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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Montreal Impact (Round 2): Player Grades

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All good streaks come to an end, this one just happened to come to an end in a match where Orlando City simply looked tired from the start. Way too many passes went awry and the Lions were not able to string together any good attacks until the last 5 or 10 minutes.

The Impact took the lead 1-0 and sealed the deal at the very end of stoppage time to make the final score 2-0. Here are our player grades for the match and be sure to vote for your Man of the Match in the poll below!

Player Grades

G, Tally Hall, 6.5 — In a game where most Montreal attempts ended in misfires, Tally did his part to save what he could and really wasn’t much to blame for the two goals that did go in. The first was off of a well taken corner (one of way too many for the Impact) and a stoppage time stunner that is not as much the fault of Seb Hines as it was the result of great determination from Dominic Oduro. Hey, we have to give credit when it is due.

D, Luke Boden, 5.5 — After playing the full 120 minutes on Wednesday, many where surprised to see Bodz start this one. While fatigue was in issue, Boden made some great defensive plays and contributed a little to the offense but was not able to make use of the mismatch on the left side. His exhaustion showed in the end and he failed to have his usual impact on the game.

D, Sean St. Ledger, 7.5 (MOTM) — In the beginning of the match, I was sure that Collin and St. Ledger were set to have a spectacular game and I was not 100% wrong. The Republic of Ireland international was able to hold Montreal at bay throughout the match with important challenges and timely tackles.

D, Aurélien Collin, 7 — Right off the bat, Collin made some spectacular tackles, including one where he walked away in an almost Terminator-esque fashion. Number 78 has been a stalwart on defense all year and we can only hope his hamstring turns out to be okay in the morning.

D, Rafael Ramos, 6 — While the young Portuguese star has a knack for getting forward on the attack, he was saved several times by the fact that Lewis Neal just isn’t an attacking player. Perhaps this game would have turned out better if Adrian Heath had moved Neal back and Ramos forward? All kidding aside, Ramos has the speed to shut down any attacker and move into attacking position himself, but needs to know when to go forward and when to stay back. I will say, once Rivas came in, Ramos did seem to nail down his positioning a lot more often.

M, Cristian Higuita, 4 — Sloppy giveaways, sloppy fouls, I even cried out for Amobi Okugo to come in at one point (yes, I really did). Higuita has been a sensation in the holding midfield position alongside Darwin Ceren, but tonight did not seem to get anything right. Let’s hope he gets it together on Wednesday. He did have one of Orlando’s best looks at goal in the first half, but shot just over the bar.

M, Darwin Ceren, 5.5 — Despite some bad giveaways, which seemed to be the theme of the match, Ceren had a great showing defensively and was able to get the ball out of the opposition’s hands (or, feet) when needed. Overall, an average performance from a player that lately has been superb. Chalk it up to showing some rust after returning from international duty.

M, Brek Shea, 5.5 — Despite not playing in the midweek, Shea wasn’t sharp at all playing in his now-customary left wing spot. He did manage a nice cross early but he often looked out of control, especially in the second half. We’ve come to expect much more from the U.S. International, especially as well rested as he was.

M, Kaká, 5 — Yes, a five. As in, average. Our captain was not able to make a difference and seemed to give about half of his possessions away to Montreal. Perhaps Inchy should reconsider who he leaves at home for the U.S. Open Cup matches? In fairness, he did have one nice blast that Laurent Ciman cut out, but it was not the captain’s best performance.

M, Lewis Neal, 5 — While Neal may be able to play some great defense, it is obvious his best position is not in an attacking midfield role. He spent most of his time playing back and proved to make almost no difference in the match other than covering for Ramos when the young defender was not able to get back from his runs in time.

F, Cyle Larin, 5.5 — Larin, back from sensational performances for the Canadian National Team, was not able to recreate his magic on home soil. He had two noticeable chances that he was not able to capitalize on and did make a few good runs but sloppy play and poor first touches proved to make all the difference. Rookies, eh?

