The good news is that Orlando City finally scored a goal from open play. The bad news is that the Lions finally conceded a goal on the season as they left Audi Field with a 1-1 draw against D.C. United. Rookie Duncan McGuire put Orlando City (1-0-2, 5 points) on the board in the second half, but an inch-perfect shot by Chris Durkin enabled United (1-1-1, 4 points) to claim a point.
“In the first half today, we didn’t look like us,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “I don’t blame the players. I just think that they did great trying to adjust. The intensity was good. We would like to play much better, obviously, but they’re always good (in terms of intensity and discipline).”
Pareja rotated his squad from Tuesday night’s match in Mexico. Pedro Gallese again started in goal but his defense was a three/five depending on whether Orlando had the ball or not. Rookie Abdi Salim, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Kyle Smith got the start, with Rafael Santos getting his first start at left wingback and Ivan Angulo playing wide right, with Wilder Cartagena and Mauricio Pereyra in central midfield. The attacking line featured Dagur Dan Thorhallsson and Facundo Torres on the wings underneath McGuire, who got his first start up top.
As has been the case throughout this young season, the Lions provided little to no danger in the attack in the opening half, while Gallese bailed the team out multiple times to keep the game scoreless through the first 45 minutes.
The hosts started to cause trouble early when former Orlando fullback Ruan sent in a good cross (I know!) in the sixth minute. Gallese came off his line to get a hand to it. The ball fell to Theodore Ku-Dipietro, who had his shot blocked in front.
Orlando City’s first shot attempt came from Wilder Cartagena in the 17th minute. He was way outside the box and obviously not in as much space as he thought because he got his shot blocked and it didn’t even make it inside the penalty area.
Gallese made a couple of tame stops early but in the 28th minute, the ball ended up with Christian Benteke all alone in front of goal when Salim missed getting his head to a cross. Benteke’s shot was good but Gallese’s save was better.
In the 34th minute, Gallese robbed Ku-Dipietro with a big stop and then Benteke nodded off target on the recyle attempt.
The Lions nearly got their first quality look of the game in the 41st when Pereyra sent a ball in for Torres. The younger Uruguayan’s first touch was a bit heavy though, and Tyler Miller scrambled off his line to smother it. It was practically Miller’s only activity in the opening 45.
Gallese had no trouble collecting Pedro Santos’ shot from distance in the 42nd minute, taking it on the first hop. Benteke fired wide of goal off Miller’s long free kick deep in first-half stoppage time as D.C. continued to present threats to the Orlando City goal.
The Lions had maybe their best attacking movement of the half deep in stoppage time when Torres sent a headed pass in behind down the left. McGuire ran onto it but could only win a corner kick.
D.C. held wide margins in possession (57.2%-42.8%), passing accuracy (85.2%-77.1%), shots (8-3), and shots on target (4-0). Orlando City had the first half’s only corner kick attempt deep in stoppage time but provided no threat from it.
If not for Gallese, the score could have been much different at the break.
Pareja changed shape and personnel at the break, sending Robin Jansson on for Salim and Martin Ojeda on for Torres. The Lions went to a four-man back line with Smith on the right, pushing Angulo up to the wing.
The move opened the game up a bit and the Lions were able to get on the ball more but also allowed D.C. to advance more easily as well, at times.
“We did expect the game in the second half we could have more volume and more actions up front,” Pareja said. “We knew the defensive five in the first half would probably reduce our possibilties because we were playing with one more defender and one less attacker. But we wanted to have solidness and try to see if we can create some more sequences around, in the flanks, and I think we did but not with so much consistency. Second half when we made the change of the model and the change of the personnel, we knew that this was going to surprise D.C. at some point and that we would add one more forward, and that happened.”
Thorhallsson finally gave the Lions a shot on goal in the 48th minute, sending his attempt from distance directly in at Miller, who had no trouble catching it. In the 52nd minute, Ojeda sent a ball straight to Miller that may have been a weak shot or an attempted through ball for McGuire that didn’t work out.
But a minute later, the Lions found their breakthrough.
Smith got the ball on the right side from Angulo and sent a cross to the back post. Thorhallsson was there and nodded it back across the front of goal. McGuire arrived to bundle the ball in despite a challenge from Steve Birnbaum and the ball finally found the inside of the net for Orlando. A check for offside confirmed the goal — McGuire’s first as a professional and on Thorhallsson’s first MLS assist.
The rookie celebrated his goal with a celebratory flip.
“It was a great team buildup. Great cross,” McGuire said. “I thought I could get my head onto (the initial cross from Smith). I turned, and Dagur played a great ball across the face of goal — made the goalie out of the play — and then it was a simple tap-in. Dagur could not have made it easier for me.”
