and defensive transition mistakes in an inconceivable 4-1 beatdown loss to Inter Miami CF at DRV PNK Stadium. The loss dropped the Lions below the playoff line with one match day remaining.

Starting in the game’s very first minute, awful mistakes cost the team and luck played a little bit of a role as well, as the Lions (13-14-6, 45 points) fell back below .500, fell below .500 on the road (5-6-6), and lost their fourth game in the last five since winning the U.S. Open Cup. Meanwhile, Miami (14-13-6, 48 points) climbed above .500 and clinched a postseason berth for the first time.

Leonardo Campana, Gonzalo Higuain (twice), and Ariel Lassiter did the damage on the scoreboard, but the Lions were honestly their own worst enemies in the first Tropic Thunder match that was decided by more than one goal. Ercan Kara pulled a goal back in the second half but by then the game was effectively over.

“I know what these kinds of games mean for our fans and I’m very disappointed not to perform the way we should,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “In that part, I take responsibility.”

“I want to say sorry to our fans, because they come from Orlando to Miami to to push us and today was not so good for us,” Junior Urso said.

Pareja rotated his lineup somewhat, playing Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Joao Moutinho, Rodrigo Schlegel, Antonio Carlos, and Kyle Smith. Cesar Araujo played his customary stopper role next to a deep-lying Mauricio Pereyra, with an attacking midfield line of Benji Michel, Junior Urso, and Facundo Torres, with Tesho Akindele up top.

It took less than a minute for that lineup to break down. Smith somehow knocked a pass attempt off an opponent and the ball squirted in behind the Orlando center backs. Neither Carlos nor Schlegel went to get the ball so Campana ran onto it and chipped Gallese, who was off his line but not nearly far enough out to get to the ball before the Miami forward. Just over 30 seconds into the match, Orlando City trailed. (Warning: sound off is better, so you can avoid Ray Hudson’s overblown, maniacal commentary.)

The Lions didn’t respond well to going behind, despite getting a ton of possession. Orlando looked unsettled, consistently did nothing with set piece opportunities, and broke down in transition when there were chances to get numbers forward. Wayward passes from Torres, Akindele, and Urso and a couple of poor touches from Michel prevented some quality chances from materializing. The Lions did set up some half chances but did nothing with them.

“It’s normal when you start the game in the first minute just conceding the goal and then obviously, the other team with energy and with this momentum that they have, they take advantage of that situation,” Pareja said. “And then from there, our energy was doubtful and we were not precise in the movements, and then we started losing confidence.”

Akindele tried to flick a pass from Smith on target but he didn’t quite pull it off, slowing the ball too much and sending it off target. Smith sent a blistering pass through the six in the 18th minute, but there was no way Akindele could get to it in time and Michel didn’t anticipate the pass quickly enough to get to the back post for the tap-in.

Higuain nearly got in behind in the 21st minute but Carlos did just enough to force him wide and Gallese chased him into the corner and knocked it out of play. Two minutes later, Campana got in for a first-time shot but just missed wide.

Moutinho smashed a shot well wide from the top of the area when a long throw fell to him. A failure to put shots on target was a problem Sunday at New York City FC and it definitely continued into tonight.

The hosts doubled the lead in the 38th minute on a weird transition as Akindele tried to force a pass into traffic. Miami came the other way and Schlegel got caught pressing high, giving the Herons a 2-on-1 break. Ariel Lassiter crossed in early to Higuain and his first touch was a shot past Gallese to make it 2-0.

Akindele ‘s headed flick went just over the bar in the 43rd minute off a corner kick cross, which was the closest the Lions came in the opening half. In the final minute of the half, a good cross found Urso but he swung and missed at it and kicked DeAndre Yedlin instead.

Orlando City held more possession in the half (61.9%-38.1%), had more shots (7-4) and corners (2-1), and passed more accurately (87.3%-78.3%) but Miami got more shots on target (2-0) and both of those went in. It was the second consecutive first half in which Orlando failed to get a single shot on frame and the Lions had only one on target in its last three halves.

