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

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This game was very strange. Orlando played one of its best 45 minutes of offense of the year in the first half and probably one of its worst 45 minutes in the second half. Jose Aja was at fault for two of Montreal’s three goals, but Jonathan Spector pulled one back in stoppage time to salvage a point at home.

Now, let’s get into the grades.

Starters

GK, Joe Bendik, 6 — It’s been a down last few games for the Orlando keeper. Was beaten near post for the first goal, beaten through his legs for the second, and dropped the ball after the initial save for the third. Jason Kreis mentioned that every goalkeeper goes through ups and downs and right now Bendik just isn’t as solid as he was earlier in the season. Still came out and made some good saves, including one on Hassoun Camara in the 77th minute.

D, Scott Sutter, 7.5 — Did another solid job in the back line. Was fairly aggressive going for the ball as well, leading the team in tackles, with four. Did well getting into the attack and serving balls into the area, but nothing came of them in the end. Finished the game with an 81% passing clip.

D, Jonathan Spector, 8 — It was a bit of a mixed bag for Spector in this one. For most of the match, he did an excellent job holding down the back line and stopping the front two on the counter. He also scored the equalizing goal in the 94th minute. However, on the second and third goals, Ignacio Piatti completely spun him around and basically took him out of the plays. Led the team in clearances and blocked shots and was fourth in passing with 90% accuracy.

D, Jose Aja, 4.5 — This was a night to forget for the Uruguayan. Had a really poor mistake in the 16th minute, giving the ball away to Ignacio Piatti, leading to a Montreal goal. Then followed it up with a missed, over-committed header on the second goal, taking him out of the play. Then he put the cherry on top with another giveaway to Piatti, who scored seconds later. He was subbed out in the 72nd minute.

D, Donny Toia, 7 .5— Against his former team, Toia did really well. Much like Sutter, he got forward often and helped in the attack. He even had a shot in the 18th minute that was deflected just wide. He was third on the team in tackles and clearances. The only knock on him potentially was that he was caught a bit too far forward at times and allowed Montreal to build up in the counter.

MF, Cristian Higuita, 7 — Both Higuita and Johnson had similar games. Did well to win the ball back, committed some silly fouls and did well distributing the ball out wide. Higuita had a 91% passing accuracy, finished third on the team in shots, and led the team in both tackles and fouls with four and five, respectively.

MF, Will Johnson , 7 — Essentially it’s cut and paste with Higuita as far as the breakdown. Johnson had a 92% passing accuracy, was also third on the team in shots, and fourth on the team in tackles. Came out for the last few minutes in favor of Luis Gil.

MF, Matias Perez Garcia , 8.5 (MOTM)— Tonight was a game that has been a long time coming for MPG. He was dynamic on the offensive end and solid defensively. Scored his first Orlando City goal in the eighth minute after some good wing play from Kaká and Barnes. Could have had an assist on the second goal, but Johnson’s shot was blocked and Rivas cleaned it up. Did manage an assist on the Spector goal off the corner, putting it perfectly into the box. Led the team in key passes, fouls earned, and dribbles, second on the team in total crosses, and third on the team in tackles.

MF, Kaka, 7.5 — A solid game for the captain and an impressive first half offensively. Had great chemistry with MPG and Barnes, linking up some great passes and getting into dangerous spaces in front of goal. Notched an assist on the first goal for MPG and continued to be a threat offensively going towards goal. The second half he was less effective, but that was mainly due to Montreal dropping back to defend the lead.

F, Giles Barnes, 8 — Was in very inspired form for this game and it really showed. Set up the first goal with a slotted pass for Kaká in the eighth minute and set up the second goal with his cross into the box. Had a number of good runs towards goal and, as mentioned with Kaká, had great link-up play with him, MPG, and himself. Was fourth on the team with 90% passing accuracy, second on the team in shots, and third in key passes.

F, Carlos Rivas, 7.5 — Once again, Rivas’ speed was a huge factor in this game. Balls over the top for him to chase opened up the offense for Orlando and allowed the Lions to break down the five at the back Montreal played. Scored his third goal of the year with a clean-up strike after Johnson had his shot saved in the 23rd minute. Led the team in both shots (five) and crosses (seven).

Substitutes

D, Tommy Redding (72’), 8 — Came in for Aja to try and calm the back line down and did just that. Was very composed despite the pressure from Montreal and had a few good stops defensively to keep the Impact off the scoreboard.

MF, Luis Gil (88’), N/A, — Came in for Johnson and tried to get something going offensively. Almost had a good play to Higuita in stoppage time, but it was cleared away by Montreal.


That is what the individual performances looked like to me. What did you think? Be sure to vote below for your OCSC Man of the Match. 

