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Orlando City vs. Montreal Impact: Player Grades and Man of the Match

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Well, that was bad. Orlando City dropped a 1-0 match to the Montreal Impact, who were in a bad run of form coming into the match. One simple counter attack was all it took for a defensive-minded team to take the lead and sit back the rest of the game. Not for the lack of trying, Orlando tried to pull one back, but just could not find the back of the net.

With the loss, Orlando is now mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

Let’s just get on with the grades.

Starters

GK, Joe Bendik, 5 – Really didn’t have much to do in the game other than pass the ball around. The entire defense was caught out on the goal and left him on an island, so not entirely his fault on the only goal of the game. He did manage to come off his line to deny Montreal star Ignacio Piatti a good scoring chance.

D, Kevin Alston, 5 – Had some chances going forward, but his first touch let him down at times. At times he was in good position on the wings and tracked back fairly well on the counters. Had a cross in the 68th that almost led to a goal, but the ensuing shot from Baptista was skied over the bar.

D, Jose Aja, 5 – Put himself in decent position at times, but like with the rest of the defense, really wasn’t called on to do too much in the match. Part of the collective that was caught too high in the defensive line leading to the goal.

D, David Mateos, 5.5 – Had a solid outing defensively through the first half, maintaining the shape of the defense and shutting down the few chances going forward Montreal had. However, a clash in the early parts of the second half forced him to come out with a knee injury. Ended his day third in passing accuracy with 90%. He also spent some prolonged time in the attack after corner kicks, as there was little threat coming from Montreal.

D, Luke Boden, 5.5 – Overall, not a bad game from the fullback. Was able to get forward and put tantalizing balls into the area, but no one was able to score on the day. On the other end, tracked back well, except for playing Dominic Oduro onside and having to chase him down for the only goal of the game. Had an effort from the top of the box in the 54th that just flew over the bar. Shown a yellow card in the 78th minute after taking down Dominic Oduro. Led the team in interceptions. Best moment was a perfect one-time cross in for Cyle Larin, but Evan Bush made a spectacular point-blank save on it.

MF, Servando Carrasco, 5.5 – Wasn’t the best of matches for Carrasco. Seemed a bit slow in terms of moving the ball around the field, but still provided solid defensive depth. Subbed out in the 64th to go with a more attacking shape.

MF, Antonio Nocerino, 8 (MOTM) – Arguably the best player on the pitch for Orlando. Completed all but two of his 73 passes, giving him a 97% passing accuracy. Looked like the only player for Orlando that actually cared to run around throughout the game and really pushed the offense forward as well as gave cover for the defense. Led the team in tackles, passing percentage and number of passes. He picked out Boden on the left with a perfect ball for the one-time cross mentioned above.

MF, Matias Perez Garcia, 6.5 – Attempted to create some offense in the final third, but found himself taking on two or three defenders with no outlet to pass. Found his groove a bit more in the second half and spread out more to the wing, taking on defenders one-on-one. Finished the match second on the team in key passes.

MF, Kevin Molino, 4 – A day to forget for the Trinidadian. Couldn’t get anything going on offense and constantly turned the ball over in bad positions. Subbed out after 45 minutes

MF, Kaka, 6.5 – The captain tried his damndest to get a goal for his team, but it just wasn’t his day. Constantly a threat going forward in the attack, taking on defenders and beating them on his way towards goal. The final product on the day, however, was severely lacking on all parts. Great run in the 17th minute to earn a corner. Kicked one right at Evan Bush

F, Cyle Larin, 5.5 – An extended down period for the striker, Larin has struggled recently to do a lot in the box. Jason Kreis talked about Larin’s lack of final product in the post-game press conference. The Canadian had an individual run in the 33rd to earn a corner with no one in the box. Decent try in the 42nd min from outside the box that went just wide. Had a golden chance in the 62nd but a great save from Bush denied him. Denied again in the 88th minute with a header off a corner which was parried over the bar by Bush. So, the chances were there, but the finish, just like everyone else, was missing. But it wasn’t through lack of effort.

