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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Real Salt Lake: Player Grades and Man of the Match

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Will Johnson’s goal was enough to give the Lions a 1-0 win in Utah. It was not the best performance by Orlando City, but a win is a win. Orlando City was unable to get much going offensively, and Cyle Larin was unable to create a big impact in his return. The lone goal came from a bouncing ball, off a set piece, that Johnson was able to finish against his old team.

So, let’s dive right into the grades:

Starters

GK, Joe Bendik, 6.5 — Bendik was back to his typical self tonight, making saves that Orlando City fans have become accustomed to seeing. However, everything wasn’t perfect for the ‘keeper and he had way too many turnovers, just look at the chart below. Still, his two saves and two crosses held solidified the win for Orlando City. Plus, he kept the shutout, and for that his grade goes up. His highlight of the match came in the 64th minute. RSL nearly went up as Luis Silva broke through the Lions’ defense and was in on goal. Bendik was quick off his line, and gave Silva no chance at finding the back of the net. 

D, Donny Toia, 6 — Offensively Toia was poor, however defensively he did well. He led the team in clearances and interceptions, but his passing accuracy was about 56%. He did not even attempt a pass in the final third and he mostly had giveaways on the touch line. He was beaten a few times by Brooks Lennon, but was either able to recover or had help behind him. 

D, Jonathan Spector, 7 — Spector was the leader tonight, and kept the defense compact and organized. Although close a few times, the high line never broke and RSL was unable to get in behind the defenders. The one time that it did happen, Bendik scooped up the ball with ease. Almost all of Spector’s defensive stops were outside the box, and he made the stops that were needed. He was caught ball watching early on in the game, but was able to recover. He struggled in possession a few times which led to seven turnovers in the defensive third. 

D, Jose Aja, 7 (MotM) — Aja needed a great performance to claim the spot as his own, in place of Tommy Redding, and, while it was not great, he was the best defender on the field tonight. He finished with eight clearances, four recoveries, and one tackle, a block, and a recovery. He had just four misplaced passes, all of which were long balls forward. He did give up two fouls, one of which resulted in a yellow card. Aja was also part of a defensive unit that held RSL to only two shots on target, but more impressive might be the home side’s six offside calls. Aja and Spector combined to keep the unit from breaking, where previously this year the opposition broke through Orlando’s high line way too often. On the goal, Aja got robbed of his first MLS goal, as his header hit the crossbar. 

D, Scott Sutter, 6 — All-in-all Sutter had a good game, although he has had better outings in purple before. RSL wanted to get Joao Plata the ball down the left side, and Plata continually beat Sutter, as the Swiss-Englishman lacked the speed of the Ecuadoran, most notably on the play below. Like Spector, he was caught ball watching early on but he got better and better as the game went on. 

MF, Kaká, 4.5 — It was not a performance for the Brazilian to remember, as he walked directly to the locker room after being subbed off, ignoring Jason Kreis. He hardly provided any attacking support, failed to register a single shot, and added many turnovers as well. His yellow card that he picked up in the 68th minute came off of his own turnover and was just lazy defending. 

MF, Cristian Higuita, 5 — An awful decision by Higuita in the 76th minute led to an RSL free kick 20 yards out and should have resulted in a yellow card as well.  Luckily for him he did not get a yellow, though, as 11 minutes later he whacked an RSL defender in the face while dribbling and earned himself a card. He was part of a midfield that struggled to possess the ball and led to RSL having 60% possession. In the 21st minute, Higuita and Kaká both failed to gain possession and the play nearly led to an RSL goal. However, for all the bad, Higuita made a handful defensive stops and broke up the home side’s attack. 

MF, Antonio Nocerino, 6 — Noce had a quiet evening, with no glaring mistakes but also nothing too noteworthy. Late in the first half the Italian took a knock that he got up limping from. He continued on for the remainder of the first half, but did not come back out to start the second 45. The club stated that he is not injured though. While in the game, he did what he was supposed to do. He only had five misplaced passes, as he sat below the midfield and tried to direct traffic. He did give up a free kick about 30 yards out in the 35th minute, but altogether a solid outing for Nocerino. 

MF, Will Johnson, 6.5 — Johnson scored the lone goal in the match, simply by being in the right place at the right time and jumping on the rebound. For the rest of the game he was a little bit of everywhere, although not making too much noise for himself. This is not strictly his fault, as it is most likely coming from Kreis, but he needs to put a cross in the box on the corners and stop with the short passes. They lead to way too many turnovers and counter attacks going the other way. 

F, Giles Barnes, 6 — Barnes was another player who had an average game, but did what he needed to do. He got up and down the right wing all game, and in the 35th minute made room for himself and got a rare shot on target for Orlando. His passing accuracy was nothing to be proud of, but he brought energy for the Lions while also helping out on the defensive end. 

