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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. New England Revolution: Five Takeaways



We’ve talked before about how calls tend to even out in the long run. If that happens, the end of the 2016 MLS season is going to be lit for Orlando City. PRO officials inserted themselves again in yesterday’s eventual 2-2 draw against the New England Revolution.

Unfortunately, an insane handball call against Servando Carrasco by Baldomero Toledo allowed Lee Nguyen to tie the match in the sixth minute of stoppage time and two more points were pissed away against an Eastern Conference opponent. At least the Lions continue to gain points for the most part, whereas last season these results were generally losses.

Here are my five takeaways from a draw that was just seconds from a win.

PRO Referees Simply Aren’t Good Enough

Look, I’m going to say this right up front: we’re not the only ones unhappy with the officiating this season. Ask Revs fans about their season to date. Ask Portland fans what they thought of the Nigel de Jong tackle on Darlington Nagbe. Brutal calls are a part of the game but they’re happening at an alarming rate in MLS. This section is not meant as a “blame the refs for an outcome” rant, but rather to simply say we as fans are not getting the quality of officiating in general that this game deserves.

The quality of officiating is hurting this league and perhaps it’s time for the United States to firmly step to the forefront of a movement toward using video replay out of necessity. It’s understandable when a referee misses something that happens on the field, because you can’t see everything while running and trying to see through a forest of bodies. However, it’s inexcusable to have a great view of something and call it what it isn’t, as Toledo did with the “handball” on Servando Carrasco that allowed the Revs to pull back a goal at the end.

Here’s the play in stills:

Carrasco’s arm is out from his body but it’s behind him. His chest is between the ball and his arm. It hits him just about in the team crest or slightly above. My understanding of human anatomy is limited but that’s not the hand or the arm.

And here it is in motion:

And here’s your daily dose of controversy.

— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) April 17, 2016

Toledo not only called this a handball when Carrasco’s trailing arm was fully behind him, but he also originally called it outside the area, then later awarded a penalty, which is ludicrous, almost unheard of, and makes me feel stabby [/removes all sharp objects from the room]. This is an official who needs to get a few weeks off and perhaps get his eye prescription checked.

Teal Bunbury gave Tommy Redding a two-handed shove to the back to free himself up for the first Revs goal, off a corner that maybe should have been a goal kick, but again, it’s much more understandable when things get missed than when you fully see something and then incomprehensibly turn it into something else before it gets to your brain.

Brek Shea Can Defend

Orlando’s left back wasn’t perfect by any means, and did have a couple of turnovers, but I thought he did a great job defending down the left side through the first half. Shea didn’t get forward much until the second half, owing mainly to New England’s 58% possession in the first 45 minutes, but Shea made several vital challenges to break up play and protect the Lions from a few Antonio Nocerino turnovers that could otherwise have been much more dangerous. Solid game from a player that continues to get better at left back and he steered clear of anything card worthy.

The Beast Has Arrived

Julio Baptista made a mark just 15 seconds into his first start for Orlando City, spinning between two defenders before being stepped on from behind and earning an early penalty, which Kaká calmly slotted home. Baptista had trouble getting service in the first half, but truly showed his value in the second half after moving to center attacking midfield behind Cyle Larin, with the captain out wide to the left and Molino to the right. Baptista facilitated quite well and the Lions were the much more dangerous team with that shape and lineup. Even when he was gassed, the Brazilian still helped move the ball through the middle and out wide to fullbacks Kevin Alston — making his first Orlando City appearance for an injured Rafael Ramos (hamstring) — and midfielders Kaká and Molino.

Nocerino Hasn’t Arrived

While Baptista was as good as advertised in his first match, Italian midfielder Antonio Nocerino continues to struggle finding his game in MLS. His turnovers are of the most egregious kind and for the second consecutive game he fouled just outside the box to set up a dangerous free kick. He did seem to play better in the second half, however, and nearly atoned for his earlier mistakes with a wonderful curling shot from outside the box that Bobby Shuttleworth was just able to save. Nocerino’s skills have been only rarely glimpsed thus far but if he’s going to remain a first-team selection, he simply must be better.