“It’s a dream for him,” Pareja said of his rookie’s goal. “I’m very pleased because he’s a young kid and very committed with the group, and an American player that came from the college system, which is fantastic. And he’s proven already in his first game that he belongs. We’re very happy for him.”
The game had hardly restarted when it seemed D.C. would equalize. A shot that was blocked riccocheted off the arm of Wilder Cartagena and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. But Cartagena’s arm was not only tucked in, but his entire forearm was behind his back. That, added to the close proximity and sudden change of direction made the decision a harsh one, and the video assistant referee, Jorge Gonzalez, suggested that referee Jon Freemon have another look. Freemon went to the monitor and quickly overturned his initial call.
Pereyra turned down an opportunity to shoot from the top of the box in the 61st minute, and instead tried to thread a ball through the defense to Ojeda, who appeared to be offside anyway. Ojeda re-established himself and Pereyra played it to his left. Ojeda tried to turn and shoot in a single motion but couldn’t get squared all the way around and left his shot wide.
Seconds later, at the other end, Smith did well to erase a good cross from his former teammate, Ruan.
The Lions dealt with a series of corner kicks shortly after that but D.C. couldn’t pay them off. The best look for the hosts was a shot through traffic by fullback Mohanad Jeahze, but it was well wide of the goal in the 73rd minute.
Ojeda put a shot on target in the 79th but it was from distance and right at Miller.
A minute later, Durkin equalized. Smith and Schlegel were unable to gain control in the corner and the ball was sent to Durkin at the top of the area. He faked a shot on his right and pulled the ball back onto his left as second-half sub Cesar Araujo went for the block. Durkin then fired an unstoppable shot just inside the far post that Gallese somehow almost got to.
It was Durkin’s third career MLS goal and his second against Orlando City. Both cost the Lions points at Audi Field.
Ruan fired a shot well up into the crowd in the 86th after an initial clearance of a D.C. corner kick.
The final seconds of stoppage time produced a set piece for the Lions near the left corner, won by substitute Gaston Gonzalez. Ojeda played the ball to the penalty spot for Jansson, who had peeled away from goal. The Beefy Swede was open for the shot but mishit it badly and it went nowhere near the goal frame.
Orlando survived a quick D.C. push up the pitch and the final whistle brought the proceedings to an end.
D.C.’s advantage in possession dipped a little in the second half, but the hosts still finished with a comfortable advantage in that stat (56.7%-43.3%). United also led in passing accuracy (81.1%-75.5%), shots (16-9), shots on target (5-4), and corners (5-2).
“I thought we looked much, much better,” Pareja said of the second half. “I think we had a couple actions. I think we had a goal. And we accomplished that objective.”
Orlando City has made it through three of the five matches in 15 days and will return home to face Tigres in the second leg of Concacaf Champions league play in the Round of 16 Wednesday night at Exploria Stadium. The next league game for the Lions is set for next Saturday night at home against Charlotte.
Orlando City at Inter Miami: Three Keys to Victory
What does Orlando City need to do to defeat Inter Miami in Fort Lauderdale this Saturday?
This Saturday Orlando City travels to Fort Lauderdale to take on in-state rival Inter Miami. Despite having to pay for a part of Lionel Messi’s salary, the Lions will not get to have him play any time for Orlando City, which is kind of messed up, isn’t it? Regardless, the Lions will look to maintain their undefeated start to the year with a win down South.
What does Orlando City need to do to bring home all three points from Chase Stadium?
Get a Midfielder on Messi
It isn’t easy to stop Messi, but that is what defensive midfielders Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena must do in this match. They are arguably the best defensive midfield pairing in MLS and will need to prove it against one of the best to ever play the game. When Orlando City played Messi and Miami in the U.S. Open Cup last year, they were able to frustrate him and he should have been sent off just before halftime for a second yellow-worthy foul he committed to stop Araujo from getting to a loose ball first to start the counter. He is very entitled and doesn’t like being challenged by the likes of those two. Doing so smartly will be the key because of our next key below.
Don’t Give the Refs Anything
MLS and the referees will never admit that they made calls that benefit Miami and Messi in particular, but that’s because they want us to not believe our lying eyes. It’s unfair and wrong, but also a fact of life. As such, the Lions need to make sure that they don’t do anything even remotely close to the type of foul that will allow the refs to swing things the Herons’ way. Of course, that might not stop them from doing so, but playing clean and smart is the best chance to limit the impact the officiating has on the match. Balancing that will being aggressive enough to stop them will be tricky to say the least.
