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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. LA Galaxy: Final Score 2-0 as Designated Players Help Lions Stop Home Skid

Ercan Kara scored one goal and helped set up the second as Orlando City put in a complete home performance vs. LA.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Ercan Kara, Facundo Torres, and Martin Ojeda helped elevate Orlando City to a 2-0 win and an end to a four-match home winless skid in front of 22,519 fans at Exploria Stadium. The trio of Designated Players were a threat to the LA goal all night and two of them scored to lead Orlando City (4-3-2, 14 points) to a complete performance against the Galaxy (1-5-3, 6 points).

Kara scored the first goal and helped set up the second, leading the Lions in shots on goal (3) and finishing second only to Ojeda in shot attempts, with four. The win snapped Orlando City’s 0-3-1 home winless streak and a three-match losing spell in front of the home fans.

“I thought we played a very good half in the first half,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “We played very well against a team who changed the model in the second half and then occupied different spaces. But in the end, our players had the energy to decide the results, (and) create a couple more chances.”

Pareja shuffled his lineup a little due to injuries. Mauricio Pereyra (thigh) and Duncan McGuire (lower leg) were not on the team sheet. Pedro Gallese started in goal behind a back line of Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Michael Halliday — with the Homegrown fullback returning from an injury of his own. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena played in the central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Ojeda, and Torres, with Kara up top. The club’s three Designated Players started together for the first time since opening night against the New York Red Bulls.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair but touches and passes were sometimes ruined by the wet conditions as players struggled with their first touch or to get onto longer or faster passes. Orlando had the better attacking movements but they often couldn’t pull off enough clean touches to free up a shot and a few times just a slight hesitation allowed Galaxy defenders to recover and cut off passing lanes. As a result, there weren’t many shot attempts in the opening half.

The first opportunity of the match fell to the visitors after a free kick from distance was given by referee Jon Freemon. The Galaxy played the ball short to Dejan Joveljic just inside the top of the 18-yard box but his shot attempt was blocked by Araujo.

The Lions should have had a great scoring opportunity six minutes in when a good switch by Smith found Halliday up the right side. Instead of crossing in to a wide-open Kara for a chance on goal, the Homegrown defender took an extra touch and it was a heavy one. He recovered at the end line and won a corner but nothing came of that.

Jansson broke up a good transition attack by LA in the 17th minute, getting in front of a Joveljic shot.

In the 25th minute, Tyler Boyd cut in from the left and fired with his right foot, but it was right at Gallese, who held fast to the wet ball.

Araujo put the ball in the net in the 33rd minute but it was quickly reviewed and overturned by Freemon for a handball in the buildup on Torres, who was run into from behind while in the air.

But five minutes later, the Lions had a goal that counted. Carlos sent a nice ball over the top down the right flank for Halliday. The fullback fizzed a cross into the 6-yard box that Kara flicked in for his first goal of the MLS regular season, putting Orlando City up 1-0 in the 38th minute.

“It’s a great feeling to score,” Kara said. “Big congrats to Mikey. He crossed it really well and I told him before the game that he can find me at the first post and, yeah, he found me.”

“The goal that Ercan did for us and Michael (Halliday) assisted as well, I think that’s the highlight from us and it’s very, very good for them,” Pareja said.

Orlando came within inches of doubling its lead in the 44th minute. A takeaway in the attacking half led to the Lions having numbers in the attack. The ball found Ojeda near the right corner of the box. He fired a shot in for the back corner but LA goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann got a fingertip to it and it fell just inches wide of the back post.

That was the last good chance of the opening half. Orlando held the advantage in possession (61.8%-38.2%), shots on target (2-1), corners (3-1), and passing accuracy (85.5%-78.9%), while the visitors led in shot attempts (4-3).

LA made two substitutions at halftime, chaning shape to five at the back after putting Eriq Zavaleta and Daniel Aguirre on for Boyd and Douglas Costa. It took Orlando a while to figure things out as LA quickly won a corner and looked more threatening to start the second half. Julian Aude cut in from the left and fired over the bar in the 48th minute.

But the Lions figured out how to deal with the Galaxy pushing wingbacks higher in an effort to keep Orlando from exploiting the flanks as it had in the first half.

