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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Nashville SC: Final Score 2-0 as Lions Drop Second Straight Home Match

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City continued to struggle offensively at Exploria Stadium, falling for the second straight match at home in an underwhelming 2-0 loss to Nashville SC. The visitors got a cheap first-half goal by catching the Lions (2-2-2, 8 points) napping on a set piece from nowhere near the attacking third and then sat back until they could hit for a second on the counter. Orlando had chances to score but wasted them in another disappointing game against Nashville (3-2-1, 10 points).

City fell to 1-2-4 against Nashville in regular-season league play and 1-3-5 in all competitions, and the Lions have now gone eight consecutive meetings with the Tennessee club without tasting victory dating back to Aug. 26, 2020 β€” the first time the teams played.

“Disappointed being at home in front of our fans and not getting the result,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said about the game. “This is the most painful part. The analysis of the game, I thought we made a couple mistakes on the defensive phase that cost the game in terms of chasing it all the time. And in the other box we’re not fine. We were optimistic because we came off from a game we played very well, and today we were not fine in those two areas.”

Pareja used almost entirely the same lineup as he did a week ago in the win over Philadelphia, subbing Pedro Gallese in for Mason Stajduhar, but sticking with a back line of Luca Petrasso, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Kyle Smith. Cesar Araujo and Felipe manned the central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, and Martin Ojeda, with Ramiro Enrique up top.

The opening minutes of the match were cagey, with both teams looking for an opening. Orlando had a good-looking attacking movement going in the fifth minute but it died when Smith’s cross was too easily blocked by the first defender.

Nashville got the first dangerous chance off a corner kick in the seventh minute. The cross squirted out to Daniel Lovitz outside the area. The shot back in was blocked just in front of goal. The rebound found Picault but he was offside.

The first Orlando shot fell for Pereyra at the top of the area in the 14th minute but the captain sent his shot well over the bar. Three minutes later, the Lions had a great buildup through the middle that Ojeda sent left for Angulo. The winger fired a shot that Willis saved and it went out for a corner.

Orlando played the corner short to Felipe who was fouled from behind. Ojeda sent the ensuing free kick over the bar.

The visitors struck in the 28th minute off a midfield free kick. After a foul by Felipe, Mukhtar played it quickly and the Lions fell asleep. Mukhtar sent a long ball over the top that Picault ran onto, splitting Jansson and Schlegel, and easily chipped Gallese to make it 1-0. It was Mukhtar’s eighth career goal involvement against Orlando City in seven games (three goals, five assists).

Orlando tried to get back into the match by applying some pressure, and while it unsettled Nashville’s back five a bit, the Lions couldn’t capitalize. Angulo blocked a pass from the goalkeeper but it deflected out for a goal kick rather than into the net in the 38th minute.

A minute later, Angulo stole the ball and Orlando had a series of shots blocked outside the area. As good as Nashville was defensively, a lack of taking the extra step to clear a shot was a problem for the Lions. The play fizzled when Araujo carried into the box and went down, losing his footing.

A fantastic curling ball put Mukhtar behind the defense but Gallese made a vital save. A second shot in was cleared off the line by the defense but the flag came up on the play anyway.

A late shot over the bar from C.J. Sapong ended the first half with the Lions down, 1-0.

Orlando City held more possession in the first half (60.3%-39.7%), as it usually does against the counter-attack-minded Nashville, but the Lions also had more shot attempts (6-3), although each team only got one on frame. Orlando had more corners (2-1), and passed more accurately (90.4%-80.3%).

Facundo Torres replaced Felipe in the lineup at the half, pushing Pereyra into a deeper-lying midfield role.

Schlegel was booked for fouling Mukhtar in the 48th minute and the Nashville striker nearly paid off the ensuing free kick which fizzed just wide of the right post and into the outside netting.

Ojeda sent a shot on target in the 51st minute but he didn’t get all of it and it was no trouble for Willis.

Five minutes later, Picault put the ball in again but the flag came up. It looked like offside in the buildup watching it live, and that call stood after a lengthy review by the video assistant referee.

Enrique fired into the shin of the defender in front of him in the 58th minute and Torres sent a low, hard shot from outside the area wide of the near post a minute later. Then, just past the hour mark, Orlando had a fairly reasonable penalty shout when Angulo touched the ball past a defender and then had his run held up with heavy contact, but referee Chris Penso wasn’t interested.