Substitutes

F, Julio Baptista (45′), 6 – Had a solid game getting into the right positions to be dangerous, but his strike on the day was really off. Had a free header on the run into the box in the 68th, but the effort went wide. Another golden opportunity in the 70th minute in which his shot in the middle of the box was skied over the bar. Also hit a free kick into the wall and whiffed on the follow-up in the 76th, which forced Boden to take a tactical foul for a booking.

D, Seb Hines (52′), 5 – Forced to come in after the injury to David Mateos just after halftime. His first touch of the math sent Kaká down the left side, allowing the captain to get a dangerous cross into the box that Larin couldn’t quite get onto. Was unlucky on the Montreal goal as the ball played through by Mancosu skipped off his foot and deflected right to Oduro. Shut down a counter attack in the 65th. Other than that, another ‘meh’ day for Seb, although he was the only defender to register a shot on target.

F, Carlos Rivas (64′), 5.5 – Gave Orlando more chances after coming on with some of his services into the box. Had his usual long shot in the 67th minute that went all the way into row Z. Had a great cross in the 68th that Baptista headed wide. Free kick in the 72nd just missed the top corner and tipped over the bar. Tried another shot from outside the box in the 80th which again went high. Some of his latter crosses were over-hit, however, trying to find teammates at the back post.

Well, there you have it. Orlando is now eliminated from playoff contention. Still two more games to evaluate players and finish out the season. Vote for your player of the game below and let us know what you thought of the performances.

Polling Closed

Player Votes
Antonio Nocerino 77
Kaká 23
Matias Perez Garcia 10
Carlos Rivas 1
Other (Comment Below) 5

Lion Links

Lion Links: 3/4/24

Lions lose big, Tigres is up next, the USWNT wins, USMNT news, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers. No, I’m not feeling very merry either, but it’s a tradition at this point. The good news is that we don’t have to wait long for Orlando City to get a chance to make us forget about Saturday. In an effort to help with that, let’s get to the links.

Massacre in Miami

If you’re like me, you turned off Saturday’s Orlando City match at some point. It was easily the worst showing by an Oscar Pareja-coached Orlando City team. Typically, these Lions are mentality monsters and do not give up. I’m not saying that any of the coaches or players will say they did, but the results speak for themselves. I think it best to just put it behind us and move on to the Tigres match, but if you want to revisit it — or if you were fortunate enough not to watch but still want the details — you can read our match recap.

Up Next: Tigres

The early part of the season doesn’t get any easier for Orlando City as the Lions are set to face Liga MX giant Tigres UANL in a Round-of-16 match in Concacaf Champions Cup. Our own Nic Josey touched on the upcoming match. Unlike the previous matches against Cavalry FC, the Lions will play the first leg at home. The match is tomorrow night at 9 p.m. at Inter&Co Stadium. Tigres is coming off a 2-1 loss to Toluca in Liga MX competition. Hopefully, the Lions can shake off the Miami result and take it to Tigres.

USMNT News

It couldn’t happen before the Orlando City match, but Inter Miami is reportedly trading DeAndre Yedlin to FC Cincinnati. Good timing, guys.

In happier news, Malik Tillman scored a very nice goal for PSV against Feyenoord in the 2-2 draw. Tillman made a nifty move through the defender and then slotted it inside the left post.

Tillman isn’t alone in scoring for the Eredivisie club, as both Ricardo Pepi and Sergino Dest have also scored goals this season. In all, the three have 24 goal contributions so far. That ties Mexico for the most by players from another country.

Brentford will be looking to replace departing striker Ivan Toney, and Norwich City striker Josh Sargent is a contender to make the move. Sargent has 11 goals for Norwich so far this season. Christian Pulisic received online death threats after he goaded two Lazio players into receiving red cards in AC Milan’s 1-0 win over the Serie A opponent.

