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Orlando City vs. FC Cincinnati: Final Score 0-0 as Lions’ Attack Remains Toothless

The Lions seem completely out of sync in the attack as they failed to bother the opposing goalkeeper in the run of play for the second straight match, but they still captured a point.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City failed to bother the opposing goalkeeper for the second straight match at Exploria Stadium but the visitors couldn’t beat Pedro Gallese and so the Lions (1-0-1, 4 points) split the points with FC Cincinnati (1-0-1, 4 points) in an unsatisfying 0-0 draw. It was Orlando City’s first home draw since Halloween of 2021 against Nashville, when a late goal by Orlando was waved off.

City didn’t threaten FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Roman Celentano all evening and the Lions were fortunate that the visitors weren’t clinical in front of goal and that Gallese was behind them. Orlando has now gone three straight matches against Cincinnati without a win (0-2-1).

“We’re happy of just getting a result. At home, we need a win but this team needs to balance things,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “When we cannot win it, just get a result and walk out with a point. We’ve got to take it. but there’s a lot of positive things that we recognized tonight, especially the players who are new with the team and making us better.”

With five matches coming in a span of 15 days, Pareja rotated the hell out of his lineup, going to a similar starting XI to what was used in some of the Lions’ preseason games. Gallese started in goal behind a three-man back line of Kyle Smith, Abdi Salim, and Rodrigo Schlegel. Mikey Halliday and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson flanked Wilder Cartagena and Mauricio Pereyra, with Ercan Kara up top between Gaston Gonzalez and Facundo Torres.

For Pereyra, it was his 100th competitive match with the Lions across all competitions. Meanwhile, Ramiro Enrique was held off the team sheet due to tightness.

It took Cincinnati less than 90 seconds to create the game’s first great scoring chance. Luciano Acosta beat Pereyra in the mifield and slipped Brenner behind the defense. The shot, however, was sent high over the net as the chance was wasted in the second minute.

Moments later, the Lions turned it over in their own half and Cincinnati attacked down the right, sending a dangerous ball into the box for Brandon Vazquez. Gallese got there at the same time to get a hand to it and a foul blew the play dead seconds later.

Orlando’s first decent foray up the pitch came in the 10th minute after Halliday did well to break up a play inside the corner of the box and then Cartagena gave the slip to two pressing Cincinnati attackers. The ball was sent left to Gonzalez and ended up with Thorhallsson cutting in. He sent a cross in but the defense knocked it behind for a corner. Nothing came of that, nor did the Lions pay off a free kick won by Torres moments later, as Pereyra thumped his delivery off the defensive wall. Torres then smashed the ball wide on the recycled attack.

Brenner got forward on the ball after an Orlando turnover on a throw-in and tried a shot from outside the area but Gallese parried it away in the 23rd minute. Gallese made another diving save in the 29th minute on an Acosta free kick from just outside the left corner of the box.

The final 15 minutes of the first half were mainly spent in the middle third. Orlando struggled to work the ball into dangerous areas and struggled to execute basic plays, like throwing a ball in to a teammate and getting an accurate return pass. The first-half whistle mercifully blew on a scoreless deadlock.

Cincinnati had the bulk of the first-half possession (57.3%-42.7%) and passed more accurately (86.5%-82.9%). While Orlando City attempted more shots (4-3), the visitors got more on target (2-0). The Lions had more corner opportunities (3-0).

“We don’t ignore it,” Pareja said of the offense’s struggles through two matches. “We know, especially with a team that has had a lot of volume these past three years. It’s a number that we’re aiming to improve. We all know and today this feels probably similar to what the New York game was — not too much volume and getting actions in the box. It’s something we need to get better.”

Pareja withdrew Schlegel and Pereyra at halftime, deploying Robin Jansson and Cesar Araujo in their places. However, those changes did little to help Orlando City. The Lions did manage to get the first look at goal, however. Jansson sent a fantastic long ball over the top into the right corner from Halliday. Thorhallsson took a layoff from fullback and fired in the 50th minute but sent his shot over the bar.

A minute later, Cincinnati came within inches of breaking the deadlock when Vazquez hit a shot off the crossbar after taking a good pass from Nwobodo. A shot came back in toward goal just afterwards but Gallese was there to stop it.

Vazquez got his head on a cross near the top of the box moments later but sent his header sailing well wide of the target. A minute later, in the 54th, Smith got burned for pace by Acosta on a diagonal ball from Nwobodo but he sent his shot skipping wide of the far post.

Araujo sent Kara down the left side with a good ball in the 59th minute but the Austrian was outnumbered and without help and was shouldered off the ball as he tried to cross.