Regardless, Orlando should have equalized in the 63rd minute. A good through ball from Pereyra was barely touched by Angulo’s heel and fell into the path of Petrasso wide on the left. The left back sent a good pass into the box for Enrique, who took his shot quickly but stabbed it right at Willis, who made the save. The goalkeeper then recovered in time to pick it up before Angulo could get to the rebound.

Nashville put the game away in the 74th minute. Shaq Moore sent Mukhtar down the right side and the forward’s shot went in after perhaps deflecting off both Schlegel and Gallese to make it 2-0. It was Mukhtar’s first goal of the season and fourth career strike against Orlando.

“it cost us today,” Gallese said of the team’s few defensive breakdowns. “Those are things that we have to fix. We know that there’s games coming up that are going to be more difficult. There’s these next two weeks we’re sure to have time to analyze what happened and to try and correct those things moving into this game in two weeks against Minnesota.”

“I don’t think we had that much volume, but we had a couple of chances that (could have) allowed us to tie the game before the other mistake we made on the transition. And after that we just started moving desperately. I don’t think we were moving correctly. We were just trying to do things and then with them sitting low β€” they know how to do it β€” we lost connection there, and then we stopped creating more clear chances.”

Orlando had some half chances to at least get on the board but couldn’t pay them off. Angulo stepped into a shot in the 77th but it was nowhere close to goal. Ojeda sent a shot in through traffic moments later and it probably would have gone in had it not struck Zimmerman’s leg.

Ojeda smashed a shot in the 85th minute that Willis tipped over the bar. The Lions worked that corner for a second and second-half sub Duncan McGuire got his head to the cross. His shot was headed inside the right post but Willis was well positioned and made the save.

Mukhtar nearly added a third for the visitors in the 89th but sent a volley shot just over the bar.

Orlando couldn’t muster anything in the four minutes of stoppage time and suffered another home loss.

As is typical against Nashville, the Lions ended up with more possession (64.4%-35.6%), shots (18-7), shots on target (6-3), corners (10-2), and passing accuracy (88.1%-77.3%), but the league’s stingiest defense gave no room and the Lions couldn’t move Walker Zimmerman and Jack Maher the way they did to Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliott a week ago in Philadelphia. The one time Zimmerman did chase Pereyra outside the area in the second half, the captain was unable to get a ball into the area.

“I don’t think they created too many chances. They got in behind us a couple of times,” Smith said. “The first goal was off of a quick free kick. And then I thought we created a little bit more in the second half. We just couldn’t finish.”

“We can not lose our head,” Pareja said about his team reacting to tonight’s loss. “We were not the best team in the league after we beat Philadelphia. We’re not the worst tonight either. We have to keep our heads up. We need to be calm and the responsibility of the coach is just try to glue them together and see how we can use the chemistry and the players that we have. We have a good group and a group that I believe (in) too. We have to respond. The season is early. We don’t feel good just losing two games at home, i know, in front of our people, but we have to be what we are β€” professionals β€” and just keep moving forward.”


The Lions get Easter weekend off before heading back out on the road for a match-up against Minnesota United on April 15.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/27/23

Orlando City falls in power rankings, OCB will take on Columbus Crew 2 in MLS NEXT Pro playoffs, U.S. Open Cup final preview, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. There’s not much new with me, I’m just staying busy at work lately and hoping to catch some soccer this weekend. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Drops Two Spots in Power Rankings

The latest MLS power rankings have been released and Orlando City fell two spots to fourth. The Lions lost their midweek matchup 2-0 on the road against New York City FC last Wednesday and closed out the weekend with a 1-1 draw against rival Inter Miami at Exploria Stadium. It wasn’t all bad this past week for the Lions, as Duncan McGuire scored his 11th goal of the year across all competitions. Despite losing to NYCFC a week ago the Lions remain in second place in the Eastern Conference and are two points ahead of the Columbus Crew, Philadelphia Union, Atlanta United, and the New England Revolution.

OCB Will Take On Columbus Crew 2 in MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs

Orlando City B’s opponent for the first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs was announced on Tuesday, as it will go on the road to take on defending champion Columbus Crew 2 on Oct. 1 at Historic Crew Stadium. As part of the new playoff format that lets higher seeds choose their opponents, Columbus chose to host OCB in the quarterfinals. The Young Lions closed out their regular season this past weekend with a 2-1 win against FC Cincinnati and finished fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Columbus Crew 2 finished its regular season with a 3-2 win against Atlanta United 2 to place third. The clubs split the regular season series, with OCB winning 4-1 on Aug. 27 and Columbus winning 4-0 on May 14. The conference semifinals will be on the following weekend, and the MLS NEXT Pro Cup final is set for Oct. 22.

