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Orlando City vs. FC Cincinnati: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to ensure a victory over FC Cincinnati Saturday at home?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City looks to bounce back from the disappointing 2-1 loss to Toronto FC Saturday night at Inter&Co Stadium. Cincinnati has twice as many points as Orlando City and more than twice as many wins. FCC has only scored one more goal than Orlando City, but with only nine goals conceded compared to Orlando City’s 17, it’s easy to see why Cincinnati is sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference.

What I’m trying to say is that the task doesn’t get any easier this weekend. What does Orlando City need to do to secure all three points at home against FC Cincinnati?

Accost Acosta

Cincinnati’s attack revolves around Luciano Acosta. The attacking midfielder has four goals and five assists so far this season. To put that into perspective, Duncan McGuire — Orlando City’s leading scorer — also has four goals but only one assist. If we look at the Lions’ attacking midfielders, Facundo Torres has one goal and one assist, Ivan Angulo and Nico Lodeiro both have one goal and two assists, and Martin Ojeda has zero goals and only one assist. Luis Muriel is still at double zeroes.

The defensive midfield and the back line must do everything possible to mark him out of the match. It’s not enough to keep him from scoring, they must also keep him from setting up chances for his teammates. Most importantly, the defense must do that for 90 minutes plus stoppage time. There is no room for the mental lapses we’ve seen throughout the first part of this season.

Break Through

Cincinnati is stingy on defense. As I mentioned above, the club has only allowed nine goals this season. The back line is formidable with the likes of Matt Miazga, Miles Robinson, and Ian Murphy. On the wings are DeAndre Yedlin and Luca Orellano. This is a tough defense, and whether it is McGuire or Muriel who gets the start, they must find the spaces in between.

Just as importantly, Torres, Angulo, Ojeda, and Lodeiro — depending on who is in at any given moment — must be able to thread the passes in for McGuire, Muriel, or each other to create quality chances. On top of that, the Lions must convert on those chances, which is not something that has been a strength so far this season. If the Orlando City defense continues to give up cheap goals, then the offense will need to one-up the competition when it comes to scoring.

Deal with an Unknown

FC Cincinnati recently signed Venezuelan forward Kevin Kelsy from Ukrainian Premier League club Shakhtar Donetsk. Kelsy comes in as an MLS U22 Initiative player and is eligible to play against Orlando City. Even though Kelsy is only 19, he has 68 professional appearances, including UEFA Champions Leagues matches. At 6-foot-3, he can be a challenge for defenders, especially in the air.

Kelsy hasn’t had much time with the team, but he could be a second-half substitution for Cincinnati. Given that Orlando City just gave up two late headers against Toronto FC, the back line will need to be careful that Kelsy doesn’t hurt the Lions in the same manner — especially if he comes on late when legs and minds are tired.


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

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. LAFC: Five Takeaways

Here’s what we learned from a wastefull loss to LAFC.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

After two weeks off, Orlando City returned to action and unfortunately is still struggling to finish chances, falling 3-1 at home to Western Conference powerhouse LAFC. A rollercoaster game, which saw the Lions control a good majority of the action, was ultimately wasted in yet another disappointing home loss. What follows are my five takeaways from a match which truly feels like a microcosm of the entire Orlando City season thus far.

Wasteful Shot Attempts

After managing fewer than 10 total shot attempts over their last two matches combined, the Lions must have used the bye week to read The Mane Land and our stories imploring the Lions to shoot more throughout their matches. Shoot more they did, tallying 11 shot attempts in the first half alone. The major problem with those 11 shot attempts was that not a single one was on target. At this point it almost feels personal, as I am not sure how you create that many looks without at least putting one or two on frame in a half.

Our own Andrew DeSalvo recently broke down the math behind Orlando City’s recent scoring struggles, attributing them in large part to not getting shots on frame, and while the Lions improved their shot attempts total against LAFC, the accuracy to place even a small fraction of those attempts on target was sorely missing. Orlando finished with 19 shot attempts and 18 of them missed the mark. That includes the biggest miss of all…

Blown Penalty Kick

Orlando City looked threatening enough in the first half, even though it had failed to put a shot on target, and in the 31st minute Facundo Torres drew a penalty in the box after he was bundled over from behind by Eduard Atuesta. Up until this point in his career — not just his Orlando City career, but his entire career — Torres had been perfect from the spot. Five of his six previous penalty attempts had all been successful to the left toward the upper 90, with the sixth attempt slotted into the back of the net on the right. His first-half attempt again followed the general direction of the majority of his previous successes, but he unfortunately sent his rising shot just outside the top left corner.