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Giles Barnes16
Matias Perez Garcia131
Kaka15
Carlos Rivas6
Other16

Orlando City

Flashback Friday: April 13,2018 — Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union

Hop in the time machine as we reminisce about a classic Orlando City game from six years ago.

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Carlos Romero, The Mane Land

During the two-week break we’ve had since Orlando City’s last competitive match, I’ve had some time to go back and revisit some of the matches that the team has played in the past. What better thing to do when considering the heavy emphasis that the club has placed on its 10th season as a member of Major League Soccer?

So, before the Lions take on D.C. United tomorrow, let’s hop in the time machine and reminisce about a game that OCSC played six years ago — almost to the day.

The date was Saturday, April 13, 2018, and the Lions found themselves on the road in Philadelphia. The Jason Kreis-coached team had won two games on the bounce and entered the contest with a record of 2-2-1 (7 points), while the Union sat at 1-1-2 (5 points). The Orlando team sheet on the day looked wildly different from what we’re used to seeing these days, as no one on that gameday roster is still with the club. Kreis deployed his team in a 4-2-3-1, which will be plenty familiar to Orlando fans by now, but that was where the similarities ended.

Philadelphia’s XI had a few familiar faces however, with Andre Blake in goal, Jack Elliot at center back, Matt Real at left back, and Alejandro Bedoya in midfield.

The Union began the game strong, with Keegan Rosenberry getting off a shot from long distance, and David Accam beating RJ Allen down the right and delivering a dangerous cross that fortunately didn’t have any teammates attacking it. Despite the slow start, Orlando almost opened the scoring just inside 10 minutes when Amro Tarek had a shot cleared off the line after being picked out by Yoshi Yotun from a corner.

Philadelphia continued to be dangerous, and Orlando’s task got more difficult when Allen went down with a hamstring issue in the 21st minute. The Lions were already missing Jonathan Spector through concussion and Scott Sutter with the dreaded lower body injury, so Cristian Higuita entered the fray while Will Johnson moved to right back.

The Lions’ resilience paid dividends a few minutes before halftime. Dom Dwyer timed a perfect run to stay level with Real, and Sacha Kljestan delivered him the ball by way of an outstanding lifted pass. Dwyer showed outstanding invention to settle the pass using his back, and then turned to curl the ball beyond Blake for the game’s first goal and the 99th of his career.

The goal seemed to unlock something in the good guys, as the first-half-fun didn’t end there. The second goal of the night had a bit of fortune to it, as Chris Mueller collected the ball in midfield and drove toward the box. A heavy touch meant he lost the ball, but Philadelphia couldn’t clear its lines and the ball came right back to him off the foot of Elliot. From there, it was a simple matter of taking a touch to settle himself and then firing low and hard past Blake and into the far corner.

The Lions took that 2-0 lead into halftime, but after the restart they once again found the Union streaming forward toward their goal. Bendik made his second big save of the night in the 53rd minute from a Fafa Picault shot, and it wasn’t the last time he was called on, as he denied Bedoya in the 62nd minute.

Justin Meram provided some moments of danger as the half wore on, and probably should have had an assist as the clock struck 90 minutes, but Dwyer fired his shot off target. Bendik had to make one big final save in the 94th minute to stop Borek Dockal’s effort, and when the whistle blew for full time the Lions’ had escaped with a 2-0 win.

The home side finished with 55% of the ball to Orlando’s 45%, and outshot OCSC by a whopping 20-8, but a lack of clinical finishing proved to be the Union’s undoing (sound familiar?).

That win meant the good guys had won three on the bounce, and a strong start to the season continued as that streak ultimately stretched all the way to six victories in a row. Sadly, the good vibes didn’t last. The last league win of that six-game streak came on May 6 in a 3-1 home victory over Real Salt Lake, and then the bottom fell out. The Lions lost nine straight league games, Kreis lost his job after the sixth of those losses, and Orlando only won two more league games for the remainder of the season.


Ultimately, the 2018 season proved to be the most difficult that the club has endured since joining MLS. OCSC’s total of 28 points is the lowest that the team has ever finished with in a season, and only a truly woeful San Jose side prevented the Lions from claiming the Wooden Spoon. Still, the win over Philadelphia — and the win streak that it was part of — were bright spots early in the year, and it’s always fun to look back on those. With a little luck, the Lions will get a similar result on the road against D.C. United tomorrow. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/12/24

Orlando Pride play in Utah tonight, Orlando City B earns a point, Europa League quarterfinals begin, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Friday! I hope this week has gone smoothly for you as we gear up for even more Orlando soccer tonight and tomorrow. It should be a nice next few days, even if I’m working for most of it. I don’t have many plans outside of work beyond bonding with my cat and trying a new stuffed bread recipe. Let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world!

