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Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Five Takeaways

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Orlando City came back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to beat the Columbus Crew 2-1 in the regular-season finale at Exploria Stadium. With Cincinnati jumping out to a big early lead at D.C. United, the Lions needed all three points to keep their season alive and now look forward to the MLS Cup playoffs on Sunday in Montreal. What can we take away from the Lions’ win in their final game of the regular season?

Columbus Was the Early Aggressor

Orlando City needed a win in this game to make the playoffs while Columbus only needed a draw. You’d expect the Lions to come out attacking and the Crew to sit behind the ball, but it was the opposite in the first half. The Crew were on the attack while the Lions seemed happy to defend. Orlando City didn’t pressure the Crew back line and, when it did, some of the team stayed back, creating gaps in the midfield. After 45 minutes, it was tough to see the Lions winning. The Crew controlled the pace of the first half and it paid off in the 38th minute when Derrick Etienne Jr. gave the visitors the lead. At halftime, it seemed highly unlikely that the Lions would be able to mount a comeback.

A Tale of Two Halves

The Lions needed to change their mindset in the second half and they did. The team pressed higher and was more creative in the final third. Orlando put Columbus on their heels, resulting in Junior Urso’s goal in the 56th minute. After the goal, the Lions continued to create opportunities and eventually found the winner. In short, the second-half Lions looked like a team needing to win.

Part of that could’ve been that the Crew were playing more behind the ball, which was bound to happen with a 1-0 lead and Columbus merely needing a draw to qualify. But the Lions also looked like a different team in the second 45 minutes. Had they come out that way at the start of the game, they probably wouldn’t have needed a comeback or any late heroics.

Pedro Gallese, Orlando City’s Savior

As has happened on many occasions, Gallese was once again asked to make some huge saves. The Peruvian goalkeeper was excellent in the second half, making some big stops that kept his team in the game. In the 35th minute, Gallese tipped a shot from Cucho Hernandez off the post and collected the rebound. He also made some huge saves in the second half, including an 86th-minute save on Lucas Zelarayan and an injury-time stop on Zelarayan to keep the 2-1 lead. Without the team’s number one, the result likely would’ve been different and the season would’ve ended.

Benji Michel’s Impact

Ercan Kara is a player that needs service to succeed. He doesn’t possess much speed and doesn’t press the opposing defense. Michel isn’t as good at finishing as Kara, but he provided the energy, speed, and pressure needed. Michel’s shot in the 81st minute hit the hand of Milos Degenek, giving the Lions a penalty that resulted in the game-winning goal. He’s not the team’s best forward, but Michel makes a difference off the bench and did so again in this one.

Facundo Torres Has Nerves of Steel

Orlando City has had some trouble finding the right penalty taker in the last couple of years. The team didn’t find out that Daryl Dike was the best option until shortly before he left. This year, Designated Players Kara and Torres have both emerged as viable options, as did Alexandre Pato prior to his knee injury. Torres showed his value from the spot again in this game, providing the winning margin. Crew goalkeeper Eloy Room guessed the right way on Torres’ late penalty, and even left his line early, but it was well struck into the corner, resulting in the Lions’ game-winning goal.


This is what I took away from Orlando City’s 2-1 win over the Crew. It looked like this game would be six losses in seven games to end Orlando’s season, if not for the comeback. It was an ugly way to get into the playoffs, but the team has made the postseason for the third consecutive year after failing to in its first five seasons in MLS. Let us know what stood out to you in this match in the comments below.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Chicago Fire: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions look to bounce back on the road with a midweek visit to Chicago.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to your match thread and preview for a midweek matchup between Orlando City (4-6-4, 16 points) and the Chicago Fire (2-8-5, 11 points) at Soldier Field (8:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the first of the two scheduled meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals in 2024 and the only matchup in Chicago. The teams are scheduled to meet in Orlando in a few weeks on June 22.

Here’s what you need to know about the match.

History

The Lions are 7-5-6 in 18 MLS meetings with the Fire and 7-6-6 in all competitions. Orlando City is 3-3-3 against the Fire on the road in MLS play and 3-4-2 away in all competitions.

