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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Atlanta United: Five Takeaways

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The first-ever meeting between Orlando City and Atlanta United was certainly filled with drama and passion, just as we expected in the buildup to the match.

At the end of the day, Orlando left it all on the line but walked away with nothing to show for it, as Atlanta United did what the billboard said it would do, conquering the Lions with a 1-0 result on Friday night at Orlando City Stadium.

Hector Villalba scored the game winning goal in the 86th minute, an absolute rocket from distance that gave Joe Bendik little chance to save, and the Lions weren’t able to overcome and find a positive result.

Here are my five takeaways from the match:

Walking Away Empty-Handed

It’s easy to say that Orlando City deserved a lot more than it got out of this match. The Lions were arguably the better side throughout the contest. They executed 14 shots, but could only put five on target, a problem they’ve seen much throughout the season. You could tell at one point in the second half that things just weren’t falling their way in front of the net and that finding the score sheet was going to be a challenge. And it ended up being the case. If not all three, Orlando certainly deserved a point out of this one.

Blame Bruce

Man of the Match for either side has to be Brad Guzan. Making his Atlanta United debut, Guzan made five saves, including a couple of massive saves on Jonathan Spector set-piece headers, as well as full-body stop on a Carlos Rivas blast late in the first half. And all of this can be attributed to Bruce Arena, who released Guzan from the United States’ Gold Cup roster earlier this week. So thank you, Bruce, you are basically the reason why Orlando City was shut out on Friday night.

Kaká Returning to Form

The results weren’t there, but it was a solid night for the captain. Kaká was easily the best player on the field for Orlando City through the first 45 minutes, and created a game-high four chances on the night — three in the first half. His passing stats don’t tell the whole story, for most of his unsuccessful attempts at least had some good ideas to them. Kaká also had a pair of strong runs early in the first half that set up some good opportunities.

Defense Stays Solid For Almost 90 Minutes

Credit should go to the defense in this one as well. The back line played solid for the full 90 minutes, and too much blame can’t be placed on what was an amazing strike by Hector Villalba. Jonathan Spector made a case to be Orlando’s Man of the Match, and Scott Sutter showed up ready to play tonight as well. He covered a ton of ground, and hit Jose Aja with a great cross in the 25th minute that earned Orlando a corner. After their struggles with keeping opponents off the board over the last two months, the Lions did a fine job tonight against a really good offensive team, holding the visitors to just eight shots.

So, Do We Have A Rivalry?

The buildup to this game surely was among the most entertaining that we’ve had this season — or maybe even of any season so far in MLS — and for the most part, the game kinda delivered. There were some chippy moments sprinkled in there, and the fans brought the passion, but at the end of the day neither team was still ready to call this a rivalry match. Kaká said afterwords that Orlando’s rival is still New York City FC, then maybe Atlanta. Well, we’re not done yet, as these two sides will meet up again in one week’s time — this time in Atlanta at Bobby Dodd Stadium (Saturday, July 29, 5 p.m. ET).

Orlando City

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

How did your favorite Lions do in their scoreless draw against CF Montreal?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City kicked off its 10th MLS season Saturday night, drawing CF Montreal 0-0 in downtown Orlando. The team was poor in the first half, but much better in the second 45 minutes. The Lions had multiple chances to win it late, hitting the woodwork and having a goal disallowed for offside. However, they claim a point to start the season and are in a great position to advance in the Concacaf Champions Cup Tuesday night.

Here’s how the Lions did individually in the scoreless draw.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 8 (MotM) — The Peruvian number one has been the most dependable Lion over the past few years and this game was no different. He was active in the first half, making four saves, but was bored in the second half until Kwadwo Opoku got in on goal in the second minute of stoppage time. Gallese came out and made a huge stop with his right leg, ensuring Orlando City would get a point. In total, the goalkeeper had five saves and completed 91.7% of his 24 passes, including four of his six long balls, while claiming his 34th clean sheet as a Lion.

D, Rafael Santos, 5.5 — After a rocky first outing in Canada, Santos had a much better game in the league opener with a team-high 108 touches. Defensively, the left back had one tackle, three interceptions, and one clearance in a clean sheet performance. Going forward, he completed 84.2% of his 76 passes, including a key pass. However, he only completed two of his seven crosses, a problem throughout the night for the Lions.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — It wasn’t a bad game for the Orlando City captain, but he wasn’t as effective as fans have come to expect. The Swede had an interception and block, but no clearances. He completed 90.2% of his 61 pass attempts and four of his eight long balls (50%). 