It was a moment that truly summed up Torres’ (and Orlando City’s) struggles thus far on the season. If he’d been successful, Torres would have paid off Orlando’s early momentum and rewarded the team for dominating the game and the chances to that point. Instead, LAFC grew more comfortable in the game, held more possession the rest of the half, and converted its own penalty just before the break. Orlando entered the locker room as the better squad yet still faced a 1-0 deficit.

Hell, Cesar!

LAFC’s halftime lead didn’t have to happen, and despite the crowd not liking the call, Cesar Araujo committed a foul on Denis Bouanga in the box late in the first half. Orlando’s right-side defenders, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson and Rodrigo Schlegel, were caught out and Robin Jansson and Araujo rotated to cover for them. Between the two, they did well to force Bouanga wide to LAFC’s left side of goal, where the attacker had to either find a way in front through traffic or make a pass to a teammate to hurt Orlando. He may even have pulled the ball out wide to wait for support.

Araujo anticipated a cutback pass and went to ground, sliding to take away the lane. However, the midfielder caught Bouanga’s foot, bringing him down. Once Rubiel Vazquez determined there was contact, there was no way a video review would result in anything but a penalty. The replay showed contact, and that’s enough to eliminate any argument of a clear and obvious error. From a position to limit Bouanga’s threat, Araujo instead unwisely went to ground and ended up sending LAFC’s most lethal finisher to the penalty spot, where he beat the correct guess of Mason Stajduhar and gave the visitors the lead just before the break. It was a bad decision.

Ojeda’s Equalizer

Designated Player Martin Ojeda entered the match near the hour mark with Orlando City still down a goal. It didn’t take him long to affect the match in a positive way. In the 69th minute, Ojeda linked up with fellow DP Luis Muriel for a quick give and go, receiving a chip pass from Muriel right at the top of the six-yard box before slotting it past Hugo Lloris to tie the game at a goal apiece. Ojeda turned in one of his most confident performances of the season and appeared more comfortable in a substitute role which, by most metrics from a season ago, seemed to suit him well.

Speed Kills

After equalizing, Orlando City continued to hunt for the go-ahead goal and, for a brief moment in time, it looked as if it wasn’t a matter of if, but rather of when the Lions would take the lead. The hope of securing three points at home or even settling for a draw in a game evaporated late, as LAFC scored twice in six minutes to take a 3-1 lead. It’s hard put blame on any one aspect of the defense as there were multiple breakdowns that allowed LAFC to score quickly on the counterattack. But it was mainly the speed of Mateusz Bogusz and Bouanga, who simply outran everyone in purple to get in alone on Stajduhar’s goal. Orlando wasn’t badly outnumbered or outpositioned, but the pace of those two LAFC players was too much with that much space to defend.

While conceding goals on two quick counters was heartbreaking and ultimately sealed the match, it should be noted the Lions were more than wasteful with opportunities throughout the game, which could have resulted in a much different narrative.


That is how I saw things shake out in a disappointing loss yet again in front of the Orlando City faithful. What things; good or bad stood out to you in the 3-1 defeat? Let us know in the comments below and as always, vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City vs. LAFC: Final Score 3-1 as Wasteful Lions Fall on Late Counterattacks

Lions remain winless against the L.A. club after wasting numerous good scoring chances, including a penalty.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City remain winless against LAFC after wasting a good performance against one of the league’s top teams. After missing the net with numerous chances, including a penalty, and falling behind on an LAFC penalty just before halftime, Orlando (4-8-5, 17 points) battled back to tie the game, only to concede on two late counterattacks, falling 3-1 to LAFC (10-4-3, 33 points) in front of 22,563 at Inter&Co Stadium.

Denis Bouanga scored a brace and Mateusz Bogusz scored the game-winning goal to more than offset Martin Ojeda’s first goal of the MLS season. The Lions fell to an awful 1-5-3 in home games this season and dropped to 14th place in the Eastern Conference.

The story, once again, was missed opportunities. The Lions attempted 19 shots but put only one of them on target. Orlando City’s performance and energy level was good, but the team still can’t get the details right in front of the net, either missing the target, getting shots and final passes blocked, or outright refusing to shoot until it’s too late to do so.

“(I have) no more words at this time to recognize that we were superior, that we put that energy and outplayed them, but that’s not enough, obviously,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “In this industry, we need to win games, and you win games scoring goals. And that’s not happening.”