The Lions swept the two-game season series in 2023 by identical 3-1 scorelines. In the most recent meeting between the sides, the Lions got goals from Wilder Cartagena, Ivan Angulo, and Facundo Torres (from the penalty spot) to overcome a 1-0 deficit supplied by Mauricio Pineda, winning 3-1 on the road.

When the teams met in Orlando, the Lions rode a Torres brace to a 3-1 win on July 1. Xherdan Shaqiri pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after a Kyle Smith foul in the box against Brian Gutierrez, but Ramiro Enrique added an insurance goal.

Orlando City claimed a 1-0 victory at Exploria Stadium on April 9, 2022 on Ercan Kara’s first MLS goal. The two sides met at Soldier Field just over a month prior to that match and played, officially, to a 0-0 draw on March 5. The game is another Orlando City match that will live in infamy due to the Professional Referee Organization’s statement after the game that Junior Urso’s goal should not have been overturned upon video review by Ismir Pekmic due to Kara not having clearly and obviously handled the ball in the buildup in any of the available replay angles. Alas…

The teams met in Orlando on Aug. 21, 2021, with a second-half Benji Michel strike lifting the Lions to a 1-0 victory. Tesho Akindele set up the play by forcing a turnover. In that year’s meeting at Soldier Field, the Fire got the better of the Lions to the tune of 3-1 on July 7. Andres Perea scored his first career MLS goal to open the scoring, but a defensive lapse in first-half stoppage allowed Boris Sekulic to equalize just before the break. Chicago rode that momentum, adding goals by Robert Beric and Chinonso Offor.

The Lions were 0-4-4 in the eight meetings before smashing the Fire 4-1 in Orlando on Sept. 19, 2020. Orlando City withstood two Chicago penalties and saw two Fire goals overturned by video review in that rain-soaked match. (Weird things usually happen when Chicago visits Orlando.) The Lions got goals from Chris Mueller, Nani, Urso, and Michel, while Chicago had only a Beric penalty to show for an otherwise good offensive performance.

The last meeting of 2019 was the last time the Fire won on the road in the series. It was a debacle for the Lions, who lost defender Robin Jansson to a back/neck injury early and shipped a handful of goals in a 5-2 home loss in the regular-season finale. Orlando got goals from Akindele and Michel but largely played like a team that couldn’t wait to end its season. Chicago got an own goal from Orlando’s Smith and strikes from CJ Sapong, Aleksandar Katai, and Przemyslaw Frankowski (twice) in the rout.

Orlando City was seconds away from a road win on March 9, 2019 before Sapong’s free header in the 95th minute leveled things in a 1-1 draw in Chicago. Dom Dwyer scored Orlando’s goal.

In 2018, the Fire swept the season series. Orlando fell 2-1 at home on May 26, 2018, with Alan Gordon’s wondergoal breaking a 1-1 deadlock. The return leg in Chicago that September was an abysmal performance by Orlando in a 4-0 Fire victory.

Chicago went 1-0-1 in 2017, with the teams playing to a 0-0 draw on June 4, 2017, with the Lions reduced to nine men. The previous 2017 meeting was the Fire’s 4-0 beatdown of Orlando on June 24 of that year. David Accam figured in all four goals, with a hat trick and an assist on Nemanja Nikolić’s goal.

The teams split the points in 2016, drawing both meetings. Cyle Larin and Accam traded goals in a 1-1 draw in Orlando on March 11. The Fire again came from behind to draw, 2-2 in the return leg that August.

The teams met once in Orlando in 2015, with the Lions and Fire battling to a 1-1 draw. You may recall that five-hour, weather-delayed affair with Eric Gehrig’s own-goal canceling out an Accam strike. The other three meetings came in Chicago, with City winning 3-2 and 1-0 in MLS matches and falling 3-1 in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal action.

Overview

The Lions are coming off a controversial 2-0 home loss to the Columbus Crew on Saturday that saw an Orlando City penalty reviewed and a penalty awarded instead to the Crew for a soft call on Cesar Araujo at the other end more than a minute earlier. The play also cleared Diego Rossi of any wrongdoing on what appeared to be a clear foul in the attacking phase of play that preceded the Araujo foul. Rossi added a second goal in transition and sealed the fate of a wasteful Lions team that struggled to split the difference (again) between hitting the goalkeeper squarely and missing the net entirely.

