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Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Five Takeaways

Here are the five biggest takeaways from a completely bonkers win over the Columbus Crew.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

I can’t quite believe what I witnessed Saturday night. Orlando City erased a two-goal deficit in the final 15 minutes to overcome the Columbus Crew with essentially the last kick of the game. The Lions were 4-3 winners in a match they looked down and out of, and now have sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference.

What follows are my five takeaways on a match that I’m still struggling to get my head around.

Defensive Issues Dig a Hole

The Lions were up against it almost immediately. While the first Columbus goal didn’t arrive until the 16th minute, the suffocating press that the Crew deployed made it feel like just a matter of time. Sure enough, Diego Rossi’s chipped ball over the back line found Cucho Hernandez, who in turn lobbed Pedro Gallese, which allowed Julian Gressel to slot the ball into the empty net. The defense did not look settled in this one, and the Crew’s second goal in particular was an absolute horror show that the right side of the line won’t enjoy seeing on film. Granted, the Crew are a good team and some of their movement patterns aren’t things that the Lions have seen a ton of, but with two weeks to prepare for this game it simply had to be better.

Gallese Stands Tall

Fortunately, Orlando City owns a get-out-of-jail-free card in the form of Pedro Gallese. El Pulpo was beaten three times on the night but frankly was blameless on all of the goals. Things could have gotten much worse right before halftime but he made a fantastic pair of saves to deny Yaw Yeboah and then Hernandez after the rebound from Yeboah made its way to the Colombian’s feet. He made several other stops throughout the night to help keep the scoreline from getting too out of hand, and was generally a massive presence when it came to keeping a disorganized back line from falling to pieces. He makes this team that much harder to beat and hasn’t missed a beat since being on international duty with Peru.

In Praise of Felipe

I’ll be the first person to hold my hand up and say that I haven’t been the biggest fan of Felipe for most of this season. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why he got the nod next to Cesar Araujo instead of Junior Urso, but I was happy to be proven wrong. His stats weren’t eye-watering as he finished with two tackles, a foul committed, a foul drawn, an assist, and a key pass while delivering his passes with 87% accuracy, but for me this was his best game in an Orlando City shirt by a country mile. He looked extremely comfortable and at ease, whereas in some of his substitute appearances he’s struggled to adapt to the pace of the match when coming on. I want to talk about the key pass though. That sweet, sweet key pass. His chipped ball sprayed out wide that sprung Ivan Angulo and led to Martin Ojeda’s goal was a thing of pure beauty, and I could watch it over and over. He was sacrificed for Facundo Torres with Orlando chasing the game, but it certainly wasn’t because he put a bad shift in. Bravo, and I’ll happily eat my words on this one.

Facu Lights the Fire

Speaking of Facu, my word does he make a difference for this team. The fans know it, the team knows it — hell, people walking around on Central Avenue might have been able to feel the shift in the game when he came on. The team immediately not just looked, but also felt more dangerous, and it wasn’t an accident that he found space almost instantly and got a shot away. Other guys, like Ojeda and Ramiro Enrique had as good as or more statistically impressive nights, with a goal and an assist and a brace and an assist, respectively, and they absolutely deserve their flowers. But Facu coming into the game immediately shifted things and the Lions kicked into a higher gear. If he can figure out some semblance of a weak foot, then good luck trying to contain him.

Cat’s Won’t Quit

The shift in the game that occurred when Torres came on made it all the more discouraging when Hernandez scored what looked to be the dagger in the 68th minute. A 3-1 deficit simply seemed like too tall of a task, and the air well and truly went out of Exploria Stadium. Credit the Lions’ resilience and mental fortitude though. They found an answer through Torres just five minutes later and were right back in it all of a sudden. When Enrique equalized you could practically feel the belief oozing out of both the players and the fans alike. Orlando City just doesn’t know when to give up and doesn’t seem to have an ounce of quit up and down the entire roster. It’s truly something to behold, and the number of gritty, hard-fought wins from this season is beginning to get difficult to keep track of. At this point, I don’t know when, if ever, I’d feel comfortable counting OCSC out.


I’ve been lucky enough to witness some truly memorable games from these Lions. Some personal favorites include the first game back with a full stadium in 2021, which resulted in a weather-delayed 5-0 beatdown of the San Jose Earthquakes, the 3-2 win over Atlanta courtesy of a late Nani header, and pretty much the entirety of last year’s run to the U.S. Open Cup. But man, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like that.

With as hopeless as the game looked, only for things to build the way they did over the final 15 minutes and culminate with a winner on practically the last kick of the game? Plus, considering the stakes with an eye-wateringly tight race at the top of the East? The sheer delirium and bedlam that was unleashed where I was in The Wall was otherworldly and nigh incomparable. Hell, I’m writing this at 1:30 a.m. after getting home from the match and I’m still wide awake. Our Sean Rollins put it best: this was a “where were you when” game.

