Connect with us

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Tigres, Concacaf Champions League: Final Score 0-0 as Lions Get Road Result in Mexico

Pedro Gallese came up huge to help Orlando City get a road draw at Tigres.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Tigres UANL was as difficult as advertised but Orlando City managed to go on the road and grind out a 0-0 draw at Estadio Universitario in San Nicolás de los Garza, Nuevo León, Mexico. The Lions even had a few opportunities to take the lead in the second half, but couldn’t find that little bit of quality needed to steal all three points in their Concacaf Champions League debut.

The two sides will battle it out at Exploria Stadium in Orlando next Wednesday night in a winner-take-all battle to reach the quarterfinals.

“Here, (getting a result) is not an easy thing to do,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “We’re proud. We have a game in front of us in Orlando and we know the rival, and we’re ready and we hope we can advance.”

Pareja’s lineup included Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Luca Petrasso, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Michael Halliday. Cesar Araujo and Mauricio Pereyra played in the central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, and Facundo Torres, with Ramiro Enrique making his first start up top. For Schlegel, it was his 50th career start in all competitions for the Lions.

Tigres controlled the first half and Orlando City continued to waste its few opportunities in the attack. The game was just about three minutes old when the hosts fired the first shot, a deflected effort that gave them a corner.

In the seventh minute, Andre-Pierre Gignac danced through the Orlando defense and sent a shot toward goal but he didn’t get good contact on it and Gallese made the save. Two minutes later, Gignac fired a blast from outside the area that Gallese could only punch away.

The Lions seemed content to fire from ridiculous distance if they found any space. Enrique fired the first shot for Orlando from long range in the 10th minute and sent his effort well over the bar.

Juan Pablo Vigon had a free header in front on a ball in from Tigres’ right side in the 14th minute but sent his shot wide.

Enrique went down and stayed down in the 17th minute after an awful tackle from Tigres defender Samir, but no card was given. Enrique was eventually able to continue but he didn’t look like himself the rest of the first half.

In the 20th minute, Ojeda sent in a cross from the left corner to Pereyra at the top of the box. The captain tried to take a touch in traffic and lost control rather than going for goal with his first touch. Four minutes later, Schlegel stole the ball to start the break and with numbers finally in the attack, Ojeda decided to shoot from 35 yards away and his shot didn’t come close to the goal on another wasteful attack.

In the 32nd minute, it was Angulo wrecking an attack. After getting inside the box on the left side, he made a move to lose his defender but then — instead of moving closer and either shooting or finding a teammate — he made an extra feint with the ball that put two defenders between himself and the net.

Fernando Gorriarán fired a dangerous shot from distance in the 34th minute, skipping his effort out in front of goal. All Gallese could do was fight it off, but no Tigres player could get to it.

Araujo made a nifty move up the right side in the 38th minute but once he got into the box, with no defenders near him, he seemed indecisive and sent a weak shot squirting wide of the near post, which was covered anyway. Angulo sent a weak shot on target at the end of normal time for the lone shot on target of the half for the Lions.

In stoppage time, Gignac was shown a straight red after lashing out at Schlegel. After video review, the card was changed to yellow.

The Mexican side held more possession (60.6%-39.4%), passed more accurately (87.4%-77%), fired more shots (8-5) and shots on target (4-1), and won more corners (2-0).

Wilder Cartagena replaced Enrique at the break, pushing Pereyra up into the attacking midfield and Ojeda into the forward position.

But Tigres kept coming. Gignac fired wide on the half volley through Schlegel’s legs just two minutes after the restart and that was just a start of a frantic second period. In the 53rd minute, Gignac took a long ball out of the air and hit it on the volley, forcing another stop by Gallese. Jansson then got just a touch on a cross that surely would have been a goal had he not flicked it through the legs of Nicolas Ibanez.

The Peruvian international then had to get a touch on a Gorriaran corner kick to push it off the crossbar in the 55th minute. He made a bigger stop two minutes later. After a turnover that appeared to come off a Tigres hand, the ball was crossed in to center back Samir, who made a run up the field. Gallese fought off the point-blank header.

Orlando had a brief spell of good play after the save on Samir’s shot. Ojeda stole the ball in the attacking third and sent a hard, low shot toward goal. Nahuel Guzman got down to make the save in the 58th minute. Moments later, a shot from outside the area forced a comfortable save from Guzman.

Gaston Gonzalez subbed on for Angulo in the 62nd minute and two minutes later he had a chance to change the game. Ojeda got the ball at the top of the area and waited for support. He slipped the ball left to Gonzalez, who fired first touch but sent his shot over the bar. Had he slipped the ball across the box, Torres likely would have had a tap-in.