With Pedro Gallese, David Brekalo, and Wilder Cartagena away on international duty, Pareja’s lineup featured Mason Stajduhar in goal behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo was joined in central midfield by Nico Lodeiro behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Facundo Torres, and Luis Muriel, with Duncan McGuire up top.

The first half started cautiously, with neither side able to mount much of an attack against the other’s defense. Orlando won the game’s first corner in the seventh minute but the cross into the area was too close to Hugo Lloris, providing catching practice for the LAFC goalkeeper.

Orlando City then dominated most of the first half hour. Muriel got onto a Torres cross in the 11th minute but the pass was a bit too high and all the Colombian could do was nod it over. A minute later, no one closed down Lodeiro outside the box and the Uruguayan sent a screamer that sailed just inches over the crossbar.

The first look for LAFC came in minute 18, when a perfect cross just barely cleared Jansson’s head and found Kei Kamara, who headed wide.

McGuire fired a shot well over the bar in the 19th minute from just outside the area. Angulo fizzed a shot well wide on the recycle of a corner kick in the 20th.

Muriel then slipped Angulo down the left side of the area in the 23rd but the winger was hesitant to shoot and the defense arrived to dispossess him, on a play that encapsulated the 2024 OCSC season so far. Muriel then had a shot blocked by the defense a minute later.

Timothy Tillman finally got a shot for LAFC in the 31st minute but sent it right at Stajduhar for the first shot on target of the match for either side.

The Lions should have taken the lead in the 32nd minute. Torres was bundled over from behind by Eduard Atuesta in the box and Rubiel Vazquez immediately signaled for a penalty. Torres took the spot kick and crushed a cannon shot that just missed the top left corner, wasting a golden opportunity. The missed penalty was Torres’ first at any level of soccer in his entire career. He’d never missed the net or had one saved before his miss in this match.

The missed penalty gave LAFC life and the visitors started controlling more of the possession, but not doing much with it. Bouanga hadn’t had any opportunities to speak of , so he attempted a shot from long range in the 37th minute but sent the shot wide.

Bouanga then went for goal in the 42nd minute on a free kick conceded by Araujo, albeit on a soft call. The LAFC star sent his shot just inches wide of the right post into the outside netting.

The game turned in LAFC’s favor moments later on the counter attack. Bouanga’s speed was too much for Jansson as he charged down the left channel. Anticipating a cutback cross, Araujo went to ground and caught Bouanga’s foot in the 44th minute. Again, Vazquez immediately signaled for a penalty. Stajduhar guessed correctly but Bouanga’s shot beat him to make it 1-0 in the 45th minute.

The Lions couldn’t do anything with a couple of late corners in stoppage time and went to the locker room trailing after a good performance in all facets e

Orlando City held the first-half advantage in shots (11-6), corners (4-0), and passing accuracy (93.2%-89.5%), while LAFC held more of the ball (53.2%-46.8%) and shots on target (3-0). The Lions’ continued missing the net and passing up shots was the obvious difference between the two sides.

“When you have those metrics, and you see it, the first thing that we think is we can analyze and find answers through metrics, but I think it goes beyond that,” Pareja said about the team’s poor finishing. “Yeah, we have actions to score. I thought that we had possibilities, but we’re not being precise and taking a good timing to take a shot. We want to do an extra pass. What I can tell you, and this is something where I, as a coach, want to stand up and put my chest in front, is that this group, they all week were working on that part, and it’s not happening. It’s not happening. I’m here. I need to coach them. I need to guide them. I need to provide possibilities, and I want to review it again. But it is not me, the coach, that comes here to (put the) blame on them, especially when I see that group fighting the way they fought today.”

Bogusz took the first shot of the second half, sending an attempt off target in the 50th minute.

Orlando came agonizingly close in the 53rd minute on a short corner. Santos whipped in a cross that McGuire headed but didn’t steer on frame. The ball skipped just in front of Torres at the wide-open back post.

Angulo sent in a cross in the 59th minute but put too much on it. Torres did well to get a foot on it but couldn’t steer it anywhere near goal. That was about the last contribution from Angulo, who had a tough night with his touch, as he was replaced by Ojeda two minutes later.

The defense sagged off of Araujo in the 65th minute so the midfielder blasted a shot attempt that once again sailed off target.

Orlando finally put a shot on target in the 69th minute and it was a goal. Ojeda found Muriel at the top of the area and continued his run into the box. Muriel sent a scoop pass over the defense that fell perfectly for Ojeda, who touched it past Lloris to tie the match. It was Ojeda’s first MLS goal in 2024 and it gave the Lions life.

