ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – The MLS Cup Playoffs always bring a certain level of intensity to league matches. Heading to Exploria Stadium, the excitement within the city was palpable. But no one could have expected the roller coaster of emotion that would ensue.
MLS Playoffs Round of 16: Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC
From the opening minutes, the frenetic pace of Orlando City and NYCFC gave way to early mishaps. A handball in the opening minutes against Tinnerholm gave Orlando City a penalty kick from the spot.
Nani was able to convert the penalty for his 10th goal of the season with relative ease. The rest of the game was far from simple, though. In just a few short minutes, NYCFC found their rebuttal with a volley via Chanot to make it 1-1.
The setup for drama started in the second half. Referee Allen Chapman did well to let plays go on in the first, but eight yellow cards followed from the 70th minute onward. The physicality between both teams became impossible to ignore, and the first expulsion of the game came after a reckless challenge from Ruan against Mackey-Steven.
The ten-man Orlando City roster employed many tactical changes to maintain the draw in extra-time. After Ruan’s exit, Oscar Pareja introduced Andres Perea, Tesho, and Kamal Miller to shore up their defensive line.
By the end of the first half of extra-time, Orlando City had used all their substitutes. This crucial fact would soon cause fans, players and officials alike scratch their heads at the ruling during penalty kicks.
Bring Out the Rule Books
Pedro Gallese accrued a first yellow card at the 103rd minute for stalling the game out on a goal kick. His fourth yellow card of the season quickly turned into a fifth during penalty kicks.
This second yellow card, given to Gallese due to an encroachment off the goal line during his game-winning save, caused bewilderment across the board. Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja attempted to bring in secondary goalkeeper Bryan Rowe to finish PK’s, but was denied ultimately by the MLS officials due to the substitute rule.
According to the International Football Association Board, Gallese’s encroachment wouldn’t have been ruled a straight yellow if they were using the 2020-21 ruleset. Unfortunately for Orlando, MLS hasn’t implemented those rules yet in the 2019-20 season, which will complicate their motion to appeal in time for the Eastern Conference semifinals.
These issues will no longer be, according to the MLS. Joe Machnik reported on FS1 that the Professional Referee Organization, which employs the officiating crews for all MLS games, will not be working for the remainder of the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs. Howard Webb, who is the current General Manager of the organization, confirmed that Allen Chapman was in fact following protocol according to 2019-20 guidelines, but the 22-minute penalty fiasco did not bode well in his case for rehire.
Because of the current rule set, Gallese wasn’t issued a courtesy warning. Instead, his red card — and Orlando City’s lack of subs — meant outfielder Rodrigo Schlegel would have to come into the fray and perform a miracle.
And he did. Schlegel, with his back against the net, pulled off a miraculous save to deny Guomunder Thórarinsson his penalty shot. The crowd went wild and Schlegel was elated, but the job wasn’t over just yet.
To ensure victory, Benji Michel converted the penalty to finally secure their ticket to the quarterfinals. Although the final sequences of the game led to head-scratching on both sides, Pareja was happy enough with a win. “What just happened at the end, I never saw it before and this is the beauty of this game–that we’re humans and full of emotions and mistakes and good things and all of that,” said Pareja postgame. “Today, the ball bounced our way, well deserved. The boys showed today the heart of this franchise.
“Obviously we need to make many corrections and many things that happened in that last part, but we are proud to represent this community. We are proud to win and beat one of the best teams in Major League Soccer with 10 men on the field, multiplying themselves for this team. That made me very proud.”
Regardless of the result, Orlando City isn’t out of the weeds just yet. With Ruan’s red card more than likely to remain, their options at fullback will be limited since Joao Moutinho is still on the fringe. That and Gallese’s outstanding red card could cause serious lineup issues for Orlando City as they prepare for their next opponent.
Nicolas Vera is a Florida National News contributor. | firstname.lastname@example.org
Kickoff Time Announced for Orlando City Friendly Against Arsenal FC
ORLANDO, Fla. — The FC (Florida Cup) Series has announced kickoff times for its upcoming slate of friendlies, including Orlando City’s match against Arsenal FC on July 20. The two sides will meet in a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff hosted at the home of the Lions, Exploria Stadium.
Tickets to the match, the first meeting between the two sides all-time, are available at the link here with group options by calling (855) ORL-CITY.
Arsenal has a storied history in England, having won a record 14 FA Cups, two League Cups, 16 FA Community Shields, one European Cup Winners’ Cup and 13 EFL and Premier League titles, including an undefeated season in the 2003-04 season.
The London-based club, founded in 1886, will visit the United States this summer as part of the “FC Series”. Arsenal and Chelsea, two of the world’s most popular and successful professional soccer clubs, will then meet at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, on July 23 for the Florida Cup. The stateside derby will be the finale of the weeklong “FC Series” expansion featuring international matches across the United States.
MLS: Orlando City Surrender Initial Lead and Fall to FC Dallas 3-1
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Orlando City SC returned home this weekend to host FC Dallas at Exploria Stadium Saturday.
