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Orlando City vs. Charlotte FC, U.S. Open Cup: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions enter the U.S. Open Cup in the Round of 32, looking for revenge for an early-season loss to Charlotte FC.

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Welcome to your match preview and live thread for a Tuesday night U.S. Open Cup match-up between Orlando City and Charlotte FC (0-3-0, 0 points) at Mecklenburg County Sportsplex in Matthews, NC (7 p.m., CBS Golazo Network). This is the first time the two southeastern teams have met in this competition and the second time they’ve met in 2023. The Lions will return to Charlotte on Wednesday, Aug. 30 for the final regular-season meeting this year.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.

History

The Lions are 2-1-0 in the all-time series and 1-0-0 at Charlotte. However, tonight’s hosts got the better of Orlando City in the most recent meeting, a 2-1 Charlotte win at Exploria Stadium on March 18. Enzo Copetti and Kerwin Vargas put Charlotte up 2-0 by halftime. Martin Ojeda pulled one back but the Lions were wasteful in front of goal and couldn’t pull level.

The last time the teams met at Bank of America Stadium was Aug. 21, 2022. After a scoreless first half, Ercan Kara put the Lions ahead on the road, only to see McKinze Gaines equalize just four minutes later. Tesho Akindele’s late goal lifted Orlando to a 2-1 victory.

That victory in North Carolina was the second in a run of five consecutive wins that culminated in Orlando lifting the U.S. Open Cup last summer. The Lions then stumbled to just two wins in their last five regular-season games and then fell at Montreal in the playoffs.

Orlando City won the first-ever meeting between the sides on April 30, 2022 at Exploria Stadium. Ruan scored the opening goal and set up Facundo Torres on the counter for the second as the Lions took a 2-0 lead into the locker room. Christian Fuchs scored from the spot after Rodrigo Schlegel was called for a foul in the box in the second half, but that was as close as Charlotte got in what was ultimately a 2-1 Orlando victory.

Match Overview

Orlando City is entering the 2023 U.S. Open Cup in this Round of 32 after winning the competition last year. All six of Orlando’s cup matches in 2022 were at home, so this is the team’s first road game in U.S. Open Cup play since June 12, 2019, when the Lions traveled to play Memphis 901 FC. The Lions are coming off a 2-0 loss at CF Montreal on Saturday night — the team’s first road loss in any competition this season. Orlando City is 2-1-1 on the road in league play and 2-1-2 away from home in all competitions.

Charlotte entered this year’s U.S. Open Cup in the third round on April 25, beating USL1 side South Georgia Tormenta FC by a 4-1 scoreline at home. Four different players scored for Charlotte. The hosts tonight are coming off a 3-2 home win over New York City and are 2-0-2 in their last four home matches. Charlotte has a 2-2-2 home mark in league play and is 3-2-2 in all competitions.

Orlando City sits two points ahead of Charlotte in the MLS Eastern Conference standings with a game in hand over tonight’s hosts. But cup games are unpredictable and Charlotte does have the one head-to-head victory already this year. Expect Charlotte to come into the match full of confidence. Meanwhile, the Lions have been on the road since before the Montreal game, opting not to come home between matches. While every case is different, Orlando City has historically laid some of its biggest eggs in the second game of a trip. Lopsided losses in Houston, Chicago, and Toronto over the years leap to mind when the club didn’t come home between matches.

It will be interesting to see what the teams look like on equal rest. The first meeting was Orlando City’s fifth game in 15 days, and on the heels of an emotional Concacaf Champions league draw against Tigres that eliminated the Lions from that competition due to the away goals tiebreaker. Meanwhile, Charlotte was on normal rest.

With four goals and an assist on the year, Copetti is the danger man for Charlotte, but he’s not the only one. Vargas and Karol Swiderski each have two goals and two assists on the season, while Kamil Jozwiak has added two goals and three assists, although he was listed as questionable with a thigh injury over the weekend and did not dress against New York City FC.

The Lions’ best bet for this match might be to use classic road match tactics, allowing Charlotte to have the ball, while staying compact and organized and looking for counterattack opportunities.

“The [Open Cup] is a cup that brings a lot of pride once you win it. This league doesn’t allow you to bounce back because you have just one game where you either keep going or stop the competition. The concentration and the dedication for the [U.S. Open Cup] game, in this case tomorrow, has to be 100%,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “Sometimes teams take it lightly and then after the game you regret it because you didn’t want to lose it. Instead, you want to be part of those finals. My advice to the players is to leave every single match as it was the last. Every single match means a lot for their career, our club, and our fans. It does not matter if it’s a [U.S. Open] Cup game, a league game, or an international competition. We have the responsibility to defend a jersey.”

