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Orlando City vs. FC Cincinnati: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions head north to face the Supporters’ Shield leaders to close out their two-game road swing.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night matchup between Orlando City (12-6-8, 44 points) and FC Cincinnati (17-3-6, 57 points) at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, OH (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). It’s the second of the two scheduled meetings between the teams this season and the only matchup in Ohio.

Here’s what you need to know for the match.

History

Orlando City leads the all-time series, 3-2-3, with a 1-1-2 mark on the road. The Lions are winless in the last three meetings after being swept a season ago — for FC Cincinnati’s only two wins in the series — and a 0-0 draw in Orlando back on March 4 in the most recent meeting.

The Lions fell 1-0 at TQL Stadium the last time the teams played in Cincinnati on June 24, 2022. A second-half goal from Brenner represented all the offense, but it could have been worse for Orlando City as Pedro Gallese made eight saves in the match. The first meeting of 2022 took place in Orlando on March 12, with FC Cincinnati notching its first win in the all-time series, 2-1 at Exploria Stadium. The Lions were more in control but were wasteful, despite dominating the stat sheet. The visitors got a brace from Brandon Vazquez to offset Junior Urso’s goal in the 42nd minute.

The final meeting of 2021 was on Oct. 16 in Cincinnati, when Orlando City got its first road victory in the series, 1-0 on Urso’s goal in the 13th minute. Tesho Akindele should have scored a second off the crossbar late in the game, but the play was never reviewed, despite video evidence that the ball was completely across the line.

On Aug. 7, 2021, the match in Cincinnati ended up in a 1-1 draw. Nani’s strike rescued a point after Brenner had opened the scoring for the hosts just before halftime, taking advantage of an obviously injured Uri Rosell, who subbed off moments later. The first of the three meetings in 2021 came on May 21 in Orlando, with the Lions posting a 3-0 win. Akindele scored in the first minute and Nani and Urso each added a goal.

In Orlando’s first trip to the banks of the Ohio River, the match ended in a 1-1 draw at Nippert Stadium on Sept. 29, 2019. Benji Michel’s goal in stoppage time rescued a point for the Lions after Allan Cruz had given the hosts a lead. The draw officially eliminated Orlando City from playoff contention that year, but realistically the Lions had been out of it for a while.

The first ever meeting between the two sides took place on May 19, 2019, when the Lions pummeled the expansion side, 5-1. Both Nani and Akindele bagged braces in the match and Dom Dwyer added a goal as well.

Overview

The Lions are playing their second road match of the week after drawing 1-1 in heavy rain at Charlotte on Wednesday night. Martin Ojeda’s on-target set piece delivery from long range allowed Orlando to leave North Carolina with a point after Rodrigo Schlegel’s foul in the box on Enzo Copetti set up the latter’s penalty kick just minutes earlier. Orlando City is an MLS-best 6-3-4 on the road in 2023 and is unbeaten in its last three away from Exploria Stadium (2-0-1).

Cincinnati holds the league’s best home record (12-0-1) and is the only team in MLS to have clinched a playoff spot already, having done so with a 2-1 comeback win in Atlanta on Wednesday, coupled with other results from around the league. Cincy is 4-0-2 in its last six matches in the regular season, having last lost 3-0 at D.C. United back on June 24.

Only two players on the current Orlando City roster have scored a goal against FC Cincinnati, and they’re both unlikely heroes. Junior Urso, who was not on the team for the first meeting this season, has scored three career goals on nine shots in five appearances against Cincinnati. Felipe has also scored a goal against FC Cincinnati, but he did that before joining Orlando City.

FC Cincinnati is basically good at everything, but despite its excellent record, the Ohio side has only scored four more goals than Orlando City and has only conceded two fewer than the Lions. That means FCC knows how to win games whether they’re wide open or tight, low-scoring affairs.

Cincinnati has gifted offensive players who are especially dangerous in transition. Luciano Acosta is the reigning MLS Player of the Month and paces the FCC attack with 24 goal contributions in 2023. He leads Cincy in both goals (13) and assists (11). The key to beating FCC is to keep Acosta under wraps — easier said than done — and frustrating him. Vazquez is a gifted goal scorer, chipping in five strikes to go with three assists on the year. Dominique Badji, Sergio Santos, and Junior Moreno all have added four goals, while fullback Alvaro Barreal is a dangerous playmaker who can also score.