D, David Brekalo, 7 — Saturday night saw the long-awaited debut of Brekalo, Orlando City’s new starting center back. It was a solid performance for the defender, who recorded two tackles, two clearances, and a team-high four interceptions. Additionally, his three aerial duels were tied for the team high. He completed 86.4% of his 66 pass attempts and two of his three long balls. The new arrival took two dribbles and two shots, putting one on target. Overall, Brekalo was a bright spot in this game for the Lions before being replaced by Kyle Smith in the 77th minute.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Thorhallsson was one of several players that were much better in the second half than the first. Most of his passes in the first 45 minutes were left short or long balls too far, but he ended up completing 88.3% of his 60 passes with a team-high three key passes. He completed one of his two crosses and one of his five long balls. He took a team-high four shots, only putting one on target. Additionally, he one clearance defensively, but little else on that end of the field in 90 minutes of action.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 5.5 — It was a short night for Cartagena, who was taken off at halftime for Martin Ojeda after picking up a yellow in the first half. The Peruvian completed 90.5% of his 42 passes and both of his long balls. However, he did little defensively in this game and only had one dribble going forward. It wasn’t a bad performance overall, but the Lions couldn’t afford to go down a man if he got booked a second time.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 7 — Araujo displayed his usual dependability for the Lions in this game. His 87 touches were third on the team and he completed 89.7% of his 68 passes, including two key passes. He failed to connect on his lone cross, but completed all eight of his long balls. Unfortunately, neither of his two shots were on target. Defensively, the defensive midfielder was active, recording two tackles, two interceptions, and a clearance.

MF, Facundo Torres, 5 — Torres is usually the best attacking player for the Lions, but he had a difficult game Saturday night. The attacking midfielder completed 81.3% of his 48 passes and didn’t connect on any of his five crosses. He had one shot that was on target, and could’ve had a goal when he and Felipe and converged on a late header off the crossbar but they were offside. He also had a tackle defensively, but this will be a game to forget for the Uruguayan.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6 — One of two Lions to make their competitive home debuts, Lodeiro started in his natural number 10 position. His 89 touches were second-most on the team and he completed 86.7% of his 75 passes with a key pass. Two of his five crosses were accurate and he completed three of his seven long balls. He took one shot on the night, but it was off target. Lodeiro was somewhat active defensively, recording a tackle, an interception, and a clearance before being replaced by Felipe in the 77th minute.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 5 — Angulo was less active than usual in this game, only recording 42 touches and not taking any shots. He completed 83.9% of his 31 pass attempts and didn’t connect on his only cross. He had two tackles defensively but didn’t do much else before being replaced by Ramiro Enrique in the 68th minute.

F, Duncan McGuire, 5.5 — McGuire scored in his first game back after an uncertain off-season, so there was a lot of excitement heading into the home opener. The young striker took two off-target shots but was solid with his hold-up play, winning a team-high three aerial duels. He wasn’t able to get too involved, with only 26 touches, and he completed 64.3% of his 14 passes. He also had one key pass, one inaccurate cross, and one clearance.

Substitutes

MF, Martin Ojeda (46′), 6.5 — Ojeda came on at halftime for Cartagena and made a big impact on a much better second half. He completed 90.9% of his 22 passes with three key passes, and he was accurate on three of his seven crosses and both long balls. Additionally, one of his two shots was on target. He also helped out defensively, recording a tackle and a clearance.

F, Ramiro Enrique (68’), 5 — Enrique joined the game in the 68th minute, replacing Angulo, but didn’t make much of an impact. He only had 14 touches in 22 minutes while playing in the midfield. The attacker completed 77.8% of his nine passes without any key passes and failed to complete his lone cross. It was his header in the 80th minute that hit the crossbar and was redirected in by Felipe, but it was ruled out for offside.

D, Kyle Smith (77’), 5.5 — Smith came on for Brekalo to help see out the clean sheet alongside Jansson. Defensively, he had one clearance at center back, but no other defensive stats. He completed 78.6% of his 14 passes, including a key pass and completed his one cross.

MF, Felipe (77’), 6 — Felipe played well in the final 13 minutes of the game after replacing Lodeiro, recording an interception and a clearance and completing 90% of his 10 passes with one key pass. His most noteworthy moment came in the 80th minute when Enrique’s header off the crossbar was knocked in, but he was judged to be offside.

F, Jack Lynn (90’), N/A — Lynn came on for the final minutes of the game, replacing McGuire up top. He had four touches and won an aerial duel, a flick-on header near midfield, while completing one of his three passes (33.3%). He also had one accurate cross.


This is how I saw the individual performances of Orlando City’s first game of the 2024 MLS regular season. How did you see the game? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to vote on your Man of the Match.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/26/24

Orlando City draws Montreal, USWNT to play Mexico, USMNT news, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers. I know that we’re all a little disappointed with the draw in the home opener, but a point is a point, and we go again tomorrow night. It hasn’t taken long for the matches to come fast and furious with Orlando City and the USWNT playing this week. I could not be happier.

We also want to wish a happy birthday to the Orlando Pride’s Morgan Gautrat and OCB’s Dominic Pereira from all of us at The Mane Land.

