Storylines: City vs. Minnesota United FC
The First For João
João Moutinho scored his first goal for Orlando City on Friday night, a 90th-minute equalizer to force the Lions into a penalty shootout against LAFC. The finish came against his former Club, where he spent the 2018 season after becoming the first MLS SuperDraft pick in LAFC's history, selected first-overall out of Akron. Moutinho has appeared in 21 matches since joining the Lions ahead of the 2019 season, with four assists to his credit in that time.
Contributions From El Capitan
The Lions' captain, Luis Nani, registered his third assist of the tournament on Moutinho's 90th-minute finish on Friday after his corner whipped into a dangerous area and found the head of Moutinho for the equalizer. Nani has assisted on two other key finishes for the Lions throughout the competition, including Chris Mueller's game-tying goal against Inter Miami CF in the tournament opener and Mauricio Pereyra's finish that leveled the Lions against the Philadelphia Union to clinch the top spot in Group A.
A Lockdown Performance
The City defense put in another impressive performance on Friday night, holding arguably the most prolific offense in MLS in LAFC to just one finish in the match. For the first time in club history, LAFC was held without a shot in a half, unable to get anything off in the first 45. Orlando City defenders Robin Jansson (four) and AntÃ´nio Carlos (six) combined for 10 interceptions on the night, one fewer than the entire LAFC team to keep their offense at bay, while goalkeeper Pedro Gallese made four critical saves to keep the Lions in the game. City's defense has allowed just four goals in five matches at the MLS is Back Tournament.
How They Got Here
The Lions earned their spot in the Semifinals following a victory over Western Conference heavyweights LAFC in a penalty shootout on Friday night after the match finished at 1-1 in regulation. Prior to that, Orlando City defeated the Montreal Impact in the Round of 16 after finishing atop Group A of the MLS is Back Tournament, with victories over Inter Miami CF and NYCFC followed by a draw with the Philadelphia Union to secure the top seed on goal-differential.
Minnesota punched their ticket to the Semifinals after a commanding 4-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night. Leading into that match, the Loons defeated the Columbus Crew via a penalty shootout in the Round of 16, earning their ticket to the knockouts by finishing second in Group D. In the group stage, Minnesota earned a victory over Sporting Kansas City in its tournament opener before going on to draw Real Salt Lake and Colorado.
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.
Minnesota Head Coach Adrian Heath previously served at the helm for Orlando City from 2011-16, leading the Club into the MLS era beginning in 2015.
Minnesota Assistant Coach Sean McAuley occupied the same role for Orlando from 2018-19.
Minnesota midfielder Kevin Molino spent five years in Orlando beginning in 2011, playing for its USL side from 2011-14 before making the jump to MLS in 2015. Molino spent both the 2015 and 2016 MLS seasons with the Lions, making 37 appearances.
Orlando City defender João Moutinho was teammates with Minnesota goalkeeper Tyler Miller at LAFC in 2018.
Minnesota defender José Aja spent part of 2016 and the entire 2017 season with Orlando City, making 25 appearances for the Lions in that span.
Minnesota midfielder Jacori Hayes played under Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja at FC Dallas from 2017-18, drafted by Pareja at the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Hayes was also teammates with Orlando City forward Tesho Akindele in that time.
Minnesota goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh spent the 2019 season with the Lions, making two appearances. Ranjitsingh was also teammates with Orlando City defender Kyle Smith at USL side Louisville City from 2016-18, winning two USL Cups together in that span.
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