Score, Score, Score
You can be sure we will see a first-choice lineup from Oscar Pareja this Saturday. That means that the Lions need to press for goals early and often. Score enough goals and the referees can’t hurt you. Whether it’s Duncan McGuire, Facundo Torres, Luis Muriel, Ivan Angulo, Nico Lodeiro, or even Kyle Smith, the team needs to put the ball in the back of the net. Getting the early lead — especially if it’s two goals — will mean a lot to the flow of the game. Once again, I don’t particularly care where those goals come from, just that they happen.
That is what I will be looking for this Saturday. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!
Lion Links: 2/29/24
Lions reportedly won’t play in U.S. Open Cup, Cavalry FC reflects on its defeat, gauging the USWNT’s panic meter, and more.
Happy Leap Day, Mane Landers! It’s the rarest day of the year, as we all lean into our procrastination a bit and collectively tell March that we’ll get to it tomorrow. It’s been a pretty busy week for me, but knowing the MLS season is in full swing has helped fuel me a bit. Let’s dive into today’s links!
Orlando City Reportedly Won’t Play in 2024 U.S. Open Cup
The latest reports involving Major League Soccer’s participation in this year’s U.S. Open Cup indicate that Orlando City, along with a majority of MLS teams, won’t be playing their first teams in the tournament. According to ESPN‘s Jeff Carlisle, the Houston Dynamo and the seven best teams from last season that aren’t taking part in the Concacaf Champions Cup will have their first teams take part. The format will reportedly be announced soon and we’ll see if Orlando City B and other MLS NEXT Pro teams will be in the tournament.
It will be pretty disappointing if Orlando’s first team doesn’t end up playing. Even though the Lions suffered an early exit last year, they won in 2022 and Head Coach Oscar Pareja has a penchant for excelling in the U.S. Open Cup.
Cavalry FC Reflects on Loss to Orlando City
Although Cavalry FC lost in both legs against Orlando City in its first Concacaf Champions Cup campaign, the Canadian club can hold its head high. Cavalry Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. spoke on the team’s tactics in the second leg in Orlando to overcome the hefty aggregate deficit.
“Strategically, we wanted to frustrate them in the first half with an extra defender, and often at times we were in a back five,” Wheeldon said. “And second half, we wanted to unleash with more attackers and have a go, because it was 0-0. We thought … one, we wanted to make history with our first goal, and two, we wanted to get a result here.”
That first goal did come with Myer Bevan making some history for his team to take back to Canada. All in all, Cavalry did pretty well as the underdog and it’s unfortunate it didn’t get a true home game in Calgary. Cavalry’s defense is the real deal and I doubt this is the last time it makes an appearance in the Champions Cup.
Assessing the Fallout From the USWNT’s Defeat
The United States Women’s National Team suffered a shocking defeat to Mexico earlier this week that’s brought on varying levels of panic. The clock is ticking before the Olympics and the USWNT struggled to bounce back after trailing in the first half and had difficulties on both sides of the ball. While the issues at center back will likely be solved once Naomi Girma and Tierna Davidson play, the midfield has plenty of question marks and a weird balance of youth and experience. It’s an awkward stage for the USWNT, as Emma Hayes doesn’t arrive until May and won’t have much time to get the team ready for Paris. Of course, the USWNT could still win this tournament and the return of Mallory Swanson may heal most wounds this summer, leaving this loss as just a minor blemish when the year is up. Only time will tell and the USWNT has plenty of opportunity to right the ship.
FA Cup Quarterfinals Are Set
It was a pretty wild day in the FA Cup, with some of England’s top teams fighting their way into the quarterfinals. Chelsea needed a late winner from Conor Gallagher to beat Leeds United 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. Manchester United’s match against Nottingham Forest also had a dramatic finish, as United’s Casemiro scored the game’s only goal in the 89th minute. Wolverhampton ousted Brighton thanks to an early goal, and Liverpool got the job done against Southampton.
In the quarterfinals, Newcastle will travel to take on Manchester City, Wolverhampton will host the second division’s Conventry City, Chelsea will take on Leicester City, and Manchester United will face off against Liverpool. All four matches will take place on March 16.
- After getting married, Orlando Pride defender Emily Madril will have a new name on the back of her jersey this season.
- Former Pride midfielder Becky Edwards is an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee and shared details about her time as both a player and coach with the U.S. U-20 team.
- Enjoy this captured moment of Orlando midfielder Wilder Cartagena being awesome.
- LAFC forward Mateusz Bogusz’s strike against the Seattle Sounders won the first MLS Goal of the Matchday of the season, claiming 35.4% of the vote.
- FC Cincinnati beat Cavalier 4-0 in the Champions Cup to advance to the round of 16, where it will take on Brandon Vazquez and Monterrey.
- Spain beat France 2-0 to win the inaugural Women’s Nations League final, with Aitana Bonmati and Mariona Caldentey both scoring.