Substitutions

D, Seb Hines (49′), 4.5 — I suppose Hines deserves an A for effort but he was not able to replace what Collin was doing on the pitch. He made a nice effort to get back and block Dominic Oduro’s cross attempt but was slow to locate the rebound, which unfortunately went straight back to Dom and ended up in the net.

M, Carlos Rivas (61′), 6 — If only someone had said penalty kicks could lead to more confidence in younger players. Well, we saw that tonight because for the first time in his MLS career, Carlos Rivas took a spectacular shot that was actually on target. Unfortunately we did not get to see more of the young man but I can only imagine what having his speed alongside Ramos could have done for the full 90.

F, Pedro Ribeiro (77′), 7 — Week after week, Pedro seems to always make a difference and after the last match in Montreal, we were all expecting exactly what we saw from the Brazilian. Unfortunately, his efforts did not end in a goal, but the man deserves credit for making a huge difference in the match, and getting two shots on frame in his brief appearance. His positioning on crosses was spectacular and he continues to display a great first touch.

That’s it for us. Who was your Man of the Match for Orlando City? Vote in the poll below!

Polling Closed

Player Votes
Sean St. Ledger 34
Aurélien Collin 12
Pedro Ribiero 26
Tally Hall 15
Other (Let us know in the comments) 2

Lion Links

Lion Links: 3/1/24

Orlando’s girls teams playing in national event this weekend, USWNT will face Colombia, Paul Pogba banned for four years, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to March! It always feels like a good sign when a month starts on a Friday. Spring may not officially be here, but it definitely feels like winter is truly behind us. I plan on getting plenty of spring cleaning done this weekend before a fairly busy month. Let’s get this month started with today’s links!

ECNL Girls National Event Kicks Off Today

Some of the best youth soccer players are coming to Florida this weekend for the Elite Club National League’s spring event at Lakewood Ranch. It’s a great chance for clubs to play teams outside of their conference and there are plenty of scouts to impress as well. Orlando City will have four youth teams take part and each team will play at least three games over the three days. Orlando’s G07 squad has notably won five of its eight games in conference play and will take on Real Colorado National today. Orlando’s squads in the other age groups have some strong opponents lined up as well, so it should be a great experience for the club.

USWNT Will Face Colombia in Concacaf W Gold Cup

After finishing second in its group after a loss to Mexico, the United States Women’s National Team will take on Colombia this Sunday in the Concacaf W Gold Cup quarterfinals. The U.S. and Colombia squared off in friendlies last fall, with the teams playing to a scoreless draw in Utah before the U.S. won 3-0 in San Diego a few days later. Colombia also finished second in its group, conceding just once so far this tournament. The winner of Sunday’s match will play whichever team advances from tomorrow’s game between Canada and Costa Rica. On the other side of the bracket, Orlando Pride players square off when Rafaelle, Adriana, and Brazil play Mariana Larroquette and Argentina tomorrow. The winner of that match will play the victor between Mexico and Paraguay.

Portland Timbers Cut Ties With Jersey Sponsor

The Portland Timbers have dropped DaBella Exteriors as their jersey sponsor amid allegations that the company’s CEO, Donnie McMillan, Jr., sexually harassed employees. The accusations did not become public until Feb. 23 and the Timbers have removed DaBella’s image from their website as well. It makes sense that the Timbers would want to distance themselves from this. There was an investigation by U.S. Soccer in 2022 regarding former Portland Thorns head coach Paul Riley, and the club was also fined by MLS for not reporting an incident of alleged domestic violence involving former Timbers player Andy Polo in a timely manner. DaBella replaced Alaska Airlines as the team’s shirt sponsor for this season and the Timbers will now go without one until a new sponsor is chosen.

Paul Pogba Banned for Four Years

After testing positive for testosterone while playing for Juventus, French midfielder Paul Pogba was banned for the maximum four years by Italy’s anti-doping court. In response to the ruling, Pogba stated that the verdict was “incorrect” and that he will appeal this decision.

