Saturday saw both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride in preseason action. The Lions came from a goal down twice to draw against the Chicago Fire 2-2 at Exploria Stadium, while the Pride lost 2-1 to college side Florida State at the club’s training facility at Sylvan Lake Park.
City saw the return of Benji Michel and Andres Perea, who have just recently returned from international duty with the U.S. U-23 side.
Orlando City 2-2 Chicago Fire
The Lions fell behind in the first half as the Fire’s Przemyslaw Frankowski stepped into a shot at the top of the area and sent a screamer into the net to make it 1-0 to the visitors.
Frankie only scores bangers in Orlando. pic.twitter.com/4YnOv1rYcq— Chicago Fire FC (@ChicagoFire) April 3, 2021
Before halftime, Chris Mueller was able to equalize to send the teams into the break knotted up at 1-1.
“We’re still kind of getting in the rhythm of things,” Mueller said. “It was good to be back in the stadium and get some touches with the guys, get a lot of load minutes against a good team, and I think we’re starting to click. I think the chemistry will get going and be ready by April 17.”
Chicago regained the lead in the second half when Frankowski’s cross barely cleared Robin Jansson and found the head of Luka Stojanović, who nodded home to make it 2-1.
Look how happy Luka is! pic.twitter.com/T0AqryvPjY— Chicago Fire FC (@ChicagoFire) April 3, 2021
The Lions, however, have no quit. Michel, playing in his first preseason minutes with Orlando City, smashed home the equalizer. Alexandre Pato continued his strong preseason run of form by providing the assist on Michel’s goal.
First minutes of preseason and @AlmightBenji made them count SHEEEEEESH @orlandohealth | #VamosOrlando pic.twitter.com/XTYhYg2uhQ— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) April 3, 2021
“It felt good to be back. I felt at home,” Michel said. “I was able to get a goal and it actually came from Pato’s pass. He got the ball and he turned away, and I didn’t think he was going to play it. But he played it and it was perfect because that’s exactly what I wanted and I was able to control it and slot it in the back of the net.”
It was the first draw of the preseason for Orlando City, which is now 3-1-1 after wins over Philadelphia (twice) and Columbus, and a loss to New York City FC. The Lions had a match rained out against FC Cincinnati in the midweek after taking a 1-0 lead.
Chicago became the first team in the preseason to score twice in the run of play against Orlando City this preseason.
The Lions’ next preseason scrimmage is scheduled for Tuesday against Inter Miami, with a match against Minnesota United set for Friday.
Orlando Pride 1-2 Florida State University
The Pride went looking for a preseason sweep of Florida State but instead it was the Seminoles exacting revenge. Orlando had beaten the Noles 2-1 in Tallahassee back on March 13, and Marc Skinner started a strong lineup against FSU.
Today’s starting XI @FSUSoccer. Last preseason test time.— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) April 3, 2021
Meggie Dougherty Howard
Marisa Viggiano@orlandohealth | #VamosOrlando
While it’s true that college sides are in season and Florida State has one of the better programs in the country, it’s a bit disappointing to see the Pride fail to score from the run of play with a lineup like that. The only Orlando goal in the 2-1 loss came from a Taylor Kornieck free kick. It was a scorcher.
.@taylorkornieck’s goal at today’s test. ⚽️ @orlandohealth | #VamosOrlando pic.twitter.com/5JeptnzZmn— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) April 3, 2021
“I’m just practicing doing low and hard shots,” Kornieck said. “In case of a deflection or anything, we’re all in there in the box, ready to go. You can expect a lot more of that.”
Florida State had scored just three minutes into the match and Kornieck’s equalizer came at the end of the first half. But the Seminoles scored the game winner in the 77th minute.
The Pride fell to 2-2-0 on the preseason and it’s not the best way to go into the NWSL Challenge Cup opener against Racing Louisville next Saturday, but hopefully Skinner’s troops will be ready to go when there is more at stake.
“Our mentality was to play this game like we are playing against Louisville,” Skinner said after the scrimmage. “Result aside today, I’m really, really happy with where we’re at, and I know we’re ready for Louisville next week.”
“It’s soccer, where sometimes the result just doesn’t go the way that you are,” midfielder Erika Tymrak said. “I’m one of those people, in preseason especially, that I would rather be happy with our performance than the score. Second half, we came out and we played. I was really happy with that and I think the team was too.”