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Santos Laguna Shuts Out Orlando City SC in Leagues Cup Quarterfinal

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Santos Laguna put pressure on Orlando City SC’s attacking third all game long during their Leagues Cup quarterfinal match at Exploria Stadium Thursday, August 12, 2021. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) — Orlando City got their first taste at international football in this Leagues Cup quarterfinal encounter, hosting Santos Laguna at Exploria Stadium Thursday. Both teams earned their position at Leagues Cup after strong domestic performances last year. Orlando City have continued that strong of domestic form as they sit second in the Eastern Conference MLS standings. Their record of (8-4-6) sees them at the top of MLS, but can that dominance carry over intercostal waters?

A Different Beast

Santos Laguna are no strangers to international football and domestic success. Last season, Santos enjoyed a 5th place finish in the Liga MX Clausura. This year, Santos remain unbeaten in 2021-22 with a (1-2-0) record in the early going. As promising as Orlando City have looked in their MLS campaign, US teams don’t often fair well in international encounters. In the CONCACAF Champions League, MLS teams have never lifted the trophy since their introduction to the tournament in 2008-09.

Orlando City came into the game with a pulse, but lacked creativity in the attacking third. From the opening minutes Akindele, Nani and Mueller were finding chances at goal.

However, a lack of cohesion in the midfield caused many issues before attacking could even take place. In turn, the quality of Santos Laguna showed in short spurts. The dynamic pressing of Garriaran and Carrillo did plenty to suffocate Orlando out of possession.

Santos Laguna celebrate a goal against Orlando City SC during their Leagues Cup match at Exploria Stadium Thursday, August 12, 2021.Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Santos Laguna celebrate a goal against Orlando City SC during their Leagues Cup match at Exploria Stadium Thursday, August 12, 2021.Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

The pressure became too much to bear as Juan Ferney Otero launched a right-footed shot from outside the box. The ball took a wicked bounce right before bouncing into Mason Stajduhar’s gloves. The resulting bounce gave way to Santos first goal of the evening. Although both teams took the same amount of shots on goal, Santos Laguna were more accurate with three shots on goal at halftime in comparison to Orlando’s one.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

In the end, the second half continued as a reflection of what happened in the first. Santos Laguna seemed fresher on or off the ball as the prolonged season for the MLS side showed over the course of 90 minutes. Junior Urso ended the game with a red card AFTER the final whistle for protesting to officials.

Despite the anger and bitterness in defeat, taking experience like this is extremely important for an emerging Orlando City side that have never competed in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Oscar Pareja’s men must go back to the drawing board and adjust to life without a main striker. Tesho Akindele has provided goals in short bursts, Benji Michel performs best as a super-sub in long ball scenarios. But success for Orlando City will not be consistent until they manage to secure the services of Pato and Dike on a regular basis.

Sylvester van der Water continues to be a revelation off the bench for Orlando despite their shortcomings. The Dutch winger has impressed in each outing off the right side. It’s only a matter of time before he secures regular starting football in Orlando with the departure of Chris Mueller imminent. When asked what went behind the emotion post-game for Orlando City, Antonio Carlos had a few thoughts on the tone of the match:

“I believe the emotion felt after the whistle were centered around how we controlled this game. We felt like we had control of the game for a majority of the game but we couldn’t see out the result. So our frustration got the better of us after the whistle.”

— Antonio Carlos, Orlando City CB

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Nicolas Vera is a sports reporter for Florida National News, part of the FNN News Network. | sports@floridanationalnews.com

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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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