“Obviously, (Muriel) has got great skill, and he had a great touch on the ball,” Ojeda said of his give-and-go with the Colombian forward. “And he put it right to the space where I was thinking and I was able to finish it off, thankfully. So, to be able to score that goal, I was just really happy, especially in that moment that we tied the game and we put ourselves in a position where we could go and win the game. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way in the rest of the game, but that’s what happens.”

The goal snapped LAFC’s 644-minute shutout streak in all competitions and a 549-minute stretch without conceding in MLS play.

Encouraged by the goal, the Lions began hunting for a go-ahead goal. A good cross from Santos was nearly put in the net by LAFC defender Jesus Murillo, but it went wide for a corner. Orlando couldn’t do anything with that set piece or another won moments later by Torres.

The game-winner came in the 80th minute. Torres was on the ball in the attacking end and felt he was held and fouled as he was dispossessed. The ball fell for Bogusz on the right and the speedy winger blasted down the right channel past the Orlando defense and beat Stajduhar to put the visitors ahead in transition.

Orlando had a chance to pull the goal back in the 85th minute on a back-post cross by Lodeiro for Ojeda, but the ball was just a bit high and sailed out of play.

A minute later, Bouanga put the game away. Once again the Lions were beaten on the counterattack as LAFC’s talisman put the game away in the 86th minute.

“My first impression was that we didn’t have enough numbers to control the counter, but it wasn’t like that,” Pareja said. “I thought we had enough numbers and we had enough people to control that play. They were faster than us in that position. We knew that they had fast players, as well, but we were controlling them until we tied the game.”

The Lions had one more half-chance in stoppage time when Ojeda just missed a shot wide of the right post. Stajduhar then made a couple of saves at the other end and the game was over.

Orlando City finished with the advantage in possession (54.2%-45.8%), shots (19-12), corners (9-1), and passing accuracy (93%-87.5%). LAFC put more shots on target (7-1) and that tells the story not only of this match but of the 2024 season in general for Orlando.

“We knew that we needed to take the responsibility to push,” Pareja said. “That’s what we need to do at home and try to look for that goal that can give us the win. And then those two plays came, especially that second goal.”

“We had 19 shots, but we have to continue making sure that we’re trying to put those shots on goal, and put ourselves in clear chances to be able to finish, and to create those goals more,” Ojeda said. “Those are things that we know that we have to continue fixing. We have to continue trying and making sure that we’re improving, and that’s something that we talked about in the locker room. We are our biggest self critics in everything that we do.”

Pareja expressed respect for his team’s overall performance, but acknowledged that without scoring goals and putting shots on target, the team can’t get results.

“We were waiting to take a shot, and we’re taking one more pass, and we desperately just get in that moment when we were losing confidence,” he said. “And that’s where the coach comes (in). I need to help them somehow.”


After playing their first game in two weeks, the Lions have a short turnaround as the fixture schedule becomes more congested. Orlando City will visit Charlotte FC on Wednesday.

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Orlando City vs. LAFC: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions host Western Conference power LAFC with some key players out on international duty.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night matchup between Orlando City (4-7-5, 17 points) and Los Angeles FC (9-4-3, 30 points) at Inter&Co Stadium (7:30 p.m. MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the only scheduled meeting between the two cross-conference opponents this season.

Here’s what you need to know:

History

Orlando City has yet to taste victory against LAFC in league play (0-2-1), is 0-1-1 at home in the series, and is 0-2-2 in all competitions against the Black & Gold. What many people will remember as a win was actually a 1-1 draw and took place in the knockout stages of the MLS is Back Tournament in 2020 with Orlando City advancing on penalties.

These teams last met on April 2, 2022 in Orlando. The Lions fell behind twice in the first half on goals by Brian Rodriguez and Jesus David Murillo but fought back to pull level both times on strikes by Alexandre Pato and Joao Moutinho. However, Ilie Sanchez and Kwadwo Opoku struck in the second half for the visitors as LAFC won 4-2.

The Lions’ most memorable outing against LAFC came in the MLS is Back Tournament on July 31, 2020. Moutinho’s late goal canceled out one from Bradley Wright-Phillips and sent that match to penalties. The Lions advanced after winning the penalty shootout, 5-4. Pedro Gallese was huge in that match and all five Orlando shooters scored their penalties, while only Jordan Harvey missed for LAFC, hitting the crossbar.

