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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. FC Cincinnati: Final Score 1-0 as Facundo Torres’ Goal Helps Lions Sink League Leaders

Lions take four out of six points on the two-match road trip heading into the international break.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Facundo Torres struck just before halftime to lift Orlando City to a massive 1-0 road win over FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. The Lions (13-6-8, 47 points) held off a furious rally attempt by FC Cincinnati (17-4-6, 57 points) with only 10 men after Wilder Cartagena was sent off late, but managed to weather 13 minutes of stoppage time to become the first team all season to beat Cincy on its home field.

The win extended Orlando City’s current league unbeaten streak to five matches (4-0-1), with four of those games coming on the road. In an eight-day span, the Lions defeated the leaders of both MLS conferences.

“The first half was in a very good level that we created most of the chances,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “We controlled the game and we should be thinking this is really the consistency that we’re fighting for and playing for. The second half, Cincinnati, who is a very good team, started just putting more numbers up front and we started defending a little lower than we wanted. But today we played very well with the ball and we played even better without it, which you have to know how to do that.”

Pareja’s lineup featured Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo and Cartagena started in central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, and Torres, with Duncan McGuire up top.

Orlando City played an excellent first road half, keeping Cincinnati penned back through timely pressing and good control of the midfield.

FC Cincinnati, however, tried to open the scoring via the long ball. The first was sent forward for Brandon Vazquez in the sixth minute but Gallese came off his line quickly to knock it away. A minute later, a through ball found Sergio Santos breaking behind the defense. The forward scored but the flag immediately came up. There was a lengthy delay to review the play, as Rafa Santos was not even with his back line teammates, making it a close call. Ultimately, the call on the field was upheld and the game remained scoreless.

Orlando was wasteful over the next few minutes as Torres had a shot blocked behind for a corner and Pereyra tried a tricky through ball for McGuire despite having an open Torres breaking into space on his right moments later. Pereyra then sent a free kick from the left on target, making for an easy punch away for goalkeeper Roman Celentano.

Cincinnati got its first prolonged spell of possession after that and kept it for nearly four minutes before a ball into the area was knocked away by Schlegel.

McGuire went down holding his shoulder in the 27th minute after tangling with Matt Miazga on a 50/50 ball. Pareja was angry that no foul was called and McGuire had to substitute off, needing help to remove his jersey. Ramiro Enrique came on for the rookie on the day the Lions transferred striker Ercan Kara to Samsunspor in Turkey.

“The (other strikers) know and understand that this is an opportunity now for them, and I think they have the talent to do it,” Pareja said. “Duncan, Jack Lynn, and Ramiro, they have to take that position and embrace it in the best way and produce. I’m glad that Ramiro came and participated in that one goal. It’s important for us. He creates different movements. Duncan, Jack, and Ramiro provide different characteristics up front — even Martin (Ojeda). “

Moments later, Gallese went down holding his groin area. He got treatment for a few minutes and was able to continue.

A good chance nearly fell for Araujo in the 35th minute on a corner cross by Torres. Araujo looked to have a tap-in at the back post but Santiago Arias got there just in time to prevent a shot. Enrique followed with a shot that was blocked.

The Lions continued to have the better looks. Angulo shot wide in the 38th minute and Torres had a shot deflect into the outside netting a minute later. Orlando City still found the breakthrough just before the break.

Pereyra sent a ball to Enrique down the left side of the box. The Argentine took a heavy first touch and had to then beat Miazga to the end line, where he slid and knocked it back out in front of goal. The ball found Torres, who slotted home, opening the scoring in the 44th minute with his 11th of the season.

“It was a play where Wilder recovered the ball in the middle of the field and quickly played it over to Mauricio,” Enrique said through a club translator of the winning play. “And it just all kind of happened really quick, where I opened myself up for the diagonal and he hit it, and I hit it on the fast break, but I had a touch there that was a bit too far to control. So, I just kind of hit it back into the middle of the area, and thankfully Facu was there and he hit it, and he was able to score. And thankfully, with that goal, we were able to win tonight.”

