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Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Final Score 2-0 as 10-Man Lions Fall at Home in Extra Time

The Lions didn’t generate much offensively until they were down a man and a goal.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City did not look like the same team that cruised through the final weeks of the regular season and had ousted a tough Nashville team in the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs on this night. The Lions were completely overrun at Exploria Stadium by the visiting Columbus Crew in normal time during tonight’s Eastern Conference semifinals match, but despite being down a man after a needless second yellow card from Rodrigo Schlegel, the Lions took the match into extra time before bowing out.

Christian Ramirez got a fortunate rebound off Pedro Gallese’s hand in extra time that hit him and trickled in to break the 0-0 deadlock. Cucho Hernandez added a late insurance goal with the Lions pressed forward, looking for an equalizer. In between, Orlando City had multiple excellent chances to equalize but couldn’t put the ball in the net.

With the loss — the Lions’ first at Exploria Stadium since April 22, a span of 15 matches in all competitions (10-0-5) — Orlando City saw its most successful season since joining Major League Soccer come to a conclusion.

“I thought we could have done much more than that and advance,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “But we have to accept that this is the result of a game that is competitive against a rival who made his case as well to advance through this series. Complicated game, especially in the first half. We felt uncomfortable and couldn’t create many sequences.”

Pareja’s starting lineup produced no surprises, with Gallese in goal behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Schlegel, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena played central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, and Facundo Torres, with Duncan McGuire up top.

The first half was a cagey one, with Orlando seemingly reluctant to push forward much, yet Columbus applied its usual pressure and looked to counter quickly. The Crew won an early corner after it appeared Thorhallsson had been fouled out of his shoe, but referee Jon Freemon didn’t call it and Columbus took its throw-in quickly. Gallese caught the ensuing corner cross.

Moments later, Schlegel did well to break up a Crew attack in transition after Jansson lost sight of the ball. The Crew then got a free kick in a dangerous position after it appeared Mohamed Farsi was offside and Cartagena broke up the play with a foul. Instead of the flag coming up, the set piece was awarded but the wall did its job and blocked the ensuing attempt.

The Lions got their best chance of the half in the 13th minute when Angulo blazed down the left after taking a pass from Araujo. He cut a nice pass into the middle for Torres, who took an extra touch rather than firing first time. The Uruguayan then blazed a shot that was just inches high, skipping off the top of the net.

Alexandru Matan scuffed a shot attempt in the 14th minute that Gallese saved.

In the 20th minute, Angulo was sent in behind and appeared to be in on goalkeeper Patrick Schulte, but just before he could pull the trigger on his shot, Steven Moreira flew in from behind to poke it away.

Gallese made a huge save in the 23rd minute to deny Diego Rossi as the Crew continued to look dangerous in transition. Seconds later, Schlegel did well to make a sliding block of a cross, conceding a corner but preventing a scoring chance. The Crew couldn’t do anything with the set piece.

Hernandez had a shot blocked in the 26th minute for another Crew corner but again the Lions handled the set piece.

Rossi freed himself for a shot from outside the box in the 33rd minute but missed the target high and to the right. Three minutes later, Gallese had to throw out an arm to deny an Aidan Morris shot from distance that had a lot of power behind it. The Crew kept coming and Hernandez fired wide in the 41st minute.

That was the last decent look of the first half and the teams went into the break scoreless, but Columbus had to be the more confident team after the opening 45 minutes.

The Crew dominated the first half from a statistical standpoint, finishing the opening period with the edge in possession (52.6%-47.4%), shots (9-4), shots on target (3-0), corners (3-1), and passing accuracy (91.1%-84.4%).

Pareja said the Crew didn’t throw anything at them that surprised him but his team just wasn’t sharp enough.

“When we tried to put some passes in the middle third, I thought we got caught in not being precise in the passing and not occupying the spaces,” Pareja said.

If the Crew had the better of the play in the first half, that only intensified after halftime. The Lions struggled to get out of their own half and frequently lost control of the ball when they did get forward.

Jansson did well to win a vital challenge in the first minute after the restart but conceded a corner in doing so.

