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Orlando City vs. New York Red Bulls: Player Grades and Man of the Match

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Well, that was quite the game now wasn’t it? Orlando City picked up its first win of the young season and did so in rather exciting fashion. And, while it was by no means perfect, a win is a win. Let’s see how the players fared in what will hopefully be the first of many.

Starters

GK, Joe Bendik, 5 — It was another tough day at the office for Bendik. While he couldn’t do very much about the first goal, he won’t be happy getting beaten five hole on the second one. Meanwhile, he didn’t contest the set piece ball played across his box to Aaron Long, and paid the price for his indecisiveness. He did well to come out of the box on a couple occasions in the first half when there were balls played over the top, but this was not a good day for Joe, including some poor goal kicks.

D, Mohamed El-Munir, 7 — It was a mixed bag from El-Mo today. He wasn’t marked nearly tightly enough to Florian Valot on New York’s opening goal, again struggling to defend at the back post. The rest of his day was better though, as he made a potentially goal saving tackle in the 18th minute, and showed excellent awareness from a throw-in to assist on Dom’s second goal of the day. He got forward often, usually to good effect, but he needs to improve on that pesky back post.

D, Amro Tarek, 6 — Tarek started the game well enough, but didn’t step in to stop the pass that Derrick Etienne scored from. Like his partner in defense, he struggled at times dealing with balls played over the top. On one such occasion in the 18th minute, only a timely intervention from El-Mo prevented a good opportunity for the Red Bulls. The rest of his game was solid enough, but neither center back was completely convincing in the first half. Hopefully the injury that saw him subbed off for RJ Allen wasn’t too bad.

D, Lamine Sané, 6 — Sané losing Etienne resulted in the Red Bulls second goal. He made plenty of good tackles, and was assured on the ball in the face of the high press. He was part of the offside trap that caught the Red Bulls a number of times, and though he wasn’t able to prevent Long’s goal, it looked like he was fouled. He did well for the rest of the game but won’t enjoy watching that second Red Bulls goal. Not a bad performance, but not a particularly good one either in his first MLS start.

D, Scott Sutter, 6 — Sutter was quiet for most of the game. He didn’t close down his man quickly enough on the opening goal, allowing Kaku plenty of time to pick out Valot at the far post. He also didn’t get forward nearly as much as fans have become accustomed to, although that was perhaps by design to help provide extra cover for the center backs. One of the few occasions he did however, his shot deflected in off Josué Colmán for the winner, so bonus points are certainly in order for that.

MF, Yoshimar Yotún, 7.5 — As usual Yoshi was heavily involved in the game. He assisted Dom’s first goal from a corner kick, and popped up all over the field. Some of his passes weren’t as accurate as they could have been, but the ones that were successful were usually part of a good piece of build-up play towards the Red Bulls’ goal. Overall, a good game from him.

MF, Cam Lindley, 5.5 — Cam struggled against the Red Bulls’ pressure. He had a positively dreadful giveaway that led to Etienne’s goal, and his passing accuracy on the day was only 58%. He often had less time on the ball than he expected and he finished with just one tackle. He did manage to connect on three of his five long balls, but his withdrawal at halftime for Colmán was certainly the correct decision, although whether it was for his play or for being hacked down by Kaku behind the play is anyone’s guess.

MF, Will Johnson, 7.5 — For much of the game Johnson was in the running for my Man of the Match. Not only did he score, (even if it was a tap in) but he also completed 91% of his passes, made several great tackles, and was involved in many of the team’s good moments in the first half. But a needless and quite frankly stupid foul gave the Red Bulls the set piece that they would eventually equalize from. That mistake aside though, if Johnson continues to play the way he did today it might be difficult to dislodge him from the starting XI.

MF, Sacha Kljestan, 8 — Another player who I seriously considered giving MOTM to, Kljestan impressed on his home debut. He made Johnson’s goal happen, playing a great pass through for Justin Meram, who in turn supplied Johnson. He also played a fantastic ball over the top of the defense in the second half that Chris Mueller was desperately unlucky not to score from. His vision and passing was at the heart of a lot of what Orlando did well, including finding Sutter on the other side of the field to set up the winning goal, and he certainly gave fans reason for encouragement going forward.