Orlando City Draws Montreal

It wasn’t the best match Orlando City ever played, but it also wasn’t the worst. The Lions couldn’t find the last bit of quality to get the winning goal despite having most of the possession and plenty of shots. VAR also played a part, though both offside calls were correct, if unfortunate. Pedro Gallese kept the Lions in the match to earn the first point of the season. Check out our match recap.

Lions React to the Result

David Brekalo made his first start for Orlando City and while he acquitted himself well, given his limited time with the team, he is still confident that things will get better with time. He was also impressed with the level of play in MLS and with the Orlando City facilities. Oscar Pareja was disappointed with the result but was understanding of some of the reasons for it. Now, Orlando City gets ready for the two matches this week.

USWNT vs. Mexico

The USWNT takes on Mexico at 10:15 p.m. tonight in the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup. The U.S. is already through to the knockout stages of the Gold Cup but is trying to win Group A with a victory over Mexico. Former Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan is with the team and has scored in the competition. The U.S. has a 16-match winning streak over Mexico and will be looking to extend that to 17.

USMNT News

The USMNT and Juventus were both dealt a blow when Weston McKennie dislocated his shoulder in the 3-2 win over Frosinone on Sunday. Prior to the injury, McKennie contributed two assists, allowing Juventus to stay in second place in Serie A. Now we wait to hear how long McKennie will be out. Check out his assists.

American Striker Folarin Balogun scored a high difficulty goal in Monaco’s 3-2 victory over Lens in Ligue 1. Of course, he also missed a penalty kick later in the same match. Fortunately, Takumi Minamino scored a stoppage-time goal to secure the victory. Take a look at the nice goal.

Free Kicks

  • Liverpool defeated Chelsea 1-0 to win the Carabao Cup on an extra time header by captain Virgil van Dijk. It was the 10th trophy won with Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager. Liverpool was missing 11 top players to start the game and lost Ryan Gravenberch during the match.
  • Olivia Moultrie and Jaeden Shaw are making an impact with the USWNT despite being two of the younger players on the team. The impact came in the form of goals for each Moultrie and Shaw.
  • Naomi Girma has impressed for the USWNT in her time so far, but she wants to do more as a part of the newer generation of stars.
  • Brazil defeated Italy 6-4 in the Beach Soccer World Cup on Sunday. The competition took place in Dubai.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the match tomorrow night against Cavalry and the trip to Ft. Lauderdale to take on the hated Herons. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Five Takeaways

Here are five lessons learned from Orlando City’s 0-0 draw with Montreal.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City drew CF Montreal 0-0 in Inter&Co Stadium to start the MLS regular season. Heading into this match, the Lions had looked pretty good during the preseason and in the Concacaf Champions Cup match against Cavalry. Unfortunately, Orlando City wasn’t able to maintain its scoring form against Montreal, settling for a point at home.

Here are my five takeaways from Orlando’s draw with Montreal.

An Ugly First Half

Orlando city held 61% possession with four shots and only one on goal in the opening period. Add to that 10 fouls and a couple of yellow cards for Duncan McGuire and Wilder Cartagena and you end up with an ugly first half. Oscar Pareja put out a first-choice lineup, including many players who put in significant minutes in Wednesday’s Concacaf Champions Cup match against Cavalry in Canada. Despite having the best players on the field, Orlando City was not sharp and it showed in the stats and in the eye test.

El Pulpo Impresses

While the Lions were finding their footing to start the match, Pedro Gallese provided the cover the club needed with four saves in the first five minutes. After that, Orlando City settled down and kept more of the possession. Montreal didn’t get another shot on target the remainder of the half and so Gallese wasn’t called into service again. Fortunately, those first four saves were everything the Lions needed to start things off. He also made an incredible one-on-one save in stoppage to keep Montreal off the board.

Offside Ruins Chance, Part 1

Orlando City supporters thought the winning and only goal went in when Felipe put in the ball off a rebound from the bar. The initial shot came from Ramiro Enrique, who hit the crossbar. Both Martins and Facundo Torres were there and the ball went in but Felipe was in an offside position when Enrique took the shot. It was a frustrating call, even if it was ultimately the correct call.

A Game of Inches

Orlando City had 15 shots with four on target throughout the match. Of the 11 that weren’t on target, many were only inches from being so. Of the shots on target, all were either directly to Jonathan Sirois or without enough power to make him have to work to keep it out. There were also plenty of passes that were just off by a couple of inches that either gave the ball back to Montreal or stalled potential attacks.

Offside Ruins Chance, Part 2

In stoppage time, Torres drew a foul as he took a pass into the box. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and it looked like Orlando City would get the chance to score a winner on a penalty kick. Unfortunately, the offside flag had gone up again thanks to Jack Lynn being offside, as he strayed behind the last defender by a step in the buildup before the foul. Video review confirmed the call and Orlando City supporters were left wanting a second time.


That is what I saw in the match. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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