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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. New York City FC: Player Grades and Man of the Match

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I’ll be honest, grading this squad, on the first day of the 2019 season is not something that I would wish on anyone. Pretty much no matter the outcome of the match, good, bad, or the draw we witnessed, this is a daunting task. I will give this my best go.

Starters

GK, Brian Rowe, 6 — First time out for new Lion Rowe, whose one-on-one stop was the icing on the cake for a pretty good outing. It was a bit surprising to see Rowe sending kicks long, considering that we all witnessed the certain play from the back towards the end of last season, but it could be because the height of the targets may have increased this season. Rowe ended the night with four solid saves. I am not sure there was much he could have done on the two NYCFC goals, but the ones that he should have handled, I give him credit for handling them very well.

D, Kamal Miller, 6.5 — How long has he officially been a Lion? I will say the left side was easily the more dangerous side for the home squad all evening, and Miller was a big part of that. Tracking back was solid, the communication was good, and the vision was there. For a back line that seems a bit patchwork, Miller was a very bright light throughout the match. Two aerials won, three tackles, and an 81% passer rating was a solid outing.

D, Alex De John, 6 — One goal might be on Alex, but he made up for it as the match went on. Being the center of three in the back, as a new Lion, would be a tall task for anyone, but you could certainly see the chemistry starting to blossom. The task was fairly tall, especially after NYCFC went up by two, but Alex grabbed the back line by the back of the neck and pulled the boys together, ending the afternoon with three solid tackles and an 85% passer rating.

D, Shane O’Neill, 6.5 — The second year Lion was solid again. The “veteran” on the back line played well both in defense and running up the sideline in attack. He passed at an 83% rate, with one attacking dribble, and one tackle, highlighting a good outing. He also showed good speed tracking back against counter attacks.

WB, Danilo Acosta, 6.5 — Again, part of the left side of the formation that certainly seemed the more dangerous all evening. The give-and-go play with Miller, Sebas Mendez, Chris Mueller, and Sacha Kljestan was solid, as was the tracking back to assist on defense. A solid first outing in purple, and certainly a stake in the ground to keep starting in that position. His 82% passing was decent, and you could certainly see the sparks flying and what the future holds.

MF, Sebas Mendez, 6 — He was given the softest of soft yellows from my vantage point, but the rest of the match was interesting to say the least. The rating here may be due to being with a new team, and Sebas expecting players to be in places where they weren’t. However, the fire was there, the drive was there, and seeing him grab players during every break and talk to them was extremely impressive, as was his 91% passer rating, and his two tackles on defense.

MF, Sacha Kljestan, 6 — It was a decent outing for the captain, and he certainly had many moments of shock and awe. It was certainly a bit crowded in the middle of the pitch all match, as NYCFC kept its formation fairly tight for the match, which was certainly a factor in keeping his passer rating at 76%. To his credit, he also had three total shots, with one on target and two blocked, but it was good to have him shooting on goal, if for no other reason than to keep the defense thinking. He could have had an assist on a shot Mueller missed just wide.

MF,Will Johnson, 7 — If only that first shot had gone in. If tonight didn’t remind you why Johnson is in purple, I am not sure what will. He had two shots, although both were a bit off target, a 90% passer rating, one aerial won and five solid tackles, which had him in the running for MotM. Tonight should endear him to the detractors, as he was still running his guts out in stoppage time, and if you still have questions, just re-watch the match. Solid night for Will, and a solid sign for what to expect for the season to come.

WB, Kyle Smith, 6 — Another new Lion to get familiar with, Smith had a good outing, with an 89% passer rating and three shots — with one on target and two blocked — and one tackle to round out his time on the pitch. He may not have the name recognition yet, and his crosses need a bit of work, but it is coming. Smith worked extremely well with O’Neill to hold down the right side. Keep an eye on this guy moving forward.

F, Chris Mueller, 7.5 (MotM) — Cash Rules Everything Around Me (CREAM). Just remember, Wu Tang is for the masses, and so is Chris “Cash” Mueller. Do not let the 71% passer rating detract you from the fact that Mueller was that beast mode player we saw last year, only more so. The free kick, put in the most dangerous of places, was so good that no one touched it, and it ended up in the back of the net. His hustle on offense and defense was infectious, and every time he got on the ball, the crowd was just waiting for the magic to happen. It might be a close call, but he certainly deserves the MotM call today for his goal, his team-high five chances created, and his hustle in multiple positions.

