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Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. FC Cincinnati

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Following a successful first outing of 2023, Orlando City will try to keep the good times rolling on Saturday. The Lions will once again be at home, and they will be facing fellow Lions, FC Cincinnati.

Ahead of this one, I spoke to Bryan Weigel, co-founder of the excellent Cincinnati Soccer Talk. As usual, Bryan provided some outstanding insight into FCC ahead of the match.

Marco Angulo was FC Cincinnati’s big off-season signing. How does he fit into FCC’s lineup?

Bryan Weigel: Fitting new U22 Initiative player Marco Angulo into the FCC lineup in 2023 will be a crucial task for Head Coach Pat Noonan. The 20-year-old midfielder arrives from Independiente del Valle on a $3 million transfer and will play in a box-to-box role for the Orange & Blue. 

Supplanting existing midfielder Junior Moreno will take time if not all season. Moreno has been a stalwart next to Designated Player Obinna Nwobodo in a 3-5-2, but he cannot cover as much ground as the younger Ecuadorian. I think it is a luxury that FCC can slowly work in Angulo due to the veteran Moreno and former DP Yuya Kubo ahead of him on the depth chart. We have seen his tape and some time at training with most feedback being extremely positive.

Look for Angulo to come off the bench early on in 2023, but by the time both teams play in September, I think it is more likely that he will be a starter. Noonan seems to prefer a 4-4-2 diamond formation and I think Angulo will fit well once FCC moves to that later in 2023 or in 2024.

What area of the field is strongest for Cincy, and what area gives you the most concern?

BW: I would be silly if my answer for the strongest area of the field for FCC wasn’t the attacking trio of Brandon Vazquez, Brenner, and Lucho Acosta. Fortunately for Orlando, Brenner was back in Brazil for three weeks tending to a family illness and just returned to Cincy early last week. He came off the bench for goal scorer Sergio Santos, and I think it is 50/50 that he starts.

The other 18-goal scorer, Vazquez, looked dangerous at times this weekend, but was unable to find the back of the net on two really good chances. Acosta, an MVP candidate and MLS assists leader in 2022, is always dangerous and can create opportunities seemingly out of nothing. Santos will be the alternate to Brenner and is one of the fastest attackers in the league. Even the fourth striker, Dom Badji, is very talented and provides another option off the bench.

The area that gives me the most concern is the defense. While upgraded with Wolverhampton loanee center back Yerson Mosquera and former PSV/Atletico Madrid left back Santiago Arias, this group has not had much time together. Add in returners Nick Hagglund, Matt Miazga, and — in my opinion — a top-three left wing back, Alvaro Barreal, this group has talent, but needs time together.

Cincinnati had a great 2022, roaring out of the bottom of the East with a vengeance. What are the expectations for the team this year?

BW: 2022 was a pleasant surprise in FCC-land. New general manager Chris Albright pulled many of the right levers in adding players like Miazga, Nwobodo, Moreno, and draft pick Roman Celentano. Pat Noonan and his staff showed the ability to maximize the potential of the high-profile signings and look to do so again.

Windows for success in MLS are small, and the window with this group could be slamming shut soon as constructed. Young Designated Player Brenner is looking to move abroad and will likely depart this Summer. FCC has already turned down a $7.5 million bid for Brandon Vazquez and he could also be out soon. 

How will FCC address these potential losses and still fight for silverware? The project looks to be headed in the right direction and the management of many distractions will be key.

Are there any injuries, suspensions, etc. that will keep players unavailable for selection? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?

BW: There are only two injuries of significance so far this spring. Backup keeper Alec Kann has been out for the past several weeks, but returned to full training early this week. Sergio Santos picked up a knock around the 60th minute on Saturday, but he also returned to training.

Here is my projected Starting XI: (3-5-2)

Roman Celentano; Yerson Mosquera, Matt Miazga, Nick Hagglund; Alvaro Barreal Santiago Arias, Junior Moreno, Obi Nwobodo, Lucho Acosta ©; Brenner, Brandon Vazquez.

This match has always scared me as I think Orlando and its fans are very difficult to play against. Orlando was my pick for second in the Eastern Conference, and I like many of their moves. FCC looked a bit shaky in transition and if they don’t clean it up, I think Orlando can put several goals past Celentano.

In my view, both teams boast top-level talent in the East, but need the pieces to gel together. With that, I think FCC will be a bit more defensive minded and will try to hit Orlando on the counter or take advantage of pressing cues. 

My pick is a 2-2 draw in Orlando this weekend. Goals by Brenner and Vazquez.


As always, a huge thank you to Bryan for the information on FCC. Vamos Orlando!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/21/24

Two Lions recognized, Pride player up for weekly honors, United States releases training camp roster, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It was a damn good weekend for Orlando’s teams, as Orlando City beat San Jose 1-0, and the Orlando Pride took down the Seattle Reign 3-2, which meant that the two teams picked up all six points on offer, and out on the west coast, no less! We’ve got plenty of news to talk over today, so let’s jump straight into the links.

