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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Final Score 2-0 as Lions Suffer First Road Loss

Once again the Lions were simply not sharp enough with the final details as they suffered their first road defeat of the season.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

If Orlando City went to Montreal looking for revenge for last year’s road playoff loss, you’d never know it. The Lions (4-4-2, 14 points) were lethargic and sloppy as they suffered their first road loss, another 2-0 defeat to CF Montreal (4-6-0, 12 points) at Stade Saputo.

The hosts weren’t particularly good for much of the night either, but did enough in the attack to get on the board and got away with their few defensive mistakes as the Lions helped them by missing the target repeatedly on their best scoring chances. A Robin Jansson own goal and Romell Quioto’s strike moments later lifted Montreal to its third consecutive 2-0 victory.

“A game with two very different phases from our performance,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “First half, I thought we dominated the game. I thought we were very clear with our actions that the boys put on the pitch. We had enough actions to unlevel the score and surely (should) just be leading it. But we came out of the half with a zero-zero that was dangerous. The reaction from Montreal in the second half made a difference.”

Pareja’s starting lineup was the same as last Saturday’s starting XI at home against the LA Galaxy, with Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Kyle Smith, Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Michael Halliday. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena held down the central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Facundo Torres, and Martin Ojeda, with Ercan Kara up top.

The first half began a bit lively but then slowed to kind of a crawl over the final 15 minutes. The Lions were often the better side in the opening 30 minutes but Montreal found some control as the pace slowed. Orlando City failed to take the lead in the first half by missing the target on decent looks at goal and because Gallese made one good save on Montreal’s best chance.

Angulo got a good look early in the game, taking the ball in the left corner of the box and cutting across to his right, unleashing a shot near the arch. He hit his effort wide of the right post and that was the theme of the first half for the Lions.

Halliday won a foul on Ariel Lassiter in the 13th minute near the right corner. The set piece delivery found Kara in front, but it was dipping and the Austrian center forward had a defender in front of him. He still got his head to it but beat it into the ground and it bounced up easily for goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois.

One minute after that half chance, Ojeda could have put the Lions on top. Cartagena did well to turn Montreal over in its own half and Ojeda had space outside the area. He fired a rocket toward the right side of goal but it stayed wide.

In the 19th minute, Halliday sent a dangerous cross into the box but it was just a bit too far in front of Kara at the near post and the ball took a deflection before Torres arrived and whiffed on his shot attempt. Seconds later, it was Torres firing wide right, as the Lions just couldn’t dial in.

Montreal’s best look came just after that, as Halliday got a foot on Lassiter’s nutmeg attempt but the ball bounced favorable for the former Inter Miami man. he took a shot from outside the box that was labeled for just inside the left post but Gallese made a good sprawling save.

The hosts started to get into the match over the rest of the first half, moving forward up the wings and getting both Orlando City’s starting fullbacks booked. Chinonso Offor got a head to a corner kick in the 32nd minute but his shot was right at Gallese’s chest.

Kara sent a free kick over the wall in the 38th minute after Torres drew a foul in a dangerous spot, but his shot didn’t have much pace on it and asked no questions of Sirois, who made an easy catch.

That was about it for a plodding end to the first 45 minutes and the teams went to the break without any stoppage time at all.

The Lions finished the half with more possession (58.1%-41.9%), shots (8-4), and passing accuracy (82%-80.5%). Both teams got two shots on target and Montreal won more corners (3-2).

The second half began pretty much how the first ended. Neither team was doing much and Orlando couldn’t find a final product. There were a few decent crosses into the area in the first 10 minutes after the break but no Lions could get onto them. Kara had a nice knockdown for Torres in the 54th minute but the Uruguayan had his shot blocked by defender Rudy Camacho.

Montreal got its goal on the dumbest play in a dumb game. Camacho came up the pitch and no one picked him up after he passed it away, although he continued his run. Of course the ball found him in the area on the rebound of Gallese’s save on Lassiter’s shot, and the center back fired off the right post. The ball came to Aaron Herrera on the right. The winger/fullback cut inside onto his left foot and fired a shot that would have gone 10 yards wide if it hadn’t hit Jansson and bounced in for the opening goal in the 62nd minute.

“One of their center backs got forward and that sure did create the overload,” Smith said. “And the cross came in and it was a little hectic. And then the ball popped out. I just remember the shot got off, hit the post, and then unlucky with the deflection, because I don’t think it was going to hit the target.”

