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Orlando City vs. Minnesota United: Final Score 2-1 as Lions Come from Behind in Road Win

The Lions got their first regular-season win against the Loons, beating Minnesota’s stingy defense twice after falling behind.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City fell behind in the second half but goals by Ivan Angulo and Duncan McGuire brought the Lions back for a 2-1 win over Minnesota United at Allianz Field in St. Paul, MN. Orlando (3-2-2, 11 points) stayed unbeaten on the road at 2-0-1 on the young MLS season and got its first regular-season win against Minnesota United (3-2-2, 11 points).

The home side was the more likely to win for most of the game, but after falling behind, Orlando showed plenty of fight and worked two excellent team goals to steal all three points from former OCSC manager Adrian Heath and the Loons in Minnesota.

“Very, very good victory, and the credit for this group of players who overcame this moment,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “Coming to Minnesota and getting this win is very important for for our group. But the most important part was when we were losing one-zero, and the courage of the players just brought it back into the game, tied it up, and then after that, just with the same ambition go and look for the three points, and that’s what what I highlight the most — that effort — and we’re very proud of them.”

Pareja changed the team’s shape for this match-up, starting Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Rodrigo Schlegel. The midfield consisted of Angulo and Gaston Gonzalez outside, with no true fullbacks on the pitch. Cesar Araujo and Mauricio Pereyra played centrally, with an attacking line of Facundo Torres, Martin Ojeda, and Ramiro Enrique.

The first half was one to forget for the Lions, as they looked like a team not used to playing in the shape they were in. The Loons got a golden opportunity in the opening minutes as a result. A simple ball over the top was misplayed by Jansson, who allowed Mender Garcia to get in behind him down Minnesota’s right side. Garcia found a wide-open Bongokuhle Hlongwane in front of goal but his first touch was terrible and the ball skipped harmlessly off his feet and out for a goal kick in the second minute.

The Loons racked up six first-half corners and didn’t do much with them, although the ball did ping around dangerously a few times. At least three of those corners were preventable but poor touches on clearance attempts by Schlegel and Gonzalez gifted those set pieces to the hosts. Multiple attacks that ended in corners were set up by careless Orlando passes in the attacking third that the Loons turned into transition opportunities.

One of those set pieces fell to Kervin Arriaga at the top of the box but the central midfielder fired his shot wide.

Gallese made a near-post save on Hlongwane in the 18th minute and DJ Taylor volleyed well off target off a corner moments later.

“The first 15 minutes we suffered a little until we settled in the game, and then after that I thought we dominated in many, many parts in the match. And we created situations and we contained them as well in the moments they attacked us,” Pareja said.

Orlando got a half chance of its own in the 25th minute when Angulo fizzed in a cross that Enrique went down to get but he couldn’t hit the target. In the 32nd minute, Ojeda had an opportunity from the top of the box but missed high as the Lions continued to waste the few chances they had in the opening half. Three minutes later, Gonzalez had it at the top of the box but he took too long to shoot and it was easily blocked.

The biggest save of the half came in the 41st minute when a shot by Jeong Sang Bin took a deflection. Gallese was able to make the sprawling save.

Orlando City held more of the possession (53.1%-46.9%) but did little with it. The Loons out-shot the Lions (9-5) and had more shots on target (2-0), and corners (6-3). OCSC had a slight edge in passing accuracy (82.2%-81.9%) but that’s deceiving because a lot of that was passing around between defenders and central midfielders. In the attacking third, the Lions were simply poor.

Pareja made no changes at the break and Hlongwane continued to be a threat down Minnesota’s left, overpowering Angulo or simply beating him out wide. The first chance of the half nearly came in the 49th minute but Hlongwane hit the outside netting and the play was offside anyway.

Orlando had a good buildup in the 53rd minute that ended with the ball on Enrique’s foot at the top of the area. The U22 Initiative striker took an extra touch, however, and that allowed Michael Boxall to get back and deflect his shot out for a corner.

Five minutes later, the hosts broke through. Hassani Dotson got down the right side and just managed to beat Jansson to get his cross through the top of the six. Hlongwane beat Angulo to the goal line and just tapped it over the line to make it 1-0 in the 58th minute.

Less than 10 minutes later, the Lions responded with a beautiful team goal that started in the back. Antonio Carlos switched play from the right to Gonzalez on the left. The young Argentine cut inside and passed off to Ojeda, who in turn dropped it back for Pereyra. The captain sent a diagonal ball to send Gonzalez down the left flank toward the end line and his cross fizzed through the box to Angulo on the other side. Angulo smashed it past Dayne St. Clair for his second goal of the season, leveling things in the 66th minute.