Gignac got his head to a corner kick in the 68th and smashed it toward goal but it stayed high. Ten minutes later, Gallese again denied Gignac, and then he stoned Sebastián Córdova seconds later.

In the 87th minute, a mistake by Guzman nearly gifted Orlando City a go-ahead goal. The Tigres goalkeeper came out of his box and had the ball knocked away by Ojeda. While running toward the sideline, and with the net wide open and undefended, the Lions’ Designated Player tried to chip a shot back toward goal but he couldn’t get it on target.

Tigres again found the woodwork in the 88th minute. Guido Pizarro’s header off of Cordova’s corner kick cross crashed into the right post and stayed out. The hosts caught a break in the 90th minute when a soft foul was given on Schlegel near the sideline. The free kick found Samir’s head but the defender nodded wide of goal.

Orlando survived a few more entry balls and after a couple of seemingly unnecessary extra minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle brought the match to an end.

Tigres continued its dominance on the stat sheet, finishing with more possession (62%-38%), passing accuracy (84.9%-75.1%), shots (22-9), shots on target (8-3), and corners (5-1).

Ultimately, it was a fantastic performance by Gallese — and, for the most part, by the Orlando defense.

“I think Pedro deserves all the praise on the way he played today,” Pareja said. “But the collective effort of the players, the courage, the discipline, just keeping us in the game — and not just defending but some possibilities during the game that we could probably score as well against a good rival.”

El Pulpo was named Player of the Match.

“Just having this result here in Monterrey is just creating an illusion to go there and advance in the series,” Pareja said. “It’s a game that lasts 180 minutes. And we’ll see. We’ll see, but we are very optimistic. We already fought a good battle here and we’re going back home.”

The Lions have a quick turnaround with Saturday’s road trip to D.C. United. Tigres will make the return trip to Exploria Stadium next Wednesday.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/30/23

Orlando City faces big questions, Matt Miazga suspended, Emma Hayes meets USWNT for first time, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

November is finally coming to a close. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster of a month for me, with highs, lows, and many things in between. All in all, I’m pretty glad it’s nearly over, although I expect December to be similarly hectic. At least this weather is allowing me to break out some winter clothes and turn on the fireplace in this new apartment. I’m not sure why a fireplace was installed in a Floridian apartment, but I’m not complaining. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Big Decisions Await Orlando City

With Orlando City’s season over, attention now turns to a critical off-season for the club. Head Coach Oscar Pareja is out of contract after leading the Lions to the playoffs for the past four years. The club will also need to decide if it will exercise the 2024 options on the contracts of both Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi and Technical Director and Assistant General Manager Ricardo Moreira. All three have orchestrated Orlando’s transformation that’s included winning its first trophy, having its best season this year, and qualifying for both the Concacaf Champions League and Champions Cup. Potentially transferring Facundo Torres to Europe, filling the empty Designated Player slot, and deciding which players to bring back for 2024 are also on the agenda. However, figuring out who will lead the Lions into this exciting next chapter is paramount. Personally, I think the club should do everything in its power to keep the people who brought Orlando to this point.

Matt Miazga Suspended for Three Games

FC Cincinnati will be without MLS Defender of the Year Matt Miazga for Saturday’s Eastern Conference final, as he was suspended by MLS for three games due to his misconduct after the match with the New York Red Bulls on Nov. 4. Miazga was also fined an undisclosed amount and will undergo a behavioral assessment as part of the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. Following that aforementioned playoff match, reports surfaced that Miazga gained unauthorized access to an area reserved for the referees and acted aggressively. Any suspended games not served during Cincy’s playoff run will carry over into the 2024 season, although Miazga can petition for a reduction based on compliance with recommended treatment plans.

Emma Hayes Meets With USWNT Players and Staff

Emma Hayes, who was hired as the next United States Women’s National Team Head Coach earlier this month, made the trip to Florida to meet the team for the first time. Although she won’t be coaching the team for its upcoming pair of friendlies against China, she collaborated with interim head coach Twila Kilgore on the latest training camp roster and will continue to work with her until taking over in May. There won’t be much time between Hayes’ official start date and the 2024 Summer Olympics, making these moments of face time between player and future coach all the more important. USWNT captain Lindsey Horan spoke on the team’s goals after meeting Hayes for the first time.

“There’s so much talent in this team, and I don’t think the world has seen enough of it yet just because we need to go out and show it,” Horan said. “We need to be able to mesh together and show everything that we have, and what we’re all about, and how we can really collaborate and play together — be more of a team and be a powerhouse again.