Kaká is Even Better Left of Center

Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath might have found his best lineup yesterday (aside from the fact that Cristian Higuita was missing due to a groin injury). Once Heath subbed out Adrian Winter and Carlos Rivas for Kevin Molino and Cyle Larin, Lions captain Kaká moved out to the left and Julio Baptista slotted in beneath Larin, with Molino out to the right. This move tilted the field in Orlando’s favor. With three play makers across the attacking midfield, the Lions started finding holes all over the pitch in the New England defense. Kaká particularly became extremely dangerous from the left, looking much more comfortable, and the Brazilian was able to bring Brek Shea forward into the attack for the first time all match long.

Even Darwin Ceren, who had a mostly disappointing day in terms of his passing in the attacking half, started suddenly picking out passes to both his left and right, finding Kaká, Baptista, Molino and Shea with regularity. The offense was clicking and creating. It showed how good the Orlando City attack can be.

Bonus Takeaway: Best Lineup?

As I mentioned above, Sunday’s final 30 minutes may have shown us the best available lineup while waiting for Higuita to return from injury. In addition to pushing Kaká into a more threatening and comfortable position, the substitutions provided Orlando with more dangerous attackers in the penalty area on corner kicks and free kicks, with Larin, Baptista and Seb Hines all giving the team size and strength on set pieces. The Lions were far more dangerous than when Rivas and Winter had been on the pitch. It was a potent lineup and if it started a match, it would allow Rivas and Winter to act as super subs, bringing them on when their energy and pace could be used to their greatest effect. The performance of that XI should at least give Heath something to think about.

Those are my takeaways from the match. What stuck out to you?

Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Jack Lynn

The 2022 draft pick spent most of his time with Orlando City B during his second year in purple.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Jack Lynn joined Orlando City through the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, when he was selected in the first round by the Lions with the No. 18 overall pick. He was then signed to a one-year deal in February of last year with options for the next three years. Much of his time during his first season was spent with Orlando City B, although he did make a few appearances for the first team.

Let’s take a look back at Lynn’s second year in purple.

Statistical Breakdown

Lynn made three appearances in Major League Soccer with the senior side, all of which came as a substitute, and finished with 33 minutes on the field. Defensively, he recorded one interception and two clearances, while committing one foul. Offensively, he won four aerial duels, took one shot, which was on target, drew two fouls, and completed three long balls while passing with 76% accuracy. He did not score a goal or assist on one.

As in 2022, the majority of Lynn’s season was spent in MLS Next PRO with Orlando City B. He had a phenomenal year in the developmental league, and his campaign finished with him being named the league’s MVP and winning the Golden Boot. He played in 27 games for the young Lions, 20 of which were starts, and racked up 1,826 minutes. Defensively, he recorded three interceptions, committed 16 fouls, and was shown four yellow cards. On offense, he took 72 shots and put 40 of them on target, scored 19 goals, drew 15 fouls, and passed with 74% accuracy while completing 13 long balls and 12 key passes but no assists.

Best Game

There weren’t a lot to pick from, but I’ve gone with his longest appearance of the year, which was a 20-minute shift during Orlando City’s 4-3 comeback win over the Columbus Crew. He didn’t record many statistics on the night, as he won two aerial duels, committed a foul, and passed with 50% accuracy. However, he provided a big target up front as the Lions continued to lump the ball forward in search of goals, and he factored in on Facundo Torres’ goal, pulling players away so Ramiro Enrique could collect the ball and start the move that ended with the ball in the back of the net. Michael Citro graded him as a 5 out of 10 in our Player Grades piece, the only game this year in which he received a grade.

