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Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Final Score 1-1 as McGuire’s Goal Lifts Lions to Home Point

Miami’s new stars didn’t play and the Lions will feel they should have beaten the rest of the Herons instead of having to come back to earn a point.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Inter Miami sat its three new big stars but still managed to steal a point from Orlando City in a 1-1 draw in front of a sellout crowd of 25,527 at Exploria Stadium. David Ruiz gave Miami (9-15-5, 32 points) the lead early in the second half, but rookie Duncan McGuire equalized 14 minutes later for Orlando City (14-7-9, 51 points). Neither side could break the stalemate, and the Lions missed a big opportunity to add to their point total.

Orlando City went 1-0-1 in the season series and 1-1-1 in all competitions against the Herons. The Lions remain second in the Eastern Conference with four matches remaining.

“A very competitive match,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the game. “Many times the game became very rocky, and we could have more clarity in the two boxes when we were attacking and being clean to make a decision and not having to suffer that much to score a goal.”

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 Wilder Cartagena manned the central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, and Facundo Torres, with Duncan McGuire returning to the starting lineup up top.

The opening 12 minutes were mostly played between the penalty areas, with the Lions probing for an opening and pressing high when they didn’t have the ball. Miami was able to create very little and was content to foul whenever there was a danger of someone getting behind. The Herons looked to hit over the top or with long diagonal balls and came close to connecting on a couple. Jansson had a strong first half, winning a number of balls forward that were intended for Miami’s forwards.

A chaotic sequence led to Orlando’s first attempt on goal in the 16th minute, as Angulo ran onto ball from McGuire in the middle of the penalty area, but his shot was blocked. A minute later, Cartagena dispossessed Ruiz and dribbled toward goal but referee Armando Villarreal pulled it back for a foul on the Peruvian, though there didn’t appear to be anything in it.

Miami defender Tomas Aviles picked up four fouls in the first half and three of them were of worthy of yellow cards — the first coming in the opening minutes. He got a talking to from Villarreal on what surely would be a yellow card in most games and then did pick up a yellow in the 23rd minute on his next such tactical foul. He did it again later in the half but Villarreal lacked the courage to send him off and instead merely gave him a second lecture.

Gallese made a comfortable save on a shot from distance by Leonardo Campana in the 26th minute.

Orlando City won several set pieces from the wings throughout the half but couldn’t produce anything from them. Schlegel got onto a cross in the 29th minute but headed well over the bar. Seconds later, the Lions got their best chance of the half when Jansson sent a gorgeous through ball past the defense and found McGuire. The rooke smashed a shot from the top of the area but Drake Callender made the save. Torres picked up the rebound but his follow shot was blocked.

Benjamin Cremaschi went into the book moments later when Cartagena nutmegged him and rounded him. The young midfielder reached out and grabbed his counterpart to earn the yellow card.

In the 38th minute, Thorhallsson tried to hit a shot on the half volley after the defense cleared a long throw from Araujo. The shot bounced harmlessly wide as the Icelandic fullback didn’t hit it cleanly.

Gallese made a terrific save to keep the game scoreless in the 42nd minute. Campana bowled over Cartagena to free himself for a header on a corner kick and nodded on target but Gallese denied him with a clutch save.

Josef Martinez sent a shot sailing into the stands late on the last chance of the half, and the teams went to the break scoreless.

The visitors held more first-half possession (53.7%-46.3%), put more shots on target (2-1), won more corners (3-0), passed more accurately (82.7%-78.9%). The Lions attempted more shots (7-4).

“We knew that they were going to crowd the middle with this defense of five and the three midfielders,” Pareja said of attacking Miami’s system. “Normally, when you have these eight players in front of you, there’s not much space there.”

Pareja subbed Martin Ojeda on for Araujo at halftime, dropping Pereyra to central midfield. Miami made two defensive subs, removing Aviles and Sergii Kryvstov, who was injured late in the half, and brought on Kamal Miller and Ryan Sailor.

