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



The eighth meeting of the 2015 expansions teams is in the books, as Orlando City earned its first road win of the season with a 2-1 victory over its sky blue rivals. Orlando looked to be cruising to a 2-0 win until David Villa edged one back for the home team in the 74th minute. It was all hands on deck for the Lions after Villa’s goal, but Orlando’s defensive effort held up until the final whistle of the match.  

Orlando sits atop the Eastern Conference standings with the win. Let’s take a look at the individual performances from the match.  


GK, Joe Bendik  7.5 — The first half was quiet for Bendik, but Joe saved Orlando’s keister and all three points with a point-blank save on Villa through traffic in stoppage time. In fact, Bendik’s quiet start to the game looked like a distant memory as he was in constant motion for the final 20 minutes of the match. He kept a lid on things by twice pushing attempts over the crossbar along with a beautiful punch on one of NYCFC’s 12 corners in the match. But the biggest save was undoubtedly the last one that denied Villa. Bendik is worth at least nine points by my count this season so far. He keeps producing time and time again.  

D, Donny Toia, 6 — Toia assisted Larin for his second goal of the game with a curling cross into the box. He picked up possession of the ball after a corner and escaped one marker before finding Larin. Defensively, Toia did a good job keeping Jack Harrison at bay for most of the game. Harrison was able to get some crosses into dangerous areas, but Toia prevented him from getting in behind the back four on the dribble. He had one mental lapse in the game, which resulted in NYCFC’s only goal. He lost track of Villa on the NYCFC free kick and the Spaniard made him pay by chipping a first-time finish from the near post.   

D, Jonathan Spector, 7.5 — Spector continued his solid form for Orlando City since his move from Birmingham City this off-season. Spector won aerial battles and made clearances with both his head and his feet. He supported the outside backs by intercepting passes and making numerous tackles on NYCFC’s wingers. Through the middle, Spector and Redding were a solid unit, and didn’t look out of position for almost the entire match.  

D, Tommy Redding, 6.5 — Redding made a strong case to continue as Spector’s CB partner even as Jose Aja is close to returning from injury. Redding stayed in contact with Spector and kept attackers in front of him the entire match. He was strong in the air when called on and made good decisions when he had the ball at his feet. Redding picked up a yellow card in the second half, but he made the right choice to halt a dangerous looking counter-attack for NYCFC, even though the hosts scored off the ensuing free kick. Kreis will have a difficult decision on his hands when Aja becomes fit again.    

D, Scott Sutter, 6.5 — Sutter continued to join in with the attack like he did against the Red Bulls last weekend, and it paid off today. Sutter provided Larin with a well-weighted pass to open the scoring for the Lions. He had a sound defensive day as well. He seemed to cover the entire right side of the field, many times advancing higher than Johnson, who was playing right midfield. He also helped the team keep possession in wide areas, even though the Lions didn’t have a lot of the ball overall.   

MF, Cristian Higuita, 6 — Higuita retained his starting position on the left side of Kreis’ midfield diamond for this match. He had a quiet match today due to the lack of possession for Orlando on the road. But Higuita was aggressive in the midfield when the team didn’t have the ball. He earned a yellow card for such play, trying to win back possession in the attacking third, but it was good to see him working hard to get the ball back. Offensively, he was part of the build-up to the first Larin goal. He left the game after injuring his shoulder after a tackle from Ethan White—who picked up a yellow on the play.

MF, Antonio Nocerino, 6.5 — Nocerino quietly helped Orlando connect passes in midfield. He balanced that link-up play, but wasn’t afraid to clear the danger when a pass wasn’t on. He provided good cover for the back four that was very compact through the middle of the field, with most of the home team’s threats coming from the wings. He also matched Maxi Moralez who likes to find space in between the back four and defensive center midfielders.     

MF, Will Johnson 6.5 — Johnson is a model of consistency. Wearing the captain’s armband, Johnson never stopped running in this match. Everything we are beginning to expect from Johnson was on display in New York City today, except the stunning goal from last week. Johnson played a slightly narrower role, partly due to the narrow field in Yankee Stadium. He helped Nocerino and Higuita frustrate any passing moves through the middle of the park. NYCFC enjoyed a healthy advantage in possession all day, but Orlando’s midfield held up to the task each time.      

