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Orlando City

Orlando City at Philadelphia Union: Player Grades and Man of the Match



Well, Orlando City isn’t going undefeated in 2016. And the first loss of the season almost didn’t happen tonight. The Lions were staring down the barrel of a 1-1 road draw in icy Philadelphia tonight until Tranquillo Barnetta’s unstoppable free kick gave the hosts a 2-1 victory.

The Lions (2-1-2, 8 points) were just moments away from a vital point but just like last year, a set piece did them in. And you could see it coming, as they failed to defend set pieces well all night, although, in fairness, there was nothing anyone could really do about Barnetta’s kick. Philadelphia (3-2-0, 9 points) knocks Orlando out of the East’s top spot and improves to 2-1-0 against the Lions in three MLS meetings.

The question everyone will be asking is about substitutions. The obviously tired, but shorthanded, Lions (down four starters after midfielder Cristian Higuita picked up a groin injury) were in a good position but were decidedly outplayed after Jim Curtin made two midfield substitutions in the second half. Adrian Heath never countered and from that point on, the Union controlled the game.

Sports can be dumb and make you feel things you’d rather not feel, but here are our grades and Man of the Match from a tough loss in Philly.


GK, Joe Bendik, 7 — There was nothing he could do about either Philadelphia goal. Was left out to dry by his defense on Sapong’s second-minute tally and would have had to have been Superman and Batman rolled into one to even get a touch on Barnetta’s late free kick. Despite people moaning on Twitter about how “he didn’t try,” Bendik is a professional keeper and knew he had no shot. He made a vital save on Chris Pontius in the 38th minute. He also punched away a cross late in the first half that could have created problems just moments after Orlando City tied the match. Second half he stopped a shot from point-blank range with his face. He worked hard for his paycheck tonight.

D, Luke Boden, 6 — Mixed night for Bodz, who didn’t do a whole lot wrong but yet didn’t do that much very well, either. Passed at only a 71.7% clip and managed three crosses. Made just one tackle but it was an important one, breaking up an attack by taking the ball from C.J. Sapong after he’d been beaten on the dribble.

D, Seb Hines, 6.5 — Was easily the best of a very nervy back line but that doesn’t mean he played up to the level of Sunday, when he was magnificent. Offensively, Seb got onto some crosses but couldn’t get any of his headers on target. On defense, he doesn’t look comfortable playing with Aurelien Collin and the two ended up in the same spot on multiple occasions, so perhaps there’s simply just not good communication between the two. Managed seven clearances and blocked two shots.

D, Aurelien Collin, 5.5 — Tied Hines with seven clearances and had a team high five interceptions but it was hardly a good outing for the Frenchman, who nearly duplicated Ramos’ early gaffe with a similar one in the second half. He had a few nervous moments with the ball in the box, in defending set pieces, passed at only a 71.1% clip, and and he doesn’t look comfortable, although he has only played one and a half games.

D, Rafael Ramos, 3 — Despite this grade, I feel like I’m being generous. Rafa’s early howler led to Sapong’s goal, as he touched a Keegan Rosenberry cross right onto the foot of the Union striker. An early cross went out of play on one of Orlando’s first forays into Philadelphia territory. His service was generally poor and he tried to bring down a ball in the box that nearly ended up in his own net in the second half. He continues to argue when calls don’t go his way, while the play is going on behind him. With his performance this season, it may only be a matter of time before we see Kevin Alston.

MF, Antonio Nocerino, 3.5 — Wasn’t very sharp and gave away a few dangerous turnovers in his own half. At one point in the first half he was seen signaling back and forth with Carrasco, as the two are still learning to get on the same page. He’ll wear the goat horns for giving away the free kick late in the game (seconds after Ceren committed a similar foul 10 feet away but the ref played on), but he should have been subbed out as you could see the fatigue. Did send a marvelous ball forward for Kaká in the second half and you can see there is skill, but it’s all still coming together for the Italian. That doesn’t excuse his dreadful 69.2% passing accuracy, even if four of his seven long balls were accurate.