Those are my five big thoughts from a match that will surely go down as an all-timer in Orlando City history. Be sure to share your thoughts on this one down in the comments. Vamos Orlando!

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points at home against the Crew?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Orlando City earned seven points during a three-match stretch over eight days. Now the Lions will look to keep things rolling against the Columbus Crew this Saturday night at Inter&Co Stadium. The Crew are currently sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 21 points compared to Orlando City in 10th with 16 points.

What do the Lions need to do to get a victory at home against the Crew?

Switch Focus

Orlando City has lucked out because Columbus striker Cucho Hernández will not play, as he is nursing a back injury. Hernández has often been a thorn in Orlando’s side when the clubs play, so his absence is definitely good news. However, that doesn’t mean that the defense can relax. The Crew still have a potent attack with players like Diego Rossi, Jacen Russell-Rowe, Aidan Morris, and others. Columbus has scored 19 goals so far this season, which is four more than Orlando’s 15. I think it is likely that Oscar Pareja will stick with the 3-5-2 formation, meaning the pressure will be on the back three of David Brekalo, Wilder Cartagena, and Rodrigo Schlegel.

Goals Needed

Orlando City left it late against San Jose before Jack Lynn scored in the 89th minute to give the Lions a victory. That’s not to say there weren’t wasted chances — because there were — but it was enough that night. It likely won’t be enough against Columbus. We don’t know the status of Duncan McGuire’s injury as of this writing, but I would be surprised to see him in the lineup, let alone getting the start. That means we will likely see Jack Lynn alongside Luis Muriel up top. Lynn is no McGuire, but he is able to get into good spaces in the box and has a nose for goal. Another goal from him or Muriel could make a big difference.

Scheduling Factors

I’m not saying that Wilfried Nancy will be looking ahead to the Concacaf Champions Cup final against Pachuca the following week, but a trophy is a trophy, and it could impact who he plays and for how long. He might be keeping Hernández out for precautionary reasons to allow him time to be ready for the final. It’s possible that he risks points against Orlando City in pursuit of hardware. Pareja doesn’t have it any easier with Orlando City playing a midweek match at the Chicago Fire next Wednesday before heading to New Jersey for a match against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, June 1. May has been brutal for the Lions, and though the team has made the most of it so far, it doesn’t get any easier. How much will rotation affect Orlando’s ability to get all three points?


That is what I will be looking for Saturday night. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/23/24

Orlando Pride prepare for the Portland Thorns, Pride Brazilian trio called up, Atalanta wins Europa League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Thursday finds you well as we all get ready for a busy next few days of Orlando soccer to enjoy. It’s been a fairly busy couple of days for me, and I plan on knocking out a few errands before enjoying the upcoming matches. Until then, let’s enjoy today’s links!

Pride Prepare to Host the Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride have a huge home game against the Portland Thorns tomorrow night. It will be a clash of win streaks, as the Pride have won their past seven games and the Thorns have won their last six. Pride Head Coach Seb Hines is well aware that Portland is a formidable foe with talented players such as Sophia Smith, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Sam Coffey. He spoke on how tomorrow will be a challenge, as well as how playing at home will give the Pride a boost during the game.

Pride Trio Called Up by Brazil

The Pride’s Marta, Rafaelle, and Adriana were all called up for Brazil’s pair of friendlies against Jamaica in Brazil on June 1 and June 4.

These matches will help Brazil prepare for a tough group in the Olympics against Spain, Japan, and Nigeria. Angelina, who featured for Brazil during the SheBelieves Cup, was not called up due to an injury sustained while with the Pride. Although these games will take place during an international break, the Pride do have a road game against the San Diego Wave on June 7, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hines gives them some rest for that match.

Assessing Emma Hayes’ Time With Chelsea

It felt like forever ago that it was announced Chelsea’s Emma Hayes would leave the club to replace Vlatko Andonovski and coach the USWNT. A great article by ESPN broke down what USWNT fans can learn from her time with Chelsea, including how she’s dealt with the adversity she’s faced both on and off the field. Her impending exit put a spotlight on Chelsea’s season, and she still managed to secure the league title despite the pressure. Chelsea also announced that five members of the coaching staff will leave the club to join Hayes at the USWNT. It’s a new era for the USWNT, and Hayes brings plenty of experience and leadership to the position.

Atalanta Crushes Leverkusen to Win Europa League

Italian club Atalanta lifted the Europa League trophy after a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin. The day belonged to Nigerian winger Ademola Lookman, who scored a hat trick that included this stunner that doubled Atalanta’s lead in the first half.