The Lions continue to be without captain Mauricio Pereyra (thigh) and left back Luca Petrasso (thigh).

Match Content

  • Our most recent epsidode of the PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for today’s match, as well as a preview of the game with Daniel from the Charlotte Soccer Show.

Official Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Mason Stajduhar.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Michael Halliday.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Felipe.

Attacking Midfielders: Gaston Gonzalez, Facundo Torres, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Forwards: Duncan McGuire.

Bench: Pedro Gallese, Kyle Smith, Antonio Carlos, Wilder Cartagena, Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, Ramiro Enrique.

Charlotte FC (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: Kristijan Kahlina.

Defenders: Harrison Afful, Derrick Jones, Jan Sobocinski, Hamady Diop.

Midfielders: Brandt Bronico, Benjamin Bender, Christopher Hegardt.

Forwards: Justin Meram, Enzo Copetti McKinze Gaines.

Bench: Pablo Sisniega, Nathan Byrne, Jaylin Lindsey, Ashley Westwood, Kamil Jozwiak, Patrick Agyemang, Karol Swiderski.

Referees

Ref: Guido Gonzalez.
AR1: Bryson Condrey.
AR2: Marcus Moss.
4th: Joe Surga.


How to Watch

Match Time: 7 p.m.

Venue: Mecklenburg County Sportsplex  — Matthews, NC.

TV/Live Stream: CBS Sports Golazo Network (here’s how to watch on that network).

Radio: None.

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).


Enjoy the match. Go City!

Orlando City

Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. New York City FC

Get all the information you need on NYCFC, courtesy of someone who knows them best.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Another Orlando City match is right around the corner, and the Lions will try to keep the good vibes going during what has been a productive July. It won’t be easy though, as they welcome New York City FC to the familiar confines of the purple palace.

A date with the Pigeons means I caught up with Matthew Mangam, of the excellent Hudson River Blue. As always, he was very helpful in bringing us up to speed on New York City.

When last we talked, you said that this team needed to find its offensive spark again. It certainly managed to do that when it put four past Orlando City. Has that trend continued in the games since then?

Matthew Mangam: It definitely did not happen in the two matches after the win against Orlando. NYCFC did score first against Austin but ultimately lost, and couldn’t even manage two shots on goal against Chicago, drawing 0-0. Last game, NYCFC came back from 2-0 down to tie 2-2 with Atlanta United. The goals came from unusual scorers, Mounsef Bakrar and Talles Magno. So, the offense hasn’t been great recently but with the return of Magno, it can only get better. Players like Hannes Wolf and Santi Rodríguez have slowed down as of recently, resulting in guys like Alonso Martínez to see less of the ball and get fewer scoring chances.

With 29 goals conceded, NYCFC has one of the stingiest defenses in the league, what has made that unit so good?

MM:  NYCFC’s defense is solid, but it wouldn’t be complete without Matt Freese. The All-Star snub has made tons of amazing saves this season to earn NYCFC results and he seems to get better and better as time goes on. Also, the back line of Birk Risa and Thiago Martins has been consistent throughout the season, allowing for the two to get comfortable playing together. Although the right back spot has changed every so often, Kevin O’Toole has stayed as the starting left back. James Sands as the defensive midfielder does a great job in winning the ball back and protecting Martins and Risa. The defensive unit is the same from last season, so it’s only getting stronger with every game played.

It’s always fun to check in on former Lions, so tell me a bit about Andres Perea. How has he performed this season?

MM: Andrés Perea has been good this season, but not as good as he was last season during his loan spell. Perea does have two goals this season and one assist, but he’s given the ball away more than last season. He’s also not been as accurate passing-wise but I am still a huge advocate for him. He just suffered an injury against Chicago and may be out for some time, but I have no doubt that when he returns he’ll be back to his usual self. We’ve seen Nick Cushing use Perea in a three-man midfield with Keaton Parks and Sands as well. He doesn’t seem to be a certain starter, but he’s one of the few midfield depth pieces NYCFC has.

Will anyone be absent due to injuries, suspensions, call-ups, etc.? What is your projected starting XI and score prediction?

MM: NYCFC had five players out against Atlanta. The only set returner is Sands, who is back from yellow card suspension. I’m not sure if Cushing will want to rush back players such as Tayvon Gray, O’Toole, and Perea with such a quick turnaround. Malachi Jones had surgery after the injury he suffered against Orlando and will be out for several months. So, to guess a starting XI that I don’t think will be right, this is definitely the hardest one to predict yet this season.

4-2-3-1: Matt Freese, Christian McFarlane or Kevin O’Toole, Birk Risa, Thiago Martins, Ilenič or Tayvon Gray, James Sands, Keaton Parks, Agustin Ojeda, Santi Rodríguez, Hannes Wolf, Alonso Martínez.

