Cartagena Scores Game-Winner to Punch Orlando City’s Ticket to Leagues Cup Knockout Stage

ORLANDO (Florida Sports Wire) – Orlando City SC (1-0-1, 5 points) defeated Santos Laguna (0-1-1, 1 point) in a 3-2 victory on Saturday night at Exploria Stadium, punching its ticket to the Round of 32 in Leagues Cup 2023. With that, the Lions are set to travel to face intrastate rivals Inter Miami CF at DRV PNK Stadium on Wed., Aug. 2.

The two sides went into halftime level at 1-1, with Duncan McGuire equalizing for the Lions in the 44th minute for his second goal in Leagues Cup action and third in as many matches across all competitions. Just after the break, Mauricio Pereyra gave City the lead thanks to a scorching effort from outside the box, however Santos levelled the match once more just over 10 minutes later.The clubs remained equal entering into second-half stoppage time until Wilder Cartagena found the back of the net for City in the 92nd minute, his first goal as a Lion. The match also saw defender Antonio Carlos record his 100th appearance for Orlando City across all competitions, with the Brazilian center back also earning an assist in the contest on Pereyra’s finish just after the break.

“First, congratulations to our players for such a great victory against a great team. I am very grateful to our fans, who came to support us and show us the connection that they have with this group. I think we made a great step towards our objectives and to keep moving forward in the Leagues Cup tournament and also show many other things that are going to help us during the rest of this season. It was a great game,” saidHead Coach Oscar Pareja. “I thought it was a very complete performance the whole game. Santos [Laguna] were a great opposition with great players. We are excited we advanced [to the Round of 32]. There isn’t too much time to delay, so now we prepare for the next one.” The visitors took the lead with Raúl López taking the ball up the pitch, creating enough space to fire off a shot from just inside the area that snuck under Lions’ goalkeeper Pedro Gallese for the finish.The Lions leveled with Rafael Santos getting free down the left flank, whipping in a cross to find the head of McGuire for the 2023 MLS SuperDraft selection’s second goal in Leagues Cup in his third in as many contests.City came out of the halftime break on the attack, with Antonio Carlos playing a ball to Pereyra right in front the Santos defensive line. Pereyra turned with a couple of touches before unleashing a screamer into the top right corner of the net to take the lead.The visitors equalized by way of a lofted ball into the box by López, finding Harold Preciado who was just able to jump over a pair of City defenders and head the ball into the back of the net.The Lions found a late game-winner with César Araújo getting free down the right flank before playing a ball in behind to a running Cartagena in behind the Santos defense, who tapped it in to send Orlando City to the Round of 32.Match Notes: 

  • Wilder Cartagena scored his first goal as a Lion with the game-winner.
  • Duncan McGuire scored his 10th goal in all competitions and his third in as many contests, two of which have come in Leagues Cup play.
  • Mauricio Pereyra scored his seventh goal as a Lion and his first in 2023.
  • Rafael Santos notched his third assist in all competitions in 2023.
  • Defender Antonio Carlos made his 100th appearance across all competitions as a Lion in the match, earning the start and tallying his fifth assist for the Club on the night.
  • César Araújo registered his sixth assist for the Lions across all competitions and his fifth of the year.
  • Pareja made one change to his starting lineup since his side’s last match against Houston Dynamo FC, with Mauricio Pereyra returning to the XI.
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