F, Tesho Akindele, 7 — Another field player with a deceptively low passer rating, Akindele finished at 73%. It was the rest of his time on the pitch that made the impact. He had one shot, and oh by the way it went into the back of the net, to go along with the aerial battles and two tackles. Can any of you remember a more consistent threat up top as a true striker behind Dom Dwyer? Yes, that statement was a bit rhetorical, but think back to last season and let me know the last time you can say the high press, the target striker, and hold and attack worked as well as it did today. Tesho was a very big part of that, a driving part.

Substitutes

F, Dom Dwyer (69’), 6.5 — It only took Dom a few minutes to make an impact, and that impact was assisting on the game tying goal, with a great run and assist to Tesho in the 75th minute. As Dom gets more minutes, it will be interesting to see he and Tesho gain more minutes together. He nearly provided the game winner that Maxime Chanot knocked down with his hand, too.

MF, Nani (70’), 6 — As hard as it is for me to cheer for a former Red Devil, Nani is going to be a name, and a player, to watch this season, Although we didn’t get to see much on the offensive side, he unlocked New York City’s defense with one long through ball that found Dwyer to set up the tying goal, earning him the proverbial hockey assist. His defensive prowess was on display, ending the evening with two solid tackles. With a solid 15 minutes on the pitch, you could see the vision, but the 67% passing rating might deceive you (small sample size). His passes were to where players should have been, and will get there with a bit of time.

MF, Josué Colmán (77’), 6 — When Colmán came on for Tesho, it was the first time this season that Orlando City has had all of its DPs (regular and YDP) on the pitch at the same time. His effort was solid, but 13 minutes is not a good amount of time to completely show what you have learned since last season. There were some flashes, like the pass that sent Mueller to the end line to cross for Dwyer, and we certainly saw a bit more confidence in going directly at opposing players. This is definitely a player to whom more minutes will mean the world.


It was a solid first outing for 2019, and the Lions have continued their tradition of being undefeated to begin the MLS season. Again, OCSC fielded a starting XI that may not be the ultimate best XI, but we may have just been witness to the depth that is to come. Head Coach James O’Connor has shown a wildly different side to team and tactics, something that many did not expect. It should stand as a positive as to what is to come moving forward in the 2019 season. Who was your MotM? Let us know in the poll below, and give me an idea how you rated the Lions in the comments below.

Polling Closed

Player Votes
Tesho Akindele 7
Will Johnson 29
Danilo Acosta 3
Chris Mueller 210
Shane O’Neill 8
Other 13

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. the Columbus Crew: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in a 2-0 loss at home against Columbus?

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Rafael Santos Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

The Lions returned home riding a three-game unbeaten streak but a bizarre video review call moments before halftime set the tone for a physical match against the Columbus Crew. Ultimately, Orlando fell to the Crew 2-0. Here’s how I saw each individual Lion’s performance in Orlando’s fourth loss at home on the season.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 6 — The Peruvian No. 1 saw a relatively quiet first half come to a close in a fury as he was forced into action to face a penalty kick before halftime. Gallese guessed correctly, but Diego Rossi’s placement was just above Gallese’s outstretched trailing hand. The Crew put three of their eight shot attempts on target and Gallese was credited with one save on the night. He completed 94.1% of his 17 passing attempts, including two accurate long balls out of three attempts.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 7 (MotM) — Schlegel continued to fill in for injured starter Robin Jansson and has now strung a few solid performances together on the back line. Defensively, he put out multiple fires for Orlando City. He tied Wilder Cartagena for the team lead with five clearances. Schlegel also added three tackles and one blocked shot. He committed one foul while he suffered three throughout the match. He completed 93.1% of his 58 passing attempts, including two key passes. He also completed one of his three long-ball attempts on the night. For his total effort throughout the game he is our Man of the Match.

D, Wilder Cartagena, 6.5 — The Peruvian international continued to function as a center back in the squad’s 3-5-2 lineup. Defensively, he tied for the team lead with five clearances and added three tackles and a blocked shot. He won two aerial duels and was whistled for two fouls on the night. He completed 91.7% of his 48 passes, including two successful long balls out of four attempts. Offensively, Cartagena put one of his two shot attempts on target and completed one successful dribble.