“I am sad, shocked and heartbroken that everything I have built in my professional playing career has been taken away from me,” Pogba said. “When I am free of legal restrictions the full story will become clear, but I have never knowingly or deliberately taken any supplements that violate anti-doping regulations.”

It’s fair to wonder just where this news leaves his career if his appeal is denied and he serves the full ban. Pogba turns 31 later this month and he is still under contract with Juventus through 2026, although this ban may obviously change that. Injuries have limited him in recent years as well, as he missed out on the most recent World Cup with France.

Free Kicks

  • Toronto FC signed English midfielder Matty Longstaff to a contract through the 2025 season. Longstaff has previous played for Newcastle United and should help improve a Toronto team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2020.
  • LA Galaxy midfielder Mark Delgado’s second yellow card he received in his team’s opener has been rescinded and he’s eligible for Saturday’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes. Delgado was sent off while the Galaxy were up against Inter Miami, and the Herons then went on to score and leave with a point.
  • The New England Revolution beat Independiente to advance to the Concacaf Champions Cup’s round of 16.
  • Bay FC forward Racheal Kundananji had to exit Zambia’s Olympic qualifier against Ghana due to an injury.
  • The United States Men’s National Team’s next away kit was reportedly leaked and it sure is something. It’s like a Bomb Pop got mixed into the team’s laundry.
  • The USL Super League’s Fort Lauderdale United unveiled its branding and the colors are pretty nice. However, the logo has a bit too much alphabet soup going on for my liking.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Orlando City

Orlando City at Inter Miami: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to defeat Inter Miami in Fort Lauderdale this Saturday?

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

This Saturday Orlando City travels to Fort Lauderdale to take on in-state rival Inter Miami. Despite having to pay for a part of Lionel Messi’s salary, the Lions will not get to have him play any time for Orlando City, which is kind of messed up, isn’t it? Regardless, the Lions will look to maintain their undefeated start to the year with a win down South.

What does Orlando City need to do to bring home all three points from Chase Stadium?

Get a Midfielder on Messi

It isn’t easy to stop Messi, but that is what defensive midfielders Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena must do in this match. They are arguably the best defensive midfield pairing in MLS and will need to prove it against one of the best to ever play the game. When Orlando City played Messi and Miami in the U.S. Open Cup last year, they were able to frustrate him and he should have been sent off just before halftime for a second yellow-worthy foul he committed to stop Araujo from getting to a loose ball first to start the counter. He is very entitled and doesn’t like being challenged by the likes of those two. Doing so smartly will be the key because of our next key below.

Don’t Give the Refs Anything

MLS and the referees will never admit that they made calls that benefit Miami and Messi in particular, but that’s because they want us to not believe our lying eyes. It’s unfair and wrong, but also a fact of life. As such, the Lions need to make sure that they don’t do anything even remotely close to the type of foul that will allow the refs to swing things the Herons’ way. Of course, that might not stop them from doing so, but playing clean and smart is the best chance to limit the impact the officiating has on the match. Balancing that will being aggressive enough to stop them will be tricky to say the least.

Score, Score, Score

You can be sure we will see a first-choice lineup from Oscar Pareja this Saturday. That means that the Lions need to press for goals early and often. Score enough goals and the referees can’t hurt you. Whether it’s Duncan McGuire, Facundo Torres, Luis Muriel, Ivan Angulo, Nico Lodeiro, or even Kyle Smith, the team needs to put the ball in the back of the net. Getting the early lead — especially if it’s two goals — will mean a lot to the flow of the game. Once again, I don’t particularly care where those goals come from, just that they happen.