Orlando’s next chance came in the 48th minute when a ball fell for Thorhallsson but he fired his shot a few feet wide.

Rossi got into a dangerous spot in the 58th minute but hit his shot softly at Gallese for an easy save. Ten minutes later, Rossi was left alone in space about 25 yards out but hit his shot off target.

Jansson did well to block a Hernandez effort in the 73rd minute as the Crew kept coming.

four minutes later, the Lions had the ball forward but turned it over and the Crew sent a long ball over the top that changed the game. Schlegel may have had help from Jansson behind him as he was tracking Rossi, but he may not have known it. Concerned he’d be beaten for pace, the Argentine grabbed the Crew forward and was shown his second yellow card.

Schlegel was sent off, joining Pereyra (2020) as Orlando City players to be ejected from the conference semifinals. Antonio Carlos came off the bench as Angulo was sacrificed from the attack.

“I think it was a good foul. It was one that had to happen,” Torres said. “Obviously, it was an expulsion, but even when we had 11 players it was tough. We weren’t able to get on top of them. And so, going into the next phase of the game with 10, we knew that it was going to be even tougher and that every player was going to have to do double the running and double the effort. We just weren’t able to get it, but it’s what happens in these games.”

“After the red card I thought the boys found ways just to fight,” Pareja said. “It was probably better, I would say. Unorganized, but better in terms of possibilities, and I have big respect for that.”

Hernandez went for an audacious bicycle kick in the 82nd minute but hit it over the bar. The Lions were packed deeply into their end looking to see out normal time and hoping to find something on the counterattack.

Martin Ojeda had a chance to end the game in the sixth minute of stoppage time when Torres intercepted a wayward pass out of the back and fed the winger down the left side. Ojeda took the ball down the left and fired a shot just inches wide of the right post. It would almost certainly have lifted the Lions to an improbable victory if he could have steered it on target.

The crew held lopsided advantages in possession (59.1%-40.9%), shots (17-7), shots on target (4-0), corners (7-2), and passing accuracy (90.5%-81.9%), but the game went into 30 minutes of extra time.

Wilfried Nancy, who hadn’t subbed during normal time, sent Ramirez on for Matan to start the extra session. It paid dividends early in extra time. Freemon allowed play to continue after it appeared that Thorhallsson had been fouled near midfield, and then again after Araujo dribbled the ball out of the box and appeared to get clipped from behind. However, neither was callled and the ensuing cross in was knocked down by Gallese, but he hit it right to a charging Ramirez, who got a piece to bundle in for the opener in the 93rd minute.

Surprisingly, Orlando City, down a man and a goal in extra time, started generating scoring chances. The first of those came in the 100th minute. Substitute Junior Urso carved through the Columbus midfield and fed a pass in behind for fellow sub Kyle Smith. The fullback fired a shot on target but Schulte was able to make a big save.

Ojeda nearly had Ramiro Enrique in behind in the 103rd minute but the pass was a tad heavy and Schulte got there first.

That was the last good look of the first 15 minutes and the Crew led 1-0 at the extra time intermission.

Enrique nearly tied the game in the 106th minute when he again got in but Schulte made another vital save. Two minutes later, Gallese kept the game at 1-0 with a big stop at the other end.

Seconds later came maybe the best chance of all. Ojeda sent in a fantastic cross from the leftthat found Enrique at the near post. His header was on frame but Schulte stuck out a leg and it hit his foot for another big save.

Columbus put the match away in the 118th minute. With Gallese pushed forward as a sweeper, the Crew took possession and the ball found Hernandez, who accurately hit the target from midfield, making it 2-0 and sealing the game. Despite the overzealous MLS Twitter admin’s assertion (see embedded tweet below), it was most certainly not an incredible goal for a player of that caliber with no goalkeeper in the net. It was quite credible but oh well.

It was the third game this season that Orlando City fell behind multiple goals to Columbus but this time there were no late-game heroics to pull it back.

Columbus dominated the stat sheet, finishing with more possession (56.7%-43.3%), shots (20-13), shots on target (7-3), corners (7-6), and passing accuracy (89.5%-81.5%).