“We understood the game,” Pareja said. “What was difficult for us to control was the volume in the middle. We knew that they will add another player there, but also that (if) they’re going to give the ball to us, we’re going to hurt them on the counter and that’s exactly what happened.”

Ojeda nearly doubled the lead in the 50th minute. Kara nodded the ball down into his path off another great pass from Carlos and the Argentine’s curling shot fizzed just inches wide of the far post.

In the 56th minute, Torres picked out Kara with a cross but it was behind the big Austrian and his scissor-kick attempt went over the bar. However, Orlando doubled the lead a minute later.

Kara knocked a ball to Ojeda in the middle with a filthy backheel touch and Ojeda sent Torres in with a good diagonal ball to beat Martin Caceres. Torres tried to hit a chip shot over Klinsmann, but the goalkeeper got a piece of it. The ball dribbled into the corner of the net anyway to make it 2-0 in the 57th minute.

Ojeda tried an audacious chip from midfield in the 63rd minute but his shot curled wide to the right side of the goal. He beat Klinsmann but the spin on the ball took it offline.

Klinsmann kept his team in the match with a good double save in the 66th minute, denying both Ojeda and Kara from good positions. On the ensuing the ball skipped to Kara, who fired on the bounce but his shot was right at Klinsmann.

The Galaxy poured numbers forward to try to get back into it but Joveljic curled a shot well wide in the 71st minute and Chicharito had two efforts denied by Gallese in the 76th and 83rd minutes. The latter of those was a great stop on a header off a scoop pass from Mark Delgado.

Pareja subbed liberally late in the match to help see it out. Among his changes was sending Homegrown Player Alex Freeman on for Halliday to make his MLS debut.

The Lions finished with more possession (55.1%-44.9%), passing accuracy (85.5%-81.7%), and shots on target (6-3). LA fired more total shots (15-14) and won more corners (6-4).

“I’m very happy that the team brought the performance to get the clean sheet,” Jansson said. “I think we looked solid all over the field.”

“The first thing, obviously, was to win at home,” Pareja said. “Just getting this result for us was crucial —just getting back our confidence.”

“I think that’s how we used to play normally,” Kara said of the performance. ” And that’s what everybody wants — the fans and we too, because that’s how we like to play. Keep the ball, and having chances, and I think we did today a great job, and we have to continue it, and we are all happy.”

The Lions will head on the road for their next few games, starting next Saturday at Montreal.

Orlando City

Orlando City Enjoyed the Best Summer Stretch in Team History

Orlando City climbed the table in the club’s best summer since joining MLS.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

June, July, August (plus, most of September), and the dog days of summer are officially in the rearview mirror and Orlando City is set to put a cherry on top of what was the best summer stretch in team history when they face Inter Miami tomorrow night at Exploria Stadium. As the season starts to wind down, I felt it was only necessary to take some time to examine the what we all just witnessed…the best summer in team history.

A quick Google search says that the season of summer in the U.S. traditionally starts June 21 on the summer solstice, which we will use as the starting point. I looked historically at the team’s performance from that point in time through the end of summer each season, a.k.a. today, Sept. 23. As a new expansion team in Major League Soccer, Orlando City dealt with the summer heat fairly well and earned 15 and 17 points in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The next two seasons, on the other hand, were much darker times to be a city fan, as Orlando City racked up seven and 10 losses in 2017 and 2018, respectively, during those two seasons. It does not take Sherlock Holmes-level detection skills to know that those summer stretches did not lead to postseason playoff berths. In 2019, the team amassed a decent 18 points during the summer, but only tallied 37 on the season overall.

It should not come as a surprise to any OCSC fan that the team’s best years of success have all come while Oscar Pareja has been at the helm. Prior to this season, the best summer stretch that the team had enjoyed was back in 2021 — also under Pareja’s reign — when the boys put up 23 points, setting a summer team record with six wins. Despite their great summer success, the 2021 Lions were unfortunately not able to keep their strong summer momentum going as they dropped four straight matches after Labor Day that year. Enter 2022, or as I like to call it “the summer of the trophy.” Technically speaking, in the MLS regular season, it was the team’s second best summer, with 20 points to their name. Orlando also happened to lift the U.S. Open Cup during that span last year, so there is an argument to be made that without the additional fixtures, the Lions may have been able to commit more resources to the regular season and would have wound up with more points. I will take the hardware!

