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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Final Score 2-2 as Lions’ Transition Defense Fails in Road Draw

For the second straight week, the Lions fell behind twice only to fight back. However, there was no winner this time..



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City came from behind twice for the second consecutive road game. However, this time, there was no late winner in a 2-2 draw against CF Montreal at Stade Saputo in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The teams split the points in both meetings this season, although at least there were goals in this one.

Facundo Torres and Ivan Angulo scored for Orlando (2-3-3, 9 points), offsetting strikes by Mason Toye and Ariel Lassiter of Montreal (3-3-2, 11 points). The Lions are unbeaten in four straight games (2-0-2), although the play of the defense continues to be puzzlingly poor. Orlando conceded multiple goals for the fourth consecutive road match, including another early one.

“We’re happy with the performance and tying the game at the end seems like it could be a good result, but we were eager to win it at the end as well, and we could have walked out with three points against a good team,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the game. “But the game itself was very competitive. I thought we played an excellent first half but we could maybe be clearer in those last actions there, but we really played well. The second half, they got some momentum from (when) they got the goal (late), but after that, I think we dominated the game.”

Pareja’s lineup had only one change from the starting XI that defeated D.C. United a week ago. Pedro Gallese started in goal behind a back line of Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, David Brekalo, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena took their usual spots in the defensive midfield behind an attacking line of Angulo, Nico Lodeiro (in for Martin Ojeda), and Torres, with Luis Muriel up top.

Both teams started the match probing the other’s defenses, so much of the play early was between the penalty boxes. Jansson was booked early for something early in the match while looking to restart play after an infraction on Montreal, which seemed to surprise the Swede.

The opening goal came out of nowhere on the first real chance for either side. Montreal’s Samuel Piette was in his own half of the field, but wasn’t closed down. Toye timed his run well and roasted the Orlando City back line, which was caught sleeping. Toye took down the pass from Piette, rounded Gallese, who had come off of his line, and slammed the ball into the empty net from the left. It was the kind of sleepy play from the defense that has been on display since the season started, and it bit the Lions again, putting Montreal on top just 16 minutes in.

Orlando City pulled the goal right back with some help from Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois. Lodeiro slipped the ball into the area for Muriel, who arrived at the ball at the same time as Sirois. The Montreal goalkeeper appeared to get a touch to the ball but then got a lot of Muriel in the 19th minute, and referee Jon Freemon wasted no time pointing to the spot. The play was checked and the penalty call was upheld.

Torres sent Sirois the wrong way and blasted the ball into the upper left corner of the net to make it 1-1 in the 22nd minute.

Torres’ goal was the first by an Orlando City Designated Player in 2024, although it was from the penalty spot.

Thorhallsson had an opportunity to put the Lions ahead a minute after the penalty conversion on a ball into the box that ricocheted into his feet. The Icelandic fullback, however, could not find the handle and lost control of the ball right in front of goal. A minute after that chance, Muriel came close to scoring his first MLS goal from the top of the area, sending his shot just wide of the upper left corner.

Montreal defender George Campbell wasn’t closed down from long range in the 29th minute, so he had a hit. Campbell’s shot didn’t miss by much, but it was always high and buzzed the back of the top of the net on the way down.

Smith had a golden opportunity in the 41st minute, getting into the left side of the box. But the fullback hit his shot/cross just wide of the far post and out of play. Orlando had a few set piece opportunities in the later stages of the second half but could do nothing with them.

Similarly, Montreal had a free kick in a dangerous spot, courtesy of an unnecessary foul by Cartagena. Choiniere went for goal or the back post in the 45th minute, but either way it was comfortable for Gallese to stop.

Orlando got a bit sloppy with the ball late in the half, allowing Montreal to get a lot of late possession, but little came of it. The last chance of the half fell to Torres from long range, but the Uruguayan hit his shot poorly and sent it soaring high over the goal.

The teams went to the break all tied up at 1-1. Orlando’s biggest problem in the first half, aside from falling asleep to allow the opening goal, was getting into promising situations and then delivering passes either slighly off line or too close to a defender to easily knock away.

Montreal held a slight edge in possession (50.3%-49.7%), passed more accurately (84.2%-82.3%), and put more of its shots on target (2-1). Orlando City attempted more shots (4-3), and won more corners (2-0).

