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Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Final Score 0-0 as Lions Drop Points, Remain Unbeaten in Opener

The Lions were much better in the second half but couldn’t find the final bit of quality to finish against Montreal.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City (0-0-1, 1 point) looked like a team that played on the other side of the continent a few days ago in a sloppy 0-0 draw against CF Montreal (0-0-1, 1 point) at home in the first game of the MLS regular season for both clubs. Orlando did put the ball in the net off of Felipe but the flag came up and review upheld the call.

With the draw, the Lions remain unbeaten on opening day (3-0-7) but settle for a scoreless draw for the third time in three openers under Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja. The Lions have not conceded a goal on opening night in five seasons under Pareja.

“Very intense game for both teams,” Pareja said after the match. “In the first half I thought it was a little bit rough and rocky for us. Couldn’t find the sequences that we normally have found in the way that we play and our model. When we had the ball we couldn’t create the sequences that get us much closer to the goal.”

Pareja went with a strong lineup, with little rotation from Wednesday night’s win in British Columbia. Pedro Gallese was in goal behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, David Brekalo — making his Orlando City and MLS debut — and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena manned the central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Nicolas Lodeiro (his first OCSC start), and Facundo Torres with Duncan McGuire up top.

Orlando City was nowhere near as sharp in possession during its second game of the week. The passes were often offline and when they reached the target, a wayward touch often turned the ball over. Additionally, the Lions were slow to get the ball out of their feet, allowing the more energetic visitors to dispossess them in dangerous areas repeatedly.

A turnover led to a good chance by Matias Coccaro in just the third minute and Bryce Duke fired one in at Gallese seconds later as the visitors looked to jump on top early.

Torres tried an inside-out shot from a severe angle on the right in the fourth minute but sent it into the outside netting.

Gallese then had to be sharp to deny Coccaro and Ariel Lassiter in the fifth minute as Montreal stayed on the front foot early, helped out by wayward passes and bad touches by the Lions, who also were the slower players to react.

Orlando had better spells of possession after that early Montreal flurry but did little with them. Lodeiro won a corner in the 10th minute and then sent in a good near-post delivery for McGuire, but the forward’s shot was blocked behind for another corner. Five minutes later, off another corner, a ball fell for McGuire, who lost control and it popped loose in the box. He and Araujo got in each other’s way going for the loose ball and the chance evaporated.

Araujo had a go from outside the box in the 26th minute but sent his shot well off target on an attack in which it appeared he had better options.

Brekalo sent a header on goal in the 44th minute but it was no trouble for Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois.

There weren’t any clear-cut looks for either side the rest of the half and the game went to the break still scoreless.

Orlando City held more of the possession in the first half (59.2%-40.8%) but did little with it. The Lions also passed more accurately (86%-79.9%) and won more corners (5-1). Montreal had more shots (6-4), shots on target (4-1).

“We weren’t expecting them to be so compact,” Santos said through a club interpreter. “We were expecting them to play a little bit more open, and they were very compact. It was very difficult to find spaces and opportunities within the tight areas that they were creating. And that’s why we found it so difficult to score a goal.”

Pareja made one tweak to the lineup at the break, withdrawing Cartagena and replacing him with Martin Ojeda. With the visitors staying tightly compact, there was no need for a double pivot and the team played better after the change, with Araujo dropping between the defenders to start the attack and Lodeiro trying to pull the strings from a deeper position.

After the match, Pareja said he felt his team was spending too much time and energy getting the ball into dangerous positions. By dropping Araujo deeper to start the attack and having an extra playmaker on the field, his team was able to fix the problem, even if the Lions still weren’t sharp with the final ball.

The first chance of the second half came early, with Thorhallsson seeing his shot blocked in the box. The rebound fell to Ojeda, who shot from a tough angle on the left side but missed the target. Lodeiro had a shot blocked off a well-worked corner kick play in the 51st minute and Brekalo scuffed a shot wide.

Three minutes later, Angulo sent a weak shot easily into Sirois’ hands from a tough angle on the right with three teammates crashing the net. It was another example of the wrong decision at the end of a good sequence, which plagued the Lions all evening.

The Lions kept coming but nothing would go in. McGuire headed just inches over the bar in the 66th minute, and Thorhallsson sent a volley shot off the ground and similiarly just over the bar in the 74th. Two minutes later, Santos sent in a dangerous cross that was cut out at the last second by the defense for a corner. The ensuing set piece was knocked out of the box to Thorhallsson, who sent a shot well off target from distance.

The first of Montreal’s two golden opportunities in the second half came in the 79th minute, when former Lion Ruan sent in a cross that Josef Martinez fired wide on a first-time effort.

Orlando City scored in the 80th minute, but the flag came up. Substitute Ramiro Enrique sent a header toward goal and Sirois got a touch on it. The ball came off the crossbar, hit fellow second-half sub Felipe, and went into the goal. The flag came up for offside and it was a close call. After a review, the referee accepted the VAR decision to uphold the call.

Ojeda got a header opportunity in the 87th minute but didn’t get any power on it and Sirois was able to catch it easily. The flag again came up for offside in the 92nd minute and it was a costly one. Torres was fouled in the box and the referee immediately pointed to the spot for a penalty but the AR’s flag was in the air. Substitute striker Jack Lynn left too early in the buildup and it was a costly mistake, as the Lions were denied an opportunity to win the game from the spot in stoppage time.

Seconds later, disaster nearly struck. Montreal cut the defense open with one quick pass for Kwadwo Opoku, who sliced through with a well-timed run to get onto the pass. Beyond the last defender, the Montreal forward had only Gallese to beat, but the goalkeeper made a sensational play to come off his line aggressively and stuck out a leg to block the shot, preserving a point for his team.