“It’s going to be exciting for us to have her and see what she can do with this team and how she can help us moving forward.”

Ricardo Pepi Sends PSV Into Champions League Knockout Stage

PSV Eindhoven clinched its spot in the next round of the UEFA Champions League in dramatic fashion, with American forward Ricardo Pepi scoring the winner in a 3-2 comeback win over Sevilla in Spain. Trailing 2-0 in the second half, American left back Sergino Dest provided the assist on PSV’s first goal and Pepi found the winner in stoppage time, with fellow American Malik Tillman also coming off the bench. From his little flick to send a teammate forward to his run and clinical header, it was a great goal by the 20-year-old.

Elsewhere in the Champions League, Arsenal beat Lens 6-0 to advance, Real Madrid won 4-2 against Napoli to win its group, and Real Sociedad played to a scoreless draw with RB Salzburg. Manchester United remains in last place of its group after a 3-3 draw with Galatasaray, with goalkeeper Andre Onana unable to stop Hakim Ziyech from scoring off of two free kicks. All’s not lost for United though, as it can still qualify for the round of 16 by beating Bayern Munich at home so long as the other match ends in the group ends in a draw. It all makes for what should be an exciting final matchday in the group stage.

Free Kicks

  • The Kansas City Current announced that American midfielder Sam Mewis will not be returning to the club for the 2024 season. The 31-year-old has not played since 2021 as she continues to recover from a knee injury.
  • The Utah Royals have signed free agent forward Imani Dorsey on a contract through the 2025 season. Dorsey has most recently played for NJ/NY Gotham FC, although she didn’t participate in this past season due to mental health reasons.
  • Manchester United is reportedly ready to move on from Mason Mount just six months after he joined the team from Chelsea.
  • Tomasz Kwiatkowski, the video assistant referee involved in a controversial handball that eventually led to Paris Saint-Germain’s equalizer in stoppage time against Newcastle, was removed from his next scheduled duty by UEFA.
  • Amidst a four-game winless streak, French club Nantes has fired Pierre Aristouy as its manager, immediately replacing him with Jocelyn Gourvennec.
  • We’ll end our links with this interesting article that dives into how Romelu Lukaku unexpectedly arrived at AS Roma and how he’s thriving at the Italian club.

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

Continue Reading

Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Alex Freeman

We start our Orlando City player reviews with a look at a Homegrown fullback who made his MLS debut this season.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Orlando City signed fullback Alex Freeman to a Homegrown Player contract on February 15, 2022. He became the Lions’ 12th Homegrown signing and his deal runs through the 2025 season with a club option for 2026, but the youngster did not see action in Major League Soccer last season. With the departure of Ruan, there was an opportunity for Freeman to win a job with the first team in camp but he wasn’t quite ready to make the jump, instead playing an important role with Orlando City B throughout the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season.

Let’s take a look back at Freeman’s 2023 campaign.

Statistical Breakdown

Freeman made his MLS debut on April 29 in a 2-0 home win over the LA Galaxy. It was not just his debut with the first team, but it was also his only appearance with the senior squad in 2023, although he did make the substitutes’ bench a few times after that. Officially, he logged only one minute, entering in the 93rd minute. He was only on the pitch a matter of seconds, so it’s unsurprising that he registered nothing on the stats sheet.

The son of former NFL receiver Antonio Freeman, Alex starred with OCB in 2023. In MLS NEXT Pro play, Freeman appeared in 24 of OCB’s 28 matches, starting 22, and logging 1,855 minutes. He finished tied for third on the squad in goals (4), adding three assists and passing at a 79.1% success rate. Freeman attempted 25 shots, putting 11 on target, and contributed 10 key passes. He committed 22 fouls, drew 27 on the opposition, and was booked four times. He also started OCB’s playoff match at Columbus, playing 89 minutes in the Young Lions’ 2-1 road loss. Freeman didn’t contribute a goal or assist or attempt a shot in the match, but he passed at an 88% rate, created one scoring chance, and committed one foul.

Best Game

With only one MLS appearance to his credit, the default best game for Freeman came on April 29 in Orlando City’s 2-0 home win over the LA Galaxy. Freeman didn’t even officially touch the ball in the game, but it’s not every day a teenager gets to play in an MLS match, and I’m sure it was a special moment for him. It was certainly a milestone in his professional soccer career.

