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Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Final Score 2-2 as Cardiac Cats Fight Back for Road Point

Lions fall behind by two before the break but rally back to earn a hard-fought road point in Columbus.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

It looked like Orlando City was about to absorb another loss on its three-game road trip, but the Lions rallied for two second-half goals, erasing a 2-0 deficit and earning a 2-2 draw against the Columbus Crew at Field in Columbus, OH. Ercan Kara and Duncan McGuire brought Orlando City (4-4-3, 15 points) back after first-half goals by Darlington Nagbe and Jacen Russell-Rowe had given Columbus (4-4-3, 15 points) a two-goal advantage in the opening period.

The draw snapped Orlando’s two-game losing streak in all competitions but extended the Lions’ winless streak to three matches.

“A really hard game today against this rival with a lot of dynamic,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “I think they showed that potential in the first half and confused us and went up the sides of the field and overloades us there. We couldn’t control it right away. We had moments that first half when we probably could have scored a goal and take that pressure off, but it was hard and even harder when they scored the first goal.

“I really liked the reaction of our players. I think they showed our braveness and character one more time.”

Pareja returned to the three-man back line, with goalkeeper Pedro Gallese behind a defensive line of Rodrigo Schlegel, Robin Jansson, and Antonio Carlos. Gaston Gonzalez and Ivan Angulo deployed as wingbacks outside of central midfielders Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena. Facundo Torres and Martin Ojeda played beneath striker Kara.

Orlando City controlled much of the game’s first eight minutes but the remainder of the first half was all Columbus.

Before the Crew took control of the match, Orlando did a better job of keeping the ball when they had it, but still couldn’t hit the target with anything. Cartagena and Ojeda both tried to chip Crew goalkeeper Patrick Schulte but both found out that doesn’t work when you can’t hit the goal frame. Kara also had a couple of shot attempts that went over the bar. That was it for Orlando’s offense in the opening 45 minutes.

After Ojeda made a bad back pass to ignite the break the other way, the Crew took over the match. Cucho Hernandez just barely missed the net on a few opportunities and those warning shots went unheeded by the Orlando defense, which gave everyone far too much room.

Columbus broke the scoreless deadlock by taking advantage of Orlando’s inability to execute a throw-in. The Lions threw the ball in, quickly turned it over, and then it was a cavalcade of being late to the next pass recipient before the ball ended up on the right side with Alexandru Matan. Once the ball was on the right, every available defender followed Hernandez’s diagonal run through the box, so once Matan’s pass trickled across the top of the six, it was just a matter of which Crew player would tap it in. Nagbe took charge of that in the 39th minute.

Just before the half, things got worse. Mohamed Farsi got the ball on the right and sent a simple cross into the box that no one was in position to cut out. It found Russell-Rowe in front and the 20-year-old completely dominated Orlando’s best center back, overpowering Carlos to double the lead in the second minute of first-half injury time.

Orlando was fortunate not to concede a third as the Crew quickly got back into the attacking third in the closing minutes of the half.

The Crew dominated the stat sheet, holding a commanding 65.5%-34.5% lead in possession and also finishing the half with more shots (9-4), shots on target (2-0), corners (3-1), and passing accuracy (85.4%-70.4%).

Pareja made no changes at halftime and his team responded quickly. The Lions pulled one back through Kara’s strike just four minutes after the restart. Torres played the Austrian in with a beautiful through ball that Kara played deftly with his feet to place the ball out in front for himself. He was 1-v-1 with Schulte and calmly slotted past the goalkeeper to make it 2-1 with his second goal of the regular season and third in all competitions.

The goal came on Orlando’s first shot on target in more than a game and a half.

“It was a little bit behind me,” Kara said of the Torres through ball. “But the first touch was okay and the finish was one on one against the goalkeeper. He decided to move a little bit earlier, before I shoot, and he (went) in the wrong direction.”

The Crew nearly pulled that goal back immediately. Hernandez fired a shot that missed the post by inches, skipping harmlessly wide in the 51st minute. Moments later, after Orlando won a corner, the Lions played it short but made such a mess of it that Hernandez broke the other way. Fortunately for Orlando City, several Lions were in good position to cut off the Crew striker.

Gallese made a save on Russell-Rowe in the 55th minute and he may not have seen the initial shot, which hit him in the chest and bounced away.

The Lions broke the other way and had a good chance to score but Kara’s back-post shot didn’t have enough curl on it and stayed wide. The Austrian had an open Ojeda on the other side of the box but may not have seen him before attempting the shot, as he was trailing the play.