It’s Atalanta’s second trophy in club history, and first in 61 years. It’s also the first trophy for manager Gian Piero Gasperini after coaching in Italy for 30 years. This result snapped Leverkusen’s remarkable unbeaten streak at 51 games, and ended the club’s bid at a treble. Bayer Leverkusen will aim to bounce back Saturday when it plays FC Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon has issued a challenge to Orlando City fans for the upcoming trio of Orlando soccer home games, so it may be worth your while to get tickets for the Lions, Pride, and OCB this weekend.
  • Pride forward Amanda Allen placed 16th in ESPN‘s rankings of the 17 teenagers currently playing in the National Women’s Soccer League (the author deemed it unfair to assess Milly Clegg without seeing her on the field more). Allen mostly just hasn’t had much playing time, but that could change over the summer.
  • Former Pride player Camille Ashton (known as Cami Levin when she played in the Pride midfield in 2016 and 2017) has resigned as the general manager of the Kansas City Current.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/22/24

Lions and Pride reflect on victories, Christian Pulisic’s Serie A recognition, the USWNT roster drops, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. I know that a lot of you are Orlando Pride supporters as well as Orlando City supporters, but for those of you who aren’t, you are really missing out. Superstar players, undefeated, top of the table, and this team hasn’t even played up to its potential yet. Seriously, you need to get out to a match if you can. For now, let’s get to the links.

Talking About Orlando City

You can tell Oscar Pareja loves his players. He is the type of coach that nearly always has only good things to say regardless of the result. Of course, when the club gets a win on the road in the third match in eight days, thanks to the fourth striker on the depth chart. Jack Lynn takes a professional approach to being the backup and prepares to play in every match. It’s also nice when he scores a match-winning goal.

So how did the MLSsoccer.com power rankings treat the Lions for the road victory? Orlando City moved up three spots to 19, thanks to earning seven points in the last three matches. That’s better than the ESPN rankings we shared yesterday. ESPN also had the Lions at 19 but dropped them a spot in doing so.

Seb and Sams Speak

The Orlando Pride have a chance this Friday to set an NWSL win streak record in the match against the Portland Thorns, but first Seb Hines, Rafaelle, and Emily Sams reflected on the win against the Seattle Reign. Hines was rightly happy with the result but said he still feels his team has room to improve. I agree with him, despite the Pride being on top of the table and undefeated.

Rafaelle felt the victory showed the team how much mental fortitude the Pride have to be able to secure the road win. She also thinks that being at home with a chance to break the win streak record will make the team work that much harder. Sams reflected on her first NWSL goal but said she just wants to focus on getting three points each match.

Pulisic and Wright Shine

Christian Pulisic’s year keeps getting better. He had such a a good season for AC Milan that he has been named a finalist for Serie A Midfielder of the Year. The other finalists are Inter Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu and Atalanta’s Teun Koopmeiners. Pulisic has 19 goal contributions in 35 appearances for AC Milan.

The USMNT’s pre-Copa America roster dropped Monday, and it looks like Haji Wright will potentially see some action at winger for Gregg Berhalter. The move provides some needed depth at the position and may give Wright more playing time. Of course, Wright and Pulisic aren’t the only players of interest. You can check out a breakdown of the players called up here.

Hayes’ First USWNT Roster Announced

The Olympics are rapidly approaching and new USWNT Head Coach Emma Hayes has announced the 23-player roster for the final two matches against South Korea before the final Olympic roster is named. There are a mix of veteran and younger players in the group. Notably, there are 19 players who won the SheBelieves Cup back in April. It also sees the return of Rose Lavelle, who missed the SheBelieves Cup due to injury. While not altogether surprising, it is still disappointing on one level for Pride fans that Emily Sams didn’t get a call-up.

Free Kicks

  • Congratulations to Orlando Pride midfielder Ally Lemos on her call-up to the USWNT U-20s for the matches against the Korea Republic.
  • Philadelphia Union keeper Andre Blake has reportedly signed a new longterm contract with the club.
  • The USMNT U-15 squad defeated Japan to take first place in the Vlatko Markovic Tournament. Congratulations to the young Yanks.
  • Bayer Leverkusen will play in two cup finals in four days, starting with today’s Europa League championship against Atalanta. The second final is for the German Cup this Saturday against Kaiserslautern.
  • Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea have parted ways after only one season. Potchettino’s departure was mutually agreed upon. The coaching carousel continues.
  • Emanuel Reynoso from Minnesota United is reportedly headed to Liga MX side Club Tijuana.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the matches this weekend. Vamos Orlando!

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