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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Atlanta United: Final Score 1-1 as Lions Concede Late Equalizer Again

The Lions are unbeaten in four games but for the second time in a row they allow a late equalizer at home.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City scored first but allowed a late tying goal for the second straight home match in a 1-1 draw against Atlanta United in front of an announced crowd of 20,127 at Exploria Stadium. Kyle Smith gave the lead to Orlando City (5-4-5, 20 points) in the first half, but a late recycled set piece allowed Tyler Wolff to tie the match in the final minutes, although the equalizer for Atlanta (6-4-5, 23 points) did not come quite as late as New york City FC’s did last week.

The late goal conceded prevented Orlando from catching the Five Stripes in the standings. Orlando is now 3-8-7 in the all-time series against Atlanta in league play and 2-5-3 at home.

“I have to say that we played well today,” a visibly frustrated Oscar Pareja said after the match. “And I want to congratulate that group of players that pushed that match and that energy. That’s the team that we want to see. The other part is the frustration on giving up another goal at the end and not walking (away) with three points at the end. But we want to see that team more often and we want to see that energy more often. We want to see that Orlando City.”

Pareja’s lineup included Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Kyle Smith. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena played central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, and Facundo Torres, with Ercan Kara up top.

The first 20 minutes were like a heavyweight prize fight with the teams sparring but not landing anything. The Lions were controlling the midfield by having Smith move up the field as Ruan used to do, only instead of staying wide, he often tucked inside and left space for Torres to be the wide man on the right. It helped Orlando keep the ball and overload the midfield throughout the first half.

In the early going, Orlando swung a few crosses through the area but nothing came of them.

The first Atlanta foray into Orlando’s end concluded with Smith knocking the ball out for a corner at the 20-minute mark. Four minutes later, Torres cut inside and fizzed a shot just over Brad Guzan’s crossbar.

Carlos conceded a free kick on the next Atlanta attack in the 27th minute and was booked, even though earlier Angulo was pulled back with no attempt to play the ball as he was breaking in behind and no card was given. Juan Jose Purata headed wide on the free kick. A minute later, Atlanta got a fortunate bounce off a deflection and broke in transition. Jansson cut out the final ball with a well-timed clearance.

The Lions broke through in the 30th minute. A great hustle play by Angulo got him down the left and at the edge of the box he cut the ball back to Pereyra at the top of the area. The captain sent the ball in for Kara, who slid it to Torres. El Cuervo’s stab at the ball was blocked out to the right side, where Smith swooped in and finished to make it 1-0 with his first goal of the season.

“Ivan did really well to shed his defender on the left side,” Smith said of the lead-up to his goal. “He went down the line, I believe he got a cross off. The ball was bouncing around. It bounced out perfectly for me and I just tried to keep the ball low and it went through his legs, I believe.”

“Kyle is a very smart soccer player,” Pareja said. “In the movements that we tried today, we tried to overload them in the middle with someone who is not hesitating to ask for that ball. That way we could open Facu too.”

Purata headed off frame again on a 35th-minute set piece for Atlanta. The Lions then won a few corners but nothing came of them except a blocked Wilder Cartagena shot at the top of the box.

The Lions wanted a penalty in the 40th minute as Torres played a ball in behind for Araujo. The Uruguayan raced toward the ball and would have been behind the defense on the right side but Andrew Gutman, who was marking Torres, suddenly decided to take two steps backward and block Araujo’s path, leading to a big collision in the box. Allen Chapman saw no foul there.

Kara had a chance on a long throw-in but Guzan made a good point-blank save to keep the lead at one goal in the 45th minute.

Carlos cleared a late Atlanta corner and that was it for the half.

Orlando City held slightly more possession in the opening period (51.7%-48.3%), was the more accurate passing team (86.4%-85.2%), and had more shots (6-3) and shots on target (3-0). Both teams won three corners.

The second half settled into a bit more of a choppy affair. Both teams took turns possessing but not fashioning much danger until a chance by Orlando in the 51st minute. Smith took a layoff from Torres on the right and blasted a shot that was blocked in front. The ball deflected to Pereyra, who flicked it toward goal but it was right at Guzan.

Most of the rest of the half was played between the boxes and some hopeful attacks mostly broke down without any danger. Torres was nearly played in behind by Kara in the 63rd minute but the pass was slightly behind him and ended up getting knocked away.

The Lions got an injection of life from Martin Ojeda coming into the game and he smashed a shot on goal in the 78th. That shot was headed just inside the left post but Guzan robbed him with a diving save, the way he usually does against Orlando.

The Lions were nearly in two minutes later but Ojeda’s cross was deflected by a defender and trickled just wide for a corner. Araujo’s blast from distance in the 84th was just inches over the bar.

Atlanta then struck for the equalizer off a set piece in the 86th minute. A corner kick was cleared out of the area but fired back in on goal from distance by Matheus Rossetto. Gallese made a diving save on it, but the rebound ended up with Wolff, who roofed the ball in off Smith, giving Gallese no chance to save it and making it 1-1.

“We cleared the ball and then their player got a touch and a shot off,” Smith said. “Pedro made a save and it went right to their player, and then he shot it and deflected it off me into the goal.”

Atlanta had the better of the play in the final minutes and injury time. Machop Chol had an open look from the top of the area but missed the net badly and nothing came of a late Atlanta corner. That was it and the visitors had again stolen late points in Exploria Stadium.

Despite the draw feeling like a loss because of when the last goal was scored, the Lions played well against their nemeses from the Peach State, shutting down high-scoring forwards Thiago Almada and Georgios Giakoumakis. The two combined for just one shot attempt and it wasn’t on target.

“I think the team as a whole did a lot of great work today,” Cartagena said. “I think we were stretched a bit. They tried to stretch us out, and we were able to really collect ourselves and play as a unit and defend well. We ran a lot, we pressed a lot, we were able to recover a lot of balls forward into the field, and I think we did great, and like I said, we’ve got great sensations by the way that we played the game today.”

Orlando City held slightly more possession (50.3%-49.7%), and had more corners (8-6), shots (14-11) and shots on target (6-3). Guzan’s four saves were the difference, and particularly two of them — the one on Kara on the long throw and the denial of Ojeda’s blast.

“To our fans, that support deserved much more, and we wanted to walk off not with frustration but with joy,” Pareja said. “But I’m proud of this group, seriously. I think they played well.”

“We need to take the positives away. We played well tonight,” Smith said. “We need to just keep being consistent in our performances so we can get results home and away from home.”


The Lions travel to the New York metropolitan area next to take on the New York Red Bulls next Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

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 RodrĂ­guez have slowed down as of recently, resulting in guys like Alonso MartĂ­nez 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: AndrĂ©s 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, IleniÄŤ or Tayvon Gray, James Sands, Keaton Parks, Agustin Ojeda, Santi RodrĂ­guez, Hannes Wolf, Alonso MartĂ­nez.

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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