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Orlando City

Orlando City Signs Head Coach Oscar Pareja Through 2025

Papi remains at the helm after agreeing to a new deal with Orlando City through 2025



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City has announced that the club has reached an agreement with Head Coach Oscar Pareja on a new contract through 2025. The most successful coach in the club’s MLS era is locked down through the next two years after leading the Lions to four consecutive postseason appearances and the 2022 U.S. Open Cup championship.

“Oscar has been integral to what we are building, and his leadership and dedication to winning championships has set an example for everyone at our club,” Orlando City Chairman Mark Wilf said in a club press release. “Oscar takes great pride in representing Orlando City SC and has established a culture that embodies everything our organization is about and a team of which our fans can be proud. The positive relationships and respect Oscar creates with his players has built a critical foundation for success. We are excited to have Oscar continue to lead us into the future.”

“I first want to say how grateful I am to the Wilf family and the whole ownership group for the support that they’ve given us and allowing us to create the culture here that we have built these last few years,” Pareja said in the club’s release. “The support that the fans have shown us has been incredible through everything and, along with everyone working at the club, they’ve made me feel like this is home. We know that there are things left that we want to achieve here in Orlando and I feel like we can accomplish those objectives. I’m excited to stay here in Orlando and for what’s to come.”

Orlando City hired Pareja, 55, as head coach four years and 15 days ago on Dec. 4, 2019. He succeeded James O’Connor, Jason Kreis, and Adrian Heath as OCSC head coaches in the club’s MLS era. Since then, Pareja has piloted Orlando to a 65-42-42 record in all competitions, leading the side to MLS Cup playoff appearances every year. He has also led the Lions to two-straight appearances in Concacaf Champions Cup (formerly Concacaf Champions League), and the club’s first major trophy in its MLS era with the 2022 U.S. Open Cup title. In 2023, Pareja led Orlando City to new club records for wins (18) and points (63) in an MLS season, as well as the league’s best road record (9-4-4). During the pandemic, Pareja’s Lions reached the championship match of the MLS is Back Tournament.

Pareja became the 10th coaching casualty for the Xolos in seven years. He left FC Dallas in November of 2018 to make the move to Tijuana. Pareja took over late during the 2018-2019 Torneo Apertura, but the Xolos finished out that season with Frankie Oviedo as the caretaker coach. Pareja’s first season at the helm with Tijuana was in the 2019 Torneo Clausura, in which his side finished eighth with a record of 9-7-1 to qualify for the postseason Liguilla. Tijuana then lost in the quarterfinals to top seed Leon by a 5-2 aggregate.

As the 2019-2020 Torneo Clausura drew near a close, Pareja had Tijuana in the postseason qualification places with three matches remaining, but the club lost those three games, with one of them being a bitter and controversial 2-1 loss to second-place Leon in the finale.

Pareja led FC Dallas to a record of 97-50-55 in 202 matches in all competitions in five seasons from 2014-2018. His Dallas teams reached the postseason in four of his five seasons at the helm — finishing fourth or better in the conference each time they made the playoffs. They won the 2016 Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup, and were the 2015 Shield runners-up due to losing a tiebreaker. He was 2-4-4 in playoff matches, advancing on penalties after one of those draws and getting eliminated by the away-goals rule after another. Pareja also led his team to the semifinals of the Concacaf Champions League in 2017.

Prior to joining the Hoops, Pareja spent two seasons with the Colorado Rapids, where he went 25-31-13 in 69 matches. The Rapids did not make the playoffs in Pareja’s first season of 2012, going 11-19-4, but finished fifth in the West in 2013 before losing to Seattle in the knockout stage of the playoffs. You may recall that Orlando City’s USL side knocked Pareja’s Colorado side out of the U.S. Open Cup that season.

As a player, Pareja spent 1987-1995 with Independiente Medellin in his native Colombia as a midfielder, appearing in 263 matches and scoring 18 goals. He moved to Deportivo Cali, where he scored 11 more goals in 122 games from 1995-1998 and then joined the New England Revolution, appearing in 13 games that year. He finished his playing career with FC Dallas, scoring 13 goals in 170 appearances from 1998-2005. He also earned 11 caps from 1991 to 1996 with Colombia’s national team, scoring three goals.

What It Means for Orlando City

Quite simply, it means the Lions retain their most successful coach since joining Major League Soccer. Pareja has created a culture and an identity that was lacking at the club prior to his arrival. While it’s common for players to say the team feels like a family and a city feels like “home,” the Lions have walked that walk during Pareja’s tenure in the City Beautiful.

Pareja’s challenge for the upcoming season is to improve upon the club’s best finish. That’s not an easy task considering the Lions completed the 2023 season second in the Supporters’ Shield race to FC Cincinnati. Beyond that, Pareja must find a way to integrate Designated Player Martin Ojeda into the starting lineup and find some continuity in the wake of the departures of Mauricio Pereyra and Antonio Carlos this off-season.

