Connect with us

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. St. Louis City SC: Final Score 2-1 as Lions Ride Facundo Torres Brace to Victory

Facundo Torres opened the scoring and then broke a 1-1 tie late from the penalty spot as Orlando City beat the Western Conference leaders.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Facundo Torres scored a brace, with his second goal coming late to lift Orlando City to a 2-1 win over Western Conference-leading St. Louis City tonight at Exploria Stadium in front of an announced crowd of 22,156. The Lions (12-6-7, 43 points) scored early in the second half to break the deadlock but St. Louis (14-9-2, 44 points) was awarded a goal after video review determined the assistant referee was wrong to raise his flag for the ball going over the end line prior to the crucial pass on Rasmus Alm’s equalizer. Torres then scored from the spot after a late handball was called on the visitors, which blocked a Rafael Santos shot.

Orlando City has won three straight league games for the first time in 2023 and is unbeaten at home since April 22 (5-0-3).

“Very happy for the victory, not just with the three points that are so important for us but the way they gained those points,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “I thought we played a very good game. Our fans today were terrific. They were fantastic and they brought us that energy and I just want to be grateful with them because we fed (on) that energy.”

Pareja’s lineup was the same as the one that lined up in Chicago on Sunday. Pedro Gallese started in goal behind a back line of Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena manned the central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereryra, and Torres, with Duncan McGuire up top.

The Lions started the match looking to play directly but struggled to pick out McGuire up top. Orlando City did well in the opening half to find spaces through the middle of the pitch but lazy, late, or off-line passes in the final third ruined several good opportunities to break down the aggressive St. Louis defense. The visitors were content to foul a lot anytime Orlando City threatened to break a line, but very few of those fouls were in the defensive third of the pitch.

Five minutes in, Aziel Jackson took the game’s first shot from outside the box on the right side but his shot was a good 15 to 20 yards wide of the left post. Two minutes later, Eduard Lowen sent a free kick wide of the target after Cartagena conceded a foul about 25 yards out from Gallese’s goal.

The best St. Louis City chance of the opening half came in the 13th minute when the visitors broke down the right off an Orlando turnover. Akil Watts fizzed a cross to the top of the six for former Lion Nicholas Gioacchini, who slid to meet it but it was too far in front for him to make contact. Two minutes later, Indiana Vassilev sent a shot well off target.

The Lions finally got a shot in the 15th minute when Angulo took on three defenders and predictably had his shot blocked. Santos won a corner off of that block but Roman Burki came off his line to punch away Pereyra’s delivery. The ball was recycled to Pereyra, who sent in a good cross for Jansson, but again Burki got there first to punch it away. Burki was aggressive all night in coming off his line and Orlando did little to create traffic in front of him.

Torres got onto the deflection of the third Orlando corner and smashed a shot toward goal but it was headed over by a defender in the 20th minute.

Gioacchini tried a difficult volley from about 12 yards out in the 23rd minute but couldn’t get the attempt on target.

Orlando City had a great chance in the 31st minute when McGuire got onto the ball on the right side of the box. He sent in a good cross and Pereyra got to it first but his volley attempt went just wide of the left post.

Lowen sent a shot over the bar from long range on the last chance of the half for the visitors.

Orlando’s best chance of the half came in stoppage time. Pereyra picked out McGuire but his shot was denied by Burki from close range.

Orlando City held the halftime advantage in possession (55.1%-44.9%), shots (6-5), shots on target (1-0), corners (4-1), and passing accuracy (83.8%-80.5%). Neither team was able to break down the other to great effect and Orlando City wasted too many good opportunities to create in the final third with poor passes or obvious ones that were easily defended.

“I thought we weren’t playing the right way,” Pareja said of the first half. “They came out with a different formation, so for the first 15 minutes we needed to accommodate the team again. They were very dense in the middle, and they were keeping the ball and creating some spaces that we don’t want. But then we matched that up in the middle. We corrected and we were trying to impose our ways and that happened. In the second half I thought we were more protagonists of (the game) against a very good team. I thought we had a very professional job.”

The Lions broke the deadlock just after the restart. Torres sent the ball right to Pereyra and the captain played it to Thorhallsson near the top of the box. Thorhallsson cut from right to left and thought about shooting but found Torres breaking toward goal. His pass found the Uruguayan and Torres smashed his shot, which took a slight deflection off of Jake Nerwinski and sailed past Burki in the 48th minute for his ninth goal of the season.