It was the last opportunity for either side in the match and, despite a good effort, the performance was a little off as Orlando City dropped two points at home.

The Lions finished with more possession (60.1%-39.9%), shots (15-9), corners (9-1), and passing accuracy (86.2%-78.2%). Montreal managed more shots on target (5-4).

“We decided just to make a couple changes in the way we wanted to face the second half,” Pareja said. “Much better. Much better second half. So it looked more like us. We created the options to score, not being so clean, but we respect the job that Montreal did as well, because they put their team in a very low block in the second half. I think we dominated, not being that clear. We’ll take that point. I think we all had big expectations. I want to make sure that we all know that this is a long trip and we have to know how to navigate it.”

“The game did not turn out the way that we wanted. We wanted the win,” Santos said. “We unfortunately weren’t able to do that. We did get the draw, which is better than a loss, but we again wanted to win. We leave frustrated from this game because again, we wanted to win. We were always looking for the opportunity to make goals. We had our chances. But we’re going to continue to look ahead, because the tournament is long and we know that we’ll get opportunities moving ahead.”

Newcomer Brekalo had a solid first MLS game in his Orlando City debut, but said afterward he’s been not only waiting for his international paperwork to come through — and as a result has spent time training as if to start and other days as if he wouldn’t be playing — but he’s also been nursing an injury that he is managing with the medical team.

“I just tried to keep it simple today honestly,” he said. “But still, like I was forcing (things) a few times, but it will come, I think, with more and more trainings and games with my teammates. I was taking many heavy touches. I’m usually better than this, but like I said, it’s going to come and it’s going to be okay.”


The Lions are back in action on Tuesday when Cavalry FC visits Orlando in the second leg of the teams’ Concacaf Champions Cup series. Orlando City will then visit Inter Miami next Saturday in the first Tropic Thunder rivalry match of 2024.

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?

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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.

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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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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/10/24

MLS Earth Day kits are in, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson gets noticed, U.S. wins SheBelieves Cup, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. Time to start your day with some tasty links. Orlando City and the Pride are back in action this weekend, and OCB has a match tomorrow. That means plenty of goodness to end the week. Three straight days of Orlando matches is something for which to be grateful. Let’s get to the links.

Orlando City’s Greener Goals

Orlando City joins the other clubs in MLS in celebrating Earth Day with the Greener Goals week of service. Each club will volunteer time to help the environment. The club has two cleanups scheduled, including one in the area around the stadium in which fans can contribute to the effort. Additionally, all the clubs will have special One Planet pre-match kits. The kits are made from recycled materials and represent either soil, woods, or water. I’m guessing that the Orlando City kit is of the soil variety.

Dagur Dan is Da Man

The Mane Land PawedCast isn’t the only outfit noticing that Dagur Dan Thorhallsson is a force to be reckoned with. To be fair, he had some struggles during Orlando City’s hectic start to the season. Once he was rested, he was back in form and others outside of Orlando are taking notice. It’s not particularly surprising given his very nice right foot on crosses, his ability to take on opponents, and his ability to get back on defense. I’m looking forward to more from him because I don’t want no Fop! I’m a Dagur Dan man!

Barbra Banda Sends Zambia to the Olympics

After a 2-1 loss to Morocco in the first leg, Zambia bounced back with a 2-0 road win in the second leg to qualify for this summer’s Olympics. Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda scored twice in the match, including a penalty in extra time to secure the win on aggregate. It’s the second straight trip to the Olympics for Zambia, with Banda scoring six goals in the group stage of the last Olympics. This year, Zambia is in a tough group against the U.S., Germany, and Australia, but has the talent to make a run.

Once Upon a What?

Once Upon a Coconut is now the official coconut water sponsor of Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Inter&Co Stadium. If you’re like me, your first response was, “I was unaware that official coconut water sponsors were a thing.” Well, they are, and now the club is a leader in this exciting new frontier. All kidding aside, sponsors mean money for the club, which is a good thing, and the product will be available to sample in the Mane Street Plaza Fan Zone. Drink up, me hearties!

USWNT Wins the SheBelieves Cup

It took the USWNT all the way to penalty kicks to finally win the 2024 SheBelieves Cup, defeating Canada 2-2 (5-4). Canada struck first before the U.S. took the lead on a Sophia Smith brace. Canada equalized late on a soft penalty conceded by Crystal Dunn, and the match went to spot kicks to decide things. Despite missing the first shot, the U.S. eventually won, thanks to three saves by Alyssa Naeher, who also contributed a goal in the shootout.

In the third-place match, Brazil and Japan also went to penalty kicks, with Brazil winning the shootout 3-0 after a 1-1 draw, with Lorena saving all three of Japan’s penalty kicks. Cristiane scored the equalizer for Brazil in the 71st minute to ultimately send the game to penalties. The Orlando Pride’s Angelina and Marta played for Brazil.

Racial Abuse in El Trafico

Following LAFC’s 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy Saturday, the Galaxy’s Ghanaian forward, Joseph Paintsil, was the victim of online racial abuse. Reportedly, an LAFC fan used a derogatory slur and criticized Paintsil’s performance in the match. MLS, the Galaxy, and LAFC all condemned the incident. The parties are continuing to work with local authorities to hold the person accountable.

To be very clear, as far as I’m concerned, there is no room for this in soccer or anywhere. No racism, no homophobia, no transphobia — just stop being horrible.

Free Kicks


That will do it for today. Remember to check back daily as we get you ready for all the upcoming matches. Vamos Orlando!

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