“I think just looking for those connections and the natural movements that we can help with,” Pareja said of the difference in the attack tonight. “Positioning the players is not an easy job but we understand that we have urgency to get those things done. If we have the willingness of the players as they showed today one more time, I think that we’re going to get there.”

Hlongwane again created some danger in the 81st minute, beating Angulo to the end line and cutting a pass back for Robin Lod. The Minnesota winger got under his shot and it sailed over the bar. Three minutes later, Taylor found space and smashed a shot into the stands.

Gallese made the save of the game in the 85th minute. Luis Amarilla fed a ball through for Franco Fragapane, who got behind the defense. The shot was hard but Gallese came out a bit and made himself big, blocking it with his midsection.

It was a vital stop because the Lions took the lead three minutes later. Substitutes Luca Petrasso and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson worked the ball smartly up the touchline on the left side and the Icelandic midfielder eventually slipped Torres toward the end line. Torres sent a cross that was over McGuire in the middle but it fell for Angulo on the far side. This time Angulo tried to chip St. Clair but his effort hit the crossbar. It fell into the path of the waiting McGuire, who nodded home the winner in the 88th minute.

“It was a great team buildup,” McGuire said of the goal. “Ball went slightly over my head on the cross. Angulo, I saw him flick it up and I didn’t know if it was going to off the crossbar or over the goal or in the goal. I just decided to get myself in a good position to where I thought a bounce could be, and it luckily came right to my head and I tucked it away, which was nice.”

“He wants to fight for every single ball,” Pareja said of McGuire. “That brings us energy and we appreciate a lot those characteristics and that willingness of the players. He understands his weaknesses and he’s trying very hard by training on correcting them and improving, but his heart is always there.”

Pareja said he had been considering bringing Ercan Kara into the match instead of McGuire, as the Austrian has finally recovered from his thigh injury and was on the substitute’s bench. But he went with McGuire after Angulo tied the match.

“At that moment when we tied the game, we needed just that explosion from Duncan and the help that he can give us without the ball,” Pareja said.

Orlando City survived a late free kick from just outside their defensive penalty area and held on for all three points.

The Lions finished the match with more possession (55.7%-44.3%) and passed more accurately (82.2%-81%), but the hosts had more shots (17-12), shots on target (4-2), and corners (8-6).

In the end, the Lions were slightly more clinical, which is not something that has often been written about the team this season through seven matches. Orlando got some big saves from Gallese, which helped keep the Lions in it until the attack could string together a couple of brilliant passing sequences that created the goals.

The Lions return home next Saturday when they welcome D.C. United to Exploria Stadium.

Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Junior Urso

The Bear returned unexpectedly in the middle of the season to bolster the Orlando midfield.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Midfielder Junior Urso joined Orlando City on Jan. 13, 2020 from Brazilian giants Corinthians on a multi-year deal. The Bear spent three years in purple before he and the club mutually agreed to part ways, terminating his contract for personal reasons on Nov. 10, 2022. Upon his return to Brazil, Urso joined Coritiba, but injuries limited him to just seven appearances. In a surprise move, Urso rejoined Orlando City on July 19, returning to the City Beautiful and accepting a backup role behind the Lions’ double pivot of Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo.

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

Statistical Breakdown

Urso made his return to the pitch for Orlando City on Aug. 20, following the club’s run in Leagues Cup. In the MLS regular season, Urso made nine appearances (two starts), logging 250 minutes. Urso did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting just three shots, none of which found the target. The Bear completed 78.3% of his 115 total pass attempts but did not record a key pass or a successful cross. Defensively, Urso tallied two interceptions, five tackles, and five clearances. He committed two fouls, drew two on the opposition, and was booked just once.

The Brazilian also appeared in all three of Orlando City’s playoff matches, all off the bench, totaling 98 minutes. He did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting three shots, one of which was on target. He completed 86.4% of his passes, including three key passes, but did not connect on a cross. Urso chipped in one tackle defensively, committed two fouls, suffered three, and was not booked in the postseason.

Best Game

With a little less than a third of a season in purple and gold and serving primarily as a reserve player, Urso’s best match was his regular-season appearance on the road against Nashville SC on Oct. 4. The Bear came on for Facundo Torres in the 72nd minute and did what fans have always expected of him, which is to frustrate the living hell out of the opponent. Urso made sure that Nashville knew that he had entered the game, winning countless throw-ins, allowing Orlando to walk away with its first road victory at Nashville. Urso also recorded a shot in the match, which was the Lions’ only attempt other than Duncan McGuire’s goal, although it was perhaps a bit generous to call it a shot attempt. He passed at a 72.2% rate and recorded a tackle and a clearance and did his job helping the Lions see out a tight victory.