That loss snapped Orlando’s three-game unbeaten run and dropped the Lions to a dismal 1-4-3 at home. The good news is that City is 3-2-1 away from home this season and 3-0-1 in its last four road matches.

Chicago has struggled in 2024, but both of the team’s wins have come at home, where the Fire are just 2-5-1 in eight games. The Fire are coming off a 1-1 road draw against D.C. United over the weekend, which extended Chicago’s current winless streak to eight matches (0-5-3). Leading the Chicago offense are Hugo Cuypers and Brian Gutierrez, who each have three goals and an assist on the season. Attacking midfielders Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabian Herbers have each chipped in two goals and two assists on the season, while USMNT midfielder Kellyn Acosta has two goals and an assist.

“I see a team as well that is changing things. Their structure in the last game has been modified,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said ahead of the match. “We are adapting to those things. Pretty much thinking, if we have that optimism and think about our team, we can get our result. They are probably more direct than Columbus and they have good players. We have to be very crafty to penetrate and not let up. That’s what we asked of our players.”

The Lions list Mikey Halliday (knee), Duncan McGuire (shoulder), and Tahir Reid-Brown (thigh) as out on the availability report, but the club did show a photo of McGuire getting on the plane Tuesday.

Match Content


Projected Lineups

Orlando City (3-5-2)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rodrigo Schlegel, Wilder Cartagena, David Brekalo.

Wingbacks/Midfielders: Facundo Torres, Nico Lodeiro, Cesar Araujo, Ivan Angulo, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Forwards: Luis Muriel, Jack Lynn.

Chicago Fire (4-4-2 Diamond)

Goalkeeper: Chris Brady

Defenders: Andrew Gutman, Rafa Czichos, Carlos Teran, Allan Arigoni.

Midfielders: Federico Navarro, Mauricio Pineda, Brian Guitierrez, Kellyn Acosta.

Forwards: Tom Barlow, Hugo Cuypers.

Referees

REF: Malik Badawi.
AR1: Justin Howard.
AR2: Kali Smith.
4TH: Calin Radosav.
VAR: Edvin Jurisevic.
AVAR: Jonathan Johnson.


How to Watch

Match Time: 8:30 p.m.

Venue: Soldier Field — Chicago.

TV/Streaming: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Mega 97.1 FM (Spanish).

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).


Enjoy the game. Go City!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/29/24

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight, Kaká to be honored, Pride linked to Grace Chanda, and more.

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Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. It’s match day for Orlando City as the Lions travel to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Fire. Orlando City looks to get back to its winning ways in the midweek matchup and we will have all the coverage you need during the match on our Twitter account, and after the match right here at The Mane Land.

We would also like to wish Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines a very happy birthday! Frankly, it’s the least we can do given everything he has done so far this NWSL season. For now, let’s get to the links.

Lions Prepare for the Fire

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Soldier Field. The Lions will look to extend a three-match winning streak over the Fire. Facundo Torres has been particularly effective against Chicago, so hopefully he can start scoring some more goals as well. We will have our match preview a little later today.

Kaká to Become First Member of Legends Terrace at Inter&Co Stadium

Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are creating a “Legends Terrace” at Inter&Co Stadium to permanently honor those who have made a lasting impact with either club. Unsurprisingly, the first inductee will be the one and only Kaká. The ceremony will take place following the July 6 match against D.C. United. There will also be a concert featuring Latin performer Jota Quest in the Publix Mane Street Plaza outside the stadium prior to the match.

Orlando Pride Linked With Grace Chanda

Do you like Barbra Banda and what she has done since joining the Pride? Do you find yourself wondering, “got anymore of those Zambian strikers?” Well, it just so happens that the Orlando Pride are reportedly interested in signing Zambian forward Grace Chanda. According to the report, the San Diego Wave, Racing Louisville, and the Pride are all interested in signing Chanda. Given the Pride are serious about contending for a title this season, adding another quality attacker is a good move. Let’s hope the rumor is true.

