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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 — 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 — they know how to do it — 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 — professionals — 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.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Five Takeaways

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

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

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

3-5-2 For the Win

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

Duncan McGuire Injured Early On

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

Ivan Angulo Defies Tired Legs

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

Jack Lynn After Dark

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

Making History On the Road

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


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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/20/24

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

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

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

Lions Pull Out Late Win on the Road

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

Orlando Pride Win Against Seattle Reign FC

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

MLS Weekend Recap

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

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

Manchester City Wins English Premier League

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

Free Kicks

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

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions individually rate in Orlando City’s win on the road?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

The Lions went across the country to face the San Jose Earthquakes and will return to Orlando with all three points after a 1-0 win. Jack Lynn, who came on in the first half for an injured Duncan McGuire, scored the only goal of the game. Here’s how I saw each individual Lion’s performance in Orlando’s win on the road.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 6.5 — El Pulpo came up with four saves in the shutout, with three of them coming within the span of a few minutes in the first half. Gallese wasn’t tested as much in the second half, but he did make a big save to deny Jack Skahan late in the match. In terms of distribution, eight of his 19 long balls were accurate and he completed 60.7% of his 28 passes. All in all, it was another strong outing from the Peruvian.

D, David Brekalo, 7.5 (MotM) — Brekalo did a great job putting out fires in Orlando’s defense, leading the team with eight clearances. He won five of his seven aerial duels, and had two interceptions and a tackle as well. Although only one of his nine long balls was accurate, he had a key pass for setting up a shot by Martin Ojeda that was deflected out for a corner. He also did well winning a foul in the first half that stopped a potential San Jose counter and gave Orlando a set piece in a good area. Brekalo finished the game with 46 passes at an 80.4% success rate and is our Man of the Match for anchoring Orlando’s defense in a shutout.

D, Wilder Cartagena, 7.5 — The Peruvian started as a center back for the Lions and looked the part once again. Cartagena was patient and clinical when it came to his defending, leading the Lions with five tackles and stopping some of San Jose’s most dangerous attacks. He also had four clearances and two interceptions in an excellent defensive performance. Cartagena completed 86.1% of his 43 passes and two of his seven long balls found their mark.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6 — Schlegel also did well as part of Orlando’s defense, recording four clearances, two tackles, and an interception. He won two of his three aerial duels as well, playing physically without committing any fouls. The Argentine defender was accurate on three of his 10 long balls and had 46 passes at a 73.9% success rate. He had a solid game and will return to Orlando with a few bumps and bruises along with the team’s clean sheet.

WB, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 5.5 — Thorhallsson returned to the starting lineup for the first time since May 4. There were a few nervous moments when he was tasked with marking players lurking at the back post, but San Jose wasn’t able to make Orlando pay for it. He had three clearances and two tackles before being subbed out in the 78th minute. Offensively, he did well to find open space, but wasn’t able to capitalize on his chances as neither of his two shots were on target. Thorhallsson’s best chance came when a cutback cross from Ivan Angulo found him with all the time in the world to pick out his shot in the box, only to send it wide. His passing could’ve been a bit tidier, as he had 30 passes at a 76.7% success rate, neither of his two long balls were accurate, and just one of his four crosses were successful. Regardless, it was nice to see Thorhallsson back in the swing of things after missing time.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 7 — Angulo applied plenty of defensive pressure throughout the match, but still had enough left in the tank to assist on Orlando’s winning moment. The Colombian raced down the left wing on a counter and then picked out Ojeda in the box, whose mishit volley wound up with Lynn scoring. Angulo nearly had another assist for his cutback cross that found Thorhallsson open as well. He completed 90.9% of his 44 passes and two of his three crosses were accurate. Defensively, he had three tackles and a clearance as well. This game was a testament to how much of an impact the speedy Lion can have on a match.