“It was a moment where we lost concentration,” Pareja said. “We knew that their wingbacks are aggressive and we needed to control them. And then after that, our reaction was timid. It was not with the same intensity and the same fire that we had in the first half.”

Orlando tried to respond immediately but didn’t fashion much danger and that allowed the hosts to put the game away with a second. A ball out on the right side was played to Herrera, who ran away from Angulo and found a wide open Quioto near the penalty spot. Players of that quality don’t miss from there. Quioto didn’t, and the Montreal lead bulged to 2-0 at the 66-minute mark.

“We started probably shy. We were not the same,” Pareja said. “And then they started getting the spaces on the flanks and they were fine and precise more than us. Every team has a half, but we couldn’t score in the first and in the second Montreal did.”

Angulo could have pulled a goal right back in the 68th minute, freeing himself up nicely for a shot from the left but again he fizzed a shot just off target, slightly high and to the right.

Rather than throwing on additional attacking players, Oscar Pareja subbed off some attackers for others. Felipe, Duncan McGuire, Rafael Santos, Ramiro Enrique, and Gaston Gonzalez, but he withdrew Kara, Ojeda, and Angulo, along with Smith and Cartagena.

The substitutions made no real difference down the stretch. They did manage to win a few set pieces and get a couple of Montreal’s defenders booked, but that was the only effect they had on the proceedings.

The Lions’ best chances in the final 20 minutes resulted in Ojeda crossing to no one in particular when he seemingly had enough room to try a shot or hold the play for some runners to arrive; Halliday getting way under a half-volley effort with the goalkeeper out of position after he came out to punch away a cross; and a free kick from just outside the area that Felipe sent into low orbit. Jansson had a shout for a penalty when Herrera pulled him down from behind by his shirt but a review didn’t convince the video assistant referee to ask the on-field official to take a second look.

City’s frustration was evident in late yellow cards on Araujo, Enrique, and Felipe that were all unnecessary.

Orlando City finished with more possession (54.9%-45.1%), shots (13-7), passing accuracy (81%-79.4%), and corners (5-4), but the hosts had more shots hit the target (3-2). A lack of the final details have plagued Orlando throughout this first third of the season and this match was no different. Angulo, Ojeda, and Torres all could have hit their shots inside the goal frame, but as we’ve seen all too often in 2023, they simply couldn’t do it.

Kara put two of his four shot attempts on target and at least forced Sirois to do something, but the rest of the team went 0-for-9 in getting their shots within the goal frame.

“The game became very lazy,” Pareja said of the second half, following Montreal’s two quick goals. “Montreal started stopping the game in every second and then it was difficult for us to get back in the game.”

“I think an important piece is everyone maybe just look at themselves and what they can personally do better on,” Smith said about his team finding some consistency. “And then, if everyone just gets a little better, then the whole team gets better. And you know, once we get everyone being consistent, then as a team we’re more consistent.”

The Lions will stay on the road and pay a visit to Charlotte FC on Tuesday in U.S. Open Cup action. The next league game will be next Saturday in Columbus against the Crew.

Orlando City

Orlando City at D.C. United: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn its first away victory of the season?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

Orlando City is back in action this Saturday night against D.C. United at Audi Field. Despite coming off back-to-back results, the off-week was well timed for the Lions. A little extra rest for the squad, plus giving players time to recuperate from various knocks should mean a nearly full strength Orlando City.

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points on the road against its Eastern Conference rivals?

The Dynamic Duo Return

Cesar Araujo returned to the Orlando City lineup against the New York Red Bulls, meaning the Lions should finally have their top choice defensive midfield pairing back together. The timing couldn’t be more perfect given Orlando City will be dealing with D.C. United striker Christian Benteke. He has five goals in five matches, which is half of the 10 goals D.C. United has scored all season.

So far this regular season, every match in which the Lions give up more than one goal has resulted in a loss. Keeping Benteke and the rest of D.C. United off of the score sheet is critical to getting a result. Orlando City can concede one goal and still walk away with points on the road, but only if the Lions manage to accomplish the next key below.

Goals are the Goal

To say Orlando City has been wasteful in front of goal is a bit of an understatement. So far this regular season, the Lions have 93 shots, with 27 on target, but only five goals. Orlando City has created scoring opportunities, but failed to convert them in anything close to an efficient manner. Of the five goals scored, Duncan McGuire has two, Nico Lodeiro has one, and Jack Lynn has one. The other was credited as an own goal on Lynn’s backheel attempt.