The Lions brought on offensive-minded reinforcements to start the second half as Pareja withdrew Akindele, Michel, and Smith, sending Kara, Ivan Angulo, and Ruan onto the pitch. The changes made Orlando seem more dangerous immediately. Angulo got in the box, made a good move to bypass two defenders and took a shot. The Lions screamed for a handball but Victor Rivas did not give it and a check by the video assistant referee maintained the call on the field. The only replay shown on the broadcast was inconclusive.

But Rivas wasn’t opposed to giving Miami a penalty moments later when the Lions were bit again by a bad bounce. A ball in for Lassiter skipped up off the Miami forward’s foot and hit Ruan’s arm at close range. The fullback’s arm wasn’t extended unnaturally, nor was the play intentional, but the call was upheld again and Higuain scored on the ensuing penalty to make it 3-0 in the 53rd minute.

Three minutes later, Lassiter added to Orlando’s misery with a shot just inside the right post, making it 4-0. Don’t ask me why Carlos was trailing on the play, my stream froze a few seconds earlier and started back up right where this video begins.

Things got worse for Orlando City moments after the fourth goal when Carlos was booked, meaning he’ll miss Sunday’s regular-season finale against Columbus with a suspension for yellow card accumulation.

“It’s a little bit soon to answer it but we always have to think about what’s next,” Pareja said when asked if he had formulated a plan for the back line on Sunday yet with Carlos suspended and Robin Jansson injured. “(The booking) was probably the thing that frustrated me the most. It’s the lack of common sense from the referee. It’s unbelievable. Their responsibility is to protect the game and they need to have the context of the players. And it was a very, very, very unnecessary yellow card, and that’s what disappoints me. Not a good call for me, and it affects us not having Antonio, but we have to find a different answer and see how we can set out that back four. Somebody needs to do the job.”

Kara spoiled Miami’s shutout bid in the 71st minute, taking a pass from Torres at the top of the box, then turning and firing a well-placed shot just inside the left post. It was the big Austrian’s 11th goal of the season.

Ruan had a chance to set up Kara for another moments later. With Kara running free to his left, Ruan tried to chip a pass across to him over Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite get the pass high enough and Callender caught it to prevent the easy header at the back post.

Orlando squandered a late series of corner kicks and Ruan got deep into the box but sent a pass behind both of his teammates crashing the net and that was basically the end.

As a product of chasing the game for all but a few seconds of the match, Orlando finished with more possession (60%-40%), shots (16-6), corners (8-1), and passing accuracy (89.1%-83.4%), but Miami got more shots on target (4-1). Every shot on target in the match ended up in the net. The Lions now have one shot on target in each of the last two matches, which is just two on 29 attempts.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Urso said of the lack of precision. “We had good passing, we had good combinations, but like Oscar told us we have to get more confidence in front of the target and to shoot well. I think we have to be more calm in front of the goal, but no excuses for us.”

“We’re going to leave it there, we’re going to make our corrections,” Pareja said. “We’ve got to move on. This is a quick turnaround. We have a possibility at home that nobody gave us. We fought for that one during the season and this opportunity belongs to us. We’ll see. If we don’t beat Columbus then maybe we didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs, but certainly we have a great opportunity at home to get our qualification.”


The Lions have a knockout game in the final match of the regular season on Sunday, when the Columbus Crew visit Exploria Stadium. A draw won’t be good enough unless Cincinnati somehow loses at D.C. United.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/16/24

Nico Lodeiro earns recognition, Marta up for Goal of the Week, MLS stock watch, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you had a good weekend and got your taxes filed correctly and on time. It was a good weekend for Orlando soccer, as the Orlando Pride, Orlando City B, and Orlando City went undefeated and picked up seven of the nine points on offer. As always, we have a lot to talk through today. Before we get into today’s links, let’s all wish Luis Muriel a happy birthday!