Pareja sent on fullbacks Kyle Smith and Michael Halliday for Ojeda and Schlegel. It seemed like a shape change was on but the team played the same way with Halliday pushing high and Smith staying deep in what continued to be more or less a three-man back line.

Despite the change, the Crew nearly restored their two-goal lead in the 64th minute. Russell-Rowe sent Hernandez in behind and the Columbus Designated Player beat Gallese. However, Hernandez was just a tad offside and after a short video review by referee Drew Fischer, the goal was waved off.

Araujo found the ball at his feet in the box in the 67th minute off a corner kick, but the Uruguayan scuffed his shot badly.

Three minutes later, Gallese made a comfortable save on Yaw Yeboah, who fired right at the Orlando keeper. Moments after that, Jansson unwisely played a ball to Cartagena with Nagbe lurking. Nagbe won the ball and Cartagena had to concede a dangerous free kick and absorb a yellow card. Hernandez smashed the ensuing free kick into the wall and then sent the rebound well off target in the 75th minute.

The dead ball situation before the goal kick allowed Pareja to send on McGuire and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson into the match for Angulo and Cartagena in an attempt to get more attacking players on the pitch.

It didn’t work right away. Aidan Morris fired a shot right at Gallese moments later and then Jansson made a fantastic play in the open field to dispossess Hernandez to prevent a transition opportunity.

McGuire sent Halliday into the box in the 81st minute and the fullback had time and space. Trying to pick out the far post, the Homegrown Player wastefully skipped his shot wide.

Yeboah smashed a shot off Gallese in the 83rd minute but it took a fortunate bounce and went off to the goalkeeper’s left, where there were no attacking players. It then appeared the Lions’ comeback bid would fall short as the Crew won some corner kicks and kept Orlando pinned in its own end for a few minutes.

The Lions eventually broke out, clearing a corner and getting forward in the attack.

Orlando’s equalizer came a set piece — an area that hasn’t been kind to the club in 2023 so far. Off a cleared Crew corner kick, the ball ended up with Torres, who won a foul just outside the top of the Columbus penalty area. He and Thorhallsson stood over the dead ball before Torres knocked it to the right and two Crew players collided trying to clear it. The ball fell into the path of McGuire, who smashed it off of Schulte and into the net for the equalizer in the 92nd minute. It was his team-leading fourth goal of the season.

Orlando saw out the remaining four minutes of stoppage time but it wasn’t without some scary moments. In the 94th minute, Gallese made the save of the match. A cross came into the box to substitute Isaiah Parente, who sent his first touch toward goal. The ball hit Smith and bounced toward goal but Gallese made a great reaction save to keep the game tied.

A minute later, Yeboah smashed a shot just wide after Araujo turned the ball over trying to send a breakout pass up the pitch.

Eventually, though, the Lions got over the finish line and earned a road point.

The Lions closed the gap in possession but the Crew still had more of it (59.5%-40.5%), along with more shots (22-10), shots on target (7-3), corners (6-5), and passing accuracy (84.7%-72.8%).

“The second half was great,” Pareja said. “The players took the game by the horns and I saw our team playing much more football and having that volume going forward and we tied it up. A deserved game for us and again credit for these players that showed character. Our willingness is intact.”

The Lions will enjoy this draw, as they won a point from a losing position in the second half on the road.

“It feels not like a draw, it feels like a win, because we came back from 2-0,” Kara said. “That gives us energy, motivation for Wednesday that we are able to play better. Now we need to put one step more on it, be all together, go out on Wednesday, and win the game.”

Orlando City’s road trip is over as the Lions head home for a midweek matchup Wednesday night against New York City FC.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids: Three Players to Watch Out For

These three Rapids players could make or break the game for the visitors from out west.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

As Orlando City looks to extend their streak to six unbeaten matches in a row, the Lions take on the boys in burgundy from Colorado for the first time at Exploria Stadium since 2019. In this article we will do a bit of a deeper dive on three players from Colorado that City fans should be on the lookout for throughout the match tonight.

Connor Ronan

One of the bright spots for Colorado in a season which has seen its share of struggles has been the play of Irish midfielder Connor Ronan. Throughout his first 17 games with the Rapids, Ronan has recorded one goal and six assists and is the minutes leader on the season thus far. Ronan has been the straw that has stirred the drink since captain Jack Price suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury back near the beginning of the season. Not only has Ronan recorded two multi-assist efforts on the season, he also became the first Colorado player since Price to record a three-assist match, doing so against the LA Galaxy on May 6. Ronan’s efforts were recognized by wrier Jonathan Slgal, who named Ronan as on of the top 12 under-the-radar signings of the past off-season. Logging 1,446 minutes for the Rapids so far this season, Ronan has been tidy in possession, passing at an 85.9% success rate. If Colorado is to find success at Exploria Stadium, Ronan’s ability to find his teammates in positions of strength will surely be an important part of the match storyline.