2023 Final Grade

As he fell well short of the 450 minute threshold that we require for a player to be given, Lynn has been given a grade of incomplete for the 2023 season. After spending the bulk of his time with Orlando City B in his first two seasons as a Lion, we still don’t have a great idea of what he might be able to contribute to the first team, and we simply need to see more of him to get a better read on his abilities.

2024 Outlook

Lynn remains fairly young and inexpensive, has option years left on his contract, and just tore up MLS Next PRO with Orlando City B. With there being some whispers about overseas teams scouting Duncan McGuire, and the Lions already a little thin at the striker position, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Lynn’s option year exercised. What sort of role he’ll have will then likely depend on what he’s able to show during preseason, but if nothing else he should remain a key part of OCB.

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Lion Links: 12/8/23

Orlando City will play Flamengo in preseason friendly, Kylie Strom signs new deal, USMNT’s Copa America group draw, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Friday! The work week is almost over and I’m really looking forward to the weekend. I’ll be celebrating a friend’s birthday and knocking out most of the holiday shopping that I haven’t gotten around to just yet. Hopefully the malls aren’t too chaotic. Regardless, it should be a nice next few days. But for now, let’s get to the links!

Orlando Will Face Flamengo in 2024 FC Series

Orlando City’s first preseason game will take place on Jan. 27 when it takes on Flamengo at Camping World Stadium as part of the 2024 FC Series, which was previously known as the Florida Cup. Going up against one of Brazil’s powerhouses should be great preparation for the Lions after a record season in 2023 that earned them a spot in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup. It will be the second meeting between the two sides after a 2015 friendly in Brazil that Flamengo won 1-0. It will be nice to see the Lions in action at Camping World Stadium again and the kickoff time for next month’s match will be unveiled at a later time.

Kylie Strom Signs New Deal With Pride

Defender Kylie Strom, who was a free agent following the 2023 season, will return to the Orlando Pride after signing a three-year deal with the club. She joined the Pride in the summer of 2021 from Atletico Madrid and started in 26 games this past year, holding down the left back position. The Pride now retain their starting back line heading into 2024 and have full protection in Tuesday’s expansion draft. Although the defense struggled at times, it improved as the season wore on and the Pride nearly made the playoffs. Jordyn Listro is now the only free agent left from last year’s squad.

NWSL Announces Blueprint for 2024 Schedule

The framework for the 2024 NWSL season was revealed and the 182-match regular season has been formatted so that NWSL games don’t take place during international breaks. The biggest change is that the NWSL Challenge Cup is no longer a tournament and now just a match between the NWSL Shield winner and the NWSL champion, meaning San Diego Wave FC will play NJ/NY Gotham FC on March 15. However, there will be a weekend tournament organized by the league for all 14 teams during a break in the regular season while the Summer Olympics take place. The playoffs will feature eight teams and won’t include byes this year, with the quarterfinals starting on Nov. 9 and the NWSL Championship set for Nov. 23. Clubs can begin their preseason camps as early as Jan. 22 and no later than Jan. 29.

Copa America Teams Learn Their Groups

The United States Men’s National Team will take on Uruguay, Panama, and Bolivia in its group in the 2024 Copa America. Uruguay was one of the strongest opponents the U.S. could get drawn against, as the South American team has scored 13 goals so far in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. The important match between the USMNT and Uruguay will take place on July 1 in Kansas City. We’ll see how much Orlando City winger Facundo Torres plays for Uruguay in the tournament. As for Orlando’s Peruvian pair of Pedro Gallese and Wilder Cartagena, Peru is in a tough group against Argentina, Chile, and whichever nation prevails between Canada and Trinidad & Tobago.

We also have a clearer idea on which teams will be playing in Orlando. Two games will take place at Exploria Stadium, with Chile playing either Canada or Trinidad & Tobago on June 29 before Bolivia and Panama face off on July 1.