Pareja lauded his team’s effort after the match, citing the team finally being able to create some chances to win late in normal time and to equalize once Columbus took the lead.

“That heart probably needed a better reward because they had a few chances where we could equalize the game. It seems like our heart was bigger in those difficult moments but it was not enough.”

“I’m really proud of this team, to be the captain of this team,” Pereyra said. “It was such an honor for me this year. I already thanked the guys because the effort that they made today and during the whole season. They made me and Orlando City fans believe that we could fight for winning things. Today’s the end of this dream, but the effort and the way these dreams made a thing this year was great.”

That’s a wrap on Orlando City’s 2023 season, folks. It was a good one, but the Lions will be left wondering what might have been had Ojeda’s shot in stoppage time had gone in.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/19/24

Orlando City needs to score, Duncan McGuire in demand, Orlando City B match postponed, and more.



Photo Courtesy of Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Happy Juneteenth, Mane Landers. It is a day to celebrate the end of chattel slavery in the United States and the progress of the Black community in this country. There is always more work to be done, but celebrating the progress to date is worthwhile. Today is also a match day for Orlando City, but for now let’s get to the links.

Scoring Goals is Important

Former Orlando City gaffer Adrian Heath famously said that goals change games. Orlando City has not scored many goals this season making it hard for the club to change games and get results. Head Coach Oscar Pareja is taking the positives from the last match, but he will need to turn things around in Orlando’s attack if he’s to snap the club’s four-game winless streak. The first opportunity is tonight against Charlotte FC.

Competition Grows for Duncan McGuire’s Services

Following the Blackburn Rovers debacle in the last transfer window, we know that Duncan McGuire has interest in moving abroad. If not for incompetence on Blackburn’s part he would already be in Europe. The other interested party in that saga was Sheffield Wednesday, a club that is reportedly still interested in signing the young striker. Now, it seems that the English club may have some competition from Torino in Serie A, with other Serie A clubs interested as well. Hopefully, Orlando City will be able to secure McGuire’s services, though I expect he wants to go abroad.

Tonight’s Orlando City B Match Postponed

Orlando City B was set to take on New York City FC II today, but the match has been postponed. The new date and kickoff time has not yet been announced.

It’s not the first time this game’s date has been changed, as it was originally set for June 29 when the season’s schedule was announced. The Young Lions may not be complaining much about not having to play on the road on relatively short rest. As it stands, OCB’s next match will now be against Atlanta United 2 on June 26.

Hines Remembers Match After Pulse Shooting

It’s been a week since the eighth anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. Yesterday, it was eight years since Orlando City played the San Jose Earthquakes in the first Orlando City match following the shooting. Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines was a starting center back for the Lions in that match. He remembers the emotions of that day. Hines spoke on how it felt to get up for a match, but also taking time in the 49th minute to honor the 49 people whose lives were taken away too soon. He still has the rainbow sweatbands from that match that he was wearing when he scored a header for Orlando City. Hines remembers the good and the bad, and so should we.

Upgrading the NWSL Match Experience

NWSL clubs are trying to improve the matchday experience for their fans. That looks different everywhere, but at Inter&Co Stadium that experience includes local food vendors as a part of the “Orlando Made” initiative by Orlando City and the Orlando Pride. Of course, great food will only get attendance to a certain level. The real crowd pleaser is winning, and the Pride have been doing a lot of that so far this season.

Free Kicks

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the match tonight. As always, Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/18/24

Euro 2024 roundup, MLS transfer happenings, U.S. stars on Copa America prep, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone. It was a mixed bag for Orlando’s soccer teams over the weekend, as none of Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, or Orlando City B managed to win, with a loss and two draws. The only way out is through though, and there are plenty of chances to get back to winning ways this week. Before we get to today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Pride defender Rafaelle!