“When I got the ball, I looked up and I saw (Pereyra) in a bit of a diagonal, and normally he likes me to play those in to his feet,” Torres said through a club translator. “So, I just kind of hit it, but thankfully once he got it, he played it to Dagur, and I just kind of made my run away from him and toward the goal. And thankfully he found me and I was able to put it away.”

Gallese was called to action in the 53rd minute, punching away a shot from a free kick from 30 yards out. Lowen sent a one-hopper at Gallese three minutes later after Pereyra appeared to cleanly win the ball and then collided with a St. Louis player. The Lions thought Torres would be in alone on goal at the other end after a quick outlet pass but referee Joe Dickerson brought the play back and booked Pereyra.

Watts and Thorhallsson exchanged shots high into the crowd over the next few minutes as St. Louis chased the game, while Orlando looked to score an insurance goal.

Cartagena committed a foul 30 yards out in front of his own goal in the 73rd minute, but Lowen sent the dangerous free kick just wide of the right post.

St. Louis coach Bradley Carnell sent on offensive reinforcements in the 77th minute, as Joao Klauss and Rasmus Alm entered the match. The move paid off two minutes later.

A ball to the end line appeared from the press box to go over the end line before St. Louis substitute Nokkvi Thorisson sent it in front for Alm to slam just inside the left post in the 79th minute. The video assistant referee looked at the play for several minutes before Dickerson went to the monitor himself. After another long look, Dickerson awarded the goal and the game was tied.

Thorhallsson had a good look at the play and said he knew the goal would count.

“I thought it was in as soon as they scored. And I kind of just went down on the ground,” Thorhallsson said. “I need to watch it again, but when I saw it, I was like, “OK, that’s gonna be a goal.”

With the match tied, Pareja sent Michael Halliday and Jack Lynn onto the pitch for Thorhallsson and Pereyra in the 85th and 86th minutes. Lynn was crucial down the stretch of the match defending in the box on set pieces and providing outlet passes to spring potential counters.

Second-half sub Ramiro Enrique earned a foul to the left of the box in the 87th minute and that led to the winning play. The free kick was played backward to Santos just outside the top of the box and the left back blasted a shot toward goal. The ball hit the arm of Anthony Markanich and went out over the end line. Orlando players pleaded with Dickerson to award a penalty for handball, but after several seconds of thought, Dickerson signaled a corner kick.

The VAR again directed Dickerson to look at the play and the referee awarded a penalty upon review. Torres stepped up to the spot and took the shot. Burki faked as if he would dive right but then went left. Had he stayed right, he might have made the save, but he didn’t, and that’s where Torres sent the shot, making it 2-1 in the 90th minute and reaching double figures in goals on the 2023 season.

“All I was thinking about was, ‘score the goal,'” Torres said. “When I stepped up, I knew this was the opportunity for us to put the game away, get the victory — obviously thinking a little bit about the goal that they scored that didn’t get taken back — so, thinking about that and just trying to bury it and secure the three points for us.”

Orlando City still had a lot to do with nine minutes of stoppage time added.

The visitors nearly stole points in the 94th minute off a cleared corner kick. The clearance went well outside the box but Vasillev struck it true on the volley and the curling shot crashed off the left post and fizzed across the front of the goal line before the Lions could clear.

The final chance fell Orlando’s way as Lynn sent Enrique in behind the defense in the 10th minute of stoppage time. He was taken down from behind just outside the box by Nerwinski, who was sent off for denial of a goal-scoring opportunity. Second-half sub Martin Ojeda took the free kick and smashed it on target but Burki fought it off. Before anyone could collect it, Dickerson blew the full-time whistle on a huge win for the Lions.

Orlando City held the advantage in possession (57.1%-42.9%), shots (11-10), shots on target (4-2), corners (8-4), and passing accuracy (83.2%-78.7%).

“It was important for us to win this one against a rival who is in the top of the Western Conference that gave us the sensation that we’re competing (at a high level),” Pareja said.

The Lions have a short turnaround as the fixture schedule gets more congested over the next week. Orlando City visits Charlotte on Wednesday before traveling to face FC Cincinnati on the road next Saturday.

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.

Continue Reading

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!

Continue Reading

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!

Continue Reading