F, Justin Meram. 8 — Meram benefited immensely from having the physical presence of Dom Dwyer up front with him. Free to drift out wide where he’s most comfortable, Meram assisted on the team’s first goal, and nearly got a goal himself in the last minute of stoppage time only to be denied by a last-ditch challenge after waltzing through half the Red Bulls’ defense. He did put the ball in the net, but it was flagged offside. He was unable to do anything after being released down the wing in the 70th minute, but wasn’t helped very much by Mueller’s run.

F, Dom Dwyer, 8.5 (MOTM) — While he almost certainly fouled Robles while scoring his first goal, he certainly won’t care and neither do I. A goal is a goal. No such questions surrounded his second though, as he showed wonderful awareness in making an intelligent run behind the defense on a throw-in to lash the ball in from a difficult angle. His hold-up play was excellent for the entire game, and he was fouled on more than one occasion as he brought the ball down. An excellent season debut for one of the fan favorites, and hopefully the goals continue to flow.

Substitutes

MF, Josué Colmán (45’), 7 — Coming on for Lindley after halftime, Colmán instantly added another dimension to the Lions’ game. With his intelligent movement, good passing, and dribbling ability he helped create more than one chance for Orlando. He was involved in lots of delicate interplay that typically resulted in a player being released into space with the ball, and his work was rewarded with a completely unintentional goal when Sutter’s shot deflected in off his back. He perhaps tried to do too much at times but his possession play late helped the team kill off the game.

F, Chris Mueller (64’), 6.5 — Mueller came on for Dwyer and did a decent job of deputizing for him. While his failure to make a more intelligent run in the 70th minute resulted in Meram being left with few options, he nearly made up for it a few minutes later. The rookie timed his run to perfection and must have surely thought he scored, only to be denied by a fantastic save from Luis Robles.

D, RJ Allen (73’), 6.5 — Allen subbed on for the injured Tarek, and simply didn’t have a ton to do. However, his passing was accurate and he didn’t any egregious errors, so it was a solid enough 20 or so minutes from him.

Do you agree with my ratings, or am I nuttier than a port a potty at a peanut festival? Vote for your Man of the Match below, and let me know in the comments about your opinions on the players’ performances.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Will Johnson18
Justin Meram3
Dom Dwyer240
Sacha Kljestan27
Other (Comment Below)5

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/25/24

Duncan McGuire is an Olympic frontrunner, Orlando Pride get ready for the Washington Spirit, Colin Guske signs with Orlando City B, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this work week hasn’t been too stressful for you as we get ready for another weekend packed with Orlando soccer. All of the European soccer this week has been enjoyable as well, as teams fight for silverware and survival. It should be a fun next few days, although most of my match following will be digital. I’m hoping to get out to the stadium for a game or two over the next couple of months as well. But for now, let’s dive into today’s links!

Duncan McGuire Likely to Play in Olympics

Orlando City forward Duncan McGuire was listed as one of the frontrunners to join the U.S. for this year’s Olympics. It won’t be much of a shock if McGuire is in Paris this summer, as he’s been impressive in the time since being drafted sixth overall in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft by the Lions. The 23-year-old has followed up a strong rookie year with three goals and an assist so far this season. It will be interesting to see who McGuire could compete with for minutes in the Olympics, with Ricardo Pepi noted as another possible option up top for the U.S. Overall, it’s nice to see McGuire is doing what’s needed to stay in the contention for Paris. I think that staying in Orlando rather than going to England has definitely helped his case.