2023 Final Grade

As Urso came up short of the minimum total of 450 minutes played 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. While it was a surreal experience just to see the Bear back on the pitch for Orlando City after his sudden departure, a delayed return to the pitch due to a lingering knock and the play of the midfielders in front of him on the depth chart limited his ability to leave his mark on the season. However, it’s difficult to put a grade on the experience he brought to the squad.

2024 Outlook

Orlando City has yet to announce its end-of-season roster decisions as of this writing, but with Wilder Cartagena’s loan spell expired, the Lions would be wise to pick up Urso’s contract option for the 2024 season. If that happens, he would likely take up the No. 8 role with Araujo playing the No. 6 in Orlando’s double pivot (assuming Oscar Pareja also returns). Urso could split time at the No. 8 if Orlando adds a new starting No. 10, because in that case, Mauricio Pereyra might see some time in that spot. If a permanent transfer or loan extension for Cartagena is secured, Urso provides value off the bench, although he’s a bit pricey for a backup at $360,000.

Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 12/5/23

Exploria Stadium will host Copa America games, Pride reportedly make offer for Crystal Dunn, Americans in midweek action, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Good morning, everyone. I’m still dragging a little bit after having a shortened weekend due to work, but I hope all of you were able to hit the ground running yesterday and started your weeks off on the right note. As usual, there’s a lot of interesting things to discuss today, so let’s get after it.

Exploria Stadium Picked as Copa America Venue

The host cities and venues for next summer’s Copa America tournament were revealed and Orlando City’s Exploria Stadium has been chosen. The Lions’ home will have games on June 29 and July 1, and both games could be very important ones as they will take place during the final day of play for Groups A and C. We also know that the USMNT will play its group stage games in Atlanta, Dallas, and Kansas City. The semifinal matches will be held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey and at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, with Charlotte also hosting the third-place game. We’ll know very soon which teams will be playing in Orlando, as the draw will take place on Thursday.

Orlando Pride Reportedly Make an Offer for Crystal Dunn

The Orlando Pride have reportedly made a large offer to bring Crystal Dunn to Orlando, with CBS Sports reporting the amount prepared by the Pride to be more than $400,000. However, negotiations between the Pride and Dunn are reportedly no longer ongoing.

The 31-year-old is a free agent after announcing that she was not returning to the Portland Thorns after three seasons there. She is one of the more notable free agents this off-season and the Washington Spirit and NJ/NY Gotham FC are also interested in signing her ahead of the 2024 season.

Americans in Midweek Action

There are a number of American players who will be playing games this week, so make sure you have some of these marked down on your calendar. First up is a match that could feature up to three players currently in the USMNT pool, as Jordan Pefok, Joe Scally, and Borussia Monchengladbach will face Kevin Paredes and Wolfsburg in the DFB Pokal. Tomorrow sees Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, and Fulham playing Matt Turner’s Nottingham Forest, although the USMNT’s starting goalkeeper is not likely to play. The week finishes with Juventus and Weston McKennie facing Napoli in league play, although Tim Weah is still an injury doubt.

USWNT Aims for Change in Mentality

The 2024 calendar year is going to be an important one for the United States Women’s National Team, and the team wants to start it off on the right foot. Interim head coach Twila Kilgore is viewing today’s match against China as a chance for the team to continue building a new identity and to keep developing tactically after a disappointing early exit from this summer’s World Cup. While Emma Hayes has been named the team’s new head coach, she won’t officially join up until Chelsea’s club season ends in May. Until that happens, there’s plenty of work to be done with the Gold Cup just around the corner in March, followed by the Olympics in Paris in July.

The Soccer Tournament Adds Women’s Competition

Following the success of last year’s first edition of The Soccer Tournament, the organizers have added a women’s competition for next summer’s event. The seven-a-side tournament will now also feature an eight-team women’s bracket which will also have a $1 million prize up for grabs. The decision was made after an all-women’s team led by Heather O’Reilly drew significant support when it competed last year, despite not picking up a win. The men’s tournament will also be expanding to 48 teams for this year’s competition, after featuring 32 participants during the summer.