The list of players who haven’t scored yet this season is too long to type, but I don’t need goals from the defenders — though I will take them. I just need Facundo Torres, Ivan Angulo, Luis Muriel, and Martin Ojeda to get something going. Ideally, all four of them score in this match, but I’ll take whatever goals we can get.

End the Trend

Orlando City hasn’t fared well against D.C. United recently. Nearly a year ago, the Lions lost at home 3-1 to the visitors. The last trip to Audi Field was a 1-1 draw in which Orlando City gave up a goal in the 80th minute to settle for a single point. In 2022, Orlando City lost both matches to D.C. United. It’s time to get things going in the right direction.

The Lions also need to stop losing on the road. Losses to Inter Miami and Atlanta both came on the road, with Orlando City yet to find any points away from home. Last season, the Lions were veritable road warriors. The team needs to find that form again as it was a major reason the club finished second in the Supporters’ Shield race.

That is what I will be looking for this weekend as Orlando City takes on D.C. United. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/11/24

Learning more about Morgan Gautrat, OCB plays tonight, Champions League action, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I’m having a fairly stressful but great week after adopting my first cat and getting him all set up here. It may take a few weeks to turn him into a loyal Orlando soccer fan, but I have high hopes. Regardless, I’m looking forward to the gauntlet of games with Orlando City B playing today, the Orlando Pride tomorrow, and Orlando City on Saturday. Let’s get to the links!

Getting to Know Morgan Gautrat

Orlando Pride midfielder Morgan Gautrat was the latest player to field questions as part of the video series for fans to learn more about the players who wear purple. She weighed in on how she changed her game once she transitioned to the United States Women’s National Team at age 19, going from a playmaking attacker to a player who slots in deeper in the midfield. Gautrat brings leadership, experience, and a strong skillset to a young Pride team that’s built a strong culture around it. She also spoke on how Florida is her soccer home, what her spirit animal is, and the team’s aspirations this season.

Orlando City B Takes On Philadelphia Union II

The Young Lions are on the road today at 4 p.m. for an MLS NEXT Pro match against Philadelphia Union II. OCB last played in Chester, PA in last year’s season opener, winning 3-1 in an impressive victory. The team will hope for a similar result tonight to get back on track after a loss to Inter Miami II earlier this month. Philadelphia has yet to lose in regulation this season and has won both of its home matches. It should be a tough match for the Young Lions, but a great chance to climb back up the Eastern Conference standings for them.

Assessing USWNT After SheBelieves Cup Win

The United States Women’s National Team is moving towards the Olympics with plenty of momentum after winning the SheBelieves Cup and Concacaf W Gold Cup. There were plenty of parallels between the SheBelieves Cup final and the Gold Cup semifinal against Canada, one was just a bit more waterlogged. Canada used a late penalty to send the game to penalty kicks, Sophia Smith scored, and Alyssa Naeher stood on her head in the penalty shootout. The key differences were that Mallory Swanson has given the attack some needed dynamism after returning, and the defense struggles without Naomi Girma to anchor it. It was also Twila Kilgore’s final game as the USWNT’s interim head coach, and now attention will turn towards how Emma Hayes can elevate the team once she takes over.

Champions League Quarterfinals Roll On

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona both won in their first legs of the Champions League quarterfinals, although neither match was a blowout. Atletico Madrid hosted Borussia Dortmund and scored twice in the first half. Dortmund brought one back in the second half, but Atletico Madrid held on to secure a 2-1 win. The road team completed the comeback in the other match though, with Barcelona winning a 3-2 thriller against Paris Saint-Germain that included four goals in the second half. All in all, this was a great round of quarterfinal first legs filled with plenty of goals, and the second legs next week should be pretty entertaining.