Pride’s Summer Cup Schedule Adjusted

The Olympics won’t be the only women’s soccer competition this summer, as the inaugural NWSL x LIGA MX Femenil Summer Cup will start on July 19. We have learned that the Orlando Pride match against C.F. Monterrey at Inter&Co Stadium has been moved up from Sunday, July 28 to Saturday, July 27. The move does not affect Orlando City’s schedule, as the Lions play a rare Friday match that week. You can check out more information on the competition here.

Free Kicks

  • I know that there are those who are upset with the Leagues Cup as it definitely impacted the U.S. Open Cup this year. However, if you do decide to go to a match, at least part of the ticket price will go to a good cause.
  • Congratulations to Felipe. That is a lot of matches and we appreciate him being with our beloved Orlando City.
  • Congratulations also go out to Orlando City academy player Camilio Guerrero for earning a call-up to a U.S. U-14 national talent identification camp.
  • USMNT winger Tim Weah is making money moves in the Big Apple.

That will do it for today. We will see you on the other side of the match tonight. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/28/24

Yutaro Tsukada earns recognition, Americans in midweek action, European coaching updates, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you all had a restful holiday weekend, and if you didn’t, then I hope you’re well on the way to recovery. We’ve got an exciting schedule this week, with two Orlando City games before an Orlando City B game on Sunday. It’s also OCB forward Yeiler Valencia’s birthday today, so let’s wish him well and jump into today’s links!

Yutaro Tsukada Earns MLS NEXT Pro Honors

OCB winger Yutaro Tsukada was named MLS NEXT Pro Player of Matchweek 11 for his performance in the team’s 5-0 home win against Huntsville City FC. The 22-year-old provided the assist on OCB’s first goal after using some nice skill on the ball to shake his defender. Tsukada then scored a goal of his own off of a free kick in the second half. The rookie has been electric for the Young Lions this season, recording four goals and four assists so far. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling when OCB faces Inter Miami II this Sunday.

Major League Soccer Stock Watch

Every week gives us a better idea of each MLS team’s capabilities, so let’s check in on how things are looking following the latest matchday. LAFC is on a great trajectory, as it’s won three consecutive league games and five straight in all competitions. Elsewhere in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake scored three goals in the final 30 minutes of play to stretch its unbeaten streak to 11 games, and Cristian Arango didn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting. At the other end of things, the New England Revolution have lost three straight games, and six of their last seven. Likewise, the shine looks to have worn off from St. Louis City’s expansion season, as the team has also lost three straight games and simply doesn’t look the same as last year.

Americans in Midweek Action

With most of the European club seasons having concluded, there aren’t as many United States Men’s National Team players in action during the working week, but there are still some important games to make note of. Chief among those is Venezia’s game against Cremonese on Thursday. Tanner Tessmann, Gianluca Busio and Venezia will take on Cremonese over two legs, with the winner gaining promotion to Serie A. Left back Jonathan Gomez may take the field tomorrow morning in Real Sociedad’s friendly against Tokyo Verde as well.

In a pair of friendlies on Friday, Mexico plays Bolivia and Uruguay takes on Costa Rica. With the USMNT set to face both Bolivia and Uruguay in group play of this summer’s Copa America, the two matches present a good chance to better gauge the Yanks’ opponents.

European Coaching Updates

Several notable European club teams have coaching vacancies to fill this summer, and there are some updates on a few of those positions. Chelsea has reportedly made an approach for Leicester City’s Enzo Maresca, and has requested permission to talk to the manager who guided the Foxes back to the Premier League in his first year with the club. Meanwhile, despite interest from Manchester United, Kieran McKenna is reportedly set to stay at Ipswich Town, and has had talks about extending his contract. Finally, Aston Villa has extended Unai Emery’s contract, with his new deal keeping him at the club until 2029.

Transfer Rumor Roundup

Transfer season is kicking into gear, and we have several rumors to sift through this morning. Up first, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich are reportedly all in hot pursuit of Stade Rennais winger Desire Doue. Casemiro reportedly has a deal lined up with a team in the Saudi Pro League, and may have played his last game for Manchester United. Newly promoted Southampton is reportedly interested in signing Adam Lallana as a free agent. Finally, Paris Saint-Germain is said to have entered the race to sign Bruno Guimaraes, and will face stiff competition from Manchester City and Arsenal.

Free Kicks


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

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