2023 Final Grade

As Freeman fell well short of the minimum 450 minutes played mark to receive a rating on our 1-10 scale, The Mane Land has no choice but to mark his grade as incomplete for the 2023 season. There are areas of Freeman’s game that need a bit of refining, but at the same time, it’s easy to see why he landed a Homegrown contract, why Orlando City would find him an intriguing prospect, and why he’s been getting called up by the United States for U-20 international duty. His attacking presence was huge for OCB in 2023 and he was one of the key players that led the Young Lions to the postseason.

2024 Outlook

I would expect Freeman to get more seasoning at OCB in 2024, although he’ll be given opportunities in preseason camp to show whether he’s closed the gap on the likes of Michael Halliday and Kyle Smith (assuming both return). If the club moves on from both Halliday and Smith, it’s not hard to picture Freeman starting the season providing depth at right back for the first team. Having just turned 19 in August, Freeman has a lot of potential and he should start to unlock that within the next year or so.

This is the first of our 2023 Orlando City Season in Review articles. Every player who played minutes this past season and who finished the year on the club roster will be reviewed (exceptions may be made for players let go when the club officially announces its roster moves). Players who logged fewer than 450 minutes (combined regular season plus playoffs, Concacaf Champions League, U.S. Open Cup, and Leagues Cup) will receive a composite score between 1 and 10 as determined by a panel of The Mane Land writers, while those who did not reach that threshold will receive an incomplete grade.

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/29/23

Orlando Pride players called up by Brazil, MLS announces 2023 Best XI, latest MLS roster moves, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers I hope all is well down in Florida. I’ve been very busy working throughout the holiday weekend at Under Armour. This week I’ll be working at Wrigley Field for Winterland while getting ready to cover high school wrestling tomorrow night. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Pride Players Called Up By Brazil for Friendlies

Orlando Pride defender Rafaelle and forwards Marta and Adriana have been called up to the Brazil Women’s National Team for its upcoming friendlies.

Brazil will play two matches against Japan on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 in Sao Paulo before playing Nicaragua on Dec. 6 at Estadio Fonte Luminosa in Araraquara.

MLS Announces the 2023 Best XI

Major League Soccer announced its 2023 Best XI, recognizing the league’s top players at each position. There were no Orlando City players selected for the team and eight players received the honor for the first time. Those players are St. Louis City’s Roman Burki and Tim Parker, FC Cincinnati defender Matt Miazga, Atlanta United duo Thiago Almada and Giorgos Giakoumakis, Houston Dynamo midfielder Hector Herrera, LAFC’s Denis Bouanga, and Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez. Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar made the Best XI for the third consecutive time, while teammate Walker Zimmerman was named to it for the fifth time. MLS MVP Luciano Acosta of FC Cincinnati rounds out the list.

Latest MLS Off-season Roster Moves

The Colorado Rapids announced their latest roster changes as they prepare for the the 2024 season under new Head Coach Chris Armas. The club exercised its options for defender Andrew Gutman, midfielder Ralph Priso, and forward Calvin Harris. The Rapids declined contract offers to seven players, with the most notable names being defender Steven Beitashour and goalkeeper William Yarbrough, although the Rapids are in discussions about re-signing Yarbrough. Elsewhere, the New England Revolution exercised the permanent transfer option on forward Tomas Chancalay, signing him to a Designated Player contract through 2026, with a club option for the 2027 season.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

Champions League action returned in Europe, as we get close to wrapping up the group stage in a couple of weeks. Manchester City overcame a two-goal deficit to beat RB Leipzig 3-2 and win Group G. Newcastle United had a chance to qualify for the round of 16 but gave up a late penalty to Paris Saint-Germain, which Kylian Mbappe converted to end the match in a 1-1 draw. Borussia Dortmund beat AC Milan 3-1 to book its spot in the knockout stage. PSG, Newcastle, and AC Milan are all still alive in Group F heading into the final matchday in December. Shakhtar Donetsk won 1-0 against Royal Antwerp and also still has a shot to advance on the final matchday. Lazio, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and Young Boys all won their respective matches as well. Today’s matches include Manchester United on the road against Galatasaray, Real Madrid taking on Napoli, and Sevilla facing off with PSV Eindhoven.

Free Kicks

  • Concacaf has announced that BMO Stadium, Dignity Health Sports Park, Shell Energy Stadium, and Snapdragon Stadium will be the four venues that will host matches for the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.
  • Barcelona midfielder Gavi will be sidelined for up to 10 months after undergoing knee surgery after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee.
  • The International Football Association Board approved a trial for sin bins, meaning players punished for dissent or specific tactical offense would be temporarily removed from the match for a set amount of minutes.
  • You have got to see this goal from Cwrt Rawlin FC in the Welsh seventh division.

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

Continue Reading