USWNT Rebounds, Blanks Colombia 3-0

The USWNT bounced back from a 2-0 loss to Mexico in the group stage to defeat Colombia 3-0 in a quarterfinal match in the Concacaf W Gold Cup. The U.S. started early with a converted penalty kick by Lindsey Horan. Former Orlando Pride player Alex Morgan drew the foul in the box for the USWNT. Jenna Nighswonger and Jaedyn Shaw added two more goals in the first half. There were no second-half goals, nor were any needed. The U.S. will face Canada in the semifinals on Wednesday.

Free Kicks

  • Xabi Alonso’s Bayern Leverkusen moved 10 points clear atop the Bundesliga after their 2-0 win over Cologne. It’s a little bit funny that Harry Kane made the move to Bayern Munich and the club might not win a trophy because of Leverkusen’s amazing season.
  • NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman spoke about the growth of women’s soccer in the U.S. amid the joint bid with Mexico for the 2027 Women’s World Cup.
  • In a result that everyone hated other than Manchester City fans, Manchester United wasn’t able to help out the rest of the world, falling 3-1 to City on Sunday.
  • Catarina Macario scored a goal in her first match back from injury in Chelsea’s 4-0 win over Leicester City.
  • The match between Real Madrid and Valencia ended in a 2-2 draw. It also ended on a controversial call when the referee blew the whistle just as Jude Bellingham was scoring what would have been the winning goal.

That will do it for today. Check back for our coverage of the upcoming Tigres and Minnesota United matches later this week. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from a thoroughly unenjoyable outing in South Florida?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Well. Orlando City’s second league game of the season was a thoroughly unenjoyable one, as the Lions got played clean out of South Florida by Inter Miami. As much as I hate to do it, we need to talk about this one, so what follows are my five thoughts from a horrific showing in SoFlo.

Early Mistakes Seal Orlando’s Fate

The Lions barely had a chance to get their feet underneath them before Pedro Gallese was picking the ball out of his net. Cesar Araujo received the ball in Orlando’s defensive third and immediately tried to play a blind pass backwards, but it went straight to a Miami player. Once the ball made its way from Lionel Messi to Julian Gressel to Luis Suarez, the latter made no mistake and scored to put OCSC into an early hole from which it would never recover.

Tough Night for Two Lions

Speaking of mistakes, that wasn’t the only one that Araujo made during this game. Miami’s second goal came as a result of Rodridgo Schlegel getting pulled out of position and Araujo failing to track the run of Suarez, who found it all too easy to fire past Gallese and double the deficit for Orlando. Schlegel was also culpable for the third goal, as he was too slow to step up with the rest of the back line, and prevented the tally from being called back for offside as a result. Almost no player in purple had a good game, but it was a particularly rough night for two guys who are normally so good for OCSC.

Offensively Anemic

The Lions didn’t look bad going forward for a lot of this one. They managed to get the ball into some good areas, but just had trouble getting the final ball right that would lead to a chance. The introduction of Luis Muriel and Nico Lodeiro after halftime helped provide a spark early in the second half, but Orlando ultimately couldn’t find a way through and the score only got more and more lopsided as a result. When OCSC finally did fashion a clear-cut chance for Ramiro Enrique, the forward didn’t place his shot far enough in the corner and Drake Callender made a good save as a result.

Lack of Effort Worsens Scoreline

Somewhere around the 53rd minute, things really started to devolve for the Lions. Multiple turnovers in the team’s own half led to chance after chance for the home team, and Miami eventually made Orlando pay. The fifth goal will make for extremely unpleasant viewing, as Dagur Dan Thorhallsson decided to not close down Suarez on the wing, giving him way too much time to put the ball on a plate for Messi to head home, while the rest of the team took their time jogging back as Miami broke forward in transition. Orlando kept coming forward doggedly, but the lack of effort on display at times at the back was shocking and uncharacteristic to see.