The Herons opened the scoring in the 52nd minute off of what appeared to be a foul on Torres, but no call was made and Miami broke in transition. Martinez ended up with the ball on the left and sent a shot on goal that Gallese stopped but Ruiz swooped in to tap in the rebound, making it 1-0.

A couple of minutes after the goal, Ruiz picked up a yellow card that was perhaps fortunate on an ugly looking foul from behind on Pereyra. Pareja referred to the foul as “insane” after the match. DeAndre Yedlin then picked up a yellow during the same stoppage in play for time wasting as Jansson tried to retrieve the ball from him for the restart.

Ojeda sent a good shot through traffic in the 59th minute, but Callender saw it and was able to get over to make the save. A minute later, Schlegel was booked after an aerial challenge as the chippiness of the game continued. The teams combined for 27 fouls, with the visitors picking up 16 of them.

Angulo should have equalized in the 63rd minute. The Lions sprung a good transition and Thorhallsson sent a marvelous through ball that sent the speedy left winger in behind. He tried to fool Callender and sent it toward goal but got it wrong and sent it wide of the target.

Two minutes later, Thorhallsson sent in a wicked cross just in front of goal but McGuire couldn’t get his foot on it and Callender caught it before it could cause any more mischief.

McGuire tied the match moments later. Cartagena sent Ojeda up the right side and the midfielder tried to cut back to his left for a shot but it was poked away. The ball fell kindly for McGuire to run onto and he smashed it through Callender’s legs to tie the match at 1-1 in the 66th minute. It was the rookie’s ninth league goal of the season.

“I saw the guys making a lot of good runs forward, opening up spaces, and I was left one-on-one with the defender,” McGuire said. “Luckily the ball bounced into my path and I saw my chance and took it.”

Robert Taylor cut inside on his right foot and fired a shot in the 70th minute but hit it right at Gallese.

Pareja sacrificed Angulo to send on Ramiro Enrique in the 73rd minute as the Lions looked for a winner.

Santos ended up on the right side after a long-range free kick attempt for Orlando and it nearly paid off. With his weaker right foot, the Brazilian sent in a good cross to Torres, who headed it on frame but the Uruguayan couldn’t get much power on it and that made for an easy save.

Pareja emptied his bench over the next few minutes and sent on Michael Halliday, Gaston Gonzalez, and Junior Urso for a visibly tiring Thorhallsson, McGuire, and Pereyra.

Neither side could find a good look at goal for a potential winner in the final minutes of normal time plus a seemingly short amount of stoppage — just four minutes. The two Tropic Thunder rivals had to settle for splitting the points.

Orlando City’s desire to win the game was reflected in the final statistics. The Lions finished with more possession (51.2%-48.8%), shots (13-9), shots on target (6-5), and passing accuracy (83%-82.6%). The Herons ended up with more corners (7-0), as the Lions failed to earn a single one. The Lions had way more touches inside the opponent’s penalty area (21-10), but failed to produce much in the way of final quality aside from McGuire’s strong finish.

“At the end, I think we pushed. We played well,” Pareja said. “I don’t like to say (we) deserved more because that in soccer is not a good phrase. What I want to say is we have to be clearer in this type of game where there’s not many options, the gaps are closed, and we had our moments to finish it out. But we’ll take the point.”

“We’re definitely not satisfied yet,” McGuire said. “We still want to get more points. We want to keep pushing. And definitely we want to make a deep run in the playoffs and win the entire thing.”


After three matches in nine days, Orlando City has more of a normal week of work before welcoming CF Montreal to Exploria Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Orlando City

Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew

Find out what you should expect from the Columbus Crew on Saturday, courtesy of someone who knows them best.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

After returning from a successful trip to the West Coast, Orlando City will be staying in town for Memorial Day weekend. Next up on the schedule for the Lions is a visit from the reigning MLS Cup Champions, the Columbus Crew.

A date with Columbus means I spoke with Collin Johnson of the always excellent Massive Report, and he was kind enough to help bring us up to speed on what to expect from the Crew this year. I also answered some of Massive Report’s questions about Orlando City, which you can find over at their place.