MF, Felipe, 6.5 — Felipe replaced the suspended Cesar Araujo in the starting lineup and did fairly well, shutting down San Jose’s passing lanes and plugging holes in Orlando’s defensive shape as needed. He had a team-high three interceptions, along with four tackles and two clearances. The midfielder had 40 passes at a strong 90% success rate and one of his three long balls was accurate. It was a fairly quiet night from the veteran, which isn’t the worst thing for a defensive midfielder and he did well filling in for Araujo.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6.5 — Lodeiro led the Lions with 94 touches and 75 passes, directing things while Orlando had possession. He was successful on 84% of those passes and two of his three long balls, though none of his five crosses found their man. Lodeiro’s lone shot went high and off target, but he did have two key passes to set up a pair of chances for Luis Muriel. He chipped in defensively with two tackles, an interception, and a clearance as well. Even though he wasn’t able to replicate the offensive output he showed against the Philadelphia Union, Lodeiro did well in his third straight match playing the full 90 minutes.

WB, Facundo Torres, 6 — Torres didn’t have a shot in the match, but did have two key passes to generate some offense. Although only one of his five crosses were accurate, he still did well putting the ball into open areas in the box. His only attempted long ball wasn’t successful, but he did complete 91.9% of his 37 passes. Torres spent most of his time attacking through the wings, and didn’t contribute too much defensively beyond a clearance and sprinting back to give the back line support when needed.

F, Luis Muriel, 6.5 — The forward continued to look dangerous with the ball at his feet and had three shots in the match. Of his three shots, one forced a good save out of San Jose goalkeeper William Yarbrough, one was blocked before it could test Yarbrough, and another was sent off target from distance. He may have only been successful on one of his five attempted dribbles, but Muriel also had a key pass and both of his long balls were accurate. Muriel was fairly involved with 58 touches, won all three of his aerial duels, and helped out on defense with two tackles and a clearance.

F, Duncan McGuire, N/A — McGuire had to be subbed out in the 16th minute due to an arm injury after colliding with Bruno Wilson in the air. The Lions played with 10 men for a few minutes while medical staff looked him over, but Lynn ultimately replaced him on the field. McGuire had eight touches and completed three of his four passes, while also recording a clearance before his early exit.

Substitutes

F, Jack Lynn, (16′), 6.5 — Lynn came into the match to replace McGuire and scored the winner late in the match to give the Lions all three points on the road. The 24-year-old maintained focus when Ojeda didn’t strike the ball cleanly and buried the bouncing ball into the back of the net. His goal was his third shot and final shot of the match after sending a glancing header wide and having another header saved at point-blank range earlier on. Lynn may have only won one of his five aerial duels, but his hold-up play was decent. He had 18 passes at a 66.7% success rate and 33 touches before being subbed off in stoppage time after scoring. Lynn was a bit sloppy at times, but ultimately gave the Lions an unlikely win.

MF, Martin Ojeda, (79′), N/A — Ojeda was credited with an assist for his role in Lynn’s goal, even if he fully intended on scoring himself with his strike. While there was luck involved, he deserves credit for getting in a good position and taking a crack at goal. His other shot was a try from distance that was deflected out for a corner kick. He completed all but one of his seven passes, had 13 touches, and neither of his two crosses connected.

WB, Rafael Santos, (79′), N/A — Santos came into the match for Facundo Torres and it didn’t take long for him to make his presence known. He whipped in a pinpoint cross for Lynn in the 82nd minute that the forward should have done better with. It was a key pass for Santos and one of his two successful crosses in his limited time on the field. He completed four of his passes, helped secure the clean sheet with an interception and clearance on the defensive end.

WB, Kyle Smith, (90’+2), N/A — Smith came on in stoppage time to give the Lions some fresh legs and another defender to help see out the match, although he didn’t have any touches in his brief cameo.

MF, Jeorgio Kocevski, (90’+2), N/A — The rookie made his first appearance with the first team since March. He also didn’t have any touches or contributions in his short time on the field, although it was still nice to see Kocevski get some playing time.


How did you see the individual performances in this game? Make your voice heard down in the comments, and be sure to vote in our Man of the Match poll.

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