MF, Darwin Ceren, 5 — Not the usual performance we get from the Salvadoran. He turned the ball over far too cheaply, conceded two free kicks in his own half and nearly had a third but the ref played on. Didn’t come close to goal on his one shot. Generally passed well, but gave the ball up in bad spots a couple of times, too.

MF, Servando Carrasco, 6 — Spent a lot of the game tracking back and covering for his defenders, blocking crosses and helping clear the box. Made two interceptions, two clearances and passed at an 83% clip. It was a neutral sort of night for Servando, who quietly did his job but nothing spectacular.

MF, Kevin Molino, 6 — Set up Winter’s goal in the 43rd minute with the right pass. Earned free kicks and corners and linked up well both in the attacking half and with right back Rafael Ramos. Like Nocerino, he seemed to tire midway through the second half and was less effective. He passed fairly well at 83.9% but didn’t produce as much danger as we’ve seen so far this year, with only one key pass (on Winter’s goal).

MF, Adrian Winter, 7.5 (MOTM) — Put in his usual workmanlike shift and was rewarded, but also robbed. His finish on the tying goal in the 43rd minute was smooth and on another night he may have earned a lot more fouls for his efforts, but referee Jair Marrufo let the teams play through a lot of contact. Was denied by Andre Blake early in the second half and was absolutely robbed with a late rocket off the volley by a diving Blake. Look for that on your MLS Save of the Week candidates. Winter had five total shots and the only three shots on target for Orlando.

FW, Kaká, 7 — Lined up in the middle of the front line in a 4-3-3 and, while it’s clear he’s not a striker, the Brazilian was still vital in the attack, completing a team high 85.7% of his passes. His pass to Molino started the break that led to Winter’s goal. Set up Winter with a great chance early in the second. Was second to Winter with four shots but none were on frame. Just not enough help up top for the captain tonight, who worked hard, did a good job in possession and passed well but couldn’t produce a moment of true magic on a cold night in Philadelphia.


FW, Julio Baptista (90′), N/A — “The Beast” made his first appearance for Orlando City but it was far too late to do much of anything other than run a bit.

MF, Carlos Rivas (90′), N/A — Had one insanely good cross in his three minutes on the pitch, which Winter nearly converted, and would have, if not for a superhuman save by Blake.

Those are my grades. Feel free to yell at me or post your own below and vote in our poll for your Man of the Match.

Polling Closed

Player Votes
Joe Bendik 35
Seb Hines 3
Kevin Molino 2
Adrian Winter 152
Kaká 18
Other 5

Orlando City

Orlando City Enjoyed the Best Summer Stretch in Team History

Orlando City climbed the table in the club’s best summer since joining MLS.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

June, July, August (plus, most of September), and the dog days of summer are officially in the rearview mirror and Orlando City is set to put a cherry on top of what was the best summer stretch in team history when they face Inter Miami tomorrow night at Exploria Stadium. As the season starts to wind down, I felt it was only necessary to take some time to examine the what we all just witnessed…the best summer in team history.

A quick Google search says that the season of summer in the U.S. traditionally starts June 21 on the summer solstice, which we will use as the starting point. I looked historically at the team’s performance from that point in time through the end of summer each season, a.k.a. today, Sept. 23. As a new expansion team in Major League Soccer, Orlando City dealt with the summer heat fairly well and earned 15 and 17 points in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The next two seasons, on the other hand, were much darker times to be a city fan, as Orlando City racked up seven and 10 losses in 2017 and 2018, respectively, during those two seasons. It does not take Sherlock Holmes-level detection skills to know that those summer stretches did not lead to postseason playoff berths. In 2019, the team amassed a decent 18 points during the summer, but only tallied 37 on the season overall.

It should not come as a surprise to any OCSC fan that the team’s best years of success have all come while Oscar Pareja has been at the helm. Prior to this season, the best summer stretch that the team had enjoyed was back in 2021 — also under Pareja’s reign — when the boys put up 23 points, setting a summer team record with six wins. Despite their great summer success, the 2021 Lions were unfortunately not able to keep their strong summer momentum going as they dropped four straight matches after Labor Day that year. Enter 2022, or as I like to call it “the summer of the trophy.” Technically speaking, in the MLS regular season, it was the team’s second best summer, with 20 points to their name. Orlando also happened to lift the U.S. Open Cup during that span last year, so there is an argument to be made that without the additional fixtures, the Lions may have been able to commit more resources to the regular season and would have wound up with more points. I will take the hardware!