Pareja sent Martin Ojeda and Ivan Angulo on for Torres and Kara and the Lions had a spell of possession but didn’t create anything out of it. But that didn’t happen until Angulo nearly gifted Cincinnati a chance by giving up on a play after he thought he’d been fouled but there was no whistle. Cincinnati was offside on the play, bailing the Lions out.

Acosta was denied by another good Gallese save in the 77th minute. The Cincinnati attacker took a pass from Alvaro Barreal. The shot was back against Gallese’s momentum, but he was able to get to it.

Two minutes later, Ojeda teed up a shot from about 25 yards out, but he missed the target.

Vazquez sent another shot dribbling just wide of goal in the 82nd minute. Brenner and Jansson battled and the ball deflected to Vazquez who flicked it toward goal but the spin on it carried it just wide.

That was the last decent look for either side.

The visitors finished with more possession (56.5%-43.5%), shots (11-7), shots on target (4-1), and passing accuracy (88.2%-83.7%). Orlando had more corners (4-1), but the one measley, weak shot on target the Lions got was only one more than the team got (aside from the penalty) last Saturday night.

Simply put, offensively, Orlando City isn’t very good right now. Fortunately, the Lions have Gallese, who posted his second straight clean sheet to start the 2023 campaign.

“I think in terms of the attack, I think we had a little bit of trouble with some of the things that they were doing,” Gonzalez said through a club interpreter. “But I think for the most part we did well and we’re just in a moment where we need to continue improving, continue trying to get that connectivity and that chemistry with each other, and just keep improving the way that we’re able to finish.”

“We played against a good team,” Pareja said. “Cincinnati last year just created trouble for us. We couldn’t beat them. We need to be heavier at front. We need to be heavier, we need to create more volume. We’re gonna be fine. Today I’ll take the point, not proudly, but I’ll take it. It was a challenge because the rival was very hard and they played well.”


The Lions travel to Mexico for Tuesday night’s Concacaf Champions League match-up with Tigres at 10 p.m. before heading on the road to face D.C. United next Saturday.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/23/24

Ivan Angulo makes Team of the Matchday bench, Americans in action, Sergino Dest to miss Copa America, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It was an excellent weekend for Orlando’s soccer teams, as the three sides took seven of the nine points on offer. There’s no rest for the wicked this week as the Orlando Pride travel to play the Washington Spirit on Friday, Orlando City hosts Toronto FC on Saturday, and Orlando City B finishes things up at home against Toronto FC II on Sunday. Let’s take a look at today’s links.

Ivan Angulo Earns Recognition

Ivan Angulo has been named to the bench of the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. The Colombian got the start on Saturday up in Montreal, and had a good game, going the distance and completing 82% of his passes and putting one of his two shots on target. That shot was an important one, as it gave the Lions a late equalizer and helped them salvage a valuable point on the road. Sean Rollins gave him a grade of 6 in his player grades from the match, a rating that likely would have been higher had Martin Ojeda’s pass been accurate enough to allow Angulo to grab a possible winner just a few minutes after he equalized. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Americans in Midweek Action

There are a number of Americans taking part in big games this week, and the good people over at Stars and Stripes FC have you covered with the whole rundown. First up, Weston McKennie, Tim Weah, and Juventus will try to advance to the Coppa Italia final this afternoon, as they enter the second leg of the semifinal against Lazio with a 2-0 lead on aggregate. Tomorrow sees Monaco and Folarin Balogun meet Lille in Ligue 1 action, while Chris Richards and Crystal Palace host Newcastle United in the Premier League. Things wrap up on Friday in Serie B when Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessman, and third-place Venezia face Cremonese as they try to overtake Como and finish in one of Serie B’s two guaranteed promotion places.

Sergino Dest Sidelined Long Term

Following up on a story from yesterday’s Lion Links, The Athletic is reporting that the knee injury suffered by Sergino Dest will keep him out of Copa America, and sideline him for the rest of the year. That would be a big blow for the United States Men’s National Team, as Dest has been the nailed-on starter at right back since winning a place in the team during the qualifying cycle for the 2022 World Cup. The Yanks aren’t without options at the position, as Joe Scally could step in for Dest, or Gregg Berhalter could try deploying Weah there, but neither of the two possesses Dest’s level of offensive threat.

Inter Milan Wins Serie A

Inter Milan dispatched rival AC Milan 2-1 guaranteed that Inter will win its 20th Serie A title in club history. Fikayo Tomori’s goal in the 80th minute was the closest Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah’s club could get to leveling the score, and Inter is now a whopping 17 points clear of AC Milan with five games left to play. Inter has been imperious on its way to a 20th Scudetto, scoring the most goals in the league while also conceding the fewest and losing only once this season.