I think the final score will be 2-2, it’ll be an entertaining game.


Thank you to Matthew for the information on NYCFC. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/19/24

Dagur Dan Thorhallsson signs new contract, Orlando Pride sign National Team Replacement Players, MLS roster rules change, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! I’ll be spending a majority of the day traveling, as I have a flight to Boston this morning and then a drive up to Maine. It should be a nice weekend with friends, and I’m planning on consuming as much lobster as possible while I’m up there. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Dagur Dan Signs New Contract

Orlando City has signed Dagur Dan Thorhallsson to a new contract that will keep him in the City Beautiful through 2026, with an option for 2027 as well. The versatile player joined Orlando before the 2023 season and has flourished at right back since moving there. He’s locked down the position, so it makes all the sense in the world that Orlando would want to keep him around. Thorhallsson has two goals and three assists to his name so far this season and is a key part of the team’s game plan when attacking.

Ramiro Enrique Makes Team of the Matchday Bench

Forward Ramiro Enrique earned a spot on the bench of the latest Team of the Matchday for his efforts in Orlando’s 3-0 win over Nashville SC on Wednesday. Enrique’s rocketed strike capped off a solid performance, as he was also a force in the air and looked dangerous at the top of Orlando’s offense. The 23-year-old forward was also selected as Man of the Match in our Nic Josey’s player grades for the game. Enrique now has three goals in his past three games, so it’s nice to see him get some deserved recognition.

Orlando Pride Sign National Team Replacement Players

Midfielder Claire Winter and goalkeeper Kenna Caldwell were signed by the Pride as National Team Replacement Players for this international break. The Pride are without seven players due to the Olympics and Winter and Caldwell are available for selection for the upcoming  NWSL x Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup. Caldwell was a non-roster invitee to the Pride’s preseason and has been training with the team since. Winter has played in Denmark, Spain, Ireland, and Puerto Rico over the course of her career, and she was also a National Team Replacement Player for NJ/NY Gotham FC back in 2021.

MLS Makes Changes to Roster Rules

MLS clubs will have a bit more flexibility in terms of roster construction after the league announced changes that go into effect now that the secondary transfer window is open. Teams can now use all three Designated Player slots and all three U22 Initiative slots, eliminating the limitations that hamstrung some of those slots in the past. There’s also now an option for teams to build their roster with two DP slots, four U22 Initiative slots, and $2 million more in General Allocation Money. Speaking of GAM, up to $3 million of total transfer revenues can be converted into it, which is more than double the amount that it was before.

Only time will tell if these changes are enough to make the league more competitive with others, both on the field and in the transfer market. I feel like the increased flexibility is a positive, and I suspect savvy general managers will find ways to optimize their rosters fairly quickly. Let’s hope Luiz Muzzi can work some magic this transfer window.

USMNT Falls in Latest FIFA Rankings

After a disappointing Copa America that included a group stage exit, the United States fell five spots to 16th in the latest men’s FIFA rankings. While the U.S. underperformed, I do think it’s worth noting that strong tournaments from Uruguay, Germany, and Switzerland also played a part in them rising above the U.S. in the rankings. Mexico dropped two spots to 17th, while Panama and Canada both jumped up eight spots to 35th and 40th, respectively.

Spain moved up five places to third in the rankings following its dominant Euro 2024 run, while Argentina remained at the top after winning Copa America. Colombia jumped up three spots to claim ninth place, while Croatia fell out of the top 10 and is now in 12th.

Free Kicks

  • Former Lion Benji Michel will reportedly sign with Real Salt Lake. The Homegrown Player left Orlando on a free transfer to join FC Arouca in Portugal in January of 2023. It’s definitely going to be weird seeing him play for another MLS team if this comes to pass.
  • The Houston Dynamo made a splash by signing German winger Lawrence Ennali as a U22 Initiative Player. The 22-year-old joins from Polish club Gornik Zabrze for a reported transfer fee of $3 million and should give the Dynamo some needed firepower to compete in the Western Conference.
  • The Philadelphia Union traded away $150,000 in 2024 GAM to St. Louis City in exchange for Samuel Adeniran. The 25-year-old forward scored eight goals for St. Louis last season and the club can receive another $300,000 in GAM if conditions are met as well.
  • Toronto FC added American defender Henry Wingo as a free agent. although it gave $75,000 in 2025 GAM to D.C. United for his discovery rights. The 28-year-old has spent the past four years with Ferencvárosi and has MLS experience due to his time as a Homegrown Player with the Seattle Sounders.
  • The three divisions of the English Football League can be watched through CBS Sports this upcoming season. It’s notable news for those who want to watch Wrexham AFC or Americans like former Lion Daryl Dike.
  • Manchester United has officially signed 18-year-old defender Leny Yoro from Lille. Yoro started in 30 games for Lille last season and United reportedly paid a $67.6 million transfer fee for his services.
  • Patrick Vieira and Strasbourg have parted ways, leaving the French club without a manager just a month before the Ligue 1 season starts. Strasbourg finished 13th in the standings in Vieira’s first year with the club last season.
  • Borussia Dortmund has signed Serhou Guirassy, who scored a whopping 28 Bundesliga goals for Stuttgart last season.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Orlando City