Orlando Pride Prepare for the Washington Spirit

The Orlando Pride are riding a five-game unbeaten streak and will take it to the nation’s capital for a difficult road match against the Washington Spirit Friday night. The Pride have won their past two games and will face a Spirit side that has won four of its five games this season. Both teams have been defensively sound, each conceding just four goals, so it may come down to moments of individual brilliance to make the difference. Pride Head Coach Seb Hines spoke about the difficulty of the matchup, Orlando’s grit this season, and the impact Barbra Banda had in her debut last weekend.

Orlando City B Signs Colin Guske

Midfielder Colin Guske, who joined Orlando City’s academy back in 2020, signed an MLS NEXT Pro contract with Orlando City B through this 2024 season. The 17-year-old made his OCB debut in the team’s season opener this year and scored the game-winning goal. He’s carved out a spot in OCB’s midfield this season, starting in four of the team’s five games. Guske has two brothers who have also gone through the club’s academy and played with OCB. A solid year with the Young Lions from Guske could result in a Homegrown Player contract for the senior team.

Columbus Crew SC Wins First Leg Against Monterrey

The Concacaf Champions Cup semifinals are here and the Columbus Crew are the only MLS team still in the tournament. They came up with a big 2-1 home win in the first leg of their matchup against Monterrey. Cucho Hernandez gave the Crew the lead in the first half and 21-year-old Jacen Russell-Rowe scored the winner in the second. An away goal by Monterrey could prove crucial though due to the tiebreakers, and the second leg will take place on May 1. The winner of this matchup will take on either Club America or Pachuca in the final on June 2.

Free Kicks

  • Former Lion Dom Dwyer is reportedly headed out west to sign with Oakland Roots SC in the USL Championship.
  • Toronto FC traded away $200,000 in 2025 General Allocation Money (GAM) to Atlanta United in exchange for winger Derrick Etienne Jr. The 27-year-old has not received much playing time this season, and Atlanta could earn another $175,000 in GAM if performance-based metrics are met.
  • The San Jose Earthquakes have reportedly signed Hernan Lopez from Godoy Cruz. It would give a-needed boost to the team, which has just three points from nine games this season.
  • St. Louis City winger Celio Pompeu won MLS Goal of the Matchday for his great strike from outside the box in his team’s 3-3 draw with Sporting Kansas City.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/24/24

Orlando City and Orlando Pride power rankings, USMNT player news, USWNT will host Costa Rica, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. It’s that time of the week for some tasty links. Two seven-point weekends for Orlando’s soccer teams is nothing to sneeze at, unlike the pollen that coats my hometown of Tallahassee. It’s the time of the year that I make my money back with the unlimited car wash next to my work. Enough with my weather-related car issues, let’s get to the links.

Lions Move Up (and Down) in Power Rankings

There’s nothing that shows the value of “power rankings” better than when you can compare two different ranking lists for the same week for any given club. We all know Orlando City is undefeated in its last four matches thanks to the late heroics of Ivan Angulo to draw CF Montreal over the weekend. But, did you know that was both good and bad?

In ESPN‘s MLS power rankings, Orlando City dropped a spot from 16th to 17th despite “treading water” with a point on the road in Montreal. Meanwhile, the Lions roared ahead three spots from 21st to 18th in MLSsoccer.com’s power rankings. So, do you like that Orlando is 17th in the ESPN piece despite the drop? Or do you prefer the positivity of a three-spot jump to 18th in the MLSSoccer.com rankings?

Orlando Pride Rise in Power Rankings

Forget everything I wrote up there regarding power rankings — at least as far as the Orlando Pride are concerned. After starting the season with three draws, the Pride now have two wins in a row. As such, ESPN moved the Pride up three spots from eighth to fifth in its NWSL power rankings. Their move up the list is entirely deserved and the writer was correct in their assessment. Of course, I’m kidding but it’s still nice to see the Pride get recognized for their results. Now, we just need the Pride to continue the winning streak.

Keeping Up With USMNT Players Abroad

As we shared yesterday, Sergino Dest will likely miss this summer’s Copa America thanks to a knee injury suffered during PSV Eindhoven training. That means the USMNT has a right back situation to address and there are quite a few well known candidates to step in for Dest.