The Lions saw out seven minutes of first-half stoppage time and took their slim lead into the break.

Orlando City held the halftime advantage in possession (50.5%-49.5%), shots (7-2), and corners (4-0). The hosts passed more accurately (87%-83.9%). Each team got just one shot on frame, officially.

In the second half, Orlando City was content to play solid defense and look for counterattacking opportunities and that helped the hosts take the lead in time of possession and most of the other categories. Orlando City’s block was forced lower and lower but the Lions defended resolutely and the hosts didn’t create many clear-cut chances. They wasted the few they did create.

Cincinnati kept more of the ball after halftime and it started right away, as the hosts held possession for over a minute after kicking off to restart the game. The possession broke down on a pass too far in front of Luciano Acosta. Jansson did well to deny a cross intended for Vazquez in the 51st minute.

Enrique nearly got in behind moments later after beating Miazga in the open field but second-half sub Yerson Mosquera ran him down from behind to thwart the counter opportunity. Anguo cut inside and fired a shot in the 55th minute but Miazga blocked it.

Acosta finally got a good look at goal in the 58th minute, when he got through the right side of the defense, but his shot was at Gallese, who made the save. Three minutes later, Cincinnati should have scored. A great, curling long ball wrapped around the Orlando defense and found second-half sub Aaron Boupendza, who made a mess of his shot while 1-v-1 with Gallese and sent it trickling softly wide to the left.

Orlando then controlled the attack for the next few minutes but couldn’t do anything with a couple of good crosses from Angulo.

Gallese was called into action again in the 69th minute as Santiago Arias fired a shot from the right, but El Pulpo was up to the challenge.

The defense in front of Gallese blocked a dangerous Acosta free kick from just outside the area in the 74th minute after Santos was called for a foul.

Boupendza headed wide in the 82nd minute on a rare moment of a Cincinnati attacker being left alone in front of goal. Just after that, Pareja sent on defensive reinforcements, bringing on Junior Urso, Michael Halliday, and Kyle Smith for Torres, Santos, and Thorhallsson.

Drew Fischer added eight minutes of stoppage time that grew to 13 after he went to the monitor to check whether Boupendza deserved a red card for an arm to Cartagena’s face. His decision was merely to caution the Cincinnati striker.

Moments after the check, there was a foul on Orlando City from distance and tempers flared. Cartagena got knocked down, then got back up and got into an opponent’s face. Fischer showed him a straight red, although there didn’t seem to be anything to warrant it. However, Fischer did not go to the monitor to re-check the decision and the Lions finished the match a man down.

The closest Cincinnati came to equalizing was in the 97th minute, when substitute Marco Angulo got a head onto a cross but sent it just wide. Acosta missed the net entirely from the top of the box in the 100th minute.

The last opportunity came in the 13th minute of stoppage time when the ball was sent in from the left. Mosquera tried to knock it on frame but it was a bit high for him and his intercession prevented Miazga from getting a chance at the back post.

That was it as the whistle blew for full time and the Lions had a huge win, finishing the season 1-0-1 in two matches against the team that should go on to win the Supporters’ Shield, barring a collapse in the final games of the season.

FC Cincinnati finished the game with the advantage in possession (56.7%-43.3%), shots (13-10), shots on goal (4-1), and passing accuracy (87.4%-81.6%). Orlando City won more corners (5-2).

“It was a great game by us. It was a very important victory,” Enrique said. “You know, they’re the first-place team in the entire league and this was their first loss at home. And, you know, coming into the game, we knew that it was going to be a difficult game, and that’s the way it was, and thankfully we stuck together as a team and we were able to come out with the win.”

“There’s a lot of things that we have to be proud of,” Pareja said about the performance. “But then we have many as well that we need to get better. If we keep this mentality we can fight. And I’m glad that the feeling that we can relate to it, but you have to maintain that consistency.”

The Lions will have a week off due to the upcoming international window before hosting the Columbus Crew on Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

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.

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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!

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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!

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