Free Kicks

  • The Orlando Pride and Orlando City hosted a clean-up effort in honor of Earth Day on Monday.

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with CF Montreal?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City / Mark Thor

Orlando City scored in second-half injury time for the second consecutive weekend to claim points. However, this time it was an equalizer as the Lions drew CF Montreal 2-2 north of the border. The Lions ended their two-game road trip with four points and extended their points streak to four games after dropping three straight. It’s an improvement as they look to climb up the Eastern Conference standings.

Here’s how I saw the individual performances in the draw.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 5.5 — Gallese conceded a pair of goals in this game, though neither were necessarily his fault. The first was a breakaway after Robin Jansson kept Mason Toye onside and the second was blocked wide, but Kyle Smith was caught flat-footed. However, he did concede twice while saving three of Montreal’s five shots on target. Additionally, the Lions’ goalkeeper completed 55.6% of his 27 passes, including eight of his 20 long balls.

D, Kyle Smith, 5.5 — Smith had a solid game other than one specific play. The left back had a team-high 86 touches and completed 78.3% of his 60 passes, including five of his 12 long balls. Defensively, he recorded two tackles, two clearances, an interception, and a blocked shot. Unfortunately, his most impactful play was getting caught watching on a Gallese block while Ariel Lassiter beat him to the rebound to give the hosts a late lead. That play lowers his grade for this otherwise quality performance.

D, Robin Jansson, 5.5 — Similar to Smith, Jansson had a solid game apart from one play. He had 72 touches and completed 79.7% of his 59 passes, including a key pass and three of his 14 long balls. He added a tackle, an interception, a blocked shot, and a team-high seven clearances to his stat sheet. But his failure to step up in the 16th minute enabled Toye to get behind the back line and score the opening goal, lowering his grade.

D, David Brekalo, 6 — Brekalo has proven himself to be the first-choice partner for Jansson and he was arguably the better center back in Montreal. The Slovenian international had 53 touches and completed 85.1% of his 47 passes, including two of his five long balls. The defender recorded two tackles, an interception, and three clearances defensively in a strong performance.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Thorhallsson was in his usual right back position for this game, playing 90 minutes and recording 44 touches. He completed 82.8% of his 29 passes, but only one of his four long balls and neither of his two crosses. He cleared the ball twice and didn’t really get into the attack, but was solid in his defensive duties.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 6.5 (MotM) — This was possibly Cartagena’s best performance of the season. His 85 touches were second-most on the team and he completed 76.5% of his team-high 68 passes, including a key pass and two of his six long balls. It was his shielding of Nathan Saliba and strong pass forward for Duncan McGuire that started the last goal, though he didn’t get an assist. The defensive midfielder was also active defensively with five tackles and three interceptions, and he won a pair of aerial duels. His overall performance earns him my Man of the Match.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6.5 — Araujo had a similar performance to Cartagena, but fewer touches and more accurate passing. He recorded 55 touches and completed 93.9% of his 49 passes, including a key pass. He was less active than his partner defensively, recording three tackles, and was booked in the 63rd minute.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — Angulo had one of his better performances in this one, recording 48 touches and completing 82.1% of his 39 passes. His biggest impact on the game came two minutes into second-half stoppage time, when he connected with an excellent Martin Ojeda cross to even the game at 2-2. He nearly scored a winner five minutes later, but the pass from Ojeda was just a bit too far for him. His goal was one of his two shots and the only one on target.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6 — Lodeiro’s 45 touches were the fewest of the Orlando City midfield, but he did the most with them. The playmaker completed 91.4% of his 35 passes, including a key pass, but couldn’t connect on his long ball or either of his two crosses. He was also caught offside and dispossessed twice before being replaced by Ojeda in the 77th minute.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6 — Torres’ 65 touches were the most in the Lions’ midfield and the fourth most on the team. He completed 83.7% of his 49 passes, but didn’t connect on his two crosses or four long balls. The attacker took three shots and put one on target. In the 22nd minute, the midfielder stepped up and buried his second penalty of the season and ninth as a Lion, continuing her perfect record from the spot.

F, Luis Muriel, 6 — While Oscar Pareja had previously been starting Muriel behind McGuire, the forward got the start alone up top for the second consecutive game. He had 34 touches and completed 68.4% of his 19 passes, including his lone long ball but neither of his two crosses. His biggest impact on the game came in the 20th minute, when he tipped the ball past Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois, drawing the penalty that resulted in the first equalizer. He also had a shot of his own, but it was off target.