Talk me through the Crew’s off-season transfer business. Who were some of the big departures, and who has been brought in to replace them?

Collin Johnson: It was a pretty quiet off-season from the Crew. They focused on extending current contracts (and getting rid of bad contracts) rather than bringing in a big name acquisition. The bigger news were the contracts they were able to get rid of. Kevin Molino’s $700k+ salary was bought out before the season started, while Julian Gressel ($900k+) opted to take a deal with Inter Miami after losing his place in the starting lineup during the 2023 MLS Cup playoffs.

Rudy Camacho, Steven Moreira, Darlington Nagbe, Mohamed Farsi, and Sean Zawadzki all signed new deals. Academy and Crew 2 midfielders Cole Mrowka and Taha Habroune signed full first-team deals, though both are expected to jump back and forth between the second team and the first team. Derrick Jones was signed as a free agent. Many thought the very tall defensive midfielder would slot in as a center back in the Wilfried Nancy system, but all of his time has been spent as a DM (and it has gone relatively well aside from a shocking red card against Charlotte).

The only transfer fee paid this off-season was, ironically, to Pachuca for Marino Hinestroza. Hinestroza is an MLS U22 Initiative player who plays a similar style to Alex Matan but is faster and a bit better at finishing. With Hinestroza on the field, Columbus looks to stretch defenses in a different way than the typical wingback defensive stretching.

Columbus has been excellent defensively, with the 13 goals conceded on the season tied for second-fewest in the league. What’s been working so well at the back?

CJ: The defensive recovery extends back to the 2023 season and probably has two factors. First is the team getting comfortable in the Wilfried Nancy system. The expectation is that players will hold onto the ball until the last second before playing a pass to get out of trouble. At times last year that resulted in turnovers and goals by opponents. You can really see this in the play of Yeven Cheberko. Cheberko struggled in his half season with the Black & Gold in 2023 but this season has played like a new signing, splitting time as the starting left center back. Cheberko has the ability to break multiple lines with his passing, and now that he has improved in his Nancy system confidence, he has begun to live up with the potential he had as a new signing.

The other factor is Rudy Camacho. Camacho joined in the summer transfer window from Montreal, so he was already familiar with the Nancy system. Immediately he slotted into the center spot of the back three and conducted the rest of the defense. As soon as he joined the team, the defense took a huge step forward.

The Crew have done about as good a job balancing Concacaf Champions Cup play and the MLS schedule as possible, and currently sit above the playoff line. How have they been able to find a good balance, when most teams struggle mightily in one competition or the other?

CJ: Realistically it has been a bit of a struggle. Columbus is getting results now but most of the matches during the meat of the Concacaf Champions Cup run were draws. When the Crew beat Montreal on May 16, that was their first league win since March 16. Still, grabbing some draws during that run and staying alive in the playoff hunt are absolutely accomplishments for this team. Part of the reason for this success is the team’s depth. Hinestroza adds another attacking option up top while Derrick Jones is able to spell Aidan Morris/Darlington Nagbe in the midfield. Zawadzki has been a Swiss Army knife for the Black & Gold, slotting in at nearly every position on the field aside from goalkeeper. Nancy has also been willing to use his substitutes after a 2023 season when his sub pattern was frustratingly limited.

The Black & Gold also have the good fortune to get a bye through the group stage of this summer’s Leagues Cup, so they can push a bit harder during a congested few months with the expectation of multiple weeks off in July.

Are there any players who will be unavailable due to injury, suspensions, etc.? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?

CJ: Cucho Hernandez is officially out for Saturday’s match. He has had a nagging back injury and it is expected that he is being held out as a precaution and to be healthy for the Concacaf Champions Cup final in June. Without Cucho these last two weeks, the Crew have grabbed back-to-back road wins for the first time in what seems like forever. Without Cucho, the attack is a bit more multi-faceted. Diego Rossi has picked up the slack and started to look like the former Golden Boot winner that he is.