U.S. Open Cup Final Preview

The 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will conclude tonight with the final at DRV PNK Stadium as Inter Miami takes on the Houston Dynamo. The match will kick off at 8:30 p.m. and you can watch the match on Paramount+ or CBS Sports Network. Inter Miami’s journey included edging out Nashville SC 2-1 in the Round of 16 and needing to go all the way to penalties to knock out FC Cincinnati after a thrilling 3-3 draw in the semifinals. The Houston Dynamo began its run with a pair of 1-0 wins against the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Sporting Kansas City. Since the Round of 16, the Dynamo cruised past Minnesota United, the Chicago Fire, and Real Salt Lake to get to the final. Houston was on a seven-match unbeaten run before losing to Sporting Kansas City this past weekend. The Dynamo will look to add another U.S. Open Cup title after winning it back in 2018. Lionel Messi will reportedly be a game-time decision for tonight’s final after he didn’t play in Miami’s draw with Orlando.

Spain Wins First Home Match Since World Cup Victory

Spain’s women’s national team won its first match since lifting the World Cup trophy last month, cruising to a 5-0 win against Switzerland in a UEFA Nations League matchup. After dealing with the fallout of former Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales and players boycotting call-ups to the national team before a deal was reached last week, the team wore wristbands that read “Se Acabo,” meaning “this is over,” and players from both teams held a banner with the same phrase before the match. Spain celebrated its win in front of a record-breaking crowd of 14,194 fans that came out to support the team at Nuevo Arcangel Stadium.

Free Kicks

  • Carrie Lawrence and the Orlando Pride were hard at work preparing for the match on Monday against Angel City FC.
  • Angel City exercised its club option to extend former Pride forward Sydney Leroux’s contract through the end of the 2024 NWSL season.
  • The Canadian Women’s National Team defeated Jamaica 4-1 on aggregate to book a spot in next summer’s Olympics.
  • The Seattle Sounders have unveiled their new crest for next year.

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 1-1 home draw against the Herons?

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Draws are never satisfying but there’s at least a much better feeling when your team scores the final goal that earns the point rather than conceding so the other team takes two away. Thus was Orlando City’s 1-1 draw at home against Inter Miami on Sunday. It feels better to score the last goal, despite the fact that the same number of goals are scored either way. It’s a grand illusion.

Duncan McGuire’s blast through the legs of Drake Callender at least kept the Pepto-Bismol-colored team from winning at the purple palace and added another point to Orlando’s fine 2023 total.

Here’s how I saw the individual performances from a feisty affair at Exploria Stadium.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 7.5 β€” It was another standout game from the Peruvian shot stopper, who made four saves on the night, including a big one to stop a Leonardo Campana attempt from just a couple yards out. Gallese couldn’t do much about the lone goal conceded, as it came off a rebound of a wicked Josef Martinez shot, offering Gallese little opportunity to control the rebound due to the angle and pace. El Pulpo also recorded a clearance and passed at an 81.8% rate, connecting on five of his nine long balls.

D, Rafael Santos, 6.5 β€” After a couple of somewhat underwhelming performances, the Brazilian had a solid night. He didn’t have a shot attempt, but he managed two key passes despite completing only 71.4% of his passes. He connected on three of his eight long balls and one of his four crosses, but that latter number says more about his teammates not getting onto some good-looking balls into the area. Defensively, he provided two clearances and an interception, committing just one foul and completing a dribble. He even led the team in touches (60).