Nico Lodeiro Makes Team of the Matchday Bench

Midfielder Nico Lodeiro has earned recognition for his part in Orlando City’s 3-2 win over D.C. United, making the bench of the latest edition MLS Team of the Matchday. The Uruguayan entered the fray in the 72nd minute and helped OCSC come back and take all three points. He took the corner kick that David Brekalo equalized from, (even though he was not initially credited with the assist) and provided an outstanding through ball for Duncan McGuire’s game-winner. Sean Rollins graded him a 6.5/10 and named him Man of the Match in his player grades as well. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Marta’s Goal Nominated

Marta’s game-winning strike during Friday’s contest against Utah Royals FC has been nominated for NWSL Goal of the Week. On the road and in the game as a substitute, it didn’t take long for the Brazilian to make her mark on the match. She was barely on the field for five minutes when she met a ball that was rolling across the box with a first-time strike that she powered in off the back post. It proved to be the game’s only goal and was enough to give the Pride their first win of the season. Make sure you vote for her to win this week’s honor!

MLS Stock Watch

The fortunes of Major League Soccer teams are in constant flux, and it’s always nice to keep track of how your enemies are doing. Former Lion Sacha Kljestan weighed in on which clubs’ stock went up and which went down after the weekend’s games. We start on a good note, as a resilient performance from Orlando City saw the good guys pick up their second win of the season. The LA Galaxy hammered the Vancouver Whitecaps by a score of 3-1, and proved that their place atop the Western Conference standings is no fluke. On the other side of the coin, Toronto FC has given up 10 goals in its last three matches, and Jon Herdman needs to find a way to keep things from getting worse until the Reds’ group of injured players can return to the field.

Americans in Midweek Action

There are two big matches featuring American players this week, so get them marked down on your calendar and don’t miss any of the action. Thursday sees Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan travel to the Italian capital to try to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit to Roma in the Europa League quarterfinals. Musah started Sunday’s match against Sassuolo and Pulisic subbed on in the second half as Milan clawed its way back to a 3-3 draw. Friday then has Juventus and Weston McKennie traveling to Cagliari for a Serie A tilt. Juve is currently third in the league and needs to keep picking up results to secure a UEFA Champions League place for next season.

UEFA Champions League Preview

Speaking of the Champions League, the quarterfinals wrap up today and tomorrow and there are a number of storylines to keep an eye on. Luis Enrique is strong in his belief that Paris Saint-Germain can overcome a 3-2 loss in the first leg to advance past Barcelona. Xavi has promised that Barca will look to attack rather than sitting and protecting its lead. Elsewhere, Bayern Munich will be without the suspended Alphonso Davies and likely Kingsley Coman due to injury, and their replacements will be hard pressed to contain Ben White and Bukayo Saka. Finally, Edin Terzic’s substitutions gave Borussia Dortmund a spark in the team’s 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid in the first leg, which means the coach may have a selection headache on his hands as he tries to lead his side to a comeback.

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That’ll do it for me this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. D.C. United: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 3-2 win over D.C. United?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City came back from two deficits against D.C. United to claim a huge 3-2 win this weekend — the team’s second victory of the season. It looked like it would be a long night for the Lions in the first 20 minutes, but they turned it around. Down a goal late, David Brekalo and Duncan McGuire converted to earn Orlando City three points.

Here’s how I saw the individual performances by the Lions.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 6 — Gallese took his usual position in goal and had a strong night. He allowed himself to get pushed out of the play on the opening goal by Christian Benteke, though it arguably should’ve been a foul on D.C. He ended the game with four saves from six on-target shots, including two huge saves in second-half stoppage time. In addition to his shot stopping, Gallese completed 51.9% of his 27 passes, including seven of his 20 long balls. He was also credited with three clearances on the night.

D, Kyle Smith, 5.5 — Smith got the start at left back in this game over Rafael Santos, recording 53 touches. He had three tackles, three clearances, and a blocked shot. Going forward, he only completed 76.5% of his 34 passes, but connected with his lone cross and five of his nine long balls. He also won two aerial balls and was booked just before coming off for handling a ball that he should’ve cleared, giving D.C. a free kick in a dangerous position. The defender was replaced by Santos in the 73rd minute.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — Jansson was a strong point for Orlando City once again in this game. He recorded one tackle, two interceptions, a blocked shot, and three clearances. Going forward, the center back completed 80.4% of his 46 passes, including four of his seven long balls. Arguably his biggest play of the game was drawing a foul late at the top of the box when D.C. was pushing for an equalizer.