Free Kicks

  • Ramiro Enrique has been called up to Argentina’s training camp for its 2024 Olympic team.
  • Orlando City’s documentary about the 2022 U.S. Open Cup victory has won a Suncoast Emmy.
  • In the 2023 Women’s College Cup final, Florida State beat Stanford 5-1 to win its fourth national championship.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 12/4/23

Crew to host MLS Cup final, LAFC returns to MLS Cup, Tim Howard to be inducted into National Soccer Hall of Fame, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Good Monday morning, Mane Landers. The weekend brought us some drama-filled conference final action, and we now know who will play for the MLS Cup. But before I dive into that, I just want to take a quick minute to say with mixed emotions that this will be my final Lion Links here, but don’t be sad, because the rest of the boys will still be bringing your daily content needs and coverage. I’ll be stepping away as my wife and I are soon to be first-time parents, and I’m looking forward to all that entails. I appreciate each and every one of you readers for taking the time to scroll through my articles each week. If you’re interested in writing for TML, we could definitely use the help so please reach out. Now, let’s get into the links!

Columbus Crew Claim Hell Is Real Comeback

After a rocky start, the Columbus Crew became the first team to overcome a two-goal deficit on the road and advance in a single-leg round in the history of the MLS Cup playoffs. FC Cincinnati got off to a great start behind USMNT striker Brandon Vasquez, who opened the scoring, but it was captain Luciano Acosta’s sublime free kick finish that stole the show in the first half.

It took trusting the process and the tactics of their first-year manager Wilfried Nancy, but the Columbus Crew fought back with late match heroics to seal the victory. Forward Christian Ramirez bagged the game-winning goal in extra time in the 115th minute.

“You can only fight for someone like that,” said Ramirez. “So many times you can feel that you’re getting the bad end of the stick at certain moments, but I haven’t felt that. I think numerous guys understand how he sees the game now, and we respect that. We talk about writing our story in the Columbus Crew history; this chapter wasn’t done. We got one more week, one more game.”

LAFC Returns to MLS Cup

The league’s defending champion, LAFC, will once again be playing in the final match of the postseason. After frustrating the Houston Dynamo throughout the Western Conference final, LAFC won 2-0. Houston might have dominated the stat sheet in possession, passes, and passing accuracy, but really it was just playing into the gameplan of LAFC.

“We knew that’s what they wanted. They wanted the ball,” said LAFC right back Ryan Hollingshead. “They like to play this little tiki-taka in the middle of the field, these little movements, little one-twos, three of their guys just kind of pass the ball, but they’re going nowhere. And so we just said, do whatever you got, have the ball as long as you want. They created zero dangerous chances. They had a half-chance in the first half on a cross to Baird and that was it. And so a lot of these teams, it’s like, yeah, they’ve got possession, they may be moving the ball. But if they’re not creating dangerous chances, who cares?”

MLS Cup Final Preview

The Eastern Conference champion Columbus Crew will host Western Conference champion LAFC at Field on Dec. 9 at 4 p.m for the MLS Cup. The match will be No. 53 across all competitions this campaign for LAFC, and a victory would make the club the first repeat winners since the 2011-2012 LA Galaxy. The storylines leading to the match will likely center around the possibility of it being Carlos Vela’s final game for LAFC, but for the Crew, the bench players will be the ones to watch. In the 65th minute of the Eastern Conference final, Head Coach Wilfried Nancy brought in Julian Gressel and Christian Ramirez, who both played a pivotal role in two of the three Columbus goals in the comeback victory.  The Crew last lifted the MLS Cup in 2020, defeating Seattle Sounders 3-0 at Historic Crew Stadium.

2024 National Soccer Hall of Fame

On May 4, the National Soccer Hall of Fame will induct its 2024 class. Most notable will be long-time USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard, who played 121 matches for the United States and had a successful career in the English Premier League. Other inductees will be USWNT World Cup winner Tisha Venturini-Hoch, 1996 Paralympic captain Josh McKinney, and USL founder Francisco Marcos.

Orlando Reportedly Set to Host USMNT-Brazil Friendly

The United States Men’s National Team is reportedly far along in negotiations to face Brazil in Orlando for a friendly leading to next year’s Copa America. The Yanks and Brazil last met in September 2018 in a friendly match in East Rutherford, NJ. The United States will host the Copa America from June 19 to July 14 as one of six invited teams to the South American competition. Brazil enter as the defending champion and should prove a worthy test for the Stars & Stripes to tune up for the Southern American title.

Free Kicks

  • Check your pockets and secure your valuables when USMNT left back Antonee Robinson is on the field.

That’s a wrap for my personal writing here for a while. It has been a pleasure to bring some coverage to you all for the past couple seasons. It’s not goodbye. It’s see you later. Vamos Orlando!

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