Euro Results Roundup

It was another pulsating day of action at Euro 2024, with the theme of early goals and exciting contests continuing. The early contest saw Romania beat Ukraine 3-0 with a trio of very well-taken goals. Nicolae Stanciu opened the scoring in the 29th minute and a pair of second-half goals just four minutes apart sealed Romania’s first win at the Euros in 24 years. In the second game of the day, Slovakia grabbed a goal in the seventh minute courtesy of an ill-advised Belgian attempt to play out of the back, and managed to hang on for a 1-0 win. The game wasn’t without controversy, as Romelu Lukaku missed several excellent chances, and also had two goals correctly ruled out by video review. The last game of the day saw France beat Austria 1-0 courtesy of an own goal in the first half, but the biggest talking point was Kylian Mbappe’s broken nose that will reportedly require surgery.

MLS Transfer Happenings

We have several important MLS transfers to catch up on this morning. First, the Houston Dynamo have broken the club’s transfer record to sign Argentine striker Ezequiel Ponce from Greek club AEK Athens. The 27-year-old will be a Designated Player, and although he can’t play for Houston until the secondary transfer window opens on July 18, he should help a Dynamo team that’s scored the fewest goals in the Western Conference. Moving to the Eastern Conference, the Columbus Crew are reportedly closing in on a trade to acquire Aziel Jackson from St. Louis City in exchange for $650,000 of General Allocation Money, in addition to other incentives.

Finally, Tom Bogert has identified Brighton and Hove Albion’s Marc Leonard as a player who could move stateside this summer. His loan spell at Northampton Town last season saw him named the club’s player of the year.

U.S. Players Speak About Copa America Prep

The Copa America kicks off on Friday, and Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams recently spoke about how they and the rest of the United States Men’s National Team have been preparing for the tournament. McKennie spoke on how this team has never been in camp for this long before, and that the extra time is helping them iron out little issues. He also talked about his willingness to fill in wherever needed on the field, something that could be relevant for both him and Adams given the injury to Sergino Dest. For his part, Adams discussed how a bright spot to missing so much time last year due to injury was that it allowed him to spend plenty of time with his newborn son.

UEFA Investigating Racism at Euro Match

UEFA is probing an alleged incident of racial abuse that took place in the match between England and Serbia. While the complaint did not come from the English Football Association, UEFA released a statement that it was investigating Serbia for objects that were thrown and the “transmission of a provocative message.” If the charges are proven, then Serbia could face sanctions from UEFA.

Free Kicks

  • The sensor placed inside the ball was instrumental in overturning what would have been an equalizing goal for Belgium.
  • Polish television is doing some very cool things with its soccer coverage.
  • An English fan woke up still in the stadium well after his team’s win over Serbia.

That does it for me this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. LAFC: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s home loss to LAFC?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Despite dominating most of the game and nearly all of the second half, Orlando City fell 3-1 to LAFC Saturday night. The Lions continue their troubles at home, with the last win in front of their home fans coming on March 23. It’s more frustration for a team and fanbase that has had plenty this season.

Let’s take a look at how the players performed individually in the loss.


GK, Mason Stajduhar, 5.5 — With regular starting goalkeeper Pedro Gallese on international duty with Peru, Stajduhar got the nod for the second time this season. Conceding three goals is a bad night for any goalkeeper, though he wasn’t the only one at fault for any of them. The first was a penalty and the other two were breakaway counterattacks. The goalkeeper made four saves on the night but wasn’t challenged much. He completed all of his 14 passes, which included six long balls, and had to clear the ball once.

