ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — In a thrilling match on Saturday night at Exploria Stadium, Orlando City SC secured a spot in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup with a 3-2 victory over the New England Revolution. This marks the second consecutive year that the Lions will appear in the prestigious tournament, cementing their status as a top-tier team in MLS soccer. The win also clinched the second overall seed for the upcoming Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs, granting the Lions home-field advantage in the postseason.
The Lions roared to life with a trio of first-half goals, all of which featured secondary assists, setting the tone for their victory. The first goal came courtesy of rookie forward Duncan McGuire, who continues to impress with his remarkable performance. McGuire’s goal, his 11th of the regular season, tied him with Damani Ralph for the second-most goals scored by a draft pick in their first MLS season out of college.
Facundo Torres, having a standout season, added to his impressive tally with his 14th goal of the year, the most he has scored in a single season with Orlando City. Torres also leads the club in goals this season. Iván Angulo contributed the third goal just before halftime, marking his fifth goal of the year. Angulo also earned an assist during the match, showcasing his versatility on the field.
Captain Mauricio Pereyra was instrumental in Orlando City’s victory, recording a pair of assists, his 11th and 12th of the 2023 campaign. Pereyra’s 12 assists set a new Orlando City record for the most MLS regular-season assists in a single season, surpassing his own previous record. His stellar performance is a testament to his playmaking abilities and leadership on the field.
The scoring summary of the match unfolded as follows:
– 31’ Duncan McGuire (Dagur Dan Thórhallsson, Mauricio Pereyra) – ORL 1, NE 0
Duncan McGuire found the back of the net with a well-timed header off a cross from Dagur Dan Thórhallsson, courtesy of an assist by Mauricio Pereyra.
– 37’ Facundo Torres (Iván Angulo, Rafael Santos) – ORL 2, NE 0
Rafael Santos delivered a precise pass to Iván Angulo, who set up Facundo Torres for a brilliant volley, extending Orlando’s lead.
– 42’ Carles Gil (Mark-Anthony Kaye) – ORL 2, NE 1
New England’s Carles Gil scored a remarkable long-range goal just before halftime, narrowing the gap for the visitors.
– 45’ Iván Angulo (Rafael Santos, Mauricio Pereyra) – ORL 3, NE 1
Mauricio Pereyra initiated the play by passing the ball to Rafael Santos, who assisted Iván Angulo for Orlando City’s third goal of the night.
– 90+3’ Carles Gil (DeJuan Jones) – ORL 3, NE 2
In the dying moments of the match, New England’s DeJuan Jones found Carles Gil, who scored his second goal of the game, but it was not enough to overturn the deficit.
Orlando City’s Head Coach Oscar Pareja expressed his gratitude to the fans and the community for their unwavering support throughout the season. He commended the team’s resilience in a challenging match against New England and emphasized the importance of their journey ahead.
In addition to the victory, several notable achievements were reached during the match:
– Duncan McGuire continued his impressive scoring streak with his 13th goal of the season, his 11th in the regular season, scoring in consecutive matches for the third time this season.
– Facundo Torres’s 14th goal of the season marked a personal best for him, solidifying his position as the team’s top scorer this year.
– Mauricio Pereyra’s 11th and 12th assists of the season set a new Orlando City record for most MLS regular-season assists in a single campaign.
– Iván Angulo scored his fifth goal of the year and earned his eighth assist of the regular season, showcasing his well-rounded contributions to the team.
– Rafael Santos had a standout performance with four and five assists in the regular season, achieving his first multi-assist game of the year.
– Rodrigo Schlegel made his 100th appearance with the club across all competitions, highlighting his commitment to Orlando City.
This victory marked Orlando City’s third consecutive win in regular-season play, a significant achievement in a highly competitive league. Coach Oscar Pareja made two changes to the starting lineup, which paid off handsomely in securing the vital victory.
As Orlando City SC looks ahead to the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup and the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs, they do so with confidence, knowing they have the talent and determination to compete at the highest level of North American soccer. The Lions’ fans can undoubtedly look forward to an exciting postseason filled with anticipation and hope for further success on the horizon.