MF, Giles Barnes 5.5 — Jason Kreis started Barnes at the top of the diamond for the second straight week. He tried to drive the team forward into attack, but there were long stretches of the match when he didn’t see the ball in attacking areas. He spent most of his time chasing the possession of NYCFC midfielders. Barnes managed to win free kicks for Orlando, which helped the team regain its shape and take a breather defensively.   

F, Carlos Rivas, 7.5 — Rivas caused trouble early and often for NYCFC’s back four, forcing Moralez into a professional foul and a yellow card in only the second minute of the match. He fizzed a free kick that missed the near post in the 10th minute that was a lot closer than the match commentators gave him credit for. Rivas also helped set up the first goal for OCSC when he found Sutter with a through ball that set up the assist. The Colombian continued to harass defenders throughout the match. In the last 10 minutes of the game, he helped Orlando keep possession by holding up play in the NYCFC half. He also won valuable free kicks in the final minutes with his hold-up play to relieve some pressure on Orlando’s defensive posture.

F, Cyle Larin, 8 (MOTM) — We saw a vintage Larin performance this Sunday afternoon from the Canadian. Larin started the match looking bright and active. He was more involved in pressing opposing defenders than in any match so far this season. And Sutter rewarded him for his efforts in the 31st minute. Rivas connected with Sutter, who found Larin at the near post for the one-touch finish. Orlando’s other outside back provided Larin with his second goal. Toia’s cross found Larin who out-muscled Rodney Wallace to head in his second of the match. He also won a metric ton of free kicks by drawing fouls.


MF, Luis Gil (64’), 5.5 — He came in for Higuita after he picked up a shoulder injury. Gil entered the game as NYCFC started to dominate possession, and spent most of his minutes defending the onslaught of NYCFC attacks. His energy helped the team close out the three points on the road.

MF, Servando Carrasco (83’) 5.5 — Kreis swapped Barnes for Carrasco to add some more defensive stability to the final minutes of the match. Carrasco jumped in alongside Nocerino, Johnson, and Gil to close out the match. Nothing fancy about his play during the last minutes of the match — it was safety first with everything. In the end, it got the job done.

MF, Matias Perez Garcia (90’+3’), NA — MPG got a short run-out to waste a few seconds with a substitution for Rivas, and he got only a few touches at the end of the game.

Those are my ratings from a huge road win. How did you see the individual performances? Vote for your MotM in the poll below.

Polling Closed

Joe Bendik91
Jonathan Spector35
Cyle Larin136
Carlos Rivas7
Tommy Redding5
Scott Sutter4

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/29/23

Orlando City prepares for CF Montreal, learning more about Duncan McGuire, Jack Lynn named to MLS NEXT Pro Best XI, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

It’s Friday, which means we’re just one day away from a pretty busy weekend of Orlando soccer. It should be a pretty fun next few days, with Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Orlando City B all in action. I don’t have many weekend plans beyond working and getting some writing and reading done. Let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Prepares for CF Montreal

Orlando City hosts CF Montreal tomorrow night in a showdown between two Eastern Conference teams with just four games remaining this season. It’s the second match between the two teams this year, with Montreal beating the Lions 2-0 in Canada on May 6. In the time since that game, the Lions have only lost three games this season and have not been defeated at home since April 22. Orlando’s next win will be Head Coach Oscar Pareja’s 60th with the Lions, and tomorrow’s match could also break club records for most wins and points in a season. A win for the Lions would be massive to put some breathing room between them and the other top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Get to Know Duncan McGuire

Orlando forward Duncan McGuire was the latest to go under the microscope as part of the club’s video series to learn more about the players. The rookie spoke on his upbringing as a middle child, as well as how he turned to soccer after struggling in other sports. McGuire also talked about his acrobatic goal celebrations and a clip is included of a time he didn’t quite stick the landing after scoring for Creighton. It’s a pretty fun interview, as he gave some details on how Mason Stajduhar is a quick learner when it comes to golf and how he wants to go out to dinner with Ana de Armas.