Orlando City Signs Dagur Dan Thorhallsson to New Contract

The Icelandic midfielder-turned-fullback extends his deal to stay in Orlando through at least 2026.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City announced this afternoon that the club has re-signed Icelandic midfielder/fullback Dagur Dan Thorhallsson to a new contract. The new deal will keep the 24-year-old in purple through the 2026 MLS season with a club option for 2027.

“Since Dagur has arrived at the club, he has proven himself to be someone who is adaptive and versatile in all situations, showing a willingness to do whatever the team requires of him in any scenario,” Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “His dedication to hard work and to his teammates is visible every day. He’s a consummate professional, both on and off the pitch, and we’re excited to have him representing our club for the foreseeable future.”

The Lions signed Thorhallsson on Jan. 31, 2023 to a two-year contract with a pair of option years. He joined OCSC from Breidablik in Iceland’s top flight and made his first appearance for the club less than a month later, coming off the bench in Orlando City’s 1-0 opening day win over the New York Red Bulls on Feb. 25, 2023, coming on in the 78th minute to replace Martin Ojeda. After spot duty to start his Orlando career, Thorhallsson converted to fullback and has developed his game and has become a regular starter.

In his career with Orlando City, Thorhallsson has made 54 appearances (34 starts), playing 2,998 minutes. He’s scored four goals and added six assists, passing at an 85.7% rate. He was a part of one of the league’s best defenses in 2023 and has been a key part of a recent improvement by the Lions in their own end. Counting all competitions, Thorhallsson has participated in 65 games (40 starts), adding an assist in non-MLS games to go along with the numbers above. After his first season with Orlando City, The Mane Land staff gave Thorhallsson a solid grade of 6.5 out of 10 for the 2023 season.

“I am so happy to have extended my contract with this amazing club,” Thorhallsson said in the club’s release. “Since I came to Orlando, it has felt like home, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I have gotten to play for the best fans in the country. There’s nothing better than a warm, Orlando night at Inter&Co Stadium, so I can’t wait for many more to come. The fans deserve the best, and that is what I will continue to try to give while I am here in Orlando.”

Prior to joining Orlando City, the native of Hafnarfjörður, Iceland native scored 11 goals and added seven assists in 40 appearances with Breidablik, helping the club win the Icelandic championship in 2022. He has appeared in four matches with Iceland’s national team and represented Iceland previously at the U-16, U-17, U-18, U-19, and U-21 levels, scoring two goals at the youth international level.

Thorhallson spent his youth career with Icelandic clubs Fylkir and Haukar, as well as Belgian side Gent from 2013-2018. He began his senior career with six appearances at Haukar in 2016 in his mid-teens. He returned to Iceland from Belgium and appeared in 16 matches with Keflavik, scoring one goal during the 2018-2019 season and appeared in one league match and four cup matches on loan with Norwegian side Mjøndalen IF. He signed with that club in 2019 and made 12 appearances in league play over two seasons from 2019-2021. During that time, he also played 12 games on loan with Kvik Halden FK in 2019, scoring five goals, and played in 20 matches on loan with Fylkir, scoring once.

What It Means for Orlando City

Thorhallsson arrived as a potential midfield replacement for Junior Urso at the beginning of 2023, but with his versatility and willingness to play anywhere, he cemented himself into the right back position around the Leagues Cup break in 2023, helping the Lions go on a successful final run that lifted the club to second in the Supporters’ Shield standings. While he is still developing at the position, and is sometimes still prone to errors, he’s only 24 and has plenty of upside.

Able to tuck inside and help in the midfield, play on the wing, and serve as a wingback or a fullback, Thorhallsson can plug into a lot of spots across multiple formations. He provides Oscar Pareja with some tactical options on how to use him. Thorhallsson has already equaled his goal (2) and assist (3) totals from 2023 in fewer games (albeit more minutes). He has a good rapport with winger Facundo Torres on the right side of Orlando City’s attack and possesses good instincts about when to overlap and when to cut inside.

The signing extends a promising Orlando City career. He should be in the midst of his prime years over the next two seasons, and provides a solid and dependable player.

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