This summer it has seemed as though Papi has pulled all the right strings at the right times. Orlando currently not only sits in second place in the Eastern Conference, but second overall in the Supporters’ Shield race and has only dropped two matches from June 21 to Sept. 23 while sporting a +6 goal differential. The Lions amassed 24 points during the summer this year.

Orlando City finding the back of the net more often than conceding makes for quite fun matches to enjoy. The two losses OCSC has picked up throughout the summer this season both have come on the road (at Real Salt Lake and at NYCFC), despite Orlando City earning an MLS-best 25 points away from Central Florida this year.

Orlando City did a great job getting through the hottest part of the calendar while locking up results left and right. Orlando has already secured a spot in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year in no small part due to the amazing summer the team just enjoyed. As fall comes barreling at us and the MLS playoff home-field advantage race begins to heat up, the performance of the squad this summer should not be taken for granted as championships might not be won in June, July, or August, but poor performances can certainly ensure that they are lost.

Did you have a favorite moment or match from this summer? My favorite moment was what I am calling the Hail Ojeda Mary goal in Charlotte, and my favorite match was the electrifying 4-3 come-from-behind victory against the Columbus Crew. Let us know in the comments below your favorites, and as always, vamos Orlando.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/23/22

Lions and Herons meet again, Carly Nelson is writing a book, NWSL free agency opens, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Founder’s Day, Mane Landers! It was on this day in 2014 that our fearless leader and Managing Editor Michael Citro started our first ever WordPress website. It’s safe to say that I’m sure The Mane Land has impacted your life as much as it has mine over the years, whether that be through daily reading or weekly podcasts. Cheers to Michael and all those who have come before me.

In my own personal news, I have been grinding away on the new EA FC 24 (the franchise formerly known as EA’s FIFA.) So far, the gameplay and updates have been great in my initial 15+ hours of play, and my online Ultimate Team is starting to really take its shape. I’m sure in a couple weeks that I’ll transition to a traditional Career Mode and take the Lions all the way to an MLS Cup and beyond.

Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a very happy birthday to everyone’s favorite defensive midfielder, Wilder Cartagena!

Third Bout for Orlando City and Inter Miami

Orlando City and Inter Miami have already met twice this campaign. Sunday’s match will look to break the deadlock between the two rivals as both clubs have a victory to their name in this year’s series. In May, the Lions grabbed a 3-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale-based club. The two sides met for a second time in the knockout round of Leagues Cup 2023 with Inter Miami taking the 3-1 result at DRV PNK Stadium. No matter the result this time around, Orlando City has already clinched a playoff spot, however, the Herons need every point they can get to attempt to do the same.

Carly Nelson, Goalkeeper and Author

It isn’t unheard of to learn that an athlete might have tried another sport before finding soccer, Orlando Pride goalkeeper Carly Nelson came from a background of gymnastics, tennis, basketball, and baseball before her father started a club soccer team with her in mind. While Nelson might have idolized USWNT legend Hope Solo as a child, she started her playing days as a forward, winger, and midfielder. Outside of protecting the Pride’s net, Nelson is spending time writing a book about her life growing up in Utah and the issues her family faced to hopefully help others that might find themselves in similar situations.

NWSL Opens 2024 Free Agency

The National Women’s Soccer League has officially opened the league’s unrestricted and restricted free agency periods. In accordance with the NWSL Players’ Association’s collective bargaining agreement, eligible free agents can begin negotiations for their 2024 Standard Player Agreements. Players eligible for unrestricted free agency include all who have at least five years of service within the NWSL and contracts expiring in 2023, while players eligible for restricted free agency include those who have at least three years of service. For the Orlando Pride, defender Kylie Strom is set to be an unrestricted free agent and midfielder Jordyn Listro is under restricted terms. Any club that currently holds the rights of a restricted free agent has a seven-day period to match an incoming offer from another club or else the player may sign with the new club under the terms of the offer.

