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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. D.C. United: Final Score 3-2 as Lions Score Twice Late to Win

Duncan McGuire’s stoppage time goal capped a wild comeback win on the road by the Cardiac Cats.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

The Lions flipped the script. After suffering numerous sucker punches at the hands of D.C. United over the years, Orlando City (2-3-2, 8 points) finally turned around the narrative, scoring twice late to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 win over D.C. United (2-2-4, 10 points) at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.

Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, David Brekalo, and Duncan McGuire scored for Orlando, as the “Killer Ds” did enough to offset goals by Christian Benteke and Gabriel Pirani. The goals by Brekalo and McGuire each came after the start of the 82nd minute. The victory snapped a four-game winless streak against D.C. (0-3-1) for Orlando, which picked up its first road win of the 2024 MLS season and, in fact, scored its first three road goals of the league campaign.

“Obviously very happy with the result, and I want to give all the credit to these players that gave everything and understood how to play it, in many ways that we didn’t want to play,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “But we tried to match that model of D.C., of playing a long ball and finding those second balls.”

Pareja’s lineup included Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Brekalo, and Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena started in central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Facundo Torres, and Martin Ojeda, with Luis Muriel up top.

The first half was an open affair at times and Orlando nearly unlocked D.C.’s defense three minutes in when Muriel made a nice run up the right side. However, his final pass hit the trailing foot of a defender and ruined the chance. Ojeda then scored a minute later but he was correctly flagged for offside after the ball crossed the line. It was a close play, but Ojeda was a half-step behind the last defender.

That was costly, as D.C. then opened the scoring seconds later.

A good attack up the left side ended with a D.C. cross through the penalty area. Smith did well to play safe and knock it behind for a corner. The hosts scored off that corner when Gallese came off his line to track the ball and ran into a D.C. player, going down hard in his area. While referees blow those kinds of plays dead about 95% of the time, Guido Gonzalez, Jr. swallowed his whistle and Benteke’s looping header into a gaping net put D.C. in front in the fifth minute.

United was buoyed by the goal and continued to attack aggressively. Kristian Fletcher missed the net in the eighth minute, and Benteke tried a flying volley on a bouncing cross from Aaron Herrera in the 16th but missed the target. Two minutes later, Gallese stopped a wicked blast from Herrera to keep it at 1-0. Gallese then collected a weak header from Lucas Bartlett on the ensuing corner kick as it appeared the Lions were in for a long night of suffering.

But Orlando settled into the match after the second D.C. corner. A good spell of possession led to a cross from Smith on the left, but the fullback overcooked his attempt and the attack broke down in the 20th minute. Moments later, Muriel chested down a cross into Ojeda’s path, but the Argentine swung right past the ball while it was still in the air, missing it completely from just above the penalty spot. Torres blasted a shot just inches wide of the right post in the 23rd minute as the Lions kept up the pressure, which finally paid off.

Angulo used a burst of speed to free himself on the left and sent a great cross to the back post. Thorhallsson made no mistake, driving his header low and into the net on one hop to make it 1-1 in the 28th minute. It was Orlando’s first road goal of the season.

“When (Angulo) got the ball, I was like “OK, he’s going to try to go past (his defender),” Thorhallsson said of the play. “In the trainings we’ve been trying to get me there (the back post), so he just ran there and put the ball perfectly on my head. There was nothing more that I could have done than just run on the ball, basically, and put it in goal. So, all credit to Ivan and great to get the first goal of the season.”

After a failed D.C. corner kick, the Lions came close again in the 35th minute when Angulo had a shot blocked in front of Alex Bono by the defense. Torres then sent in a dangerous cross that Connor Antley headed out for a corner, but Ojeda sent the set piece cross right at the goalkeeper.

Muriel nearly opened his MLS account with Orlando City in the 38th minute. An outstanding long ball from Ojeda sent Muriel down the right. He collected the ball and fizzed the ball past Bono but Herrera tracked back to block it.

The chippy nature of the match picked up near the end of the half, with four D.C. players and Cartagena getting booked as time wound down. Neither team could create much in the five minutes of stoppage time, although Muriel blasted a shot that buzzed over the crossbar late in added time. The teams went to the break knotted up at 1-1.

Orlando City finished the first half with the advantage in possession (53.2%-46.8%) and passing accuracy (81.9%-78.9%), while D.C. had more shots (9-5), shots on target (3-1), and corners (4-2).

“I thought the first half we played better with the ball and we had some options,” Pareja said.

The second half continued to be a back-and-forth open affair, with both teams creating some havoc.

Muriel nearly played Angulo in behind shortly after the restart but Bono came out of his box quickly and got there just in time to knock it out of play. Torres then made the first of a couple of bad crosses, sending a ball from the left onto the roof of the net with Ojeda breaking open at the back post.