D, David Brekalo, 6 — Brekalo continued to perform well in the back as he has become more comfortable in his role, leading the team with four total tackles and chipping in one clearance. He completed 91.3% of his 46 passes and was successful on both long balls that he sent up the field. He committed one foul in the match. Offensively, he did not contribute any statistics.

WB, Facundo Torres, 5.5 — Torres again slotted in at wingback, which limits the number of looks he gets at goal, but it’s nice to see a Designated Player willing to change positions for the good of the team. The Uruguayan logged one tackle, one clearance, and one interception on defense. He committed one foul and earned a foul as well. He completed 91.5% of his 47 passes, which included two key passes. He completed three of his eight crossing attempts on the night and was successful on one of two long balls. Offensively, he logged one shot, which was off target, and completed one successful dribble.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6.5 — Lodeiro played solidly throughout the match and was asked to do a little bit of everything during the game. Defensively, he contributed three tackles and one interception. He led the team with 77 total touches and completed 84.8% of his team-high 59 passing attempts, including one key pass. He successfully completed one of his five crosses and both of his long-ball attempts. Offensively, he put one of his two shot attempts on target. He was whistled for being offside once. Lodeiro saw his night come to an end in the 66th minute when he was replaced by Martin Ojeda.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6 — Returning from suspension for yellow card accumulation, Araujo functioned as the only true defensive midfielder. Araujo’s effort on the night will ultimately be remembered for the jersey tug and subsequent yellow card recieved for the “foul” on Aidan Morris, which resulted in a penalty kick attempt for the Crew (instead of Orlando City) after a confusing and frustrating video review. Araujo finished the night quietly from a statistical standpoint with one interception as his only defensive stat. He committed four fouls total, including the aforementioned “foul.” He completed 96.3% of his 27 passes, including two successful long balls on two attempts. Offensively, Araujo was credited with one successful dribble. He was subbed out of the match in the 58th minute as Orlando chased the game.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6.5 — Angulo slotted into the midfield for the second straight game. Defensively, he contributed one tackle. He completed 86.5% of his 52 passes, including a team-high three key passes. He also completed his lone through ball attempt. Offensively, he did not log a shot attempt, but he did complete two dribbles and was fouled once. Angulo was able to use his speed to get into dangerous positions throughout the match but continued to lack precision when it came to the final pass or dribble.

WB, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Thorhallsson joined Torres as the wingback on the opposite side in the 3-5-2 system and seemed to be an afterthought throughout much of the match as the team played down the left side of the field for the majority of the game. Defensively, he contributed three total tackles and one clearance while also winning one aerial on the night and did well to deny the speedy Yaw Yeboah multiple chances to get inside him on give-and-go plays. He completed 83.3% of his 24 total passing attempts. He was unsuccessful on both crossing attempts but completed one of his two long balls. Offensively, as a byproduct of much of the action happening opposite his side of the field, he failed to record an offensive statistic. He was subbed out of the match in the 58th minute.

F, Luis Muriel, 6.5 — Muriel put in a good effort on a night when the scoreboard unfortunately would not reflect it. His effort to get in on goal — and subsequently be taken down from behind — earned what everyone thought at the time to be a penalty attempt for the Lions, although it was taken away by the referee after the review. Defensively, Muriel was credited with one interception. He completed 88% of his 25 passes and was successful on his lone crossing attempt. He won one aerial and offensively put one of his three shot attempts on target while completing three successful dribbles and suffering one foul.

F, Jack Lynn, 5.5 — With the injury to Duncan McGuire, the hero of the Lions’ last match, Lynn made Orlando’s starting lineup. Defensively, Lynn contributed one clearance. He completed 81.8% of his 11 passes. Lynn was unsuccessful on his lone crossing attempt. Offensively, Lynn failed to record a shot attempt but was credited with one successful dribble while being whistled for offside twice. He was subbed off in the 58th minute for Ramiro Enrique.

Substitutes

MF, Felipe, (59′), 5.5 — Brought on for Araujo just before the hour mark, Felipe looked to help control the midfield. Defensively he logged one tackle and one clearance while committing one foul, which landed him a yellow card. He completed 89.5% of his 19 passes, including one key pass and two successful long balls on two attempts. Offensively he did not record a shot attempt.