- American midfielder Johnny Cardoso was named La Liga’s U-23 Player of the Month after a strong February with Real Betis.
- After missing the past weekend, American forward Folarin Balogun will no longer be taking penalty kicks for AS Monaco.
- Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly the frontrunners to land striker Victor Osimhen, who just had a hat trick in Napoli’s 6-1 win over Sassuolo.
- Former Manchester United defender John O’Shea will serve as Ireland’s interim head coach for a pair of friendlies in March.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a pretty great Leap Day and that the rest of the week goes smoothly.
Lion Links: 2/28/24
Orlando City moves on in Champions Cup, Orlando Pride unveil new kits, USMNT to play Brazil in Orlando, and more.
Hello, Mane Landers. I hope you all enjoyed watching Orlando City’s win Tuesday night in the Concacaf Champions Cup. I’ve been staying busy at Under Armour, while wrapping up covering high school basketball playoff action with the state championship this weekend. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.
Orlando City Defeats Cavalry FC in Concacaf Champions Cup
The Lions took care of business on Tuesday, defeating Cavalry FC 3-1 at Inter&Co Stadium to advance 6-1 on aggregate and reach the round of 16 in the Concacaf Champions Cup. Forward Luis Muriel got his first start as a Lion, and there was plenty of rotation from the lineup Head Coach Oscar Pareja used against CF Montreal this past weekend. It was Orlando’s first home win in the continental tournament and the Lions will face Tigres in the next round in a rematch of their series in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. The first match will be in Orlando on Tuesday, with the second leg taking place in Mexico on March 12.
Orlando Pride Unveil New Phoenix and Citrus Kits
The Orlando Pride unveiled two new kits on Tuesday as part of the NWSL’s league-wide kit reset ahead of the upcoming season. The first kit is called the Phoenix kit, which features the Pride’s two recognizable colors, purple and blue. The Phoenix kit also features a two-toned purple gradient that goes from the top right to bottom left on the jersey.
The secondary Citrus Kit is an all new color scheme that pays tribute to Florida’s citrus industry. The Citrus Kit features a new orange and iced-out green color scheme with oranges and leaves, while the letters and numbers have the same green coloring. The socks have “Pride” handwritten on the back, while a stylized “OP” is on the lower end of the jersey.
Both kits will be unveiled during the kit party at the Orlando Regional History Center later today. Fans can purchase replicas of the two new jerseys at ShopOrlandoPride.com, in the Den at Inter&Co Stadium, and on NWSLShop.com.
Philadelphia Union Advance Past Deportivo Saprissa
The Philadelphia Union survived a wild match against Deportivo Saprissa at Subaru Park, securing a 3-3 draw to advance to the next round on aggregate. There were four goals in the first 30 minutes of the match, and Mariano Torres gave Saprissa a needed third goal in the second half to send the game to extra time. Despite playing a man down after defender Jack Elliot was sent off, the Union’s Mikael Uhre scored in extra time and the defense held on to advance. There is more Concacaf Champions League action tonight, as FC Cincinnati takes on Cavalier SC, already up 2-0 on aggregate, while Nashville SC faces Moca FC with a 3-0 aggregate lead. The New England Revolution will host Independiente tomorrow.
USMNT to Play Brazil at Camping World Stadium
The United States Men’s National Team will play Brazil in the second edition of the Continental Clasico on June 12 at Camping World Stadium. Both teams will use this match to test themselves in preparation for the Copa America this summer. This will be the first meeting between these two sides since 2018, when the USMNT lost 2-0 to Brazil in a friendly at MetLife Stadium. In the first edition of the Continental Clasico last April, the USMNT played Mexico in a thrilling 1-1 draw. The USMNT has only beaten Brazil once in 19 matches, but its record in Orlando has been stellar, with a 7-2-0 record in recent years. The 2024 Copa America will kick off on June 20.
- The latest MLS power rankings have been released after opening week. Orlando City dropped three places to eighth after a scoreless draw against CF Montreal this past weekend.
- The Orlando Pride’s Rafaelle started and scored a goal in Brazil’s win against Panama in the Concacaf W Gold Cup. Pride forward Adriana came off the bench for Brazil as well.
- USMNT captain Tyler Adams is back at training with AFC Bournemouth. Adams has been sidelined since last September with a hamstring injury.
- Seattle Sounders legend Ozzie Alonso is returning to the club to sign a one-day contract to announce his retirement from professional soccer.
- Mallorca defeated Real Sociedad 5-4 on penalties to advance to the Copa del Rey final for the first time in 21 years.
- Former Blackburn manager Jon Dahl Tomasson has been hired as Sweden’s next manager and will be the first foreign-born coach to lead the men’s side.
That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.
Orlando City at Inter Miami: Three Keys to Victory
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