Orlando City

Orlando City vs. New England Revolution: Final Score 3-2 as Lions Clinch Second in East with Win

Duncan McGuire, Facundo Torres, and Ivan Angulo provided plenty of offense in the first half to offset two odd Carles Gil goals.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City’s offense exploded for three first-half goals and the Lions controlled most of the second half, holding on for a 3-2 win over the New England Revolution in front of an announced crowd of 24,440 tonight at Exploria Stadium. The Lions (17-7-9, 60 points) closed the home portion of the 2023 MLS regular schedule with another win, splitting the season series with New England (14-8-10, 52 points).

Duncan McGuire, Facundo Torres, and Ivan Angulo scored for Orlando City to offset two odd Carles Gil goals as the Lions end the regular season 9-3-5 at home in league play.

With the win, Orlando City clinched home-field advantage in the playoffs and a spot in Champions Cup.

“Very difficult game against New England. That first half was difficult but we responded very well. We scored goals,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “In the second half we may have better finishing and increase our goals and be more efficient and lethal. But I thought we were playing with probably too much responsibility of just get the job done and get the game done, and that probably tired us a little bit and (we) conceded that second goal.”

Pareja’s lineup reverted back to the one that’s been getting most of the starts in recent weeks, with Pedro Gallese in net behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena started in central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, and Facundo Torres, with Duncan McGuire up top.

The Revolution was the sharper team in the early going, connecting passes well and holding the ball in the attacking half. The Lions looked sloppy early with some heavy touches and passes that either weren’t on line or weren’t weighted properly to find their target.

That isn’t to say the Lions didn’t have any early chances. Pereyra fired a shot from the top of the box in the fifth minute that was blocked in front by the defense. Santos gathered the rebound and fizzed a shot just over the bar.

Five minutes later, the Revs got a good chance with a free kick straight out from goal. Gil sent the set piece just wide. Two minutes later, Tomas Chancalay fired just over the bar from the left. New England won a corner shortly after that and Orlando cleared, but a shot from the top of the box on the recycle again cleared the crossbar.

“The first 20 minutes their possessions were longer and we found difficulties to get the ball back,” Pareja said. “And we couldn’t find the chemistry when we got it back. And it felt like we were uncomfortable. The plan that I had in the first 15 minutes was not working and then we let Rafa go and we changed our structure in the back when we had the ball, and immediately the boys felt much (more) comfortable and they started creating dangerous crosses and plays. And I felt that they felt themselves again and we readapted the game in that moment and the last 25 minutes of the first half were very good for us. “

Orlando’s first real opportunity came in the 17th minute. Torres got into the box on the right, cut onto his left foot and fired. However, his shot effort was a weak one and right at former Orlando City goalkeeper Earl Edwards, Jr. for the easy scoop. Six minutes later, Angulo had an opportunity to shoot but took too long on the ball, getting it blocked.

In the 24th minute, the visitors nearly scored when Chancalay sent a shot off the crossbar, as New England continued to look dangerous on the counter.

The Lions started to settle down and control more of the game over the next several minutes, especially in the midfield. That paid off in the 31st minute when a good attacking movement set up the game’s first goal.

Pereyra sprayed the ball out right to Thorhallsson. The Icelandic fullback sent in a great cross and McGuire flicked it inside the left post to make it 1-0 with his 11th goal of the season.

“It was definitely good buildup play,” McGuire said of the scoring attack. “We had possession for a little bit, stretching out the defense. Dagur got his head up. We talked before the game on the kind of delivery I wanted from him and he gave me exactly that. So, great ball in from Dagur. He made it easy for me.”

Six minutes later, the Lions doubled the lead on their next good look. Cartagena sent Santos down the left. The Brazilian found Angulo, who sent a cross to the far side of the box. Torres circled back to track it down and smashed a shot that beat Edwards, making it 2-0.

Orlando City couldn’t enjoy the two-goal lead long. Gil smashed a shot from extreme distance that had a lot of heat and a lot of movement on it. Gallese was slow to react to it and played it off to his side, which allowed the ball to squirt through him and into the net, making it 2-1 in the 42nd minute. It was an uncharacteristic mistake from the Peruvian.

However, the Lions hit right back after the Gil goal. Pereyra again was the catalyst, sending Santos down the left. The fullback cut a pass back for Angulo, who took an extra touch and then fired a shot that deflected off a defender and past Edwards, making it 3-1 in the 45th minute.

“On the goal, I’m just happy that my teammates found me,” Angulo said through a club interpreter. “And obviously happy for the assist (on the Torres goal) but now we have to continue working to push to enter playoffs in a good moment as well.”

The Lions saw out the one minute of stoppage time quickly and took their lead to the break.

Orlando City not only led at the break, but also held more possession (51.2%-48.8%), passed more accurately (90.5%-88.4%), finishing the first half with more shots on target (4-2). New England attempted more shots (9-8) and won the only corner of the first period.

New England sent Gustavo Bou and Emmanuel Boateng on at halftime to bolster the attack and moved to three at the back by bringing in Henry Kessler as well.

Orlando came close to a fourth goal in the 49th, when Torres sent a good cross in front but it was just slightly ahead of a sliding McGuire. A minute later, Cartagena sent a good shot on target that Edwards had to palm over the crossbar. Araujo headed over the bar on the ensuing corner. Santos then fired over the bar in the 53rd.

Gallese made up for his earlier mistake in the 60th but stopping Gil from point-blank range on a well-worked attack by New England.

Pareja made a triple substitution after that, sending on Martin Ojeda, Ramiro Enrique, and Junior Urso for Torres, McGuire, and Pereyra. A minute later, Enrique got loose at the top of the area but he pulled his shot wide to the left in the 67th minute.

In the 71st minute, Ojeda and urso both got shots blocked near the top of the box.

New England’s next decent chance came in the 77th minute off a dangerous free kick, but the wall blocked the initial delivery and Urso cleared it.

Much of the rest of the match consisted of Orlando City playing keep-away the way the Lions did Wednesday night at Nashville. By taking the air out of the ball, the Lions were able to prevent New England from building dangerous attacks and the visitors struggled to get touches on the ball.

Thorhallsson had a go from the top of the area early in stoppage time but got under it and hit the facing of the Heineken sign at the bottom of the upper deck.

The Revs pulled one back moments later on another fluky goal. Gil fired a shot that took a deflection in front and changed directions. Gallese had committed to stopping the original shot and could do nothing but watch it roll into the other side of the net, giving the Revs life late.

“That was something that we were not very good at,” Pareja said of his team’s ability to pass the ball around and keep it away from the opposition. “We normally finish the games with a lot of stress. Today they are disappointed too, because they conceded that second goal. But today I saw a team that was comfortable with the ball. We wanted to find the right moment to get in there, but we were not desperate. I think we can get that better.”

Orlando City had to snuff out one last Revolution attack and the game was over.

The Lions finished with the advantage in possession (54.2%-45.8%), shots (22-15), shots on target (5-4), corners (7-3), and passing accuracy (90.2%-87%).

“We are very proud of belonging to the city, belonging to the community, and just taking this team to second place and to the Concacaf Champions (Cup) again,” Pareja said. “We have a long journey still to go. The players know and the game today was a reflection of where we are.”

Most of the Lions have some time off between now and the season finale, as we enter the FIFA international window. Orlando City will visit Toronto FC to close out the season on Saturday, Oct. 21.


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