Orlando City’s downfall can be summed in two words: Paul Arriola. He scored two of FC Dallas’s three goals on the night.
Ercan Kara scored Orlando City’s only goal for the night.
The fouling started early and Orlando City got in trouble in the 12th minute, with Sebas Mendez getting the first yellow card of the game.
Mauricio Pereyra earned a free kick in the 23rd minute, but Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes made the catch before the ball could reach the net.
Dallas got a near-goal in the 26th minute, with Arriola making a left cross from the far right end of the field, but Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was able to knock it away.
Another close call came in the 28th minute in which Dallas repeated the exact same shot as before from the exact same side of the field as before, but Orlando’s Kyle Smith was able to get his foot on the ball first and made a right cross straight out of bounds.
Dallas kept up the press. In the 30th minute, Dallas’s Paxton Pomykal made a header from close range in center field, but Gallese came all the way out to kick it away.
Orlando Had a near goal in the 43rd minute with Ercan Kara’s attempt, but shot it high over the crossbar.
In the first minute of stoppage time, Pereyra made a shot on target, but Paes volleyed the ball up and over the crossbar.
Kara was able to make up for his earlier miss, though. During the final minute of stoppage, Pereyra made a free kick from the left side of the field and Kara headed it in over Paes’s head, finaling getting a point on the board, making the halftime score 1-0 Orlando City.
Orlando City showed a bit more aggression at the beginning of the second half with a near-goal in the 48th minute. Ruan made a left cross to , who attempted a shot, but the ball hit the outside of the right side of the net.
Kyle Smith came in clutch again in the 55th minute after Dallas’s goal attempt from left field with a swift kick to cut the ball toward the stands.
Arriola turned the tide in 66th minute, putting FC Dallas on the board and tying the game 1-1.
Dallas’s Franco Jarra hammered the nail in deeper for Orlando City with a second goal in the 70th minute. Jarra fired right-footed shot from the right side of the six yard box to the bottom left corner with the assist from Jesús Ferreira’s through ball.
Paul Arriola devastated Orlando again in the 84th minute, this time with a sharp left cross from the right of the box, missing Gallese and finding the back of the net and making the score 3-1.
After the international game break, Orlando City’s next MLS match will kick off on June 15 against New England Revolution and return home on June 18 to host the Houston Dynamo. Both games take place at 7:30pm.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | email@example.com
Orlando City Back in the Win Column with 1-0 Shutout Over Chicago Fire
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) — Orlando City commanded a triumphant shutout over Chicago Fire at home this weekend.
The 1-0 victory was Orlando’s second encounter this season, where Chicago Fire hosted the Lions to a 0-0 draw at Soldier Field. Both teams had depleted starting XI’s with Shaqiri out of the main lineup for Chicago, as Orlando missed Antonio Carlos due to a high hamstring injury. Orlando dominated the game on both ends of the ball and put in a mature home performance after their 4-2 loss to LAFC.
Engine, Engine Number Nine
After a few games of shambolic results influenced by small mistakes, Orlando City went back to basics for their win against Chicago. In the past few games, the Lions had seemingly been frustrated by aggressive opponents who in turn forced Orlando to make under-pressure mistakes. Ruan was once again under fire on social media outlets as his attacking presence wound up giving way to defensive mishaps on the other end of the field.
This game followed a much different formula. For starters, Chicago Fire’s Brian Rodriguez’s early double yellow tilted the game in Orlando’s favor as they were just starting to build their stride offensively. Shortly after, it seemed like every possession Orlando had was a shot on goal or at the very least an attempt. After winning the ball in the attacking half, Facundo Torres lobbed a ball to the far post that found Alexandre Pato. Pato then bounced the ball off his head to connect with Ercan Kara in the penalty box.
That goal not only gave Orlando City the victory, but it opened Kara’s accounts for goals this season. The Austrian striker has adjusted to MLS well in just a few short months he’s spent in Orlando. However, the finished product across the board for Orlando City is still lacking. Orlando City took 21 shots this game, which easily could’ve converted the scoreline into 3-0 or 4-0. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before the cogs begin to turn for Orlando City and hopefully they can turn good football moments into chants of goal, especially in crucial home games.
Defense Wins Championships
There was another spotlight on Rodrigo Schlegel as well. The Argentine defender had his number called after Antonio Carlos’ injury and lived up to the pressure. Schlegel’s first start of the 2022 season went off without a hitch as he dominated all one-on-one exchanges. The purple wall of defense seemed impenetrable with Schlegel and Jansson in top form. With that said, the hidden gem of Orlando’s 2022 season thus far has to be Joao Moutinho.
After starting every game this season post-ankle injury, the young Portuguese left-back has found his stride. Moutinho continues to be rock solid in defense, often using his ball-winning abilities to create offense on the other side of the field with quick passes to Araujo or Facundo Torres.
Little by little, the blueprint for success is being established for Orlando City as Oscar Pareja continues to implement his system. Within a few short weeks, Orlando City should start establishing itself as a front-runner in the Eastern Conference with more commanding displays as we saw on Saturday.
Nicolas Vera is a sports reporter for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org