“We see a team that has a lot of continuity and has been sharp offensively,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “I think that they have found consistency very early on that has kept them adding points. At home, they are strong, and that’s our biggest challenge but also is a big motivation.”

The Lions will be without defender Antonio Carlos (lower leg), midfielder Gaston Gonzalez (thigh), and midfielder Favian Loyola (arm). Robin Jansson was not on the availability report despite leaving the match late on Wednesday with a knock. Whether he’s not on the list because he’s OK or because his status was unknown when the availability report was turned in remains to be seen. If Jansson can’t go, the Lions will almost certainly go with a center back pairing of Rodrigo Schlegel and Abdi Salim, which would not be ideal against Cincinnati’s attack. FC Cincinnati lists Arquimides Ordoñez (leg) and Stiven Jimenez (lower leg fracture) as out, while Badji (leg) is questionable.

Match Content


Official Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, Facundo Torres.

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Michael Halliday, Kyle Smith, Abdi Salim, Felipe, Junior Urso, Martin Ojeda, Ramiro Enrique, Jack Lynn.

FC Cincinnati (3-4-1-2)

Goalkeeper: Roman Celentano.

Defenders: Ian Murphy, Matt Miazga, Nick Hagglund.

Midfielders/wingbacks: Alvaro Barreal, Junior Moreno, Obinna Nwobodo, Santiago Arias.

Attacking Midfielder: Luciano Acosta.

Forwards: Sergio Santos, Brandon Vazquez.

Bench: Alec Kann, Bret Halsey, Alvas Powell, Raymon Gaddis, Yerson Mosquera, Marco Angulo, Malik Pinto, Yuya Kubo, Aaron Boupendza.

Referees

REF: Drew Fischer.
AR1: Jose Da Silva.
AR2: Ben Pilgrim.
4TH: Chris Ruska.
VAR: David Barrie.
AVAR: TJ Zablocki.


How to Watch

Match Time: 7:30 p.m.

Venue: TQL Stadium — Cincinnati, OH.

TV/Streaming: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Accion 97.9 FM & 810 AM (Spanish).

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).


Enjoy the match. Go City!

Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Alex Freeman

We start our Orlando City player reviews with a look at a Homegrown fullback who made his MLS debut this season.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Orlando City signed fullback Alex Freeman to a Homegrown Player contract on February 15, 2022. He became the Lions’ 12th Homegrown signing and his deal runs through the 2025 season with a club option for 2026, but the youngster did not see action in Major League Soccer last season. With the departure of Ruan, there was an opportunity for Freeman to win a job with the first team in camp but he wasn’t quite ready to make the jump, instead playing an important role with Orlando City B throughout the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season.

Let’s take a look back at Freeman’s 2023 campaign.

Statistical Breakdown

Freeman made his MLS debut on April 29 in a 2-0 home win over the LA Galaxy. It was not just his debut with the first team, but it was also his only appearance with the senior squad in 2023, although he did make the substitutes’ bench a few times after that. Officially, he logged only one minute, entering in the 93rd minute. He was only on the pitch a matter of seconds, so it’s unsurprising that he registered nothing on the stats sheet.

The son of former NFL receiver Antonio Freeman, Alex starred with OCB in 2023. In MLS NEXT Pro play, Freeman appeared in 24 of OCB’s 28 matches, starting 22, and logging 1,855 minutes. He finished tied for third on the squad in goals (4), adding three assists and passing at a 79.1% success rate. Freeman attempted 25 shots, putting 11 on target, and contributed 10 key passes. He committed 22 fouls, drew 27 on the opposition, and was booked four times. He also started OCB’s playoff match at Columbus, playing 89 minutes in the Young Lions’ 2-1 road loss. Freeman didn’t contribute a goal or assist or attempt a shot in the match, but he passed at an 88% rate, created one scoring chance, and committed one foul.

