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Orlando City vs. Cavalry FC, Concacaf Champions Cup: Final Score 3-1 as Lions Sweep Canadian Shield Winners

Lions blast Cavalry FC 6-1 on aggregate across the two legs to advance in Concacaf Champions Cup.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Nicolas Lodeiro, Ramiro Enrique, and Kyle Smith provided the offense as Orlando City defeated Cavalry FC 3-1 at home in the second leg of the first-round Concacaf Champions Cup series. Orlando City advances to the round of 16. Myer Bevan scored for Cavalry FC to hand the Canadian side their first-ever goal in the competition, spoiling a repeat of last week’s 3-0 result. Orlando advances 6-1 on aggregate across the two legs.

It was the first home win in the continental tournament for Orlando and the team advanced for the first time as well. The Lions will take on Tigres UANL in a rematch of last year’s first-round series.

“I thought the way (Cavalry) battled the game and they complicated things for us was remarkable,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “It was difficult to get the rhythm, knowing that we wanted to keep the same intensity and the same level and the same aggressiveness, and being fine in the last third as we all committed to. As the game went on, we found better timings to do it. Then, finally, in the second half we found the goal that kind of released a little bit of the anxiousness we had.”

Pareja rotated his squad heavily for this match, starting Homegrown goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar in net behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Rodrigo Schlegel, Smith, and Michael Halliday. Wilder Cartagena and Felipe started in central midfield behind an attacking line of Shak Mohammed, Martin Ojeda, and Enrique with new Designated Player Luis Muriel up top.

With the Lions entering at +3 on aggregate and playing a lot of young players, it’s no surprise that the first half was a bit sleepy. The first look at goal in the match came nine minutes in when Enrique directed a weak header on at Cavalry goalkeeper Marco Carducci off Ojeda’s corner kick.

Muriel was active in his first action with Orlando, directing a header on frame in the 14th minute and nearly scoring a fantastic goal a minute later. The Colombian dribbled through the Cavalry defense from midfield in transition. Upon entering the box, two defenders closed him down. Muriel still managed to direct a shot on goal but Carducci was able to make a sprawling save.

Orlando should have scored in the 17th minute. Ojeda made a slick move in the box to get past a sliding defender. He crossed for Halliday but the young fullback muffed his first touch and sent the ball wide of the left post. There was a video review for a possible Cavalry handball but no penalty was given.

Enrique was active but had a wasteful first half. He tried to inside-out a shot at the near post in the 22nd minute but missed the target.

The visitors almost snatched the lead in the 27th minute. A corner kick cross found its way to Charlie Trafford through traffic. Trafford’s header skipped just wide of the right post and the game remained scoreless.

Muriel fired just wide of the left post in the 29th after Orlando turned the visitors over in their own end. Three minutes later, Enrique tried an ambitious one-timer from a tight angle on the right but hit it right at Carducci. There were better options for the Argentine on the play. Enrique then got to a Halliday cross in the 36th minute but headed it right at Carducci. That was the last good look of the half.

At the half, Orlando led on the stat sheet but neither side had a goal. The Lions held the advantage in possession (51.4%-48.6%), shots (8-3), shots on target (4-0), passing accuracy (88.7%-86.3%), and corners (3-1).

“Against Montreal it took us a while in the first half to get some rhythm. I know the boys don’t want me to make any excuse, and I won’t do it, but today with kind of the same start, I would like to review, because we don’t want it to happen. But after that I thought we got the rhythm. And the break of the half, we just calmed the team down a little. I told them we have to settle first. Let’s not try to do super advanced things if we’re not doing the simple ones. Let’s do the simple ones first and just let the game come.”

Pareja subbed on Lodeiro and Cesar Araujo for Mohammed and Cartagena to start the second half. The Lions nearly scored just seconds after the restart when they turned Cavalry over in front of goal, but Ojeda’s shot was blocked behind for a corner.

Orlando finally broke the deadlock near the end of the 48th minute. Muriel ended up with the ball on the right and cut toward the middle. Spotting Lodeiro to his left, he dropped a pass off for the veteran midfielder, who fired off the left post and in to make it 1-0. It was Lodeiro’s first goal and Muriel’s first assist with the Lions.