Gisele Thompson Signs With Angel City FC

Angel City FC signed young defender Gisele Thompson to a three-year contract that had this year count as the first year, with an option for an additional year in 2026. She turned 18 earlier this month and turned down an offer to play at Stanford to instead sign with Angel City, meaning the club did not need to use a draft pick for her to join. Gisele is the sister of Alyssa Thompson, who Angel City traded up to select with the first pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft. They are the youngest players on Angel City’s roster and will become the second pair of sisters to play in the league.

Free Kicks

  • The Colorado Rapids are reportedly in talks with American goalkeeper Zack Steffen to sign him from Manchester City.

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

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Favian Loyola

The Homegrown midfielder spent most of the year with OCB but made his MLS debut in July.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City signed midfielder Favian Loyola to a Homegrown Player deal through 2025 on Dec. 2, 2022, with club options for 2026 and 2027. The OCSC Academy product became the club’s 13th all-time Homegrown signing and it was no surprise after his fantastic 2022 season. The Camp Lejeune, NC, was coming off a breakout year in the club’s youth system, which culminated with his selection to the 2022 MLS NEXT All-Star Game, in which he was named MVP. After starting the 2022 season on an academy contract, Loyola earned an MLS NEXT Pro deal, signing it last August. When he signed his Homegrown deal in December he became the first player to climb the club’s developmental ladder from the academy, to the current OCB setup in MLS NEXT Pro, to the first team.

Let’s take a look back at Loyola’s 2023 campaign, which was abbreviated due to surgery on his arm to remove a blood clot on Aug. 27.

Statistical Breakdown

Loyola played in just one MLS match with the Lions, making his first-team debut July 1 in a 3-1 home win over the Chicago Fire. The 18-year-old came on as a substitute in the third minute of stoppage time for Facundo Torres and is officially credited with one minute played, although that match went to nine minutes of stoppage. In that short amount of time he managed six touches and attempted six passes, completing all of them — one of them being a key pass. Loyola did not attempt a shot or record any defensive stats, but he did commit one foul, but he was not booked for it.

The bulk of Loyola’s 2023 season was spent with Orlando City B in MLS NEXT Pro, where he was a key player off the bench for Martin Perelman’s side. He appeared in 20 of the team’s 28 matches, starting seven, and logging 732 minutes. He scored two goals and added three assists, putting 10 of his 21 shots on target during the year. Loyola completed 80.3% of his passes with OCB, served up seven key passes and six successful long balls, and completed three crosses. He recorded four tackles and three interceptions, committed 11 fouls while drawing 10, and was booked three times.

Best Game

With just the one MLS match to his credit, Loyola’s MLS debut against Chicago was his best game of the 2023 Major League Soccer Season. It was a memorable match, as he subbed on for Torres, who set the tone for the Lions with a brace that night, and it was also the game in which Mauricio Pereyra made his 100th appearance with Orlando City. Loyola made the most of his short amount of time on the pitch, despite committing a foul during his first minute of MLS play. He settled in and completed all six of his passes and created a scoring chance just seconds after his foul, when he sent a ball to Ramiro Enrique, although the Argentine had his shot attempt blocked from a tight angle.

2023 Final Grade

As Loyola came up short of the minimum total of 450 minutes played to receive a rating on our 1-10 scale, The Mane Land has no choice but to mark his grade as incomplete for the 2023 season. If his meteoric growth continues, Loyola will likely have much more than one appearance next season as his skills at passing and finding pockets of space translate well to the next level. He wasn’t able to return to the pitch after the surgery for his blood clot, but he should be ready to go for 2024.

2024 Outlook

With Loyola being just 18 years old and the club having him under contract, I would expect his role to be the same in 2024. He’ll be learning the ropes with OCB, playing most of the season with the club’s reserve side in MLS NEXT Pro, where he will continue to be a key player. However, if he continues to develop his game, he could push for more late substitute appearances with the first team or even get a start if the Lions draw a lower-league team in the U.S. Open Cup. One thing Loyola will need to work on is controlling the ball, as he turned the ball over 15 times with OCB in 2023.

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