D, David Brekalo, 6 — Brekalo had 60 touches and completed 76.6% of his 47 passes, including three of his 13 long balls. Defensively, he recorded one tackle, one interception, and two clearances. He made his first significant offensive impact as a Lion by getting his head to a Nico Lodeiro corner kick in the 82nd minute to even the game at 2-2.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Thorhallsson only had 58 touches in the game, but the right back made the most of them. He completed 76.7% of his 30 passes and three of his six long balls, but failed to connect on his lone cross. Defensively, he recorded two tackles and three clearances. However, his biggest impact came in the 28th minute, when he got his head onto Ivan Angulo’s cross to even the game at 1-1.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 5 — Araujo’s 70 touches were the most on the team for this game. He only completed 78.2% of his 55 passes, but connected on two of his four long balls. Defensively, he won two tackles and blocked one shot while committing a team-high four fouls. He was also late getting over to cover Gabriel Pirani on the second goal for D.C. Overall, it wasn’t one of Araujo’s best games.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 5.5 — Cartagena started in the defensive midfield alongside Araujo. He recorded 41 touches and completed 81.3% of his 32 passes, including a key pass, his one cross, and one of his three long balls. Defensively, he recorded two clearances. As is common with the midfielder, he was booked in the first half for standing over Jared Stroud after a foul by Angulo. He was taken off during a triple substitution in the 72nd minute, replaced by Lodeiro.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — Angulo was the least involved of the midfielders, only recording 35 touches. However, he completed 76.2% of his 21 passes, including a wonderful cross to Thorhallsson on the Lions’ first goal of the night. His lone shot was off target, but he helped defensively with a tackle and team-high three interceptions.

MF, Facundo Torres, 5.5 — Torres recorded 50 touches in this game and completed 90.9% of his 33 passes with no key passes. He was accurate on only one of his three crosses, which was an issue. His lone shot was off target but not by much, as he sent his effort just wide of the right post from outside the area. He came off in stoppage time after the Lions took the lead for center back Rodrigo Schlegel.

MF, Martin Ojeda, 5.5 — Ojeda started in the attacking midfield for this game, recording 46 touches. He completed 71.4% of his 21 passes, including two key passes, one accurate cross on his four attempts, and two of his four long balls. He also had four unstable touches and an off-target shot. Defensively, the attacking midfielder had a team-high four tackles, helping his team retain possession before being replaced by Duncan McGuire in the 72nd minute.

F, Luis Muriel, 5 — Muriel got the start alone up top, but had a difficult night. He got involved in the game with 36 touches and completed 64.7% of his 17 passes, including two key passes. He took two shots, with one on target, and completed two dribbles, but had five unstable touches. He could’ve had a much better performance, but attempted to dribble through the opposition in the box rather than finding a teammate, losing possession. The forward’s night ended in the 87th minute when he was replaced by Felipe.

Substitutes

D, Rafael Santos (73’), 5.5 — Santos came on in the 73rd minute for Smith at left back. He had 14 touches and completed seven of his 10 touches (70%), but failed to connect on his one long ball and three crosses. He also didn’t record any defensive stats in his 17 minutes of action.

MF, Nico Lodeiro (72’), 6.5 (MotM) — Lodeiro came on in the 72nd minute for Cartagena, looking to make a difference. The midfielder touched the ball 18 times and completed 75% of his 12 passes, including two key passes, two of his three crosses, and one of his three long balls. Both of his shots were on target and his through ball for McGuire in second-half stoppage time gave him the assist on the game-winning goal. Although the stats sheet credited Torres with the assist on Brekalo’s goal, it was the veteran who took the set piece, which should result in a two-assist night once the league has had a chance to review the tape (see below…even Evan Weston calls him ‘Torres’ on his call). Lodeiro was a game-changer when he came on so, despite his lack of minutes, he earns my Man of the Match.

F, Duncan McGuire (72’), 6 — McGuire came on with Lodeiro as the Lions were chasing the game. He had 14 touches and completed 44.4% of his nine passes. However, the striker was brought on to score and did so in stoppage time, timing his run perfectly and finishing well on the breakaway. He also recorded a tackle and clearance but gets a high grade from me for doing exactly what he was brought on to do in scoring the winning goal.