The Lions and LAFC drew 2-2 at Exploria Stadium on Sept. 7, 2019. Adrien Perez put the visitors on the board in the 12th minute, but Nani struck back just a minute later off a quick play on the ensuing kickoff. Benji Michel put the Lions ahead in the 20th minute and — just when it appeared Orlando might pull off the upset — Diego Rossi scored in the 78th to tie things up.

LAFC won the initial meeting of the series in 2018 at Banc of California Stadium, running away 4-1 after the Lions had an apparent tying goal overturned for offside on a play that didn’t seem all that clear or obvious of an error to me. But admittedly I’m limited to only the replays they showed on my television set. Sacha Kljestan scored for Orlando to cut a 2-0 lead in half. That lead was built on goals by Adama Diomande and Latif Blessing. Orlando scored a second that was overturned and Diomande and Rossi finished the Lions off. That initial meeting of the two teams was also the first game the Lions played under James O’Connor.

Overview

Orlando City last played two weeks ago on June 1, when the Lions fell 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls on the road. John Tolkin’s free kick was the difference. Despite the solid defensive outing by Orlando, the Lions produced nothing offensively and have struggled to create (and finish) chances since a 3-2 win at Philadelphia on May 11. Orlando City is winless in three games (0-2-1), has scored just twice in its last five games, and has been shut out three times in that span. If you’re looking for a silver lining, the Lions have conceded only four goals in the last five matches, and only two of those have come from open play. The other two were Tolkin’s free kick and a penalty by Diego Rossi.

The Lions have been abysmal at home in 2024, compiling a record of just 1-4-3 at Inter&Co Stadium. Things won’t be any easier for Orlando tonight against a team in the thick of the Supporters’ Shield race and having to play without goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, midfielder-turned-center back Wilder Cartagena, and center back David Brekalo, who are all away on international duty.

LAFC is flying right now. The Black & Gold have won seven straight in all competitions, have earned victories in five consecutive regular-season matches, and have not conceded a goal in their last six competitive games. While the California side is just 2-4-1 away from home in 2024, it has won its last two road matches without allowing a goal (at Atlanta and St. Louis City).

Tonight’s visitors are scary offensively. Denis Bouanga’s 10 goals and five assists each are club bests, but Mateusz Bogusz has added six goals and three assists. Cristian Olivera and Timothy Tillman have each chipped in four goals, while Eduard Atuesta has added a pair of goals and four assists. Bouanga may be the ringleader, but LAFC can spread the wealth offensively.

The Lions will need to be just as focused on defensive responsibilities (or more so) as they were two weeks ago in New Jersey.

“We have these days where the boys needed to have a break. At the end, I think it’s something that’s very healthy for them. After that, we reunited the group and started thinking of what’s coming,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said ahead of the match. “The second half of the season we have to push and have urgency to attempt, but we’re good, training and thinking about LAFC now.”

In addition to Gallese, Cartagena, and Brekalo, Orlando City will be without backup defenders Michael Halliday (knee) and Tahir Reid-Brown (thigh). LAFC lists Lorenzo Dellavalle (knee), David Martínez (back) as out on its preliminary availability report.

Match Content


Official Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Mason Stajduhar.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Nico Lodeiro.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Facundo Torres, Luis Muriel.

Forwards: Duncan McGuire.

Bench: Javier Otero, Alex Freeman, Kyle Smith, Thomas Williams, Jeorgio Kocevski, Felipe, Shak Mohammed, Martin Ojeda, Jack Lynn.

Los Angeles FC (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris.

Defenders: Ryan Hollingshead, Aaron Long, Jesus Murillo, Sergi Palencia.

Midfielders: Eduard Atuesta, Ilie Sanchez, Timothy Tillman.

Forwards: Denis Bouanga, Kei Kamara, Mateusz Bogusz.

Bench: Omar Campos, Maxime Chanot, Erik Duenas, Thomas Musto, Nathan Ordaz, Abraham Romero, Eddie Segura, Tomas Angel.

Referees:

REF: Rubiel Vazquez.
AR1: Nick Uranga.
AR2: Adam Wienckowski.
4TH: Calin Radosav.
VAR: Younes Marrakchi.
AVAR: Claudiu Badea.


How to Watch

Match Time: 7:30 p.m. ET.

Venue: Inter&Co Stadium — Orlando.

TV/Live Stream: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Mega 97.1 FM (Spanish).

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).


Enjoy the match. Go City!

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