D, Rafael Santos, 5.5 — Santos had 101 touches in this game, second on the team. The left back completed 94.8% of his 77 passes, but only two of his 13 crosses. One of his passes was a key pass, but his poor crossing haunted the Lions in this game. Defensively, Santos recorded one tackle and one clearance.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — Jansson was terrific for the first 85 minutes of this game, recording 88 touches. He completed 89.9% of his 79 passes, including four of his six long balls. Defensively, he added four tackles and a clearance. Unfortunately, he got caught up field in no-man’s land on LAFC’s second goal and got beat by Nathan Ordaz, resulting in a counterattack on the third. He was my Man of the Match until the final few minutes.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6 — Schlegel was on the ball less than Jansson, recording 60 touches. He completed 96.4% of his 56 passes and two of his three long balls. Defensively, he only had a tackle. Overall, it was a solid night by the center back. While he didn’t have a part in the first two goals, he was unable to clear the ball on a tackle in the box on the third, allowing LAFC to take a 3-1 advantage.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 5.5 — Thorhallsson started in his usual right back position, recording 66 touches. He completed 89.4% of his 47 passes, including a key pass, one of his five crosses, and none of his three long balls. He was among the most active players defensively with four tackles and interceptions. Additionally, he recorded one shot and had one successful dribble. Like other players in the team, his crossing struggles impacted the final result.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 5.5 — The Lions’ attack mainly went through the opposite side of Angulo, so the midfielder only had 47 touches, second-fewest of the 11 starters. He completed 87.6% of his 30 passes, including one of his four crosses and two key passes, but was plagued by some heavy touches in the final third. The attacker also helped out defensively with two successful tackles before being replaced by Martin Ojeda in the 61st minute.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 5 — Araujo was the only natural defensive midfielder in the starting lineup for Orlando City. He recorded 84 touches and completed 95.5% of his 67 passes. However, he only completed one of his two long balls, neither of his crosses, and didn’t record any key passes. He took two long distance shots but both were off target. Defensively, he recorded three tackles and one interception. It was a tough night for Araujo as he had a part in all three LAFC goals. He conceded the penalty, failed to keep up with Mateusz Bogusz on the second, and allowed Denis Bouanga to dribble around him on the third, although it’s perhaps harsh to fault a player for not being as fast as another or handle a player like Bouanga in space.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6 (MotM) — Lodeiro was unquestionably the most active player in this game, recording a team-high 132 touches. He completed 93% of his team-high 114 passes, but none of the seven crosses. The midfielder took three off-target shots and contributed defensively with two tackles and a clearance. He would’ve had a higher grade if he had completed some of his crosses, but his inability to do so hurt his team. Despite those missed crosses, Lodeiro gets my Man of the Match.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6 — Torres was often involved in the Lions’ buildup play, recording 89 touches. He completed 89.7% of his 68 passes, including a team-high five key passes. Two of his eight crosses failed to find teammates and his one long ball was incomplete. He took three shots, tied for second on the team, but none hit the target. Like some other players in this game, his grade would’ve been higher but he completely missed the target with his penalty in the 33rd minute. It was the first missed penalty of his professional career, but it had a major impact after LAFC converted one of its own 11 minutes later.

F, Luis Muriel, 5.5 — As usual, Muriel played a deeper role than Duncan McGuire, recording 69 touches. He completed 88.7% of his 53 passes, including three key passes. He failed to connect on his one cross and one of his two long balls. Additionally all five of his shots were off target. Muriel’s biggest problem in this game was attempting to dribble through multiple players, which resulted in him losing possession in dangerous positions. However, his perfectly weighted ball for Ojeda set up the game-tying goal in the 69th minute. While his assist was beautiful, it wasn’t enough to overcome his constant turnovers in the LAFC third of the field.

F, Duncan McGuire, 5 — McGuire played the target position in this game, recording 28 touches. He completed 81.8% of his 22 passes, but failed to connect on his lone long ball. Strikers are judged by goals and McGuire didn’t participate in any in this game, failing to hit the target on his only two shots. It was a forgettable performance that came to an end in the 78th minute when he was replaced by Jack Lynn.


MF, Martin Ojeda (61’), 6 — Ojeda came on in the 61st minute for Angulo and made an immediate impact. He provided a burst of energy for the team and the Lions quickly began creating dangerous chances. The attacking midfielder had 31 touches and completed 85% of his 20 passes. While he didn’t complete any of his four crosses, he scored the equalizing goal in the 69th minute. In addition to his goal, he had a late chance that hit the side netting. While I gave Lodeiro my Man of the Match, there’s an argument for Ojeda because of the impact he made.

F, Jack Lynn (78’), N/A — Lynn came on with 12 minutes to go for McGuire, who clearly had no more energy. The Lions were looking for a game-winning goal, but Lynn was unable to help. He only touched the ball three times and completed two of three passes without taking any shots. It was easy to forget he was on the field as the minutes wound down.

That’s how I saw the individual performances in Orlando City’s disappointing loss to LAFC. Let us know how you saw the game and don’t forget to vote on your Man of the Match below.

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