Wake-Up Call

I have no idea what happened in this match. As soon as the first goal went in, almost the entire team looked slow, out-of-sorts, and on its heels when Miami had the ball. That sort of thing is unacceptable in any game, but especially in this particular fixture. Yes, the match against Tigres is looming large on Tuesday, but the lineup Oscar Pareja put out was not one that suggested the Lions were punting on this game to throw everything they had at Tigres. Instead, an almost first-choice XI turned in perhaps the worst performance we’ve ever seen from an Orlando team coached by Oscar Pareja. It’s possible that we’ll look back on this game as the moment that this team came together and kicked onto bigger things, but in order for that to happen the Lions need to take a good, hard, brutally honest look in the mirror.


I’m sorry to say that’s the worst Orlando City performance I’ve seen in a very long time. Thankfully, the season is a long one and the Lions have plenty of time to right the ship and get back to playing in the manner we’re used to seeing. I think we’ll learn a lot about what we should expect from this team on Tuesday against Tigres. OCSC has a chance to respond the right way and make a statement, and you can bet I’ll be looking for one. Until then, vamos Orlando.

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Opinion

Strong Early Season Competition an Opportunity for Growth

Schedule congestion and tough opponents present opportunities for growth.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

It is hard to imagine a more intense start to the season than the Lions have faced competing in both the regular season and the Concacaf Champions Cup at the same time, yet that is exactly the task that the boys in purple find themselves dealing with only days into the season. With both away and home matches already in the books, let’s examine how strong early season competition can be a key factor in the growth of the squad as the season progresses.

For comparison we can look back to one year ago, as thanks to winning the U.S. Open Cup, the Lions found themselves in the Concacaf Champions League for the first time in club history. During their short foray in the 2023 version of the competition, they were matched up against Mexican powerhouse Tigres UANL in a two-leg competition. Orlando did something that many MLS sides can not boast by coming out of the first leg in Mexico without conceding a goal and only failed to advance because of the competition’s away goals rule.

At the time, and even looking back through rose-colored glasses, those two performances demonstrated the quality that Orlando City was ultimately capable of, and it was a form which Orlando showcased in the later stretches of the 2023 season.

This year, once again Orlando is faced with stiff competition throughout its early season matches, which present a grand opportunity to build team chemistry and fortitude that will only truly manifest itself as the season progresses. While Cavalry FC may have not presented much a challenge on the pitch, the logistics of starting a season off thousands of miles away in the Pacific Northwest were challenges that the Lions had to face before a 48-hour turnaround to open the regular season against a CF Montreal side which some are projecting to be a surprise force in the Eastern Conference. Sandwich in the close-out leg against Cavalry in the CCC at home some 72 hours later, and you once again have a recipe for tired legs but early season growth through adversity.

Up next was Saturday’s forgettable trip to square off against archrival Inter Miami. A year ago, Orlando City was one of the only MLS sides to truly frustrate one of the world’s best and unfortunately for players, coaches and fans alike, the first meeting between the rival sides in 2024 ended with a landslide victory for Messi and friends. Still, despite the frustrating loss, there are lessons to be learned and mistakes to correct which can only help the squad grow as the season progresses.

As if all of the schedule congestion was not enough, Orlando learned that its prize for dispatching Cavalry in the CCC was a rematch against Tigres, once again in a two-match, survive-and-advance format. The first game will be played two and a half days after having been beaten down by Miami and the second will come a week later, with yet another MLS regular-season match crammed in between.

All in all, once Orlando City is done facing off against Tigres, the team will have traveled roughly 9,700 miles for matches in the first 21 days of the season and played a match roughly every 60 hours. These matches and the quality of the opponents present Orlando and its players with numerous chances for individual and squad growth, and the experience, especially for still a somewhat young team, is something OCSC can draw upon once the late season and playoff push portion of the calendar arrive. I truly believe this early in the season the importance of the results of the matches come secondary to the opportunities for growth when faced with so many challenges so quickly.


Let us know in the comments below if you think that the early season match ups against quality opponents will ultimately hurt or benefit Orlando City and, as always, vamos Orlando!

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