Marko Ilic

Last week, in just his second start for the Rapids, goalkeeper Marko Ilic — on loan through July from the Belgian Pro League side KV Kortrijk — recorded his first clean sheet. Prior to arriving stateside for the Rapids, Ilic recorded 16 clean sheets in 71 appearances for Kortrijk and he recorded one appearance on the Serbian national squad during a friendly in June of 2021 against Jamaica. Despite limited first-team time to start the season, Ilic has stayed prepared and has drawn compliments from his coaching staff. Ilic is known to be an athletic shot stopper and strong passer, and if Colorado has visions of controlling possession and building out of the back, he will be central to that plan, while being responsible for keeping the hungry Lions at bay.

Cole Bassett

Homegrown youngster Cole Bassett returned to his home club from a 10-month loan prior to the start of the 2023 Major League Soccer season. On the year thus far, the 21-year-old has started in seven of the nine matches that he has appeared in. Bassett has scored two goals on the season, including a absolutely beautiful curling shot from outside the 18 in the 95th minute against the Columbus Crew on May 31.

With a reputation as a ruthless attacker with the ability to finish from anywhere and create opportunities for himself, Bassett possesses the quality and stamina to put the Rapids on his back and turn the tide of a match. He will surely be one of the key focuses for defensive midfielders Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena. Shutting him down in the Central Florida humidity may be the most important aspect of the match for Orlando City on the night.

If Orlando is to make it two victories in a row, those are the three pieces of the Colorado puzzle that I think the team will have to combat to achieve their goal. Let us know in the comments below if there are any other major pieces that you are concerned about heading into the match. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/10/23

Lions want consistency, Alejandro Granados earns short-term contract, Pride welcome Thorns, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Welcome to the weekend, Mane Landers. It’s a great Saturday to wake up because the Lions are back home tonight at 7:30 p.m. Personally, I am looking forward to seeing the team continue to build attacking momentum as the pieces have started to gel together. The pace of Ivan Angulo has been electric, and I’m hopeful Facundo Torres has finally turned the page he needed to this season. Aside from Orlando City today, we also have soccer in town on Sunday, with OCB taking on Cincinnati 2 and the Orlando Pride hosting the Portland Thorns. So, let’s dig right into it all in the links!

Orlando City’s Momentum and Consistency

Orlando City returns home tonight to take on the Colorado Rapids after a decisive 3-0 victory at Red Bull Arena. With the latest victory, the Lions are now unbeaten in their previous five league matches. Orlando City aims to keep up the consistency in its performances as the Lions gear up for the 13th-ranked team in the Western Conference, and the Rapids are desperate for points. 

“They’re gonna come in to try and leave the position that they’re in right now,” Lions goalkeeper Pedro Gallese said. “They’re going to try and come in and take points from us in our home. We know that they’re going to come in strong, but we have to do the same and we’ve got to continue the form that we’ve had during this run that we’re on right now.”

Alejandro Granados Earns First-Team Deal

Orlando City has called up the services of midfielder Alejandro Granados from Orlando City B on a short-term agreement and will be available for selection today as the Lions take on the Colorado Rapids. The 17-year-old has six appearances for Orlando City B this season in MLS NEXT Pro. On the global stage, Granados recently featured for Spain at the U-17 European Championship. He appeared five times in the tournament as La Roja reached the semifinals. He even scored a goal in the quarterfinal round against Ireland that also qualified the side for the U-17 World Cup later this year.

Orlando Pride Host Portland Thorns

The Pride are back in town following a midweek Challenge Cup postponement against NJ/NY Gotham FC due to measures taken to prioritize player health and safety in the face of terrible air quality as a result of the Canadian wildfires. Sunday’s match is set to begin at 7 p.m. against the Portland Thorns. It will be the Pride’s first home match in 22 days, however, the team won the last two matches played at Exploria Stadium. One thing to watch for in the match will be set pieces. Four of Orlando’s last six goals in regular season play have been scored from a set piece, with three being corners. For the Pride, it will be a chance to begin to shift the history between the two clubs, as the Thorns have won 13 of their 17 all-time meetings with Orlando, including the last three in a row by a combined score of 12-0.