F, Cyle Larin, 6 — In his first game back, Larin played with energy that the Lions were missing for the past three games. Up top he did not have many opportunities, but he attempted to make something out of nothing multiple times. He spent a large amount of time away from the goal and in the open space instead, even taking players on one-on-one near midfield. He finished with just two shots, none on target, but the service in to him was poor, and he did not spend much time in front of the net. For his first game back, it was a good performance, although nothing special from the Canadian. 

Substitutes

MF, Servando Carrasco (46’), 6.5 — When Noce went out at halftime the team did not miss a beat with Carrasco in. In fact, the defense got better in the second half. Carrasco had a quiet game, but, as the defensive midfielder, quiet is typically not a bad thing. He connected on eight of his 10 passes, and broke up any attack that tried to go by him.

MF, Luis Gil (72’), 6 — With just under 20 minutes to play, by the time Gil entered the game Orlando City was in defensive mode. The team picked up a little when he came in, and he helped to secure the shutout. He won a header in the box over Kyle Beckerman at the back post in the 84th minute that could have threatened Bendik’s goal. He had one clearance and one recovery, to go along with his five-for-six passing.

MF, Richie Laryea (88’), N/A — He did not have enough time to earn a grade, but in his few minutes he once again brought immediate energy to the Lions. Three minutes into his game, he juked out a defender, got into the box, and nearly opened his account and beat Nick Rimando, but the veteran ‘keeper parried it out for a corner.


Those were the grades, as I saw them. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments and vote on the Man of the Match below.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Joe Bendik33
Jonathan Spector25
Jose Aja31
Will Johnson20
Other3

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/18/24

Euro 2024 roundup, MLS transfer happenings, U.S. stars on Copa America prep, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone. It was a mixed bag for Orlando’s soccer teams over the weekend, as none of Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, or Orlando City B managed to win, with a loss and two draws. The only way out is through though, and there are plenty of chances to get back to winning ways this week. Before we get to today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Pride defender Rafaelle!

Euro Results Roundup

It was another pulsating day of action at Euro 2024, with the theme of early goals and exciting contests continuing. The early contest saw Romania beat Ukraine 3-0 with a trio of very well-taken goals. Nicolae Stanciu opened the scoring in the 29th minute and a pair of second-half goals just four minutes apart sealed Romania’s first win at the Euros in 24 years. In the second game of the day, Slovakia grabbed a goal in the seventh minute courtesy of an ill-advised Belgian attempt to play out of the back, and managed to hang on for a 1-0 win. The game wasn’t without controversy, as Romelu Lukaku missed several excellent chances, and also had two goals correctly ruled out by video review. The last game of the day saw France beat Austria 1-0 courtesy of an own goal in the first half, but the biggest talking point was Kylian Mbappe’s broken nose that will reportedly require surgery.

MLS Transfer Happenings

We have several important MLS transfers to catch up on this morning. First, the Houston Dynamo have broken the club’s transfer record to sign Argentine striker Ezequiel Ponce from Greek club AEK Athens. The 27-year-old will be a Designated Player, and although he can’t play for Houston until the secondary transfer window opens on July 18, he should help a Dynamo team that’s scored the fewest goals in the Western Conference. Moving to the Eastern Conference, the Columbus Crew are reportedly closing in on a trade to acquire Aziel Jackson from St. Louis City in exchange for $650,000 of General Allocation Money, in addition to other incentives.

Finally, Tom Bogert has identified Brighton and Hove Albion’s Marc Leonard as a player who could move stateside this summer. His loan spell at Northampton Town last season saw him named the club’s player of the year.

U.S. Players Speak About Copa America Prep

The Copa America kicks off on Friday, and Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams recently spoke about how they and the rest of the United States Men’s National Team have been preparing for the tournament. McKennie spoke on how this team has never been in camp for this long before, and that the extra time is helping them iron out little issues. He also talked about his willingness to fill in wherever needed on the field, something that could be relevant for both him and Adams given the injury to Sergino Dest. For his part, Adams discussed how a bright spot to missing so much time last year due to injury was that it allowed him to spend plenty of time with his newborn son.

UEFA Investigating Racism at Euro Match

UEFA is probing an alleged incident of racial abuse that took place in the match between England and Serbia. While the complaint did not come from the English Football Association, UEFA released a statement that it was investigating Serbia for objects that were thrown and the “transmission of a provocative message.” If the charges are proven, then Serbia could face sanctions from UEFA.

Free Kicks

  • The sensor placed inside the ball was instrumental in overturning what would have been an equalizing goal for Belgium.
  • Polish television is doing some very cool things with its soccer coverage.
  • An English fan woke up still in the stadium well after his team’s win over Serbia.