Substitutes

F, Duncan McGuire (63’), 6 — McGuire came on in the 63rd minute for Muriel. He had 16 touches in 27 minutes, completing eight of his 10 passes (80%) with a key pass. His lone shot came in the 90th minute, when Jansson headed the ball over to him and he probably should’ve equalized, but his volley was just wide. The striker also won three aerial duels.

MF, Martin Ojeda (77’), 6.5 — Ojeda came on in the 77th minute for Lodeiro and, similar to Lodeiro last week, made a big difference. He had 15 touches and completed four of his six passes (66.7%), including a key pass. Two minutes into second-half injury time, his excellent cross found Angulo, who touched it in for the equalizer. Five minutes later, he had another great cross that nearly found Angulo for the winner, but was just out of his reach.

D, Rafael Santos (85’), 6 — Santos came on in the 85th minute for Torres as the Lions looked to see out a point. He had nine touches and completed two of his three passes (66.7%), but didn’t connect on his cross or long ball. Coming on to assure the defense, Santos did his job as he recorded a tackle, an interception, and two clearances.


This is how I saw Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with CF Montreal. Let us know how you saw the game and don’t forget to vote for your Man of the Match.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/22/24

Orlando City draws CF Montreal, Pride and OCB win, FA Cup drama, 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 drew, while the Pride and OCB both won over the weekend. I had friends in town, so I went to Wrigley Field to check out a Cubs game and show them around Chicago. Let’s wish former Orlando City midfielder Kaka and Pride defender Brianna Martinez a happy birthday! There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Draw at CF Montreal

Orlando City again had to overcome a 2-1 deficit on the road when it faced CF Montreal Saturday night. The Lions needed a late stoppage-time goal from Ivan Angulo to walk out of Stade Saputo with a 2-2 draw. Orlando has now picked up points in each of the last four matches. Orlando City will face CF Montreal again on July 26 in the MLS Leagues Cup during the competition’s group stage. The Lions’ next match will be Saturday at Inter&Co Stadium as it takes on Toronto FC.

Orlando Pride Defeat San Diego Wave

The Orlando Pride shut out the San Diego Wave 1-0 on Friday at Inter&Co Stadium and got their second consecutive win with that same scoreline. Summer Yates scored the lone goal in the first half to seal the win for Orlando. Zambian international striker Barbra Banda made her debut for the Pride, coming off the bench in the second half. The Pride remain undefeated through five league matches and are fifth in the NWSL table with nine points. The team will be on the road to face the Washington Spirit Friday.

OCB Wins on the Road at Crown Legacy FC

Orlando City B got a 2-0 win against Crown Legacy FC at the Sportsplex at Matthews on Friday. Alex Freeman and Shak Mohammed scored for the Young Lions, and Javier Otero made six saves. OCB completed its two-match road trip, securing four out of a possible six points, and has kept its unbeaten streak on the road alive at four matches. OCB is in fifth in the MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference with nine points, while Crown Legacy is winless in five matches. OCB will be back in action this Sunday as it hosts Toronto FC II at Osceola County Stadium.

Manchester United and Manchester City Advance to FA Cup Final

Manchester United won 4-2 on penalties after a 3-3 draw against Coventry City in the FA Cup semifinals to advance to the final. It was a thrilling match at Wembley as United had a 3-0 lead before Coventry City rallied to get back into the match. USMNT forward Haji Wright scored the equalizer to tie the match 3-3 late into stoppage time. Coventry City thought it scored the game-winning goal late into extra time from Victor Torp, but it was ruled offside after video review. Casemiro missed his penalty for United, while Wright and Torp gave Coventry City a 2-1 advantage. United converted four straight penalties while Coventry City missed two to seal the win for the Red Devils. Manchester City edged past Chelsea 1-0 in their semifinal matchup, with Bernardo Silva scoring the lone goal in the second half. The FA Cup final will be played at the end of May and will feature a Manchester Derby for the second consecutive time.

Free Kicks

  • In case you missed it, check out this video on Orlando City’s social media page on Ivan Angulo’s equalizer to tie the match in stoppage time against CF Montreal on Saturday.

According to OptaJack, the Pride have secured the most points at home during the regular season since last May, with 26.

  • USMNT defender Sergino Dest suffered a knee injury during training with PSV Eindhoven over the weekend. Dest will miss the remainder of the Eredivisie season and could miss the 2024 Copa America this summer.
  • Real Madrid came back from being 2-1 down to defeat Barcelona 3-2 and stay ahead of its rivals by 11 points with six league matches left.
  • Bayer Leverkusen extended its unbeaten run to 45 matches after scoring a late goal from Josip Stanisic in stoppage time to get a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund.
  • Serie A side Udinese is reportedly set to hire former Juventus and Real Madrid player Fabio Cannavaro as its next head coach.

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

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