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MLS MATCH RECAP: Nani’s Penalty Strike Earns Lions Road Point at Toronto

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Toronto and Orlando draw one point at Toronto Saturday, July 17, 2021. Photo via The Canadian Press.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Source: Orlando City SC // Orlando City SC (6-3-4, 22 points) battled to a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC (2-8-3, 9 points) on Saturday night in its first visit to Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nani extended his team lead with his seventh goal of the season on the night, converting from the penalty spot in the 77th minute to force the two sides to split the points. With the finish, Nani takes sole possession of second in Club history in goals in regular season action, passing former Lions’ captain Kaká and forward Dom Dwyer with his 25th such finish for City.

Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese returned in between the posts for the Lions following his 2021 Copa América campaign with Peru, tallying two saves in the match. City returns home on Thursday, July 22 to take on the Philadelphia Union in a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff.

 

Head Coach Oscar Pareja:
“I think it was a good match for us. It’s a great reaction from our players today against a good rival who was playing at home again after a long time. I know their emotions were heightened and it was not easy to handle a place with that energy. Obviously going on the road to take a point, you should be happy. [I’d be] happier if we scored on a couple of our options at the end, but we’ll take the point and prepare for Thursday.”

 

Scoring Recap:

72’ Jozy Altidore (Justin Morrow, Yeferson Soteldo) – TOR 1, ORL 0
The Reds took the lead with Yeferson Soteldo finding a running Justin Morrow down the left flank, who crossed it in to find the head of Jozy Altidore for the finish.

77’ Nani (PK) – ORL 1, TOR 1
The Lions found a quick equalizer after Benji Michel was taken down in the box and awarded a penalty kick upon Video Review. Nani then stepped up to the spot, hitting his strike into the back of the net despite a punching effort from goalkeeper Alex Bono.

 

Match Notes:

  • Nani extended his team lead with his seventh goal of the season for the Lions in the match. The Lions’ captain now takes sole possession of second in Club history in goals in regular season play, passing Kaká (24) and Dom Dwyer (24) with his 25th such finish in his MLS career. The Portuguese international now has 28 finishes across all competitions as a Lion.
  • City was forced into an early substitution in the match, with Andrés Perea entering in the 14th minute for Sebastián Méndez.
  • Pedro Gallese and Méndez each returned to the starting lineup following their respective Copa América campaigns, last logging a start on May 29 at the New York Red Bulls. The appearance served as the first for Gallese since that May 29 match, while Méndez came off the bench in Chicago over a week ago.
  • João Moutinho earned his first start since June 22 against the San Jose Earthquakes, his fourth of the year.
  • Saturday marked the Lions’ first trip to Canada since the COVID-19 pandemic, with both previous matches against Toronto taking place at Exploria Stadium despite City being the away side in the latter contest.

 

Next Match: The Lions return home to Exploria Stadium, set to take on the Philadelphia Union on Thursday, July 22 in a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff.

Teams12F
Toronto FC011
Orlando City SC011

 

Scoring Summary:
TOR –
Jozy Altidore (Justin Morrow, Yeferson Soteldo) 72’
ORL – Nani (PK) 77’Misconduct Summary:
ORL –
Rodrigo Schlegel (Yellow Card) 68’
TOR – Alex Bono (Yellow Card) 76’
ORL – Andrés Perea (Yellow Card) 79’
TOR – Michael Bradley (Yellow Card) 84’

 

Lineups/Substitutions:

Orlando City SC – GK Pedro Gallese; D João Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Kyle Smith; M Mauricio Pereyra (Uri Rosell 81’), Júnior Urso (Joey DeZart 90+2’), Sebastián Méndez (Andrés Perea 14’), Benji Michel (Alexander Alvarado 90+2’); F Nani ©, Tesho Akindele (Chris Mueller 46’)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Brandon Austin; D Michael Halliday, Rio Hope-Gund; M David Loera

Toronto FC – GK Alex Bono; D Justin Morrow, Chris Mavinga, Omar González, Auro Jr.; M Marky Delgado, Michael Bradley ©, Yeferson Soteldo (Patrick Mullins 90+1’), Alejandro Pozuelo, Tsubasa Endoh; F Dom Dwyer (Jozy Altidore 64’)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Kevin Silva; D Julian Dunn, Luke Singh; M Noble Okello, Ralph Priso, Jacob Shaffelburg; F Jordan Perruzza

Details of the Game:
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Weather: Clear
Date: July 17, 2021
Attendance: 7,000

Stats:

Possession:
TOR – 51.4%
ORL – 48.6%

Shots:
TOR
– 9
ORL – 10

Saves:
TOR
– 4
ORL – 2

Fouls:
TOR
– 11
ORL – 21

Corners:
TOR
– 1
ORL – 3

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Kickoff Time Announced for Orlando City Friendly Against Arsenal FC

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FC Dallas's Paul Arriola attempts a shot while keeping Orlando City SC's Ruan Texeira at arm's length during their matchup at Exploria Stadium Saturday, May 28, 2022. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

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.

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MLS: Orlando City Surrender Initial Lead and Fall to FC Dallas 3-1

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FC Dallas's Paul Arriola attempts a shot while keeping Orlando City SC's Ruan Texeira at arm's length during their matchup at Exploria Stadium Saturday, May 28, 2022. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

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.

 

First Half

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.

 

Second Half

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.

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Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

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Orlando City Back in the Win Column with 1-0 Shutout Over Chicago Fire

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Photo: Rafael Crisostomo/Florida National News.

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.

Photo: Rafael Crisostomo / Florida National News.

Photo: Rafael Crisostomo / Florida National News.

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.

Photo: Rafael Crisostomo / Florida National News.

Photo: Rafael Crisostomo / Florida National News.

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.

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Nicolas Vera is a sports reporter for Florida National News. | sports@floridanationalnews.com

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