Best Game

With only one MLS appearance to his credit, the default best game for Freeman came on April 29 in Orlando City’s 2-0 home win over the LA Galaxy. Freeman didn’t even officially touch the ball in the game, but it’s not every day a teenager gets to play in an MLS match, and I’m sure it was a special moment for him. It was certainly a milestone in his professional soccer career.

2023 Final Grade

As Freeman fell well short of the minimum 450 minutes played mark to receive a rating on our 1-10 scale, The Mane Land has no choice but to mark his grade as incomplete for the 2023 season. There are areas of Freeman’s game that need a bit of refining, but at the same time, it’s easy to see why he landed a Homegrown contract, why Orlando City would find him an intriguing prospect, and why he’s been getting called up by the United States for U-20 international duty. His attacking presence was huge for OCB in 2023 and he was one of the key players that led the Young Lions to the postseason.

2024 Outlook

I would expect Freeman to get more seasoning at OCB in 2024, although he’ll be given opportunities in preseason camp to show whether he’s closed the gap on the likes of Michael Halliday and Kyle Smith (assuming both return). If the club moves on from both Halliday and Smith, it’s not hard to picture Freeman starting the season providing depth at right back for the first team. Having just turned 19 in August, Freeman has a lot of potential and he should start to unlock that within the next year or so.


This is the first of our 2023 Orlando City Season in Review articles. Every player who played minutes this past season and who finished the year on the club roster will be reviewed (exceptions may be made for players let go when the club officially announces its roster moves). Players who logged fewer than 450 minutes (combined regular season plus playoffs, Concacaf Champions League, U.S. Open Cup, and Leagues Cup) will receive a composite score between 1 and 10 as determined by a panel of The Mane Land writers, while those who did not reach that threshold will receive an incomplete grade.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/29/23

Orlando Pride players called up by Brazil, MLS announces 2023 Best XI, latest MLS roster moves, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers I hope all is well down in Florida. I’ve been very busy working throughout the holiday weekend at Under Armour. This week I’ll be working at Wrigley Field for Winterland while getting ready to cover high school wrestling tomorrow night. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Pride Players Called Up By Brazil for Friendlies

Orlando Pride defender Rafaelle and forwards Marta and Adriana have been called up to the Brazil Women’s National Team for its upcoming friendlies.

Brazil will play two matches against Japan on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 in Sao Paulo before playing Nicaragua on Dec. 6 at Estadio Fonte Luminosa in Araraquara.

MLS Announces the 2023 Best XI

Major League Soccer announced its 2023 Best XI, recognizing the league’s top players at each position. There were no Orlando City players selected for the team and eight players received the honor for the first time. Those players are St. Louis City’s Roman Burki and Tim Parker, FC Cincinnati defender Matt Miazga, Atlanta United duo Thiago Almada and Giorgos Giakoumakis, Houston Dynamo midfielder Hector Herrera, LAFC’s Denis Bouanga, and Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez. Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar made the Best XI for the third consecutive time, while teammate Walker Zimmerman was named to it for the fifth time. MLS MVP Luciano Acosta of FC Cincinnati rounds out the list.

Latest MLS Off-season Roster Moves

The Colorado Rapids announced their latest roster changes as they prepare for the the 2024 season under new Head Coach Chris Armas. The club exercised its options for defender Andrew Gutman, midfielder Ralph Priso, and forward Calvin Harris. The Rapids declined contract offers to seven players, with the most notable names being defender Steven Beitashour and goalkeeper William Yarbrough, although the Rapids are in discussions about re-signing Yarbrough. Elsewhere, the New England Revolution exercised the permanent transfer option on forward Tomas Chancalay, signing him to a Designated Player contract through 2026, with a club option for the 2027 season.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

Champions League action returned in Europe, as we get close to wrapping up the group stage in a couple of weeks. Manchester City overcame a two-goal deficit to beat RB Leipzig 3-2 and win Group G. Newcastle United had a chance to qualify for the round of 16 but gave up a late penalty to Paris Saint-Germain, which Kylian Mbappe converted to end the match in a 1-1 draw. Borussia Dortmund beat AC Milan 3-1 to book its spot in the knockout stage. PSG, Newcastle, and AC Milan are all still alive in Group F heading into the final matchday in December. Shakhtar Donetsk won 1-0 against Royal Antwerp and also still has a shot to advance on the final matchday. Lazio, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and Young Boys all won their respective matches as well. Today’s matches include Manchester United on the road against Galatasaray, Real Madrid taking on Napoli, and Sevilla facing off with PSV Eindhoven.