D, Robin Jansson, 7.5 (MotM) β€” In the first half, Jansson was the best player on the pitch and, in my opinion, it wasn’t close. The Beefy Swede vaccuumed up almost everything sent forward by Miami that was intended for Campana and Martinez on his side of the field. He finished the night with two tackles and two interceptions but it seemed like more than that. His passing was magnificent, as he completed 89.4% of his 47 passes, including six of seven long balls and his only through ball attempt. He had a key pass as well. He didn’t attempt a shot but he completed one dribble and drew a foul as he stymied the Miami attack. He did his best to cover Martinez’s quick, incisive run to the opposite side but couldn’t block the shot with his sliding effort. His biggest blemish was getting yet another yellow card for dissent β€” something he’s mostly been able to avoid this season.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 5.5 β€”While I thought Schlegel had a much better night Sunday than he had in the previous two games, it was far from where he was just a week or two earlier. The quick transition gave him a tough choice of backing off Campana and allowing a dangerous shot or doing what he did β€” stepping out and allowing a through ball. His closeout wasn’t tight enough. His marking on set pieces also left a lot to be desired at times. His passing was mostly accurate (91.5%), and he connected on two of three long balls, but there were a few dicey ones in his own end. He recorded two aerials won, one tackle, two interceptions, and a clearance. He committed three fouls and picked up a yellow card, conceding a dangerous free kick. His lone shot attempt was an off-target header.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6.5 β€” After a couple of tough games, the Icelandic midfielder-turned-fullback acquitted himself pretty well, considering Inter Miami attacked his side quite a bit. He passed well, connecting 82.5% of the time with one key pass and hitting the target once on two crosses, four times on six long balls, and sent a marvelous through ball that should have resulted in an Ivan Angulo goal, but the winger flubbed his lines. His lone shot attempt was a difficult one and did not threaten goal. He did not record a single defensive stat, although much of the time his opponent curled in toward the top of the area and was passed off to another defender.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 5.5 β€” The young Uruguayan had a quiet night, without recording any defensive statistics in his 45 minutes before being subbed out at the break for Martin Ojeda. He managed only 23 touches and his passing rate of 73.3% was much lower than his usual standard and he completed one of his two long balls. He also drew two fouls and completed a dribble. He simply wasn’t able to impact the game to the extent we’re used to seeing.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 7 β€” It was a good night for the Peruvian midfielder, who was constantly getting under the opponents’ skin. He drew yellow card fouls on Dixon Arroyo and Benjamin Cremaschi β€” the latter after a slick nutmeg move β€” and had a steal that was set to ignite the break called back for a foul that I don’t agree was committed. Defensively, he recorded a tackle, a clearance, and an interception. He passed at a 91.1% success rate, created one scoring chance, and completed both of his long-ball attempts.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 5 β€” Whether it’s a lack of confidence and/or composure or being intimidated by a good goalkeeper, the Ivan Angulo who shoots in warmups is not the same guy in front of goal once the game is underway. He completely flubbed his lines when Thorhallsson sent him in behind for a 1-v-1 chance against Callender. The number of times he gets into dangerous spots and either a bad pass, shot, or decision keeps Orlando City from generating a scoring chance from it is maddening. Angulo failed to get any of his three shot attempts on target. His passing rate was just 60%, he did not have a single key pass, and neither of his two crosses were on target, although his single long ball was. He also didn’t record a single defensive statistic. There are many things Angulo does well, and his speed is tantalizing, but the final product is often lacking.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 β€” The captain had a mostly quiet match except when he was scissored down from behind by David Ruiz, somehow only producing a yellow card for the Miami midfielder. Pereyra produced only one key pass and no shot attempts, starting at central attacking midfielder before dropping into central midfield in the second half to pull the strings from a deeper position. He passed at an 80.5% success rate, completing one of three crosses and two of five long balls. He did not record any defensive stats and committed two fouls while drawing three.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6.5 β€” Torres led the Lions in shots (4), putting two on target, contributing one key pass and winning an aerial. He passed pretty well overall (81.5%), though he did not complete either of his two crosses or his lone long ball. He contributed an interception and a clearance defensively. Miami concentrated on double-teaming the Designated Player whenever possible. Torres still created some opportunities for himself and others, but it was a fairly quiet night overall.

F, Duncan McGuire, 7.5 β€” The rookie is still getting back to form after returning from injury, so he managed only 18 touches on the night but he did well with the touches he had. Both of McGuire’s shots were on target and both were rockets. Unfortunately, both were right at goalkeeper Callender. Fortunately, the second of those went through the keeper’s legs for the equalizing goal β€” his ninth of the MLS season. He also created a chance with a key pass, completed 83.3% of his pass attempts, and connected on his only long ball. He even contributed a defensive clearance. It was a good night for the rookie striker, although he wasn’t able to get that many touches.

Substitutes

MF, Martin Ojeda (46′), 6.5 β€” The Argentine Designated Player came on at halftime for Araujo to give the Lions more attacking presence and an extra playmaker on the field. He continues to grow in recent games, as he put his only shot attempt on target, created a chance with a key pass, and completed two dribbles, although he did have four unstable touches and was dispossessed once. He completed 89.5% of his 19 passes and all three long balls, but missed on his only cross attempt. He helped with the ball back with two tackles, and added a clearance.

MF/F, Ramiro Enrique (74′), 5 β€” Enrique came on for Angulo, which I thought at the time was the exact sub that was needed, but the Argentine didn’t offer much for the second straight game after winning Player of the Matchday. He did not attempt a shot or create a key pass and managed only seven touches on the night, passing at an 83.3% clip. He chipped in a clearance.