This summer it has seemed as though Papi has pulled all the right strings at the right times. Orlando currently not only sits in second place in the Eastern Conference, but second overall in the Supporters’ Shield race and has only dropped two matches from June 21 to Sept. 23 while sporting a +6 goal differential. The Lions amassed 24 points during the summer this year.

Orlando City finding the back of the net more often than conceding makes for quite fun matches to enjoy. The two losses OCSC has picked up throughout the summer this season both have come on the road (at Real Salt Lake and at NYCFC), despite Orlando City earning an MLS-best 25 points away from Central Florida this year.

Orlando City did a great job getting through the hottest part of the calendar while locking up results left and right. Orlando has already secured a spot in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year in no small part due to the amazing summer the team just enjoyed. As fall comes barreling at us and the MLS playoff home-field advantage race begins to heat up, the performance of the squad this summer should not be taken for granted as championships might not be won in June, July, or August, but poor performances can certainly ensure that they are lost.

Did you have a favorite moment or match from this summer? My favorite moment was what I am calling the Hail Ojeda Mary goal in Charlotte, and my favorite match was the electrifying 4-3 come-from-behind victory against the Columbus Crew. Let us know in the comments below your favorites, and as always, vamos Orlando.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/23/22

Lions and Herons meet again, Carly Nelson is writing a book, NWSL free agency opens, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Founder’s Day, Mane Landers! It was on this day in 2014 that our fearless leader and Managing Editor Michael Citro started our first ever WordPress website. It’s safe to say that I’m sure The Mane Land has impacted your life as much as it has mine over the years, whether that be through daily reading or weekly podcasts. Cheers to Michael and all those who have come before me.

In my own personal news, I have been grinding away on the new EA FC 24 (the franchise formerly known as EA’s FIFA.) So far, the gameplay and updates have been great in my initial 15+ hours of play, and my online Ultimate Team is starting to really take its shape. I’m sure in a couple weeks that I’ll transition to a traditional Career Mode and take the Lions all the way to an MLS Cup and beyond.

Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a very happy birthday to everyone’s favorite defensive midfielder, Wilder Cartagena!

Third Bout for Orlando City and Inter Miami

Orlando City and Inter Miami have already met twice this campaign. Sunday’s match will look to break the deadlock between the two rivals as both clubs have a victory to their name in this year’s series. In May, the Lions grabbed a 3-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale-based club. The two sides met for a second time in the knockout round of Leagues Cup 2023 with Inter Miami taking the 3-1 result at DRV PNK Stadium. No matter the result this time around, Orlando City has already clinched a playoff spot, however, the Herons need every point they can get to attempt to do the same.

Carly Nelson, Goalkeeper and Author

It isn’t unheard of to learn that an athlete might have tried another sport before finding soccer, Orlando Pride goalkeeper Carly Nelson came from a background of gymnastics, tennis, basketball, and baseball before her father started a club soccer team with her in mind. While Nelson might have idolized USWNT legend Hope Solo as a child, she started her playing days as a forward, winger, and midfielder. Outside of protecting the Pride’s net, Nelson is spending time writing a book about her life growing up in Utah and the issues her family faced to hopefully help others that might find themselves in similar situations.

NWSL Opens 2024 Free Agency

The National Women’s Soccer League has officially opened the league’s unrestricted and restricted free agency periods. In accordance with the NWSL Players’ Association’s collective bargaining agreement, eligible free agents can begin negotiations for their 2024 Standard Player Agreements. Players eligible for unrestricted free agency include all who have at least five years of service within the NWSL and contracts expiring in 2023, while players eligible for restricted free agency include those who have at least three years of service. For the Orlando Pride, defender Kylie Strom is set to be an unrestricted free agent and midfielder Jordyn Listro is under restricted terms. Any club that currently holds the rights of a restricted free agent has a seven-day period to match an incoming offer from another club or else the player may sign with the new club under the terms of the offer.

