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“We cannot lose our heads…” Orlando City Head Coach asks for calm after two home losses in a row

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Orlando City SC play at home against Nashville SC at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Saturday, April 1, 2023. Photo by Harry Castiblanco / Florida National News

ORLANDO, Fl. (FNN) — In a action-packed MLS Saturday, Orlando City hosted the Western Conference’s Nashville SC this weekend at Exploria Stadium. After winning the two head-to-heads last year, Nashville were determined to get revenge, and that they did. The crafty Nashville side coached by Gary Smith played their textbook game as they lost in possession and passes distributed but relied on their defense and counter-attack to find success. Hany Mukhtar found the net for the first time this season as he assisted the first goal of the night to Fafa Picault. This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Mukhtar-vs-Schlegel-4-1-23-1024x683.jpeg — Hany Mukhtar duels with Rodrigo Schegel for possession at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Saturday, April 1, 2023. Photo by Harry Castiblanco / Florida National News

Crafty, crafty Nashville

The Orlando Li — or rather, the Orlando Sea Cows for tonight were well in control during bouts of possession. Legitimately looking like a threat against a stoic Nashville defense. Complications for Nashville soon arose as Luke Haakenson & Anibal Godoy both picked up yellows. However, in a bizarre turn of events after a quick free-kick, Fafa Picault latched onto a lofted through ball in the box played by Mukhtar. He managed to chip it over Pedro Gallese to start Orlando’s headache. With just 28 minutes into play Orlando once again find themselves down at Exploria Stadium.

With a goal completely against the run of play Orlando looked deflated for a few minutes. Despite that, Angulo injected the fans with a jolt of his effort and pace. After chasing down the goalkeeper and almost deflecting a ball into the net the fans in downtown Orlando exploded with approval. The message was clear going into the second half — Orlando will not go out without a fight.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Angulo-Dribbling-4-1-23-1024x683.jpeg

— Ivan Angulo enjoying a positive spell of football in his first full year in Orlando as he take on Nashville SC at Exploria Stadium, Saturday, April 1, 2023. Photo by Harry Castiblanco / Florida National News

To start the second half, Felipe came off the pitch for Facundo Torres as the Uruguayan also makes his return from international play. Felipe provided a useful offensive spark that Torres will undoubtedly look to fill. Despite some shots on target, Facundo Torres and co. were unable to break the deadlock despite enjoying 60% possession all game and passing 100 more times as a team.

Keep the balance

Matters went from bad to worse as Nashville’s biggest star Hany Mukhtar got a wonderful through ball from Shaquell Moore. Despite Gallese getting a foot onto it the ball bounced fortunately into the back of the net for Nashville. With the walls coming down on them, Orlando look deflated and without a purpose as the game finished 2-0.

With two home losses in a row, Oscar Pareja and his men are undoubtedly angsty to get back out there and win in front of their fans. Pareja asked for calm and poise in the post-game presser. Exclaiming that Orlando City are not the best team after their away win to Philadelphia Union. But also clarifying that tonight’s loss to Nashville SC does not make them the worst either. The level-headed take will do well to pacify the waters. But there is a sense that a personnel issue on the field may be at play here. Deciding which players to sit and which players to play, and how to play them, are becoming daunting tasks for the Orlando City Head Coach.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Ramiro-Enrique-Action-Shot-1024x683.jpeg

— Ramiro Enrique ramps up for a shot against Walker Zimmerman at Exploria Stadium, Saturday, April 1, 2023. Photo by Harry Castiblanco / Florida National News

“We have to keep our heads up. We have responsibility [as coaches] to lure the players together and see how we can use all this chemistry and players we have to do good things. We have a good group and I believe in them. So we have to keep the balance.” — Oscar Pareja on Orlando City’s lack of consistency so far this season.

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Dillmann Fends Off Late Charge to Win Chevrolet Grand Prix

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BOWMANVILLE, Ontario – Two hours and 40 minutes of racing came down to a 0.658-second margin of victory Sunday for Tom Dillmann and Nick Boulle.