The hosts held possession for most of the first four minutes of the second half. Montreal played direct more out of the break and nearly created something just seconds after the restart. Smith had to be sharp to knock away a dangerous cross from the left in the 46th minute.

Thorhallsson nearly found Angulo on Orlando’s first attack of the half in the 50th minute. The fullback sent a ball to the top of the six but Sirois got there just ahead of Angulo to smother the chance.

Montreal then attacked quickly and got in behind down the left. Gallese made a vital save with his left hand to deny Lassiter at the other end.

Lodeiro nearly picked out Thorhallsson with a dangerous cross in the 52nd minute but the defense arrived just in time to knock it behind for a corner. The Lions took the corner short and made a complete mess of it.

Jansson provided a vital block in front in the 55th minute to deny a cross getting in to Toye after Thorhallsson lost track of Raheem Edwards on the wing. The corner was headed away by Jansson. Edwards gathered and fired from distance but his shot was well wide of the left post.

Muriel conceded a set piece in the 59th minute, dropping back to help when Orlando was struggling to break out of its own end. The ball in was knocked away by Gallese, but he needed a visit from the trainers at the next play stoppage. The Peruvian was able to continue, and Muriel was subbed out for Duncan McGuire.

A good ball out of the back sprung McGuire down the left in the 69th minute. The striker picked out Torres crashing into the box but the Uruguayan’s shot was blocked by Joaquin Sosa.

Montreal appeared to score the late game-winning goal in the 88th minute and once again it was a direct play that sliced the Orlando defense open. A diagonal ball somehow got through Brekalo, who seemed to have it measured. Instead, it ended up on the foot of substitute Sunusi Ibrahim, who curled back to the top of the area and fired a shot. Gallese got down to parry it away but Smith got caught ball watching and did not have Lassiter marked, allowing him to swoop in and score an easy goal. Montreal led 2-1 with just two minutes remaining in normal time.

“We are trying to have more cohesiveness with the players that are starting or playing the game,” Pareja said of his defense. “Our lines have to be better. Conceding early goals or conceding goals especially in the first half for us is something we need to resolve and we need to figure it out. How can we be more solid? Not just a defender’s problem. It’s a collective problem. We all have to be in charge.”

It didn’t look like Orlando’s night when McGuire missed the net moments later. Off a set piece, the ball was headed by Jansson to his right, where McGuire volleyed it out of the air. His shot looked to be headed inside the top left corner but he missed the net wide by inches in the 90th minute.

No matter though. The Lions scored two minutes into stoppage time instead. McGuire played the ball out to Ojeda on the left and the Argentine drove toward the end line and sent a cross into the area in front of Sirois. Angulo won the race to the ball and put it in the net, scoring his first league goal of the season and tying the game in the 92nd minute.

“I saw ‘Tincho’ bringing it up into space on the left wing,” Angulo said through a club interpreter. “He found himself in a good spot and I saw a space that I could attack. I was able to attack the space right behind the fullback, and thankfully Tincho was able to get me the ball, and all I had to do was to push it in to get that tying goal,”

“The good news is that we are scoring now, that we are overcoming difficult moments, and the forwards are stepping up as well,” Pareja said.

The Lions nearly pulled off a mirror image of that goal five minutes later. Ojeda again got to the end line on the left and sent in a cross toward Angulo. This time the cross was just inches out of Angulo’s reach and skipped through the box.

Orlando ended the game with a series of corner kicks, but could not score on the set pieces and the game ended deadlocked.

Montreal’s stronger second half was reflected on the stats sheet. The hosts held the advantage in possession (53.5%-46.5%), shots (10-8), shots on target (5-2), and passing accuracy (84.6%-81.6%). The Lions won more corners (8-1).

“It was very tough game, very disputed game,” Angulo said. “A bunch of running. The way they like to play, they love to attack through the wings, so there was a lot there. But I feel like we rose to the level of the game. The way we played, we probably deserved three points, but happy to walk out of here with a point tonight.”

“After we have our results at home and we come out to this journey to go two games away against rivals who are direct and difficult rivals, and now we get these four points, just leaves us with the feeling that we are much more like us,” Pareja said. “The team is raising the confidence and everybody’s raising the level, and now we have two games at home where we have a big responsibility to keep adding and keep getting closer to the (top) of the standings.”

Orlando City returns home to face another Canadian side, as Toronto FC visits Inter&Co Stadium next Saturday.

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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