Torres then won a free kick out on the left side. Ojeda sent in a good cross but Brekalo couldn’t quite get his head onto it in the 51st minute. A minute later, Angulo stole the ball in the attacking half, but Torres again overcooked a cross, sending it over everyone from the left.

Bartlett sent a weak shot wide in the 56th minute off a corner kick that appeared to be a goal kick. D.C. then had a mad scramble in front of Gallese. The Peruvian made a vital save on Benteke, but the big striker was offside anyway.

D.C. got back on the front foot and good pressure and more possession helped the host take control of the match for a while. A wild scramble in front of goal in the 58th minute nearly allowed United to take the lead, but Gallese made a vital stop even though the play was ultimately blown dead for offside on Benteke.

The hosts regained the lead in the 66th minute in transition. It looked as though Muriel was pulled back from behind and the Colombian went to ground, but the referee played on and D.C. punished the Lions. With a defender jumping into the play, United ended up with numbers in the attack. A ball off Benteke’s head in the box found the foot of second-half substitute Pirani, who blasted it past a helpless Gallese to make it 2-1 in the 66th minute.

Moments after the second goal, Smith failed to get his body turned properly in front of a bouncing ball passing through the middle. He was intead called for a handball, gifting D.C. a dangerous free kick straight out from goal. Herrera went for goal and his shot cleared the wall but did not dip back under Gallese’s crossbar.

Pareja made three changes at the cusp of the 73rd minute, sending on Nico Lodeiro, McGuire, and Rafael Santos, and withdrawing Cartagena, Ojeda, and Smith. It proved in the end to be a shrewd set of subs.

McGuire quickly won a free kick near the left corner of the box but Orlando City couldn’t do anything with the set piece.

Lodeiro had a go from outside the box in the 82nd minute. His blast from long range had a lot of movement on it and it was on target, forcing Bono to tip it over the crossbar. That led to the equalizer just seconds later.

Lodeiro delivered the corner kick from Orlando’s attacking right (although the stats sheet said it was Torres) and sent a good ball into the area near the top of the six. It appeared that the ball may have glanced off Benteke’s header attempt, skipped off the back of Brekalo’s head, and nestled into the left corner, tying the match at 2-2 in the 82nd minute. It was Brekalo’s first goal with Orlando City.

D.C. nearly pulled the goal right back in the 84th minute. Off a set piece, the ball ended up with Benteke who headed it toward goal. The shot was blocked by Brekalo and fell for Pirani, who smashed a blast into the outside netting from the left side.

Santos tried to pick out McGuire in the front with a cross in the 89th minute, but it was blocked out for a corner kick. The ball was headed in the air and Angulo attacked it at the top of the box but was called for a foul, ending the attack.

D.C. had a dangerous spell of possession near the top of the penalty area just after that set piece, but the goal ended up going the other way. Orlando picked out an attempted through ball and Angulo sent it quickly to Lodeiro. The Uruguayan turned and sent a perfect ball to McGuire, who had kept his foot on the center line and got in behind the defense. The second-year pro dribbled toward the top of the box and blasted a shot just inside the right post, beating Bono and handing Orlando City a late 3-2 lead in the first minute of stoppage time.

“It’s fantastic for us to have such professional players, whether they come in from the start or they come in from the bench, they’re just giving their heart and they’re giving their soul on the pitch,” Pareja said of his subs. “Nico, when he came on with Duncan, they showed us the unity those players had and the intentions that they have just to put this team on the top again. We’re trying to find our best version still, but it was really encouraging for us to see the response of them when they came from the bench. It helped us a lot.”

There was a lengthy check to make sure the initial call on the field was correct, and the video assistant referee upheld the original call. McGuire’s goal was his third against D.C. United in as many meetings. He has scored in each of the three matchups against United since joining Orlando City.

The Lions had to see out a minimum of 11 minutes of added time, which ultimately grew to nearly 15. That’s when Gallese earned his money.

The Peruvian international made a good reaction save in the 93rd minute to deny Pirani. He denied a cannon shot by Herrera from the top of the box in the 99th minute, preserving the lead once again.

Orlando finally ran out the clock on the match and claimed its first road win of the year. The Lions extended their unbeaten streak to three matches (2-0-1).

United led all over the stat sheet in the end, finishing with the advantage in possession (51.6%-48.4%), shots (20-10), shots on target (6-4), corners (7-4), and passing accuracy (77.4%-76.7%). However, the Lions were more clinical, especially late in the match.

“The second half they gave us a little trouble there with D.C.’s style, but we resolved it and then we found our ways to score, which is fantastic for our team at this moment,” Pareja said. “The most important (thing) is the heart the players showed today. They have done it before but not (getting) results, and we’ve had a result that is very important for us in this moment.”