Meanwhile, Weston McKennie has reportedly rejected Juventus’ latest extension offer. I can understand his decision given it doesn’t include any additional salary. McKennie has been very good for Juve, with 10 assists on the season. He’s not the only American making a difference, as Tim Weah provided the assist on Arkadiusz Milik’s goal to send Juventus to the Coppa Italia final.

USWNT Olympic Send-Off Match

The United States Women’s National Team will play a match against Costa Rica at Audi Field on July 16. It will be the final match for the USWNT prior to the Olympics that start nine days later against Zambia. New coach Emma Hayes will join the team on June 1, which isn’t a ton of time before the Olympics start, but she has been a part of the process for months.

Free Kicks

  • The New England Revolution have acquired veteran defender Xavier Arreaga from the Seattle Sounders for a 2025 international roster slot, and up to $75,000 in General Allocation Money depending on performance.
  • Inter Miami’s Jordi Alba will be out for several weeks due to a hamstring injury. Fortunately, he is expected to be back in time for the match against Orlando City on May 15. Where did I put the sarcasm font?

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Pride’s match against the Washington Spirit this Friday, and Orlando City’s match against Toronto FC on Saturday. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/23/24

Ivan Angulo makes Team of the Matchday bench, Americans in action, Sergino Dest to miss Copa America, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It was an excellent weekend for Orlando’s soccer teams, as the three sides took seven of the nine points on offer. There’s no rest for the wicked this week as the Orlando Pride travel to play the Washington Spirit on Friday, Orlando City hosts Toronto FC on Saturday, and Orlando City B finishes things up at home against Toronto FC II on Sunday. Let’s take a look at today’s links.

Ivan Angulo Earns Recognition

Ivan Angulo has been named to the bench of the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. The Colombian got the start on Saturday up in Montreal, and had a good game, going the distance and completing 82% of his passes and putting one of his two shots on target. That shot was an important one, as it gave the Lions a late equalizer and helped them salvage a valuable point on the road. Sean Rollins gave him a grade of 6 in his player grades from the match, a rating that likely would have been higher had Martin Ojeda’s pass been accurate enough to allow Angulo to grab a possible winner just a few minutes after he equalized. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Americans in Midweek Action

There are a number of Americans taking part in big games this week, and the good people over at Stars and Stripes FC have you covered with the whole rundown. First up, Weston McKennie, Tim Weah, and Juventus will try to advance to the Coppa Italia final this afternoon, as they enter the second leg of the semifinal against Lazio with a 2-0 lead on aggregate. Tomorrow sees Monaco and Folarin Balogun meet Lille in Ligue 1 action, while Chris Richards and Crystal Palace host Newcastle United in the Premier League. Things wrap up on Friday in Serie B when Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessman, and third-place Venezia face Cremonese as they try to overtake Como and finish in one of Serie B’s two guaranteed promotion places.

Sergino Dest Sidelined Long Term

Following up on a story from yesterday’s Lion Links, The Athletic is reporting that the knee injury suffered by Sergino Dest will keep him out of Copa America, and sideline him for the rest of the year. That would be a big blow for the United States Men’s National Team, as Dest has been the nailed-on starter at right back since winning a place in the team during the qualifying cycle for the 2022 World Cup. The Yanks aren’t without options at the position, as Joe Scally could step in for Dest, or Gregg Berhalter could try deploying Weah there, but neither of the two possesses Dest’s level of offensive threat.

Inter Milan Wins Serie A

Inter Milan dispatched rival AC Milan 2-1 guaranteed that Inter will win its 20th Serie A title in club history. Fikayo Tomori’s goal in the 80th minute was the closest Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah’s club could get to leveling the score, and Inter is now a whopping 17 points clear of AC Milan with five games left to play. Inter has been imperious on its way to a 20th Scudetto, scoring the most goals in the league while also conceding the fewest and losing only once this season.

Free Kicks

  • The Orlando Pride and Orlando City hosted a clean-up effort in honor of Earth Day on Monday.

That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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