Another Clinical Finish
Tesho Akindele netted his second goal of 2020 on Saturday night, serving as the eventual game-winner for the Lions in punching their ticket to the Semifinals. Saturday’s finish proved just as critical as Akindele’s first in the tournament, the third goal in a 3-1 victory over NYCFC that jumped the Lions over the Union on goal differential in Group A. Akindele now has 12 finishes since joining the Club prior to the 2019 season and recently agreed to a contract extension with the Lions.
Last Time Against LAFC
The last time the Lions faced off against LAFC came on September 7, 2019 in a match that resulted in a 2-2 draw at Exploria Stadium. The visitors jumped out to an early lead with a finish from Adrien Pérez in the 12th minute, only to be answered by back-to-back goals from Nani and Benji Michel in the 13th and 20th minutes, respectively. LAFC would go on to score once more in the 78th with a finish from Diego Rossi, forcing the two sides to split the points on the night.
A Big Night for Sebas
Midfielder Sebastián Méndez was called upon for the Lions on Saturday night, the only change in Head Coach Oscar Pareja’s starting XI from the previous match. Méndez played a key role for the Lions in the contest, leading the effort on the offensive with four shots and one on frame, even finding the back of the net in the 45th minute only to be called back for offsides. The Ecuadorian international was also involved on the goal, his touch defecting off Clément Diop before finding the foot of Akindele.
A Shutout for El Pulpo
Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese earned the second shutout of his City career on Saturday, having to make just one save on the night to secure the victory for the Lions. The clean sheet served as the first for Gallese and the Lions since their season opener on February 29, a scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake at Exploria Stadium.
How They Got Here
The Lions earned their spot in the Quarterfinals following a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact on Saturday night. In group play, City finished atop Group A ahead of the Philadelphia Union, New York City FC and Inter Miami. City earned victories against the Pigeons and their neighbors to the south with a 3-1 win over NYCFC and a 2-1 victory against Miami in the tournament’s opening match. The Club would then go on to draw the Union to secure the top seed in the group with an advantage on goal differential.
LAFC punched their ticket to the Quarterfinals with a 4-1 victory over the defending MLS Cup Champion Seattle Sounders on Monday night. The 2018 expansion side came out of the group stage second in Group F, with a 6-2 victory over crosstown rivals LA Galaxy and draws against Houston and Portland.
What Matters Most
Throughout the MLS is Back Tournament, Major League Soccer has announced that club captains will wear a black armband with a graphic in honor of the Black Lives Matter movement. Orlando City captain Nani will wear a Club-designed armband that pays tribute to the historic black neighborhood of Parramore where Exploria Stadium is located. The armband features the different streets and landmarks of Parramore.
- Defender João Moutinho was the first draft pick for LAFC in Club history, taken first overall at the 2018 MLS SuperDraft. Moutinho would make 14 appearances for LAFC in 2018 before being traded to Orlando the following year.
- Midfielder Sebastián Méndez has previously been teammates with LAFC midfielder José Cifuentes and defender Diego Palacios on the Ecuadorian National Team.
- LAFC defender Mohamed El-Munir spent the 2018 season with Orlando City, making 26 appearances and registering two assists.
- Defender Kyle Smith was teammates with LAFC midfielder Mark Anthony-Kaye at USL side Louisville City from 2016-17.
- Forward Dom Dwyer was teammates with LAFC midfielder Latif Blessing at Sporting Kansas City for the first half of the 2017 season before Dwyer was traded to Orlando.