MF, Felipe (87’), N/A — Felipe came on for Muriel as the Lions looked to see out a point, but he only touched the ball three times. He completed both of his passes, but didn’t record any other stats in his minimal time on the field.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel (90+2’), N/A — Schlegel came on right after the game-winning goal for Torres as the Lions looked to see out the win. He had two touches and an incomplete pass, but no other statistics.


That’s how I saw the individual performances in Orlando City’s win over D.C. United. Let us know how you saw the game and vote for your Man of the Match below.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/15/24

Lions beat D.C. United, Pride pick up road win over Utah Royals, Barbra Banda arrives in Orlando, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. Orlando City and the Pride both won over the weekend, and there has been plenty of action in European soccer. Over the past week, I’ve been busy covering high school sports like lacrosse and softball. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Top D.C. United

Orlando City overturned a late 2-1 deficit to win 3-2 against D.C. United at Audi Field over the weekend. David Brekalo scored the equalizer in the second half to tie the match at 2-2. Duncan McGuire came off the bench in the second half and scored in stoppage time, as the Lions beat D.C. United for the first time since Oct. 2, 2021. The Lions were 0-3-1 against D.C. United over the last two seasons prior to Saturday’s win. Orlando has now picked up points in each of the last three matches. Orlando City will be on the road again this weekend when it takes on CF Montreal on Saturday.

Orlando Pride Defeat Utah Royals; Help Arrives

The Orlando Pride got their first win of the 2024 NWSL last Friday with a 1-0 against the Utah Royals. Marta came off the bench in the second half and scored the lone goal to seal the win for Orlando. The Pride drew each of their first three matches to start the season against Racing Louisville, Angel City FC, and the Chicago Red Stars. Friday’s result means the Pride have six points through four league matches and are fifth in the NWSL table.

Despite needing four matches to pick up their first win of the year, the Pride are ahead of last year’s pace at the same point in the season, and remain undefeated (1-0-3) despite still waiting to play with this off-season’s marquee signing, Zambian international striker Barbra Banda. The new Pride forward arrived on Sunday to a warm welcome at Orlando International Airport.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Seb Hines can get Banda acclimated to the club and the league. Orlando could use Banda’s offensive firepower, as the club has struggled to score goals in the early part of the season. The Pride will be back in action against the San Diego Wave this Friday.

Bayer Leverkusen wins Bundesliga; Manchester City Leads EPL Title Race

Bayer Leverkusen cruised to a 5-0 win against Werder Bremen on Sunday to win its first ever Bundesliga title with five league matches left to spare. Xabi Alonso’s side won the league title by a 16-point margin, ending Bayern Munich’s 11-year run as title holders. Leverkusen is also unbeaten through 43 matches across all competitions. Meanwhile, in England, we have a new Premier League title race leader as Manchester City crushed Luton Town 5-1 on Saturday. On Sunday, Arsenal lost 2-0 to Aston Villa and Liverpool lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace. There are six match days remaining and this race could go down to the wire. Manchester City is at the top of the table with 73 points, while Arsenal and Liverpool remain two points behind in second and third, respectively, with 71 points.

Free Kicks

  • Houston Dash winger Maria Sanchez has reportedly requested a trade four months after signing a record-breaking deal in NWSL history in the off-season to remain with the club.
  • Manchester United edged Chelsea 2-1 to beat the Blues for the first time ever. Making the win even bigger was that it took place in the Women’s FA Cup semifinal. United will play Tottenham in the final at Wembley on May 12.
  • The EFL Championship is three weeks away from its finale, with a few clubs featureing Americans still in the mix for promotion. Josh Sargent’s Norwich City side holds the final playoff spot, while Haji Wright’s Conventry and Duane Holmes’ Preston North End in the hunt for a shot at promotion.
  • The AS Roma versus Udinese match was suspended after defender Evan Ndicka collapsed away from play and had to be stretchered off. The game was tied at 1-1 with about 20 minutes remaining when Ndicka went down. The club shared this update on social media.

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

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