Lions Included in Team of the Matchday

A pair of Lions have been rewarded for their efforts in Saturday’s win with a place in the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. Wilder Cartagena was given a spot in the starting XI as a center back after yet another commanding performance in a three-man back line for Orlando City. The Peruvian was superb and finished with five tackles, four clearances, and two interceptions, as OCSC kept a second clean sheet in a row. Jack Lynn was given a spot on the bench, after grabbing a late winner in an extended substitute appearance. Lynn entered the fray for an injured Duncan McGuire in the 16th minute, and was the difference maker as he latched onto a scuffed Martin Ojeda shot to win the game for Orlando in the 89th minute.

Pride Player up for Weekly Honors

Emily Sams’ strike against the Seattle Reign has been nominated for the NWSL Goal of the Week. On a night that had plenty of goals, Sams opened the scoring in the ninth minute. The ball found its way to her at the top of the box, and the defender didn’t even bother taking a touch as she hit the ball first time and curled it past the despairing dive of Laurel Ivory. Sams isn’t exactly a prolific goal scorer, so that makes the sweetly hit goal that much better. Be sure you go and drop a vote for her to win!

United States Releases Pre-Copa Roster

The United States Men’s National Team has announced its 27-player roster that will take part in a pre-Copa America training camp. The final tournament roster needs to have at least 23 players and a maximum of 26, so Gregg Berhalter won’t need to make a ton of cuts if he doesn’t want to. The roster features Josh Sargent making his return to a training camp for the first time since the 2022 World Cup, as well as Cameron-Carter Vickers, Luca de la Torre, and Sean Johnson making their first appearances in 2024. LAFC youngster Timmy Tillman is the least experienced player in the mix with just one appearance to his name, while Christian Pulisic’s 66 appearances leads the team. The USMNT will play Colombia and Brazil in tune-up friendlies on June 8 and June 12, with the latter match taking place in Orlando at Camping World Stadium.

MLS Stock Watch

With another MLS matchday in the close, we can reflect on which teams are on the rise, and which ones seem to be headed in the wrong direction. FC Cincinnati has now won six straight games, and is hot on Inter Miami’s heels at the top of the Eastern Conference table. New York City FC has now won three in a row after beating the New York Red Bulls 2-1 in the Hudson River Derby, a result which saw the Pigeons leapfrog NYRB into third place in the East. At the other end of things, the Chicago Fire have lost four straight and only scored two goals in their last seven matches, while CF Montreal got hammered 5-1 by Toronto FC and has matched Chicago with a fourth-straight loss.

European Transfer Rumor Roundup

Several European club seasons may have ended, but that just means that the off-season transfer rumor mill is starting to kick into gear. Premier League champion Manchester City has reportedly agreed to personal terms with West Ham midfielder Lucas Paqueta, but is still negotiating with the Hammers about a sale price. Runners-up Arsenal wants to bolster its team to get over the line and win the title next year and is said to have Alexander Isak, Brian Brobbey, and Viktor Gyokeres on a short list of strikers, although the Gunners expect to face competition from Chelsea for Gyokeres. Despite chatter concerning a possible move away during the summer, Mohamed Salah has said he will “fight like hell” to win trophies with Liverpool next season. Finally, Bayern Munich is said to have had internal talks about appointing Vincent Kompany as the club’s next manager, and the board has even reached out to the Belgian directly to discuss his current situation.

Free Kicks


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

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from Orlando City beating the Earthquakes on the West Coast?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City wrapped up three matches in eight days with a trip out west on short rest for a late night matchup against the San Jose Earthquakes. Playing level throughout much of the match, it appeared as though both teams would split the points until the Cardiac Cats found some late magic. What follows are my immediate takeaways from an unexpected, yet satisfying, three points.

3-5-2 For the Win

The 3-5-2 lineup returned once again and proved to be quite a versatile team shape for the Lions. Against San Jose, the Lions were without captain Robin Jansson due to injury and defensive midfielder Cesar Araujo was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Dagur Dan Thorhallsson returned to the starting lineup and slotted in as a wingback in the formation. Wilder Cartagena excelled once again as a center back, and Felipe did well filling in for Araujo in the midfield. The shape has allowed the coaching staff to more easily fill gaps with different players as needed, and I think we may see it as the default formation for the foreseeable future.

Duncan McGuire Injured Early On

Jack Lynn was substituted on in the 15th minute for an injured Duncan McGuire, who landed awkwardly on his right arm after being sandwiched between two Quakes players in an aerial duel. It was an early exit for McGuire, who tried to stop his fall by sticking out his forearm. Given the injuries the team has dealt with over the last several matches, one can only hope this does not lead to a prolonged absence for Orlando’s leading scorer.

Ivan Angulo Defies Tired Legs

No one would have faulted the Lions for sitting back as the match neared its end given that this was their third match in eight days, and second on the road during that stretch. It makes the effort Ivan Angulo gave to help create the winning goal even more impressive. After running up and down the field all game, Angulo chased down a clearance after a San Jose corner kick and beat defenders down the length of the field on a lung-busting run. The fitness staff and trainers deserve some credit for ensuring that the Lions had their legs under them that late into a match considering the travel and schedule congestion of the week.