“I would say it’s a great feeling (in the locker room),” Thorhallsson said. “I feel like we needed that to show a little bit of character. When we get concede a goal, I feel like we’ve been a little bit down and we can’t get out of it. And it shows that no matter the circumstances, if we concede a goal, we can still bounce back, and we did that really well.”

The Lions will be continue their road swing next Saturday at Montreal.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points at home against the Crew?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Orlando City earned seven points during a three-match stretch over eight days. Now the Lions will look to keep things rolling against the Columbus Crew this Saturday night at Inter&Co Stadium. The Crew are currently sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 21 points compared to Orlando City in 10th with 16 points.

What do the Lions need to do to get a victory at home against the Crew?

Switch Focus

Orlando City has lucked out because Columbus striker Cucho Hernández will not play, as he is nursing a back injury. Hernández has often been a thorn in Orlando’s side when the clubs play, so his absence is definitely good news. However, that doesn’t mean that the defense can relax. The Crew still have a potent attack with players like Diego Rossi, Jacen Russell-Rowe, Aidan Morris, and others. Columbus has scored 19 goals so far this season, which is four more than Orlando’s 15. I think it is likely that Oscar Pareja will stick with the 3-5-2 formation, meaning the pressure will be on the back three of David Brekalo, Wilder Cartagena, and Rodrigo Schlegel.

Goals Needed

Orlando City left it late against San Jose before Jack Lynn scored in the 89th minute to give the Lions a victory. That’s not to say there weren’t wasted chances — because there were — but it was enough that night. It likely won’t be enough against Columbus. We don’t know the status of Duncan McGuire’s injury as of this writing, but I would be surprised to see him in the lineup, let alone getting the start. That means we will likely see Jack Lynn alongside Luis Muriel up top. Lynn is no McGuire, but he is able to get into good spaces in the box and has a nose for goal. Another goal from him or Muriel could make a big difference.

Scheduling Factors

I’m not saying that Wilfried Nancy will be looking ahead to the Concacaf Champions Cup final against Pachuca the following week, but a trophy is a trophy, and it could impact who he plays and for how long. He might be keeping Hernández out for precautionary reasons to allow him time to be ready for the final. It’s possible that he risks points against Orlando City in pursuit of hardware. Pareja doesn’t have it any easier with Orlando City playing a midweek match at the Chicago Fire next Wednesday before heading to New Jersey for a match against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, June 1. May has been brutal for the Lions, and though the team has made the most of it so far, it doesn’t get any easier. How much will rotation affect Orlando’s ability to get all three points?

That is what I will be looking for Saturday night. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/23/24

Orlando Pride prepare for the Portland Thorns, Pride Brazilian trio called up, Atalanta wins Europa League, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Thursday finds you well as we all get ready for a busy next few days of Orlando soccer to enjoy. It’s been a fairly busy couple of days for me, and I plan on knocking out a few errands before enjoying the upcoming matches. Until then, let’s enjoy today’s links!

Pride Prepare to Host the Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride have a huge home game against the Portland Thorns tomorrow night. It will be a clash of win streaks, as the Pride have won their past seven games and the Thorns have won their last six. Pride Head Coach Seb Hines is well aware that Portland is a formidable foe with talented players such as Sophia Smith, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Sam Coffey. He spoke on how tomorrow will be a challenge, as well as how playing at home will give the Pride a boost during the game.

Pride Trio Called Up by Brazil

The Pride’s Marta, Rafaelle, and Adriana were all called up for Brazil’s pair of friendlies against Jamaica in Brazil on June 1 and June 4.

These matches will help Brazil prepare for a tough group in the Olympics against Spain, Japan, and Nigeria. Angelina, who featured for Brazil during the SheBelieves Cup, was not called up due to an injury sustained while with the Pride. Although these games will take place during an international break, the Pride do have a road game against the San Diego Wave on June 7, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hines gives them some rest for that match.

Assessing Emma Hayes’ Time With Chelsea

It felt like forever ago that it was announced Chelsea’s Emma Hayes would leave the club to replace Vlatko Andonovski and coach the USWNT. A great article by ESPN broke down what USWNT fans can learn from her time with Chelsea, including how she’s dealt with the adversity she’s faced both on and off the field. Her impending exit put a spotlight on Chelsea’s season, and she still managed to secure the league title despite the pressure. Chelsea also announced that five members of the coaching staff will leave the club to join Hayes at the USWNT. It’s a new era for the USWNT, and Hayes brings plenty of experience and leadership to the position.