USMNT’s Tyler Adams Nearing Return

Tyler Adams will not make his Bournemouth debut this weekend, but he could return as early as next week. Bournemouth’s manager, Andoni Iraola, provided a positive update on the U.S. Men’s National Team captain as he finishes up rehabbing a long-term hamstring injury.

“He has started this week at least to train partially with the group, so probably we can have a chance of having him next week or two weeks, something like this. Tyler is really close because once you start training partially with the group, it’s a matter of sensations, and if you are physically good enough. He has a very good physical base. So I think it will take not a long time to see Tyler with the team.”

Adams has not played since March after having a hamstring surgery. Even with a known injury, the 24-year-old still completed a move from Leeds United to Bournemouth following Leeds’ relegation to keep him in the top flight.

MLS Weekend Preview

Aside from the Florida derby, there are plenty of matches to be excited about around the league this weekend. Personally, I’m looking forward to catching a bit of the D.C. United and New York Red Bulls match. Manager Wayne Rooney’s club is right on the bubble in a tight Eastern Conference race while the Red Bulls can do themselves a huge service and come back into the playoff picture with a win. Out in the Western Conference, there is a real buzz around a Portland Timbers squad after a manager sacking. It could be a huge win for the Timbers and likely push them above the play-in round should they find a result against the Colorado Rapids.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Saturday. Be safe on Sunday at the match. Stay hydrated and look out for those around you. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Three Keys to Victory

Here are three things the Lions need to do in order to set themselves up for a win over Inter Miami.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Wednesday’s match didn’t go the way anyone hoped it would, but now it’s time to turn our attention to a Sunday matchup with Inter Miami back in the comfortable confines of Exploria Stadium. What follows are three things that I believe will go a long way toward helping the Lions emerge victorious from the Tropic Thunder derby and keeping Florida purple.

Close Down Sergio Busquets

As many headlines as Lionel Messi has rightfully been getting since joining Major League Soccer, I think Busquets is just as important to Miami’s success. He remains an excellent midfielder and his ability to transition the team from defense into attack and link the two lines together is crucial. He has two assists and eight key passes in six MLS appearances and is passing with 92% accuracy —if you give him time, he will make you pay. Even if Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena mark him tightly, he’ll still manage to find space at times and affect the game because he’s that good of a player. But the Lions cannot afford to repeatedly give him time and space to get on the ball, pick up his head, and play a pass or he’ll cut OCSC to ribbons. Getting tight to him and making his life difficult won’t stop him every time, but it’ll make life a hell of a lot easier. As soon as Orlando loses the ball in Miami’s half, someone needs to find no. 5 and close him down.

Play With an Edge, but Don’t Go Over It

This is likely going to be an extremely, fast, physical and heated game. These two teams don’t have any love lost for each other, and if last game is any indication, then Orlando is going to try to use its physicality to disrupt Miami from playing its brand of soccer. That’s not a bad strategy, and it’s one that was largely working during the aforementioned Leagues Cup match until the penalty kick call in the second half. If the Lions are going to try to repeat the tactic, then they need to play with physicality and intensity while toeing the line of what’s acceptable to do during a soccer game. Going down a man isn’t going to do OCSC any favors, so the boys in purple are going to have to flirt with the edge of the cliff without falling headfirst over it.

Stay Organized Defensively

We’ve seen some shaky defending during Orlando’s last two matches. Runners in behind were a particular problem during the match against the Columbus Crew, while Wednesday’s loss to NYCFC saw Talles Magno largely unmarked between two Orlando defenders to score the header that sealed the Lions’ fate. OCSC will likely still be without Antonio Carlos, but the Lions are capable of much better defending than they’ve done during the last week and they need to show it. Even if Lionel Messi doesn’t play, Miami has a whole host of guys who can hurt you in Josef Martinez, Leonardo Campana, Benjamin Cremaschi, Robert Taylor and Facundo Farias. The Lions need to be much more keyed in on defense than they have been the last two games, otherwise one or more of those guys is going to make them pay. Orlando has the firepower to put the ball in the back of the net, but it won’t matter if the team is giving up multiple preventable goals at the other end of the field.

If the Lions execute those three things then they’ve got as good a chance as any of getting a result on Sunday. Vamos Orlando!

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