WB, Rafael Santos, (59′), 6 — Santos came on for Thorhallsson but went over to fill the left wingback role, sending Torres forward and Angulo to right wingback. He recorded one interception on the defensive end. Santos completed 84.2% of his 19 passes, which included one successful long ball on his one attempt. He was fouled once and was whistled for offside once.

F, Ramiro Enrique, (60′), 6 — Making his return from an extended absence due to injury, Enrique came on for the final half hour in the hopes of providing an offensive spark. He got into good areas but struggled to finish on some of Orlando’s best scoring chances of the night. Enrique completed 66.7% of his six passes and was unsuccessful on his lone cross. In a little over 30 minutes of game time, Enrique managed to tie Muriel for the most shot attempts, with three, and put two of them on target, albeit right at the goalkeeper. Despite the poor overall outcome of the match, it was good to see Enrique return to the pitch.

MF, Martin Ojeda, (67′), 5.5 — Designated Player Ojeda came off the bench to replace Lodeiro as Orlando faced a two-goal deficit. Defensively, Ojeda logged one interception. He completed all eight of his pass attempts, with two key passes, and three of his five crosses. Ojeda attempted one shot, which was off target.


How did you see the individual performances in this game? Make your voice heard down in the comments, and be sure to vote in our Man of the Match poll. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/27/24

Orlando City loses to the Crew, Pride and OCB win, Southampton seals return to Premier League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Happy Memorial Day, Mane Landers! I hope you all had a good holiday weekend. I worked at Under Armour all weekend while wrapping up my high school sports coverage for the spring season. It was a mixed weekend for our teams. Orlando City lost, but both the Pride and OCB won their matches. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Lions Lose at Home to Columbus Crew

Orlando City lost 2-0 to the Columbus Crew on Saturday at Inter&Co Stadium and saw its three-match unbeaten streak end. The match’s first goal was controversial as the referee, Jair Marrufo, initially awarded the Lions a penalty late in the first half but went to the monitor and reviewed a play at the other end of the pitch. He instead awarded Columbus a penalty kick. Diego Rossi scored from the spot to put the Crew ahead 1-0 before halftime. Columbus extended its winning streak to three matches. Orlando has struggled at home, going just 1-3-4 so far this season. The Lions have not scored a goal at home since April 27. Despite the loss, the Lions still remain in 10th in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Next up for Orlando is a pair of road matches this week, starting Wednesday at the Chicago Fire, followed by a Saturday night matchup against the New York Red Bulls. 

Pride Win at Home Over Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride won their record-setting eighth straight match with a 2-1 victory at Inter&Co Stadium against the Portland Thorns Friday. Barbra Banda scored two goals in the first half to give the Pride a 2-0 lead going into halftime. Portland pulled one back, but the Pride held on for the victory and claimed three points. Orlando remains undefeated in league play after 11 matches, and the Pride stay atop the NWSL table with 27 points. The Pride are off this week but will return to action on the road next Friday, June 7, against the San Diego Wave.

OCB Win at Home against Huntsville City FC

On Sunday, Orlando City B bounced back with a season-high five goals in a 5-0 win over Hunstville City FC at Osceola County Stadium. Jhon Solis, Yutaro Tsukada, and Shak Mohammed put OCB ahead 3-0, while Yeiler Valencia scored his first two OCB goals to seal the win for the Young Lions. OCB is now in sixth in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Meanwhile, Huntsville City FC remains winless through 10 matches and stays at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. OCB’s next match will be on the road Sunday at Inter Miami CF II. 

Southampton Clinches Promotion to Premier League

Southampton booked its return to the Premier League with a 1-0 over Leeds United in the EFL Championship playoff final at Wembley Sunday. Adam Armstrong scored the lone goal in this match as the Saints returned to the top flight after being relegated the previous season. Southampton joins Leicester City and Ipswich Town, securing promotion to the Premier League. Despite finishing third in the table, Leeds’ playoff woes continue as this is the sixth time it missed out on securing promotion and finished its season with only one win out of its last six matches. 

Free Kicks


That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Monday and I’ll see you next time.