 

Dillmann weaved his way through traffic after a final restart with nine minutes left, eventually holding off Felipe Fraga to claim a victory in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class at the Chevrolet Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

The victory was simultaneously close and dominant. Despite the narrow margin of victory, Dillmann and Boulle and the No. 52 Inter Europol by PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07 controlled the lead for all but the first 10 minutes.

It all came down to a final restart, which Dillmann fully expected to happen before Ryan Dalziel slid into the tire barrier with 17 minutes remaining, bringing out a caution and setting up the final duel.

“I knew there would be a final restart because there always is in IMSA,” Dillmann said. “I was expecting it, but I knew that I had an edge. I was quite confident I could pull a gap and bring it home.”

Their first win of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season helped Dillmann and Boulle close in on the leaders in the LMP2 driver standings. They’re now, unofficially, just 12 points behind Fraga and Gar Robinson in the No. 74 Riley ORECA.

“All in all, it was a good points day,” Robinson said. “We’ll move on from here and go to Road America.”

As Dalziel was sliding off course late in the race, Fraga sneaked past Scott Huffaker in the No. 11 TDS Racing ORECA he co-drove with Steven Thomas for second place. After the final restart, Fraga relentlessly chased Dillmann. He got close at times, but Dillmann eventually prevailed.

“I was hoping we would not reach the traffic on the final lap, but we did reach it,” Dillmann said. “I had a little bit of a margin, like 1.5 seconds, so I could deal with it without it being too much of a threat. I was fine.”

While Dillmann was navigating his way through the harried final minutes, Boulle was in the pits, barely able to watch.

“Myself and one of our engineers had to walk away,” Boulle said. “I haven’t been that nervous in a while. We’ve been trying to do this all year. I’m happy it all came together.”

Riley is in its first year in the LMP2 class after a successful run of 26 wins in the now-defunct LMP3 class.

“These guys (in LMP2) have been racing these cars for five, six years,” Fraga said. “I think we should be proud that we’re leading the championship. It’s disappointing because we’re the only ones to have the fuel to go hard until the end. I saved a lot in the first stint. … It’s always 50-50 with the yellows, but we almost got the win.”

For PR1 Mathiasen, a consistent winner in LMP2 in recent years, the victory was a relief. The team hadn’t won since last August at Road America.

“Nick did an outstanding job, and Tom backed it up,” PR1 Mathiasen owner Bobby Oergel said. “I’m just so thankful to have these guys, you know. … It does taste good right now. We hope to keep it rolling.”

The WeatherTech Championship resumes Aug. 4 with the IMSA SportsCar Weekend at Road America. Peacock’s live coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET.

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Jones Finds Redemption in Rainy VP Racing Challenge Nightcap

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Jones Finds Redemption in Rainy VP Racing Challenge Nightcap
BOWMANVILLE, Ontario – Neither sickness nor rain could prevent a determined Jagger Jones from getting back to victory lane in the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge.

A day after a win in the No. 87 FastMD Racing with Remstar Duqueine D08 was negated by a postrace technical infraction, Jones rebounded to win Sunday’s 45-minute race at the 10-turn, 2.459-mile high-speed road course. Jones was hampered throughout by a stomach illness and endured a treacherous final few laps racing in wet conditions after a light rain fell around the circuit and the entire field was brought into the pits for a mandatory change to wet-condition Michelin tires. Still, he persevered to pick up his fifth overall and Le Mans Prototype 3 (P3) win in the last six VP Racing Challenge races.

“We really dominated on track both days this weekend, which is awesome,” Jones said. “It looked smooth from the outside but I was super nauseous for some reason; I’ve been really sick all weekend. We brought it home nice and clean, thank you to the Remstar FastMD guys. A little mistake yesterday but today everything’s all cleaned up and another win for us.”