Jack Lynn Makes MLS NEXT Pro Best XI

Orlando City B forward Jack Lynn was named to the MLS NEXT Pro’s Best XI for the second straight year. Lynn fueled OCB’s offense this season, scoring 19 goals to help the Young Lions claim a spot in the playoffs. No MLS NEXT Pro player has scored more goals since the league’s inaugural season last year than Lynn, who has 34 goals under his belt. The 23-year-old is joined on the front line of this year’s Best XI with the two players he tied with for the Golden Boot, New York City FC II’s Matt Myers and Colorado Rapids 2 forward Remi Cabral.

Orlando City B Takes On Columbus Crew 2 This Sunday

The Young Lions will play their first MLS NEXT Pro playoff game this Sunday when they face Columbus Crew 2 on the road at 5:30 p.m. It will be the third and final match between the two sides this year, with each claiming a big win over the other earlier in the season. No team that qualified for the playoffs has lost more road games than OCB this season, which may be why Columbus elected to face Orlando. However, Orlando’s offense has been electric at times this year thanks to Lynn, Shak Mohammed, Wilfredo Rivera, and others. Sunday may be another wild game with the Young Lions involved and you can check it out on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Tahir Reid-Brown Called Up for Training Camp

United States U-17 Men’s National Team Head Coach Gonzalo Segares called up 20 players for a training camp in Brazil to prepare for the U-17 World Cup in November. OCB defender Tahir Reid-Brown was the lone Orlando representative called up for this camp. The 17-year-old was called up to the U-17 team earlier this April for a training camp in Florida. He’s had an impressive year, earning a spot in the MLS NEXT All-Star Game and making 10 appearances for OCB. The U.S. will take on Brazil on Oct. 4 and Oct. 6 in a pair of friendlies during this camp.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City center back Rodrigo Schlegel unveiled the meaning behind his tattoos, including the ones for his parents and his biggest moments as a Lion.

That’s all I have for you today. Hopefully the weather plays nice this weekend and you’re able to do everything you have planned. Have a great Friday!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points against CF Montreal this Saturday in Exploria Stadium?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City hosts CF Montreal in the second-to-last home match of the 2023 MLS regular season at Exploria Stadium this Saturday night. The Lions have already secured a spot in the playoffs but are now fighting for home field advantage. Montreal is currently sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and is fighting for a playoff spot.

What does Orlando City need to do to secure three important points against the Canadian Club Foots?

Time to Make the Donuts

It had been a minute since Duncan McGuire scored a goal for Orlando City — and by a minute I mean since July 29. McGuire had a few opportunities against Inter Miami and managed to get one to equalize for the Lions and ensure a point at home. I do think he might have scored on another of those chances if he was fully back in form after his injury time, but I’ll take the goal. 

My hope is that getting that goal will remind him that he can score goals when given the opportunity, and he will be better about finishing the chances he gets against Montreal. Sometimes it just takes getting that first goal to open up the muscle memory and to unlock the confidence needed in a striker. It’s time for Duncan to score more goals, and the match against Montreal is the first and best opportunity to do so since Montreal starting center back Joel Waterman will be serving a red card suspension.

Switch up the Lineup

I propose a change to the starting lineup — something Oscar Pareja does not do very often. Due to injuries and other factors such a move wasn’t possible earlier in the season, but I think it could work now. I have a ton of respect for Mauricio Pereyra, but he could probably use a rest to be fresh for the playoffs as the regular season winds down. 

I suggest letting Martin Ojeda get the start in the 10 spot, moving Dagur Dan Thorhallsson up the wing, and having Michael Halliday take over at right back. Ojeda’s play as of late has been much improved, and with Halliday healthy again, why not take advantage of Dagur Dan’s versatility along the wing. I think this move provides energy, a surprise for opposing defenses, and allows Facundo Torres more freedom. 