Orlando City Academy Boasts Nine D-1 Athletes

The Young Lions of the Orlando City Development Academy have wrapped up their studies for the year and are on their way to penning the next chapter in their lives. Nine graduates have committed to Division 1 programs across the United States. Five of the graduates were products of the 2021 U-17 MLS NEXT Cup champion team. Another notable mention is Orlando City B forward Chase Vazquez, who came off the bench in this year’s preseason matchup against Stetson University to score a hat trick.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today. Have a safe two days at Exploria Stadium. Remember to hydrate and look out for your friends. It is starting to feel a lot like summer out here. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids

Familiarize yourself with the Colorado Rapids, courtesy of someone who knows them best.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Another Orlando City game is almost upon us, as the Lions look to both extend their five-match unbeaten run and pick up two wins in a row. This week sees the Colorado Rapids come to town for the first home game of June.

A match with the Rapids means I spoke to Matt Pollard, of Burgundy Wave. That’s another site that has gone independent and the folks over there are continuing to provide great coverage of the Rapids, so make sure to check them out!

What were some of the big incoming and outgoing transfers for the Rapids ahead of this season?

Matt Pollard: The three biggest incoming players in terms of expectations were Kévin Cabral, Connor Ronan, and Andreas Maxsø.

Cabral is probably the highest-risk, highest-reward signing when it comes to the Rapids going after distressed assets. So far, it hasn’t panned out. He presses well, but that’s about it. The same issues he had at LA Galaxy (getting called offside, not finishing) are present here in Colorado. The difference is, he’s the focal point instead of the third player opposing defenses worry about.

Ronan and Maxsø have been great. Ronan was brought in to play alongside Jack Price. When Price went down for the season, Ronan stepped into the No. 6 role and adjusted well. He’s tidy at the back, works hard off the ball, and is one of the better assist providers on the team. Maxsø has been good defensively in the air and good at emergency defending. The Rapids typically give up goals by making a series of small errors. Rarely is the Great Dane one of those players who makes a mistake on a goal.

It’s hard to say if there were any significant departures from last year’s team. Most fans weren’t surprised or bummed out when Gyasi Zardes signed for Austin FC. The left back position has been an issue, so maybe Lucas Esteves. But he had some attitude issues and was hot headed. Robin Fraser’s such a culture guy, he wasn’t worth the headache.

It’s been a difficult start to the season for Colorado, what has been the biggest reason for the team’s struggles?

MP: Injuries. Injuries. Injuries. Price went down for the season in his second appearance. Diego Rubio has had three separate injuries. Maxsø was under concussion protocol for two games. I’ve lost count of how many players have had hamstring issues. As I’ve written about previously for Burgundy Wave, the infrastructure at Dick’s (Sporting Goods Park) is showing its age. The team had a really bad stretch in March and April with practice fields and winter sticking around. They’ve missed key players. They’ve had limited depth. All while playing eight games in May. Hopefully a full week of training has them healthy and refocused for Saturday.

With plenty of games left to play and only sitting six points out of the play-in spots, the Rapids are far from dead and buried. What needs to happen for Colorado to turn the season around?

MP: Get healthy and get going offensively. Rubio is still their only reliable chance creator. All their goal scorers have been streaky. If Rubio comes back healthy and can give the Rapids the production he had last year (a club-record 16 goals and seven assists), that would be fantastic. Add in Cabral, Jonathan Lewis, and Braian Galván having a good finishing streak, and they could be ok. Orlando fans should be wary of Michael Barrios coming off the bench tomorrow. All 12 of his goals for the Rapids have come in the second half.

Are there any players who will be unavailable for selection due to call-ups, injuries, suspensions, etc? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?

MP: The injury report just came out and there are only four players on it. That’s tied for the lowest of the season! Rubio is questionable, and Fraser’s been really cautious with his key players coming back from injury. I can’t see him getting more than 20 minutes Saturday. Moïse Bombito is suspended for a harsh second yellow against San Jose, so expect Lalas Abubakar to start at center back. Price is out, as mentioned previously. Max Alves is still removed from team activities as he’s under investigation for participation in a sports gambling scheme in his native Brazil.

Marko Ilic; Danny Wilson, Andreas Maxsø, Lalas Abubakar; Sam Nicholson, Keegan Rosenberry; Connor Ronan, Bryan Acosta, Cole Bassett; Jonathan Lewis, Darren Yapi.

I think Orlando wins a tight, ugly game. Oscar Pareja knows how to poop-house the Rapids. 1-0, Facundo Torres scores. I do think we’ll see one of the better performances from the Rapids of this winless stretch for what that’s worth. 

Thank you to Matt for the excellent info and helping get us up to speed on the Rapids. Vamos Orlando!

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