That is what I will be looking for this Saturday. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/29/24

Lions reportedly won’t play in U.S. Open Cup, Cavalry FC reflects on its defeat, gauging the USWNT’s panic meter, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Leap Day, Mane Landers! It’s the rarest day of the year, as we all lean into our procrastination a bit and collectively tell March that we’ll get to it tomorrow. It’s been a pretty busy week for me, but knowing the MLS season is in full swing has helped fuel me a bit. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Orlando City Reportedly Won’t Play in 2024 U.S. Open Cup

The latest reports involving Major League Soccer’s participation in this year’s U.S. Open Cup indicate that Orlando City, along with a majority of MLS teams, won’t be playing their first teams in the tournament. According to ESPN‘s Jeff Carlisle, the Houston Dynamo and the seven best teams from last season that aren’t taking part in the Concacaf Champions Cup will have their first teams take part. The format will reportedly be announced soon and we’ll see if Orlando City B and other MLS NEXT Pro teams will be in the tournament.

It will be pretty disappointing if Orlando’s first team doesn’t end up playing. Even though the Lions suffered an early exit last year, they won in 2022 and Head Coach Oscar Pareja has a penchant for excelling in the U.S. Open Cup.

Cavalry FC Reflects on Loss to Orlando City

Although Cavalry FC lost in both legs against Orlando City in its first Concacaf Champions Cup campaign, the Canadian club can hold its head high. Cavalry Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. spoke on the team’s tactics in the second leg in Orlando to overcome the hefty aggregate deficit.

“Strategically, we wanted to frustrate them in the first half with an extra defender, and often at times we were in a back five,” Wheeldon said. “And second half, we wanted to unleash with more attackers and have a go, because it was 0-0. We thought … one, we wanted to make history with our first goal, and two, we wanted to get a result here.”

That first goal did come with Myer Bevan making some history for his team to take back to Canada. All in all, Cavalry did pretty well as the underdog and it’s unfortunate it didn’t get a true home game in Calgary. Cavalry’s defense is the real deal and I doubt this is the last time it makes an appearance in the Champions Cup.

Assessing the Fallout From the USWNT’s Defeat

The United States Women’s National Team suffered a shocking defeat to Mexico earlier this week that’s brought on varying levels of panic. The clock is ticking before the Olympics and the USWNT struggled to bounce back after trailing in the first half and had difficulties on both sides of the ball. While the issues at center back will likely be solved once Naomi Girma and Tierna Davidson play, the midfield has plenty of question marks and a weird balance of youth and experience. It’s an awkward stage for the USWNT, as Emma Hayes doesn’t arrive until May and won’t have much time to get the team ready for Paris. Of course, the USWNT could still win this tournament and the return of Mallory Swanson may heal most wounds this summer, leaving this loss as just a minor blemish when the year is up. Only time will tell and the USWNT has plenty of opportunity to right the ship.

FA Cup Quarterfinals Are Set

It was a pretty wild day in the FA Cup, with some of England’s top teams fighting their way into the quarterfinals. Chelsea needed a late winner from Conor Gallagher to beat Leeds United 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. Manchester United’s match against Nottingham Forest also had a dramatic finish, as United’s Casemiro scored the game’s only goal in the 89th minute. Wolverhampton ousted Brighton thanks to an early goal, and Liverpool got the job done against Southampton.

In the quarterfinals, Newcastle will travel to take on Manchester City, Wolverhampton will host the second division’s Conventry City, Chelsea will take on Leicester City, and Manchester United will face off against Liverpool. All four matches will take place on March 16.

Free Kicks

  • After getting married, Orlando Pride defender Emily Madril will have a new name on the back of her jersey this season.
  • Former Pride midfielder Becky Edwards is an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee and shared details about her time as both a player and coach with the U.S. U-20 team.
  • Enjoy this captured moment of Orlando midfielder Wilder Cartagena being awesome.
  • LAFC forward Mateusz Bogusz’s strike against the Seattle Sounders won the first MLS Goal of the Matchday of the season, claiming 35.4% of the vote.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a pretty great Leap Day and that the rest of the week goes smoothly.

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