The race began in the dry, with Jones bumping his way past polesitter Steven Aghakhani (No. 6 MLT Motorsports Ligier JS P320) as they battled through Turn 2 on the opening lap. Rain began on parts of the track less than 10 minutes later, with a full-course caution ordered shortly after. Race officials declared it a wet race at the halfway point, bringing all cars in for the grooved Michelin tires and returning them to the track in the same running order.

Racing resumed with just under six minutes to go and Jones was off and running away. He took the checkered flag 8.365 seconds ahead of Aghakhani, with Alex Kirby (No. 7 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier) finishing third for the second straight day.

“Once we went on the rain tires, they were super solid,” Jones said. “I’ve only done like six laps on these rain tires before, so I was a little hesitant at first. But once I built that gap, I just kind of managed it.”

With two rounds and four races remaining this season, Aghakhani holds a comfortable 500-point lead over Brian Thienes (No. 77 Forte Racing Ligier) atop the standings. Jones is third, 100 points behind Thienes.

Rain Dance Pays off for Green with Maiden Series Win in GSX

Josh Green was hoping it would rain in Sunday’s race, sensing he could make his way to the front in the Grand Sport X (GSX) class. Green’s wish came true and so did he, making a strategic pass in traffic on the penultimate lap and rolling on to his first VP Racing Challenge victory in the No. 78 Thaze Competition Mercedes-AMG GT GT4.

Green sat in third place when the race restarted late in the wet conditions, trailing Race 1 winner Jack Polito (No. 98 Polito Racing Ford Mustang GT4) and Jesse Lazare (No. 21 Motorsports In Action McLaren Artura GT4). Three laps later, a slower P3 car balked the trio and Green made his move to maneuver past both Polito and Lazare.

From there, the Mount Kisco, New York, resident edged away to win by 1.208 seconds over Lazare.

“I was doing the rain dance the whole weekend,” Green said. “Once we put the wets on, I was pretty confident. I’ve had a lot of great races in the rain.

“We got a P3 car kind of stuck in front of us and he blocked everyone,” he added. “I knew that that was going to be the opportunity to get clear. It feels sweet, I’m so happy. This is such an awesome group, it’s like family to me. I’ve been so lucky that they took me under their wing. It’s my first real season in sports cars and to win it on my third try is awesome.”

Lazare trails GSX championship leader Luca Mars (No. 59 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4) by 190 points with four races remaining. Both classes race next at VIRginia International Raceway as part of the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR weekend from Aug. 23-25.

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Orlando City SC Secures Historic 3-1 Victory Over New England Revolution

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (FNN SPORTS) – Orlando City SC secured a 3-1 victory over the New England Revolution on July 13, 2024, marking their first-ever win in Foxborough. Here are the key highlights and significant events:

  • First Half: New England took an early lead in the 23rd minute when Giacomo Vrioni scored off a cross from DeJuan Jones, assisted by Esmir Bajraktarevic.
  • Second Half:
    • 51st Minute: Facundo Torres equalized for Orlando City with a precise shot into the far-left corner, assisted by Iván Angulo.
    • 59th Minute: Ramiro Enrique put Orlando ahead with a quick touch-in goal off a set-piece, with assists from César Araújo and Martín Ojeda.
    • 81st Minute: Torres scored his second goal of the match, curling a left-footed shot into the far side netting, assisted by Luis Muriel.
  • Significant Events:
    • Facundo Torres recorded his second brace of the regular season and third across all competitions.
    • Orlando City has now scored 18 goals in their last six matches, a significant improvement from their 17 goals in the first 17 matches of the season.
    • Defenders Rodrigo Schlegel and Kyle Smith both made their 100th all-time starts for Orlando City.
    • Head Coach Oscar Pareja highlighted the team’s character and strong second-half performance, expressing pride in the team’s growing confidence and chemistry.

Orlando City will next face Nashville SC at GEODIS Park on Wednesday, July 17, at 8:30 p.m. ET.

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