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from Orlando City’s frustrating home loss to the Columbus Crew?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City hosted the Columbus Crew in an Eastern Conference showdown Saturday as the Lions looked to extend a three-match unbeaten streak. Unfortunately, questionable calls and a continued lack of quality in front of the goal doomed Orlando City to yet another home loss. What follows are my immediate takeaways from an deeply disappointing and frustrating defeat in Saturday’s 2-0 loss.

A Controversial Penalty

In the 41st minute, Cesar Araujo slightly tugged on Aidan Morris’ shirt from behind, but Morris fell forward in the box. Referee Jair Marrufo did not call a foul. This is important. Orlando City eventually cleared and took the ball back all the way up at midfield. The Lions worked the ball into the box, where Steven Moreira knocked down Luis Muriel from behind for an obvious foul. Marrufo called the penalty, but the video assistant referee got in his ear, and he went to look at the monitor. This was all over a minute since the not called “foul” on the other end. After looking at it, he reversed his call on the field and awarded the penalty to Columbus for the soft Araujo foul, which Diego Rossi buried to give Columbus the lead. This included the willingness to overlook a foul on Rossi in the phase of attack prior to Araujo’s infraction.

We have said many times on The Mane Land PawedCast that when given the opportunity, PRO referees will go to look at the video review when it goes against Orlando City, but not when it is a call that benefits Orlando City. This is just another example of that paradigm.

The Problem with the 3-5-2 Formation

With Robin Jansson sidelined due to injury, Oscar Pareja has employed a 3-5-2 formation with David Brekalo, Wilder Cartagena, and Rodrigo Schlegel on the back line. It has been mostly effective, and Cartagena in particular has done better than one could hope for in this new role.

Though Orlando City has had success with this formation, it does present some challenges. In this match, it moved Facundo Torres into the left winger position, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson to the left wingback position. Thorhallsson has not been as effective going forward into the attack as he is when playing fullback, and Torres doesn’t look as free flowing as he usually is. It also means that Orlando City is unable to have the double pivot of Araujo and Cartagena in the defensive midfield. That pairing has been extremely effective for the Lions over the last few seasons.

Finishing Quality Still Lacking

Is someone messing with magnets? Is Professor Quirrel in the stands using his wand to redirect the ball? I’m just wondering, because Orlando City can’t seem to put the ball in the net for any amount of money at home. Orlando City generated 12 shots with five on target against Columbus and scored exactly zero goals. Several players, including Luis Muriel, Torres, Jack Lynn, and Nico Lodeiro all shot just wide of the target. Orlando City doesn’t have any trouble getting the ball into dangerous areas and creating chances, but the Lions have had trouble finishing those chances, and it’s getting to be ridiculous. Someone contact Professor Dumbledore.

Missing Players are Missed

It’s never ideal when starters are missing. Jansson returned to the 18 on Saturday but did not see any playing time against Columbus. Not having the captain on the pitch is not great, but when you combine that with not having Jansson’s quality on the back line, it makes things even tougher.

Meanwhile, Duncan McGuire’s scoring prowess is deeply missed. McGuire is Orlando City’s leading scorer with five goals. Orlando City doesn’t have another striker like him. Muriel generally plays lower than McGuire, often generating his own chances, but isn’t the target striker that McGuire can be. Jack Lynn is a target striker, but simply does not have the same level of quality as McGuire. Ramiro Enrique returned from injury in this match, but his size does not allow him to do what McGuire can do, and his rust was evident when presented a couple of golden opportunities in front of goal. Basically, the Lions really miss McGuire.

Designated Players Must Step Up

There are exceptions, but typically MLS Designated Players are attackers and are supposed to be contributing goals. Two of Orlando City’s DPs have scored. Muriel has two goals, and Torres has one. Martin Ojeda has yet to score. That means McGuire has more goals than all three DPs combined. Let’s be generous and look at goal contributions. Both Muriel and Torres have an assist on the season, and Ojeda has three assists. McGuire also has an assist. That means McGuire has six goal contributions, and all three DPs have combined for eight goal contributions. That isn’t good enough. Ojeda has mostly played a substitute role for Orlando City. That isn’t something a DP should be doing. Obviously, none of the three contributed to a goal in this match either. Something needs to change.


Those are the things I observed in the 2-0 loss to the Crew, let us know in the comments below what stood out to you. As always, vamos Orlando!

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