That does it for me this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

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

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s home loss to LAFC?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Despite dominating most of the game and nearly all of the second half, Orlando City fell 3-1 to LAFC Saturday night. The Lions continue their troubles at home, with the last win in front of their home fans coming on March 23. It’s more frustration for a team and fanbase that has had plenty this season.

Let’s take a look at how the players performed individually in the loss.

Starters

GK, Mason Stajduhar, 5.5 — With regular starting goalkeeper Pedro Gallese on international duty with Peru, Stajduhar got the nod for the second time this season. Conceding three goals is a bad night for any goalkeeper, though he wasn’t the only one at fault for any of them. The first was a penalty and the other two were breakaway counterattacks. The goalkeeper made four saves on the night but wasn’t challenged much. He completed all of his 14 passes, which included six long balls, and had to clear the ball once.

D, Rafael Santos, 5.5 — Santos had 101 touches in this game, second on the team. The left back completed 94.8% of his 77 passes, but only two of his 13 crosses. One of his passes was a key pass, but his poor crossing haunted the Lions in this game. Defensively, Santos recorded one tackle and one clearance.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — Jansson was terrific for the first 85 minutes of this game, recording 88 touches. He completed 89.9% of his 79 passes, including four of his six long balls. Defensively, he added four tackles and a clearance. Unfortunately, he got caught up field in no-man’s land on LAFC’s second goal and got beat by Nathan Ordaz, resulting in a counterattack on the third. He was my Man of the Match until the final few minutes.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6 — Schlegel was on the ball less than Jansson, recording 60 touches. He completed 96.4% of his 56 passes and two of his three long balls. Defensively, he only had a tackle. Overall, it was a solid night by the center back. While he didn’t have a part in the first two goals, he was unable to clear the ball on a tackle in the box on the third, allowing LAFC to take a 3-1 advantage.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 5.5 — Thorhallsson started in his usual right back position, recording 66 touches. He completed 89.4% of his 47 passes, including a key pass, one of his five crosses, and none of his three long balls. He was among the most active players defensively with four tackles and interceptions. Additionally, he recorded one shot and had one successful dribble. Like other players in the team, his crossing struggles impacted the final result.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 5.5 — The Lions’ attack mainly went through the opposite side of Angulo, so the midfielder only had 47 touches, second-fewest of the 11 starters. He completed 87.6% of his 30 passes, including one of his four crosses and two key passes, but was plagued by some heavy touches in the final third. The attacker also helped out defensively with two successful tackles before being replaced by Martin Ojeda in the 61st minute.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 5 — Araujo was the only natural defensive midfielder in the starting lineup for Orlando City. He recorded 84 touches and completed 95.5% of his 67 passes. However, he only completed one of his two long balls, neither of his crosses, and didn’t record any key passes. He took two long distance shots but both were off target. Defensively, he recorded three tackles and one interception. It was a tough night for Araujo as he had a part in all three LAFC goals. He conceded the penalty, failed to keep up with Mateusz Bogusz on the second, and allowed Denis Bouanga to dribble around him on the third, although it’s perhaps harsh to fault a player for not being as fast as another or handle a player like Bouanga in space.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6 (MotM) — Lodeiro was unquestionably the most active player in this game, recording a team-high 132 touches. He completed 93% of his team-high 114 passes, but none of the seven crosses. The midfielder took three off-target shots and contributed defensively with two tackles and a clearance. He would’ve had a higher grade if he had completed some of his crosses, but his inability to do so hurt his team. Despite those missed crosses, Lodeiro gets my Man of the Match.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6 — Torres was often involved in the Lions’ buildup play, recording 89 touches. He completed 89.7% of his 68 passes, including a team-high five key passes. Two of his eight crosses failed to find teammates and his one long ball was incomplete. He took three shots, tied for second on the team, but none hit the target. Like some other players in this game, his grade would’ve been higher but he completely missed the target with his penalty in the 33rd minute. It was the first missed penalty of his professional career, but it had a major impact after LAFC converted one of its own 11 minutes later.

F, Luis Muriel, 5.5 — As usual, Muriel played a deeper role than Duncan McGuire, recording 69 touches. He completed 88.7% of his 53 passes, including three key passes. He failed to connect on his one cross and one of his two long balls. Additionally all five of his shots were off target. Muriel’s biggest problem in this game was attempting to dribble through multiple players, which resulted in him losing possession in dangerous positions. However, his perfectly weighted ball for Ojeda set up the game-tying goal in the 69th minute. While his assist was beautiful, it wasn’t enough to overcome his constant turnovers in the LAFC third of the field.

F, Duncan McGuire, 5 — McGuire played the target position in this game, recording 28 touches. He completed 81.8% of his 22 passes, but failed to connect on his lone long ball. Strikers are judged by goals and McGuire didn’t participate in any in this game, failing to hit the target on his only two shots. It was a forgettable performance that came to an end in the 78th minute when he was replaced by Jack Lynn.