Additionally, of course, Pareja’s tenure with Orlando City will be measured in trophies. So far, he’s won one of them, and his squad came up just inches short of knocking 2023 MLS Cup-winning Columbus out of the playoffs when Ojeda’s late attempt skipped inches wide of the right post — despite the fact that his team had been down a man for about 20 minutes. Pareja has shown an ability to adapt to his personnel in his four years in Orlando. He’ll need to be able to do that again after the club parted ways with a few veterans since the season ended.

The next steps for the club should be locking up Executive Vice President and General Manager Luiz Muzzi and upgrading the roster for 2024.

Oscar Pareja’s Coaching Record at Orlando City (W-L-D)

Major League Soccer Regular Season: 125 games, 56-34-35
MLS Playoffs: 7 games, 2-4-1
U.S. Open Cup: 7 games, 4-1-2
Concacaf Champions League: 2 games, 0-0-2
Leagues Cup: 4 games, 1-2-1
MLS is Back Knockout Stages: 4 games, 2-1-1

Total: 149 games coached, 65-42-42

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/12/24

Orlando Pride play in Utah tonight, Orlando City B earns a point, Europa League quarterfinals begin, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Friday! I hope this week has gone smoothly for you as we gear up for even more Orlando soccer tonight and tomorrow. It should be a nice next few days, even if I’m working for most of it. I don’t have many plans outside of work beyond bonding with my cat and trying a new stuffed bread recipe. Let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world!

Orlando Pride Play the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride are on the road tonight for a showdown with the Utah Royals at 9:30 p.m., and you can catch the game on NWSL+ or through Bally Sports if you’re local. Although the Royals are an expansion team this year, the Pride last squared off against the previous Royals back in 2019, with Orlando losing all three games to Utah that season. This season, the Pride are riding a three-game unbeaten streak. However, they are also still on the hunt for their first win after three consecutive draws. While the offense awaits the arrival of Zambian striker Barbra Banda, the Pride have managed to score off of a set piece in each of their three games so far. While a draw on the road wouldn’t be awful by any means, hopefully the Pride can get a solid tally in the win column tonight.

Orlando City B Draws Philadelphia Union II

OCB went on the road to take on Philadelphia Union II and earned a single point after a 1-1 draw and penalty shootout. The two teams traded goals in the first half, but the Young Lions were on the back foot for most of the second half. While Orlando’s offense sputtered, the defense survived chance after chance from Philadelphia to send the game to a shootout. Orlando lost the lengthy shootout, 7-6, claiming just one point, but at least the Young Lions didn’t leave Pennsylvania empty handed. Hopefully OCB can return to its winning ways when it faces off with Crown Legacy FC on April 19.

New York City FC Stadium Plans Finally Approved

Plans to build a soccer-specific stadium in Queens for new grounds for New York City FC were approved by New York City officials. It will be a $780 million stadium expected to open in 2027 and serves as the centerpiece of a redevelopment project in the neighborhood. The 25,000-seat stadium will be right next to Citi Field, which has been one of the many home venues for NYCFC over the years since joining as an expansion side alongside Orlando City in 2015. It’s a bit wild that this stadium is set to open 10 years after Orlando christened its own soccer-specific stadium back in 2017. At least the Lions won’t have to play road games at baseball stadiums for much longer.

Europa League Quarterfinals Kick Off

The Europa League quarterfinals are underway, with the remaining eight teams squaring off in the first legs of their matchups. In England, Atalanta leaned on a brace from Gianluca Scamacca and stellar defense to win 3-0 against Liverpool. Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten streak stretched to 42 games after it beat West Ham United 2-0, thanks to a pair of late goals. The first match between Italian clubs AC Milan and Roma went to the visitors, as Roma scored early on and held on for a 1-0 win at San Siro. The only quarterfinal that wasn’t a shutout took place in Portugal, with Benfica beating Marseille, 2-1. The second legs will all take place at the same time next week, which should make for an exciting Thursday afternoon of soccer.

Free Kicks

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City at D.C. United: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn its first away victory of the season?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

Orlando City is back in action this Saturday night against D.C. United at Audi Field. Despite coming off back-to-back results, the off-week was well timed for the Lions. A little extra rest for the squad, plus giving players time to recuperate from various knocks should mean a nearly full strength Orlando City.

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points on the road against its Eastern Conference rivals?

The Dynamic Duo Return

Cesar Araujo returned to the Orlando City lineup against the New York Red Bulls, meaning the Lions should finally have their top choice defensive midfield pairing back together. The timing couldn’t be more perfect given Orlando City will be dealing with D.C. United striker Christian Benteke. He has five goals in five matches, which is half of the 10 goals D.C. United has scored all season.

So far this regular season, every match in which the Lions give up more than one goal has resulted in a loss. Keeping Benteke and the rest of D.C. United off of the score sheet is critical to getting a result. Orlando City can concede one goal and still walk away with points on the road, but only if the Lions manage to accomplish the next key below.

Goals are the Goal

To say Orlando City has been wasteful in front of goal is a bit of an understatement. So far this regular season, the Lions have 93 shots, with 27 on target, but only five goals. Orlando City has created scoring opportunities, but failed to convert them in anything close to an efficient manner. Of the five goals scored, Duncan McGuire has two, Nico Lodeiro has one, and Jack Lynn has one. The other was credited as an own goal on Lynn’s backheel attempt.