Free Kicks

  • Concacaf has announced that BMO Stadium, Dignity Health Sports Park, Shell Energy Stadium, and Snapdragon Stadium will be the four venues that will host matches for the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.
  • Barcelona midfielder Gavi will be sidelined for up to 10 months after undergoing knee surgery after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee.
  • The International Football Association Board approved a trial for sin bins, meaning players punished for dissent or specific tactical offense would be temporarily removed from the match for a set amount of minutes.
  • You have got to see this goal from Cwrt Rawlin FC in the Welsh seventh division.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/28/23

Luciano Acosta named MVP, Americans in action, scheduling news for U.S. national teams, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I’m dragging a little today after having an extended period of time off for the Thanksgiving holiday, but there’s no rest for the wicked and the only way out is through. With that being the case, let’s get into today’s news.

Luciano Acosta Wins MLS MVP

In a piece of news that plenty of people likely saw coming from several miles away, Luciano Acosta has been named Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Player. Acosta racked up 34 goal contributions during the regular season, finishing the 2023 campaign with 17 goals and 14 assists as the driving force behind his team’s run to the Supporters’ Shield. He was voted the best player in the league by quite some margin and won the award in a landslide, taking 60.37% of the votes to Denis Bouanga’s 14.97% and Thiago Almada’s 6.46%.

American Stars in Midweek Action

There are a number of United States Men’s National Team players that will be in action this week, with several UEFA Champions League clashes highlighting the viewing slate. Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah and AC Milan will face Giovanni Reyna’s Borussia Dortmund today in a game with huge ramifications for both teams. Malik Tillman, Ricardo Pepi, and Sergino Dest may play in PSV Eindhoven’s match with Sevilla tomorrow, and a win would likely go a long way to securing a place in the Round of 16. Additionally on Wednesday, Brenden Aaronson and Union Berlin have a chance to make a big move towards a place in the Europa League, as a win over Braga would leapfrog the German club into third place in Group C.

USMNT & USWNT Scheduling News

The USMNT will open its 2024 slate of games with a match against Slovenia on Jan. 20 in San Antonio. The match will fall outside of an international window, meaning that the January camp roster will largely be made up of domestic-based players. The USMNT has faced Slovenia twice before, with the most recent time being a 3-2 win in Ljubljana courtesy of a Jozy Altidore penalty kick.

While we already knew that the United States Women’s National Team would play China PR on Dec. 5 in Frisco, we now know that one of the team’s legends will be honored before the game. The U.S. Soccer Federation has announced that former Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger, who stated in March that she will retire following the NWSL season, will be honored before the match. Krieger played 108 games for the USWNT and is a two-time World Cup winner with the team.

Notable Women’s Players to Miss International Matches

A pair of high profile women’s players will miss upcoming international games. First up, Sam Kerr will not feature in Australia’s back-to-back friendlies against Canada due to a foot injury. Kerr has struggled with injuries this year and her availability was limited during this summer’s World Cup.

Alexia Putellas will miss Spain’s two Nations League matches against Sweden and Italy after picking up a left knee injury. Putellas had missed Euro 2022 due to an ACL tear, but was back to help her side win the World Cup several months ago. Fortunately for Spain, the team is well positioned atop its group and has enough players in the squad that it shouldn’t feel her absence too keenly.

Free Kicks

  • A pair of Willian penalties and an early Alex Iwobi goal helped Fulham beat Wolverhampton, with American defenders Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream also starting.
  • New York Red Bulls forward Tom Barlow is reportedly headed to the Chicago Fire.

That’s all I’ve got for you this morning. Y’all stay safe out there.

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