Substitutes

MF, Martin Ojeda (61’), 6 — Ojeda came on in the 61st minute for Angulo and made an immediate impact. He provided a burst of energy for the team and the Lions quickly began creating dangerous chances. The attacking midfielder had 31 touches and completed 85% of his 20 passes. While he didn’t complete any of his four crosses, he scored the equalizing goal in the 69th minute. In addition to his goal, he had a late chance that hit the side netting. While I gave Lodeiro my Man of the Match, there’s an argument for Ojeda because of the impact he made.

F, Jack Lynn (78’), N/A — Lynn came on with 12 minutes to go for McGuire, who clearly had no more energy. The Lions were looking for a game-winning goal, but Lynn was unable to help. He only touched the ball three times and completed two of three passes without taking any shots. It was easy to forget he was on the field as the minutes wound down.


That’s how I saw the individual performances in Orlando City’s disappointing loss to LAFC. Let us know how you saw the game and don’t forget to vote on your Man of the Match below.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/17/24

Lions fall to LAFC, Pride draw on the road, Euro 2024 roundup, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Hello, Mane Landers! I hope all is well with you down in Florida and had a great Father’s Day for all you dads out there. I was busy at Under Armour all weekend, but I try to catch some action from the Euros when possible. As for our teams, the Lions lost at home while the Pride drew on the road. Before we get started, let’s wish Orlando Pride midfielder Summer Yates a happy 24th birthday. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Lions Fall at Home to LAFC

Orlando City lost 3-1 to LAFC on Saturday at Inter&Co Stadium, extending its winless streak to four matches. The Lions also remain winless against LAFC. Facundo Torres missed a penalty kick that would have put Orlando ahead before LAFC grabbed a goal late in the first half, converting a penalty of its own. Martin Ojeda scored an equalizer for the Lions in the second half, but LAFC countered with two more goals to put the match away. LAFC has won six straight league matches and is second in the Western Conference with 33 points. Meanwhile, Orlando dropped to 14th in the Eastern Conference with 17 points. It will be a quick turnaround for the Lions with a midweek matchup on the road Wednesday at Charlotte FC.

Pride, Courage Split Points in Scoreless Draw

The Orlando Pride played the Courage to a scoreless draw on the road Saturday in North Carolina at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Pride had chances throughout the match but could not score a goal for the first time this season. Still, Orlando remains unbeaten this season and is the first team this year to take any points away on the road against the Courage. After all the action across the NWSL over the weekend, Orlando and the Kansas City Current are still tied at the top with 29 points, but Kansas City is in first on goal differential. The Pride will return home Friday at Inter&Co Stadium to take on the Utah Royals.

Euro 2024 Roundup

The 2024 European Championship kicked off in Germany over the weekend with seven matches. We haven’t had any upsets yet, as Germany cruised past Scotland 5-1 in the opener on Friday. On Saturday, Switzerland beat Hungary 3-1, Spain shut out Croatia 3-0, and Italy bounced back after being down 1-0 to beat Albania 2-1. On Sunday, Slovenia and Denmark battled to a 1-1 draw. Orlando City defender David Brekalo came off the bench for a cameo appearance during stoppage time. The Netherlands overcame a 1-0 deficit to defeat Poland 2-1, and England defeated Serbia 1-0, with Jude Bellingham scoring the lone goal. In today’s matches, Romania takes on Ukraine, Belgium faces Slovakia, and Austria takes on France.

MLS Weekend Recap

It was another busy weekend of MLS action. The lone Friday matchup saw the Columbus Crew beat New York City FC 3-2. On Saturday, the New England Revolution defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-2. It was the Revs’ third straight win. Charlotte FC shut out D.C. United 1-0, Inter Miami escaped Subaru Park with a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union, and the Chicago Fire stunned Toronto FC with a 4-1 win on the road. Peter Luccin got his first win as interim head coach as FC Dallas defeated St. Louis City 2-0 and snapped a five-match winless streak. Atlanta United and the Houston Dynamo battled to a 2-2 draw, CF Montreal and Real Salt Lake ended in a scoreless draw, and the New York Red Bulls and Nashville SC also played to a scoreless draw. In the later matches, the Colorado Rapids and the Seattle Sounders defeated Austin FC and Minnesota United FC, respectively, by identical 2-0 scorelines. Finally, the LA Galaxy handed Sporting Kansas City a 4-2 defeat, while FC Cincinnati needed a a Yuya Kubo hat trick to defeat the San Jose Earthquakes 4-2 on the road.

Free Kicks

  • Major League Soccer has placed Sporting Kansas City midfielder Felipe Hernandez on administrative leave as the league investigates allegations that he violated the league’s gambling policy.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Monday and I’ll see you next time.

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