The list of players who haven’t scored yet this season is too long to type, but I don’t need goals from the defenders — though I will take them. I just need Facundo Torres, Ivan Angulo, Luis Muriel, and Martin Ojeda to get something going. Ideally, all four of them score in this match, but I’ll take whatever goals we can get.

End the Trend

Orlando City hasn’t fared well against D.C. United recently. Nearly a year ago, the Lions lost at home 3-1 to the visitors. The last trip to Audi Field was a 1-1 draw in which Orlando City gave up a goal in the 80th minute to settle for a single point. In 2022, Orlando City lost both matches to D.C. United. It’s time to get things going in the right direction.

The Lions also need to stop losing on the road. Losses to Inter Miami and Atlanta both came on the road, with Orlando City yet to find any points away from home. Last season, the Lions were veritable road warriors. The team needs to find that form again as it was a major reason the club finished second in the Supporters’ Shield race.

That is what I will be looking for this weekend as Orlando City takes on D.C. United. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/11/24

Learning more about Morgan Gautrat, OCB plays tonight, Champions League action, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I’m having a fairly stressful but great week after adopting my first cat and getting him all set up here. It may take a few weeks to turn him into a loyal Orlando soccer fan, but I have high hopes. Regardless, I’m looking forward to the gauntlet of games with Orlando City B playing today, the Orlando Pride tomorrow, and Orlando City on Saturday. Let’s get to the links!

Getting to Know Morgan Gautrat

Orlando Pride midfielder Morgan Gautrat was the latest player to field questions as part of the video series for fans to learn more about the players who wear purple. She weighed in on how she changed her game once she transitioned to the United States Women’s National Team at age 19, going from a playmaking attacker to a player who slots in deeper in the midfield. Gautrat brings leadership, experience, and a strong skillset to a young Pride team that’s built a strong culture around it. She also spoke on how Florida is her soccer home, what her spirit animal is, and the team’s aspirations this season.

Orlando City B Takes On Philadelphia Union II

The Young Lions are on the road today at 4 p.m. for an MLS NEXT Pro match against Philadelphia Union II. OCB last played in Chester, PA in last year’s season opener, winning 3-1 in an impressive victory. The team will hope for a similar result tonight to get back on track after a loss to Inter Miami II earlier this month. Philadelphia has yet to lose in regulation this season and has won both of its home matches. It should be a tough match for the Young Lions, but a great chance to climb back up the Eastern Conference standings for them.

Assessing USWNT After SheBelieves Cup Win

The United States Women’s National Team is moving towards the Olympics with plenty of momentum after winning the SheBelieves Cup and Concacaf W Gold Cup. There were plenty of parallels between the SheBelieves Cup final and the Gold Cup semifinal against Canada, one was just a bit more waterlogged. Canada used a late penalty to send the game to penalty kicks, Sophia Smith scored, and Alyssa Naeher stood on her head in the penalty shootout. The key differences were that Mallory Swanson has given the attack some needed dynamism after returning, and the defense struggles without Naomi Girma to anchor it. It was also Twila Kilgore’s final game as the USWNT’s interim head coach, and now attention will turn towards how Emma Hayes can elevate the team once she takes over.

Champions League Quarterfinals Roll On

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona both won in their first legs of the Champions League quarterfinals, although neither match was a blowout. Atletico Madrid hosted Borussia Dortmund and scored twice in the first half. Dortmund brought one back in the second half, but Atletico Madrid held on to secure a 2-1 win. The road team completed the comeback in the other match though, with Barcelona winning a 3-2 thriller against Paris Saint-Germain that included four goals in the second half. All in all, this was a great round of quarterfinal first legs filled with plenty of goals, and the second legs next week should be pretty entertaining.

Free Kicks

  • Andrew Wiebe was the latest analyst to dive into Orlando’s attacking woes this season. I personally think things will naturally improve once the team gets some rest under its belt and Luis Muriel settles in. I agree with Wiebe though that Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo must return to form.
  • The Champions League shouldn’t overshadow a strong slate of Europa League quarterfinals today. My favorite matchup of the four would have to be the Italian showdown between AC Milan and Roma.
  • English forward Rachel Daly announced that she is retiring from international soccer. The 32-year-old scored 22 goals last season with Aston Villa and has scored 16 goals in 84 appearances with England.
  • Midfielder Dillon Serna is hanging up his cleats at age 30 after a career that included time with the Colorado Rapids and Colorado Springs Switchbacks.
  • Manchester City’s Rodri is feeling the wear and tear of his team’s pursuit for silverware. Rest may be hard to come by for him during a congested schedule, and he hasn’t lost in the past 66 games he’s played in.
  • Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy shared the struggle he had after retiring, providing details on his drug addiction and the despair felt after he quit playing.

That’s all I have for you today on this fine Thursday. Treat yourself to something you deserve, check in with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, and have a great day!

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