D, Michael Halliday (77′), 5 β€” The Homegrown defender spelled Thorhallsson but didn’t offer much, despite completing all four of his passes on 13 total touches. He had two unstable touches and was dispossessed once, which is not what you want to see from your fullback in the final 15 minutes of the match. Defensively, he blocked a shot, but he also conceded an unnecessary late corner when he pulled up, thinking he’d won a foul that didn’t end up getting called.

MF, Gaston Gonzalez (84′), N/A β€” As the MLS U22 Initiative attacker works his way back to fitness, he got a late runout, replacing McGuire, which pushed Enrique to the top of the formation. He conceded a free kick, but I honestly thought his challenge was clean and should have led to an Orlando counterattack. He put his only shot on frame, but it was a weak dribbler right at Callender. He did not complete his only pass attempt of the match.

MF, Junior Urso (84′), N/A β€” The Bear entered for Pereyra and was active, gettin 12 touches in late. His 90% passing rate on 10 attempts was solid, missing only on his only attempted long ball. He didn’t record any defensive stats, but he also didn’t make any mistakes in his brief spell.


That’s how I saw the individual performances by Orlando City on Sunday night at the stadium. Let me know where I got things right or wrong in the comments below and be sure to vote for your Man of the Match in our poll below.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/26/23

Pedro Gallese honored, Orlando Pride and Lions celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Campeones Cup preview, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I won’t lie to you, I’m dragging a bit to start this week. I’m still recovering from being sick and frankly had to fight the urge to take Monday off. I’m soldiering on though, and there’s plenty of soccer happening this week to help keep me entertained and in good spirits. Let’s have a look at today’s links.

Pedro Gallese Recognized

Pedro Gallese turned in another superb performance during Orlando City’s 1-1 draw with Inter Miami on Sunday, and he’s been rewarded with a place in the most recent edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. El Pulpo made four saves on the night, including a fantastic stop on a header from close range, and helped the Lions stay in the game until they could find the equalizer. Congratulations to Pedro, and here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Orlando Pride and Orlando City Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Orlando Pride defender Celia fielded questions for fans to learn more about both her and Spain. Celia is from Alicante, a port city in southern Spain, and shared her favorite food, music, and activity while in her home country. She also spoke on a common misconception about spices used in Spain being spicy.

Orlando City’s Facundo Torres also shared the meaning behind some of his tattoos, which include the Uruguayan flag and La Paz, the city he grew up in. Orlando City’s match with CF Montreal on Saturday will also be Hispanic Heritage Night at Exploria Stadium.

Campeones Cup Preview

You can be forgiven if you forgot that the Campeones Cup is still a thing, because I know I did. Here’s a little refresher on the annual match. It’s being played tomorrow night at BMO Stadium between LAFC and Tigres, which are the reigning MLS and Liga MX champions, respectively. The MLS representative has won three out of the four contests, with Tigres beating Toronto FC 3-1 in the first iteration of the competition in 2018. This match will also be a rematch of the 2020 Concacaf Champions League final, which saw Tigres emerge victorious 2-1 at Exploria Stadium.

Americans in Midweek Action

A number of Americans will be taking part in games for their clubs this week. Tim Weah and Weston McKennie’s Juventus will take on Lecce today in Serie A, while Chris Richards and Crystal Palace face Manchester United in the Carabao Cup. Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah have a league match when AC Milan plays Cagliari tomorrow. PSV Eindhoven has a game against Go Ahead Eagles tomorrow as well, which means Ricardo Pepi, Sergino Dest and Malik Tillman could all be involved. Friday closes out the week with Hoffenheim taking on Borussia Dortmund, which could see John Brooks matched up against Gio Reyna depending on Reyna’s fitness.

Spanish Players Will Testify Against Rubiales

Alexia Putellas, Irene Paredes and Misa Rodriguez have all been called to testify as witnesses in the case against Luis Rubiales. Jenni Hermoso’s brother and a friend of the player both testified on Monday afternoon, as Rubiales is facing charges of sexual assault and coercion. Rubiales has already testified and maintains he did nothing wrong amid uproar that has led to a number of Spanish players refusing to return to the team until changes are made, and a general overshadowing of Spain’s victory at the Women’s World Cup. Putellas, Paredes and Rodriguez will testify next Monday.

Free Kicks


That’s all I have for today. Y’all stay safe out there!

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