Atalanta Crushes Leverkusen to Win Europa League

Italian club Atalanta lifted the Europa League trophy after a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin. The day belonged to Nigerian winger Ademola Lookman, who scored a hat trick that included this stunner that doubled Atalanta’s lead in the first half.

It’s Atalanta’s second trophy in club history, and first in 61 years. It’s also the first trophy for manager Gian Piero Gasperini after coaching in Italy for 30 years. This result snapped Leverkusen’s remarkable unbeaten streak at 51 games, and ended the club’s bid at a treble. Bayer Leverkusen will aim to bounce back Saturday when it plays FC Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon has issued a challenge to Orlando City fans for the upcoming trio of Orlando soccer home games, so it may be worth your while to get tickets for the Lions, Pride, and OCB this weekend.
  • Pride forward Amanda Allen placed 16th in ESPN‘s rankings of the 17 teenagers currently playing in the National Women’s Soccer League (the author deemed it unfair to assess Milly Clegg without seeing her on the field more). Allen mostly just hasn’t had much playing time, but that could change over the summer.
  • Former Pride player Camille Ashton (known as Cami Levin when she played in the Pride midfield in 2016 and 2017) has resigned as the general manager of the Kansas City Current.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/22/24

Lions and Pride reflect on victories, Christian Pulisic’s Serie A recognition, the USWNT roster drops, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. I know that a lot of you are Orlando Pride supporters as well as Orlando City supporters, but for those of you who aren’t, you are really missing out. Superstar players, undefeated, top of the table, and this team hasn’t even played up to its potential yet. Seriously, you need to get out to a match if you can. For now, let’s get to the links.

Talking About Orlando City

You can tell Oscar Pareja loves his players. He is the type of coach that nearly always has only good things to say regardless of the result. Of course, when the club gets a win on the road in the third match in eight days, thanks to the fourth striker on the depth chart. Jack Lynn takes a professional approach to being the backup and prepares to play in every match. It’s also nice when he scores a match-winning goal.

So how did the power rankings treat the Lions for the road victory? Orlando City moved up three spots to 19, thanks to earning seven points in the last three matches. That’s better than the ESPN rankings we shared yesterday. ESPN also had the Lions at 19 but dropped them a spot in doing so.

Seb and Sams Speak

The Orlando Pride have a chance this Friday to set an NWSL win streak record in the match against the Portland Thorns, but first Seb Hines, Rafaelle, and Emily Sams reflected on the win against the Seattle Reign. Hines was rightly happy with the result but said he still feels his team has room to improve. I agree with him, despite the Pride being on top of the table and undefeated.

Rafaelle felt the victory showed the team how much mental fortitude the Pride have to be able to secure the road win. She also thinks that being at home with a chance to break the win streak record will make the team work that much harder. Sams reflected on her first NWSL goal but said she just wants to focus on getting three points each match.

Pulisic and Wright Shine

Christian Pulisic’s year keeps getting better. He had such a a good season for AC Milan that he has been named a finalist for Serie A Midfielder of the Year. The other finalists are Inter Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu and Atalanta’s Teun Koopmeiners. Pulisic has 19 goal contributions in 35 appearances for AC Milan.

The USMNT’s pre-Copa America roster dropped Monday, and it looks like Haji Wright will potentially see some action at winger for Gregg Berhalter. The move provides some needed depth at the position and may give Wright more playing time. Of course, Wright and Pulisic aren’t the only players of interest. You can check out a breakdown of the players called up here.

Hayes’ First USWNT Roster Announced

The Olympics are rapidly approaching and new USWNT Head Coach Emma Hayes has announced the 23-player roster for the final two matches against South Korea before the final Olympic roster is named. There are a mix of veteran and younger players in the group. Notably, there are 19 players who won the SheBelieves Cup back in April. It also sees the return of Rose Lavelle, who missed the SheBelieves Cup due to injury. While not altogether surprising, it is still disappointing on one level for Pride fans that Emily Sams didn’t get a call-up.

Free Kicks

  • Congratulations to Orlando Pride midfielder Ally Lemos on her call-up to the USWNT U-20s for the matches against the Korea Republic.
  • Philadelphia Union keeper Andre Blake has reportedly signed a new longterm contract with the club.
  • The USMNT U-15 squad defeated Japan to take first place in the Vlatko Markovic Tournament. Congratulations to the young Yanks.
  • Bayer Leverkusen will play in two cup finals in four days, starting with today’s Europa League championship against Atalanta. The second final is for the German Cup this Saturday against Kaiserslautern.
  • Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea have parted ways after only one season. Potchettino’s departure was mutually agreed upon. The coaching carousel continues.
  • Emanuel Reynoso from Minnesota United is reportedly headed to Liga MX side Club Tijuana.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the matches this weekend. Vamos Orlando!

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