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Orlando Pride vs. San Diego Wave FC: Photo Gallery

An album of images from the Pride’s 2-1 loss at Exploria Stadium.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Marta channeled Star Wars Night at Exploria Stadium with a blaster-bolt of a cross to Adriana to score the Pride’s lone goal, but the Wave’s Kyra Carusa mastered the Jedi mind trick (“I am not the runner you are looking for.”) to nod home a winner, allowing the visitors to escape with all three points.

It was a beautiful night, and a strong crowd of 7,556 turned out. The Pride played well, dominating most of the stats, but a missed clearance and the aforementioned mental lapse on two corner kicks left them just short. Costumes, banners and tifos embraced the Star Wars theme, making for a very fun and festive atmosphere. (And the soccer was pretty good too!)

Despite the disappointing result, we hope you enjoy the photos of a fun night at Exploria Stadium.

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Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Photo Gallery

An album of images from Orlando City’s scoreless home draw against CF Montreal.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

You’ve heard the saying, “Good work is rewarded with more work”? Well, Orlando City’s excellent season last year was rewarded by having to open its Concacaf Champions Cup (CCC) run at the furthest reaches of the continent soccer-wise, and then three days later, opening its regular season in Florida. Unsurprisingly, the on-pitch product showed the travel wear a bit and Orlando (0-0-1, 1 point) had to settle for a draw against CF Montreal (0-0-1, 1 point). In the end, this is a point happily taken to start the season, given the scheduling circumstances.

Martín Ojeda and Nico Lodeiro showed signs of starting to get on the same page, and Dagur Dan Thórhallsson and Iván Angulo had their same fearsome ground-covering dynamics of last year. They just could not find Duncan McGuire with a final ball, however, despite his normal chaos-inducing runs, and Thórhallsson and César Araújo both failed to finish good looks. I personally thought — and the game stats tend to agree — that the Lions were the better team for the majority of the game and deserved more, but you have to put the ball in the net to win.

The fans were raring to go, with the sold-out Wall in full voice, harassing the opposition (and the substitute refereeing crew) and generally continuing to provide the environment that Orlando is (in)famous for throughout the league. In the end, the Lions remained unbeaten on opening night (3-0-7) and still haven’t conceded in their MLS opener under Oscar Pareja. The downside is that three of the last five openers have been scoreless draws.

We hope you enjoy these images from a great night at the stadium, even if the result wasn’t quite the one for which you were hoping. Your next opportunity to come out and experience the atmosphere will be tonight at 6 p.m. when the Lions host Cavalry FC in the second leg of the CCC series. It’s a bit early, but with the Lions already up three goals on aggregate in the tie, they are well positioned to advance.

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Orlando Pride vs. Houston Dash: Photo Gallery

An album of images from the Pride’s 2023 season finale at Exploria Stadium.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

The Orlando Pride got the win they needed on Sunday, but with other results around the NWSL going against them, the team’s playoff dream ended after a 1-0 home win over the Houston Dash. Despite having the second-most wins in the league this season, the Pride are the only Orlando City team out of the postseason in 2023 — due solely to the goal differential tiebreaker, which placed Orlando just behind both Angel City and NJ/NY Gotham FC.

It was a hard-fought victory, with the season-high announced crowd of 8,504 driving the team forward to the end. The Pride generated most of the better of the scoring chances on the night, but sent several or those straight at Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell. Eventually, Marta made the game’s decisive play, beating Dash defender Katie Lind to a ball in the box in the 85th minute. Lind clipped Marta’s heel in the process, drawing a deserved penalty, which the Pride captain calmly dispatched in the 87th minute.

Knowing that the three other games around the league weren’t going their way, the Pride pushed hard for more goals as time wound down. Summer Yates fired over the bar on the best of those opportunities, and a poor header at the back post by Mikayla Cluff also could have helped the cause, but neither found the back of the net and the Pride were bounced from postseason contention.

Because the season is now over for the Pride, these will unfortunately be the last images of the team for a while, and may possibly be the last photos in an Orlando uniform for some of these players. We hope you enjoy them and that you can revisit our Pride galleries throughout the off-season until next season rolls around.

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Orlando City vs. New England Revolution: Photo Gallery

An album of images from Orlando City’s 3-2 home win over the Revolution at Exploria Stadium.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City hosted the New England Revolution Saturday night in a pre-playoff test of mettle for both teams. The Lions, who had been riding a long run of good form, continued to rise to the challenge, winning 3-2 on the strength of late first-half goals by Duncan McGuire, Facundo Torres, and Iván Angulo. These were assisted by by Dagur Dan Thórhallsson and Mauricio Pereryra, Angulo and Rafael Santos, and Santos and Pereyra, respectively. Torres’ goal was particularly impressive, as he scored his goal on a wicked volley on Angulo’s cross, which was behind him — see picture 38 in the gallery above.

The game was well contested, but not as close at the scoreline indicated. The Lions mostly controlled the game after the first 20 minutes and the Carles Gil goals came as the result of an extremely rare Pedro Gallese goalkeeping error and an unfortunate deflection late in second-half stoppage time.

With the victory, Orlando locked up second place in MLS along with a 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup berth and home field throughout the playoffs for almost every possible game. (The Lions will have a road game in the best-of-three, first-round series and the only other matchup in which they wouldn’t host would be if they meet FC Cincinnati.)

The Exploria Stadium crowd of 24,440 came out in force for the final regular-season home game of the year, providing the top-notch MLS atmosphere that Orlando is known for. The team responded with appreciation, signing autographs during warmups and high-fiving fans on throw-ins, and generally playing for fun.

Next up is a week off for the international break, followed by a trip to Toronto to close out the regular season. Then it’s off to the playoffs!

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