Free Kicks

  • Andrew Wiebe was the latest analyst to dive into Orlando’s attacking woes this season. I personally think things will naturally improve once the team gets some rest under its belt and Luis Muriel settles in. I agree with Wiebe though that Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo must return to form.
  • The Champions League shouldn’t overshadow a strong slate of Europa League quarterfinals today. My favorite matchup of the four would have to be the Italian showdown between AC Milan and Roma.
  • English forward Rachel Daly announced that she is retiring from international soccer. The 32-year-old scored 22 goals last season with Aston Villa and has scored 16 goals in 84 appearances with England.
  • Midfielder Dillon Serna is hanging up his cleats at age 30 after a career that included time with the Colorado Rapids and Colorado Springs Switchbacks.
  • Manchester City’s Rodri is feeling the wear and tear of his team’s pursuit for silverware. Rest may be hard to come by for him during a congested schedule, and he hasn’t lost in the past 66 games he’s played in.
  • Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy shared the struggle he had after retiring, providing details on his drug addiction and the despair felt after he quit playing.

That’s all I have for you today on this fine Thursday. Treat yourself to something you deserve, check in with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, and have a great day!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/10/24

MLS Earth Day kits are in, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson gets noticed, U.S. wins SheBelieves Cup, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. Time to start your day with some tasty links. Orlando City and the Pride are back in action this weekend, and OCB has a match tomorrow. That means plenty of goodness to end the week. Three straight days of Orlando matches is something for which to be grateful. Let’s get to the links.

Orlando City’s Greener Goals

Orlando City joins the other clubs in MLS in celebrating Earth Day with the Greener Goals week of service. Each club will volunteer time to help the environment. The club has two cleanups scheduled, including one in the area around the stadium in which fans can contribute to the effort. Additionally, all the clubs will have special One Planet pre-match kits. The kits are made from recycled materials and represent either soil, woods, or water. I’m guessing that the Orlando City kit is of the soil variety.

Dagur Dan is Da Man

The Mane Land PawedCast isn’t the only outfit noticing that Dagur Dan Thorhallsson is a force to be reckoned with. To be fair, he had some struggles during Orlando City’s hectic start to the season. Once he was rested, he was back in form and others outside of Orlando are taking notice. It’s not particularly surprising given his very nice right foot on crosses, his ability to take on opponents, and his ability to get back on defense. I’m looking forward to more from him because I don’t want no Fop! I’m a Dagur Dan man!

Barbra Banda Sends Zambia to the Olympics

After a 2-1 loss to Morocco in the first leg, Zambia bounced back with a 2-0 road win in the second leg to qualify for this summer’s Olympics. Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda scored twice in the match, including a penalty in extra time to secure the win on aggregate. It’s the second straight trip to the Olympics for Zambia, with Banda scoring six goals in the group stage of the last Olympics. This year, Zambia is in a tough group against the U.S., Germany, and Australia, but has the talent to make a run.

Once Upon a What?

Once Upon a Coconut is now the official coconut water sponsor of Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Inter&Co Stadium. If you’re like me, your first response was, “I was unaware that official coconut water sponsors were a thing.” Well, they are, and now the club is a leader in this exciting new frontier. All kidding aside, sponsors mean money for the club, which is a good thing, and the product will be available to sample in the Mane Street Plaza Fan Zone. Drink up, me hearties!

USWNT Wins the SheBelieves Cup

It took the USWNT all the way to penalty kicks to finally win the 2024 SheBelieves Cup, defeating Canada 2-2 (5-4). Canada struck first before the U.S. took the lead on a Sophia Smith brace. Canada equalized late on a soft penalty conceded by Crystal Dunn, and the match went to spot kicks to decide things. Despite missing the first shot, the U.S. eventually won, thanks to three saves by Alyssa Naeher, who also contributed a goal in the shootout.

In the third-place match, Brazil and Japan also went to penalty kicks, with Brazil winning the shootout 3-0 after a 1-1 draw, with Lorena saving all three of Japan’s penalty kicks. Cristiane scored the equalizer for Brazil in the 71st minute to ultimately send the game to penalties. The Orlando Pride’s Angelina and Marta played for Brazil.

Racial Abuse in El Trafico

Following LAFC’s 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy Saturday, the Galaxy’s Ghanaian forward, Joseph Paintsil, was the victim of online racial abuse. Reportedly, an LAFC fan used a derogatory slur and criticized Paintsil’s performance in the match. MLS, the Galaxy, and LAFC all condemned the incident. The parties are continuing to work with local authorities to hold the person accountable.

To be very clear, as far as I’m concerned, there is no room for this in soccer or anywhere. No racism, no homophobia, no transphobia — just stop being horrible.

Free Kicks

That will do it for today. Remember to check back daily as we get you ready for all the upcoming matches. Vamos Orlando!

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