Jack Lynn After Dark

Jack Lynn, who was selected in the first round of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, found the back of the net for the second time this season. In what was likely an unexpected 75 minutes of game action for him, Lynn scored late to give Orlando all three points. The goal was a combination of being in the right place at the right time, as Martin Ojeda mishit his shot after the cross from Angulo, and impressive body control from Lynn, who contorted his body to redirect the ball into the back of the net. It was an impressive finish for Lynn, who had another great chance to put the game away that was saved just minutes prior to his goal. Lynn ultimately would not be denied and made sure the Orlando City fans back on the East Coast woke up to good news.

Making History On the Road

Orlando City and the San Jose Earthquakes do not exactly have a storied rivalry however, anytime the club can achieve a first in team history it should be mentioned. Last evening’s victory marked Orlando City’s first ever road victory against the Earthquakes. Heading into this match, I thought the Lions would opt for a heavily rotated lineup on the road, as the Lions were facing a club at the bottom of the Western Conference table on short rest. Instead, the club turned in a classic performance under Pareja, staying defensively sound to keep the game close and get a result on the road. The Lions were able to get the win on a counter attack and the result secured seven points from their last three matches.


Those are the things that stood out most to me from the 1-0 victory against the Earthquakes, let us know in the comments below what stood out to you. As always, vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/20/24

Lions and Pride win, MLS weekend recap, Manchester City wins Premier League title, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. It was another good weekend for our teams, as Orlando City and the Pride both won their respective matches. I’ve been busy covering high school playoff action with soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, and softball. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Pull Out Late Win on the Road

Orlando City pulled out a late 1-0 win on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes at PayPal Park on Saturday. Jack Lynn came off the bench and scored the lone goal in this match for Orlando to grab the three points. Duncan McGuire started the match but had to be substituted out early in the first half due to injury and was replaced by Lynn. The Lions are on a three-match unbeaten streak after a scoreless draw at home against Inter Miami on Wednesday. Orlando City moves up to 10th in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. The Lions return to action on Saturday to face the Columbus Crew at Inter&Co Stadium.

Orlando Pride Win Against Seattle Reign FC

The Orlando Pride won their seventh straight match after a 3-2 win against the Seattle Reign at Lumen Field on Sunday. There were plenty of goals in this one, with Barbra Banda lifting the Pride to their first ever win in Washington against the Reign. Orlando remains undefeated in league play after 10 matches and the Pride sit atop the NWSL table with 24 points. The Pride return home for a Friday night matchup against the Portland Thorns at Inter&Co Stadium.

MLS Weekend Recap

It was another busy weekend in MLS, with four rivalry matches taking place. Let’s start with the Hudson River Derby, as New York City FC edged past the New York Red Bulls 2-1. Real Salt Lake got a thrilling 5-3 win against the Colorado Rapids in the Rocky Mountain Cup. In Canada, Toronto FC cruised past CF Montreal with a 5-1 victory. The Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas battled to a 1-1 draw down in Texas. FC Cincinnati defeated St. Louis City SC 3-1, while the Columbus Crew beat the Chicago Fire 3-1 as well.

The Philadelphia Union shut out the New England Revolution 3-0 to snap its six-match winless streak. Austin FC won 3-2 over Sporting Kansas City, Minnesota United handed the Portland Timbers a 2-1 defeat, and Inter Miami got a late goal from Leonardo Campana for a 1-0 win over D.C. United.

Manchester City Wins English Premier League

Manchester City defeated West Ham 3-1 to win a historic fourth consecutive Premier League title on Sunday with 91 points on the final day of the season. Phil Foden scored twice in this match as Manchester City became the first club to win four straight Premier League trophies. Arsenal defeated Everton 2-1 but ended up short of the title, finishing second with 89 points. Liverpool won in Jurgen Klopp’s final match as manager, beating Wolves 2-0 to finish third. Aston Villa finished fourth despite a 5-0 loss to Crystal Palace, Tottenham finished fifth, and Chelsea finished sixth in the table. Luton Town lost 4-2 at home to Fulham to finish 18th, officially joining Burnley and Sheffield United in being relegated to the EFL Championship next season. 

Free Kicks

  • Former Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner has agreed to a one-year contract extension with Manchester United, with an option for another year. Manchester United won its first major trophy earlier this month, winning the Women’s FA Cup.
  • Former USMNT player Jonathan Bornstein has agreed to play for NPSL side Tallahassee SC in their summer season. He made his debut on Saturday as the Battle Lions won their opener 2-0 against the Miami Dutch Lions FC.
  • According to Tom Bogert, new MLS expansion side San Diego FC is reportedly closer to sealing a move to sign Chucky Lozano over from PSV Eindhoven.
  • Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi announced he will leave the club after its Premier League season ended in a 2-0 loss to Manchester United on Sunday. 
  • Bayer Leverkusen completed its Bundesliga season unbeaten with a 2-1 win over FC Augsburg. The club also made history as the first team in the history of the Bundesliga to complete a full season without a loss. 

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

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