Same Old Effective Defense

Orlando City’s defense has only allowed 37 goals this season — which is good enough to tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. On the flip side, Montreal has only scored 30 goals so far — which is only better than Toronto at 24 goals. Montreal has a goal differential of -15.If the Lions play their normally solid defense in front of the outstanding goalkeeping of Pedro Gallese, Montreal should not get too many opportunities to score. There’s no doubt that we will see Robin Jansson and Rodrigo Schlegel paired together with Rafael Santos on the left and either Dagur Dan — or Michael Halliday as I suggested — on the right. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena can stop most attacks before they get to the back line. If Orlando City plays defense as well as the club did against Miami, things should be fine.

That is what I will be looking for this Saturday as the Lions take on the boys from North of the border. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/28/23

Ajax is reportedly scouting Facundo Torres, Orlando Pride focus on upcoming matches, Houston Dynamo win U.S. Open Cup, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this work week has gone smoothly for you as we get ready to bid farewell to September. It’s been a hectic week for me, but I started and then promptly devoured all of Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. It was a nice read, albeit a bit intense at times. I’m not sure what I’ll read next as most of my reading list is packed up for a move, but if you have any recommendations then let me know in the comments below. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Ajax Reportedly Interested in Facundo Torres

Orlando City forward Facundo Torres has reportedly garnered the interest of Dutch club Ajax according to Fabrizio Romano.

It’s not too surprising that Ajax, which currently sits in 14th in the Eredivisie with just seven goals from five games, has scouts keeping tabs on Torres. The 23-year-old has scored 12 goals this season, powering Orlando to second in the Eastern Conference. It wouldn’t be the first time Torres has received attention from European clubs and likely won’t be the last as he continues to impress with the Lions

Orlando Pride Focus During Playoff Push

The Orlando Pride are back in action on Monday for a crucial road match with Angel City FC. Both teams have 25 points this season, one point from the sixth and final playoff spot currently held by the Washington Spirit. It will be the first of three remaining games for the Pride this season, with matches against fellow playoff hopefuls Racing Louisville and the Houston Dash set for later in October. As a result, there’s not much margin for error if the Pride wish to make the playoffs and Kylie Strom talked about how the team is focused for these games.

MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs Begin This Weekend

The first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs kicks off this weekend with six matches that can all be watched on MLS Season Pass. Unlike last year, Orlando City B will be taking part and is set to face off with Columbus Crew 2 on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Although the Young Lions have struggled on the road against Columbus, Jack Lynn and Shak Mohammed can make things difficult for the hosts. Hopefully we’ll see OCB make Columbus regret its choice of opponent in the postseason. I like the wrinkle and mind games to the playoffs the new rule gave and am interested to see which of the lower seeds plays with a chip on their shoulder. The playoffs begin on Friday when Sporting Kansas City II hosts Austin FC II in a battle between the third and fourth seeds of the Western Conference.

Houston Dynamo Win U.S. Open Cup

The Houston Dynamo have lifted the U.S. Open Cup trophy after winning 2-1 on the road against Inter Miami. A pair of goals in the first half were enough for Houston to win its second U.S. Open Cup title after also winning in 2018. A goal in stoppage time from Josef Martinez made things interesting, but the Dynamo defense did well to secure the win and deny Miami its second tournament title this year. It was a strong end to a solid tournament campaign from the Dynamo, as they beat four MLS sides before taking down Miami in the final.

Albertin Montoya Hired as Bay FC Head Coach

Ahead of its inaugural NWSL season next year, Bay FC named Albertin Montoya as the club’s first head coach. Montoya, who has lived in California for most of his life, served as the interim coach for the Washington Spirit in 2022 and also coached the U.S. U-17 women’s national team in 2011. Bay FC General Manager Lucy Rushton spoke on how Montoya’s name came up often while the club searched for a head coach, as well as how his skill at developing players will help build the club’s foundation.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja called for the supporters to continue filling Exploria Stadium and pushing the Lions forward for the team’s remaining home games this season.
  • St. Louis City midfielder Njabulo Blom won MLS Goal of the Week for his winner against Minnesota United. It was also the 23-year-old’s first professional goal.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

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