“It was a play where we were able to recover the ball, and then first thing that we did was try and look to get in on goal,” Muriel said through a club interpreter. “The goalkeeper picked up his head and was able to shut that door. But then Nico was calling for me. I heard him calling for me to pass him the ball, and he’s a great player, and seeing him inside was was great. And he was able to get that goal. So, it was a beautiful play, and I’m happy for the way things went, because up until that point, it was a complicated game.”

“It’s always nice when guys can come in and contribute right off the get-go,” said Stajduhar, the longest tenured Lion. “So, it was nice to see Nico get that goal today and Luis getting assists. So, the fact that they’re already contributing and playing well is going to be a good sign for the group going forward.”

Stajduhar was forced into a save on Bevan in the 53rd minute from a tough angle. He should have handled it better but spilled it out for a corner. Fortunately for the Lions, the visitors could do nothing with the set piece.

Moments later, Daan Klomp was booked for taking down Muriel who was breaking in transition the other way for Orlando.

Eryk Kobza tried his luck from outside the area in the 57th minute but didn’t get his effort on target. A minute later, Carducci did well on a 1-v-1 save to deny Enrique, who was judged offside anyway after the shot.

Ojeda had a takeaway at the hour mark and started the break. Enrique picked out Lodeiro entering the box but his first touch was poor and the veteran chipped over the net from a tough angle on the right.

Bevan pulled a goal back for Cavalry in the 65th minute. Halliday couldn’t keep the cross from fizzing through the box from Stajduhar’s right. Schlegel had the opposing forward covered but didn’t make the play when the ball came through. It was an easy tap-in for Bevan to tie the game at 1-1.

Orlando regained the lead in the 71st minute. Enrique took a pass from Lodeiro and fired a blast from the top left corner of the box. His laser shot found the upper right corner of the goal behind Carducci to make it 2-1.

“Mason hit it long to me, I nodded it on Nico, and then Nico was able to get it back to me,” Enrique said about the play. “And I just figured, ‘Have a hit,’ and thankfully it went in.

The game was a bit back-and-forth after that for a while. Ali Musse sent a volley shot just wide of Stajduhar’s goal in the 72nd minute from just outside the area.

Second-half sub Facundo Torres scored in the 74th minute but the flag came up as he was in ahead of Enrique, who could have taken the shot himself. Enrique then fired way off target a minute later.

Stajduhar did well to grab a shot by William Akio in the 76th minute. The keeper also had his post well covered in the 87th minute when Bradley Kamdem headed wide off a late Cavalry corner kick.

Smith tacked on a third for Orlando in the 88th minute after switching to left back. Smith sent Torres down the left and continued his run into the box. Torres took the ball down the left and cut back toward the top of the area, dropping the ball off for Smith, who sent his first-time shot into the right side of the net, putting the match to bed at 3-1.

That third goal took the air out of the match and it was over moments later.

Cavalry came back to edge Orlando in possession (51.1%-48.9%), but Orlando finished with the advantage in shots (14-12), shots on target (7-3), passing accuracy (84.9%-83.7%), and corners (6-4).

“It seems like being more patient in the sequences, we created more options,” Pareja said. “And also, when we look organized we have a better opportunity to counterattack with better spaces.”

“You could definitely let it affect you, but here we didn’t,” Halliday said of entering the game with a three-goal advantage. “We just said, ‘It’s another game we have to win. Just win the game.’ Same mentality.”

“I’m happy with the group,” Pareja said. “I think we all kind of refreshed today with a group playing that have not played and the ones who have been were resting. So, I’m happy now, just thinking about the derby (against Inter Miami on Saturday). We’ll think about the next step in Concacaf next week.”

The Lions are back in action Saturday when they travel to Fort Lauderdale to take on Inter Miami at 4:30 p.m. Orlando City will return to Concacaf Champions Cup action at home on March 5 against Mexican giants Tigres. The kickoff time will be announced in the coming days.

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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