Rossi will start with a target striker, assuming this is Christian Ramirez, and likely Alex Matan. Depending on the game state, Nancy will slot Jacen Russell-Rowe into Matan’s spot to attack with two target strikers up top. The midfield duo of Nagbe and Morris is a mainstay, though the team has tried to manage Morris’ minutes as the season has gone on. Expect to see Zawadzki or Jones replace Morris/Nagbe around the 75th or 80th minute. In the back we’ll see Yaw Yeboah, Malte Admundsen or Cheberko, Camacho, Steven Moreira, and Mohamed Farsi.

I’m guessing the below is what they roll out:
Patrick Schulte; Malte Amundsen, Rudy Camacho, Steven Moreira, Yaw Yeboah, Mohamed Farsi; Aidan Morris, Darlington Nagbe; Alex Matan, Christian Ramirez, Diego Rossi.

I don’t see Columbus grabbing a third straight road win but they are playing well right now so I’m guessing we see a hard-fought draw. Columbus 2-2 Orlando. 


Thank you to Collin for providing the scoop on the Crew. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links: 5/24/24

Orlando City prepares for the Crew, Barbra Banda an NWSL MVP favorite, Orlando Pride announce sleeve sponsor, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! The gauntlet of Orlando soccer home games starts tonight when the Orlando Pride take on the Portland Thorns in a clash of win streaks. I’m working for most of the weekend, but am looking forward to watching some soccer and playing my way through the Ace Attorney games during my spare time. For now though, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Gets Ready to Host the Crew

Orlando City is on a three-game unbeaten run and will take on the Columbus Crew Saturday night in an Eastern Conference showdown. The last time these two sides met was in the 2023 Eastern Conference semifinals with the Crew winning in extra time to eliminate the Lions. It’s the third consecutive road game for the Crew after winning 3-1 against both CF Montreal and the Chicago Fire. Saturday’s match is also the Crew’s last match before the Concacaf Champions Cup final on June 1. Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja spoke on how the Lions will be up to the task regardless of which players take the field for Columbus. Pareja also spoke about how Duncan McGuire is working his way back from the injury he suffered last week.

Barbra Banda Named MVP Frontrunner

ESPN updated its rankings of players in contention to be named NWSL MVP this season and Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda tops the list. The Zambian forward hasn’t been with the Pride for long, but she has scored six goals in six games to help the Pride win seven straight games. Opposing defenses haven’t figured out a way to stop her, and it’s fair to think of her as an MVP favorite alongside fellow attackers in the league like Sophia Smith and Temwa Chawinga. Pride defender Emily Sams also earned herself a spot on the list, ranking 11th. It’s nice to see her get some deserved recognition for her role in the Pride’s stellar defense this year.

Orlando Pride Announce Sleeve Sponsor

A partnership was announced between the Orlando Pride and Heart of Florida United Way, a charity that’s supported families in Central Florida for the past 85 years. As part of the partnership, Heart of Florida United Way will become the first sleeve sponsor for the Pride and its logo will be on the right sleeve of both of the Pride’s jerseys this year. A new ticket program is also being created for 50 tickets to be donated to a local charity for each Pride home game.

Orlando City Unveils Watch Party Schedule

The schedule for this Orlando City season’s watch parties is out, along with the lineup of this year’s included pubs. Each pub will have MLS Season Pass access for fans to watch Orlando’s games this year and there will be chances to win tickets and autographed items at the watch parties as well. There are three new pubs added to the lineup this year, including The Castle Irish Pub at College Park, Paddywagon Irish Pub in Dr. Phillips, and Winter Garden’s Hagan O’Reilly’s. The first watch party will be at The Hammered Lamb in Ivanhoe Village on June 1 when the Lions face off against the New York Red Bulls.

Free Kicks

  • Pride midfielder Evelina Duljan was called up to join Sweden’s U-23 team for the upcoming Four Nations Tournament.
  • NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman became the first woman to be named Sports Business Journal‘s Sports Executive of the Year.

That’s all I have for you this time around. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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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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