Orlando Pride Play the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride are on the road tonight for a showdown with the Utah Royals at 9:30 p.m., and you can catch the game on NWSL+ or through Bally Sports if you’re local. Although the Royals are an expansion team this year, the Pride last squared off against the previous Royals back in 2019, with Orlando losing all three games to Utah that season. This season, the Pride are riding a three-game unbeaten streak. However, they are also still on the hunt for their first win after three consecutive draws. While the offense awaits the arrival of Zambian striker Barbra Banda, the Pride have managed to score off of a set piece in each of their three games so far. While a draw on the road wouldn’t be awful by any means, hopefully the Pride can get a solid tally in the win column tonight.

Orlando City B Draws Philadelphia Union II

OCB went on the road to take on Philadelphia Union II and earned a single point after a 1-1 draw and penalty shootout. The two teams traded goals in the first half, but the Young Lions were on the back foot for most of the second half. While Orlando’s offense sputtered, the defense survived chance after chance from Philadelphia to send the game to a shootout. Orlando lost the lengthy shootout, 7-6, claiming just one point, but at least the Young Lions didn’t leave Pennsylvania empty handed. Hopefully OCB can return to its winning ways when it faces off with Crown Legacy FC on April 19.

New York City FC Stadium Plans Finally Approved

Plans to build a soccer-specific stadium in Queens for new grounds for New York City FC were approved by New York City officials. It will be a $780 million stadium expected to open in 2027 and serves as the centerpiece of a redevelopment project in the neighborhood. The 25,000-seat stadium will be right next to Citi Field, which has been one of the many home venues for NYCFC over the years since joining as an expansion side alongside Orlando City in 2015. It’s a bit wild that this stadium is set to open 10 years after Orlando christened its own soccer-specific stadium back in 2017. At least the Lions won’t have to play road games at baseball stadiums for much longer.

Europa League Quarterfinals Kick Off

The Europa League quarterfinals are underway, with the remaining eight teams squaring off in the first legs of their matchups. In England, Atalanta leaned on a brace from Gianluca Scamacca and stellar defense to win 3-0 against Liverpool. Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten streak stretched to 42 games after it beat West Ham United 2-0, thanks to a pair of late goals. The first match between Italian clubs AC Milan and Roma went to the visitors, as Roma scored early on and held on for a 1-0 win at San Siro. The only quarterfinal that wasn’t a shutout took place in Portugal, with Benfica beating Marseille, 2-1. The second legs will all take place at the same time next week, which should make for an exciting Thursday afternoon of soccer.

Free Kicks


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 D.C. United: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn its first away victory of the season?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

Orlando City is back in action this Saturday night against D.C. United at Audi Field. Despite coming off back-to-back results, the off-week was well timed for the Lions. A little extra rest for the squad, plus giving players time to recuperate from various knocks should mean a nearly full strength Orlando City.

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points on the road against its Eastern Conference rivals?

The Dynamic Duo Return

Cesar Araujo returned to the Orlando City lineup against the New York Red Bulls, meaning the Lions should finally have their top choice defensive midfield pairing back together. The timing couldn’t be more perfect given Orlando City will be dealing with D.C. United striker Christian Benteke. He has five goals in five matches, which is half of the 10 goals D.C. United has scored all season.

So far this regular season, every match in which the Lions give up more than one goal has resulted in a loss. Keeping Benteke and the rest of D.C. United off of the score sheet is critical to getting a result. Orlando City can concede one goal and still walk away with points on the road, but only if the Lions manage to accomplish the next key below.

Goals are the Goal

To say Orlando City has been wasteful in front of goal is a bit of an understatement. So far this regular season, the Lions have 93 shots, with 27 on target, but only five goals. Orlando City has created scoring opportunities, but failed to convert them in anything close to an efficient manner. Of the five goals scored, Duncan McGuire has two, Nico Lodeiro has one, and Jack Lynn has one. The other was credited as an own goal on Lynn’s backheel attempt.

The list of players who haven’t scored yet this season is too long to type, but I don’t need goals from the defenders — though I will take them. I just need Facundo Torres, Ivan Angulo, Luis Muriel, and Martin Ojeda to get something going. Ideally, all four of them score in this match, but I’ll take whatever goals we can get.

End the Trend

Orlando City hasn’t fared well against D.C. United recently. Nearly a year ago, the Lions lost at home 3-1 to the visitors. The last trip to Audi Field was a 1-1 draw in which Orlando City gave up a goal in the 80th minute to settle for a single point. In 2022, Orlando City lost both matches to D.C. United. It’s time to get things going in the right direction.

The Lions also need to stop losing on the road. Losses to Inter Miami and Atlanta both came on the road, with Orlando City yet to find any points away from home. Last season, the Lions were veritable road warriors. The team needs to find that form again as it was a major reason the club finished second in the Supporters’ Shield race.


That is what I will be looking for this weekend as Orlando City takes on D.C. United. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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