USMNT’s Tyler Adams Nearing Return

Tyler Adams will not make his Bournemouth debut this weekend, but he could return as early as next week. Bournemouth’s manager, Andoni Iraola, provided a positive update on the U.S. Men’s National Team captain as he finishes up rehabbing a long-term hamstring injury.

“He has started this week at least to train partially with the group, so probably we can have a chance of having him next week or two weeks, something like this. Tyler is really close because once you start training partially with the group, it’s a matter of sensations, and if you are physically good enough. He has a very good physical base. So I think it will take not a long time to see Tyler with the team.”

Adams has not played since March after having a hamstring surgery. Even with a known injury, the 24-year-old still completed a move from Leeds United to Bournemouth following Leeds’ relegation to keep him in the top flight.

MLS Weekend Preview

Aside from the Florida derby, there are plenty of matches to be excited about around the league this weekend. Personally, I’m looking forward to catching a bit of the D.C. United and New York Red Bulls match. Manager Wayne Rooney’s club is right on the bubble in a tight Eastern Conference race while the Red Bulls can do themselves a huge service and come back into the playoff picture with a win. Out in the Western Conference, there is a real buzz around a Portland Timbers squad after a manager sacking. It could be a huge win for the Timbers and likely push them above the play-in round should they find a result against the Colorado Rapids.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Saturday. Be safe on Sunday at the match. Stay hydrated and look out for those around you. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Three Keys to Victory

Here are three things the Lions need to do in order to set themselves up for a win over Inter Miami.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Wednesday’s match didn’t go the way anyone hoped it would, but now it’s time to turn our attention to a Sunday matchup with Inter Miami back in the comfortable confines of Exploria Stadium. What follows are three things that I believe will go a long way toward helping the Lions emerge victorious from the Tropic Thunder derby and keeping Florida purple.

Close Down Sergio Busquets

As many headlines as Lionel Messi has rightfully been getting since joining Major League Soccer, I think Busquets is just as important to Miami’s success. He remains an excellent midfielder and his ability to transition the team from defense into attack and link the two lines together is crucial. He has two assists and eight key passes in six MLS appearances and is passing with 92% accuracy —if you give him time, he will make you pay. Even if Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena mark him tightly, he’ll still manage to find space at times and affect the game because he’s that good of a player. But the Lions cannot afford to repeatedly give him time and space to get on the ball, pick up his head, and play a pass or he’ll cut OCSC to ribbons. Getting tight to him and making his life difficult won’t stop him every time, but it’ll make life a hell of a lot easier. As soon as Orlando loses the ball in Miami’s half, someone needs to find no. 5 and close him down.

Play With an Edge, but Don’t Go Over It

This is likely going to be an extremely, fast, physical and heated game. These two teams don’t have any love lost for each other, and if last game is any indication, then Orlando is going to try to use its physicality to disrupt Miami from playing its brand of soccer. That’s not a bad strategy, and it’s one that was largely working during the aforementioned Leagues Cup match until the penalty kick call in the second half. If the Lions are going to try to repeat the tactic, then they need to play with physicality and intensity while toeing the line of what’s acceptable to do during a soccer game. Going down a man isn’t going to do OCSC any favors, so the boys in purple are going to have to flirt with the edge of the cliff without falling headfirst over it.

Stay Organized Defensively

We’ve seen some shaky defending during Orlando’s last two matches. Runners in behind were a particular problem during the match against the Columbus Crew, while Wednesday’s loss to NYCFC saw Talles Magno largely unmarked between two Orlando defenders to score the header that sealed the Lions’ fate. OCSC will likely still be without Antonio Carlos, but the Lions are capable of much better defending than they’ve done during the last week and they need to show it. Even if Lionel Messi doesn’t play, Miami has a whole host of guys who can hurt you in Josef Martinez, Leonardo Campana, Benjamin Cremaschi, Robert Taylor and Facundo Farias. The Lions need to be much more keyed in on defense than they have been the last two games, otherwise one or more of those guys is going to make them pay. Orlando has the firepower to put the ball in the back of the net, but it won’t matter if the team is giving up multiple preventable goals at the other end of the field.

If the Lions execute those three things then they’ve got as good a chance as any of getting a result on Sunday. Vamos Orlando!

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