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Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Player Grades and Man of the Match

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Another beautiful evening in a sold-out Orlando City Stadium was capped by yet another fantastic performance for the boys in purple (or black on this night), who extended their impressive winning streak to four straight. Let’s take a look at how they performed individually on the night:

Starting XI

GK, Joe Bendik, 6.5  — Bendik wasn’t tested much early in the first half, but as San Jose began to up their attacking tempo, Bendik was there to shut it down. He displayed his usual adept skills in positioning and shot blocking, but this match also highlighted an attribute that was missing from last week’s match: the quick second effort to save the loose balls he’s already parried down. Granted, San Jose wasn’t spectacular in the attack on the evening. He did concede a couple goals on corners late in the second half though, and that caused a bit of consternation among the crowd and coaching staff, but ultimately his performance was typical of a Bendik showing: class shot stopping coupled with a few unlucky breaks.

D, Will Johnson, 6 — Johnson was offered yet another opportunity to display his versatility as Head Coach Jason Kreis deployed him at right back. Unfortunately, it seemed that Johnson was a target of San Jose’s pacey attack, as he struggled countless times in keeping up with the opposing wingers. He was involved in the attack though, and his effort in hightailing it back to defend shouldn’t be discounted. His second half, however, was a bit stronger. Multiple tackles won on his flank were deciding factors in not conceding additional goals, and his impact from a position that is not his natural one should not be ignored.

D, Amro Tarek, 6.5 — It’s hard to believe that Orlando City has three in-form, experienced, and consistent center backs (albeit Jonathan Spector has been out for a few matches), but the Lions do, and it’s clear. Tarek has been rock solid in the back through these first two months of the 2018 campaign and tonight was no different. He did allow Danny Hoesen inside him on one occasion. He also found himself involved in a few heated scuffles near the conclusion of the match, and that needs to be avoided (especially when leading by two goals), but his performance was fabulous yet again, and the supporters won’t forget about it anytime soon.

D, Lamine Sané, 8 — Sané has been a godsend since his arrival this summer. His consistency in the back has been a sight to see, and I’ll continue to champion the idea that he’s been the most important addition so far. His slide tacking is second to none in the squad (his height isn’t either), and his leadership shows in his communication with his teammates. Oh, and he was also perfect in his passing in the first half at 100% completed.

D, Mohamed El-Munir, 6.5 — Aside from an errant pass early in the opening minutes and a couple iffy crosses, El-Munir was solid in both the attack and in defense on the night. Stefano Pinho and El-Munir displayed wonderful communication and movement, and though the attacks on the left flank often ended disappointingly, they were a constant threat to the back line of San Jose. El-Munir’s interest in getting involved in the attack is what sets him apart in this squad, and it’s only a matter of time before one of his cascading runs ends with the ball finding the back of the net.

MF, Yoshimar Yotún, 7.5 — Yotún was pivotal in the midfield on the night, providing quality passes in the two goal sequences of the first half. His fluidity and versatility allowed him space in various attacking positions despite being deployed as a holding midfielder, and his touch and command of the midfield was highlighted during the match in multiple scenarios as he settled the play down. Had it not been for rookie Chris Mueller’s sensational showing, Yoshi was in the running to be named as Man of the Match. He did see yellow in the 64th minute and that’ll be something to keep an eye on going forward, as a player is suspended upon a fifth booking in a season.

MF, Christian Higuita, 6 — Higuita did a solid job winning multiple fouls throughout the early stages of the first half, and looked quick on the ball as he maneuvered his way through challenges (the few where he wasn’t fouled). Unfortunately, on a few occasions following beating a man he gave away possession a little too easily, with the majority on errant passes or passes that lacked the mustard to make it to the intended target. Other than that, however, Higuita is again establishing himself as a valid option in the midfield for Jason Kreis and the supporters can expect to see more of him in the near future.

MF, Chris Mueller, 8.5 (MotM) — The young man just can’t stop scoring. This time he did it early, as in second minute early. Not only did he notch yet another goal (his third in three games, and the fastest goal to start a game in the club’s MLS history), but he also snagged his first MLS assist as he helped Sacha Kjlestan get on the score sheet. It should be noted that Mueller could have easily taken on that chance, but maturely opted to slide the ball to a teammate for a somewhat easy (sliding) tap-in. His movement and energy was excellent and he continues to show vast improvements in his finishing and his relationship with his teammates. I initially wasn’t a huge fan of the “Cash” Mueller nickname…but if he keeps his name on the score sheet, Cash it is.

MF, Sacha Kljestan, 6 — The assist king got on the end of a Mueller pass in the first half to add his name to the score sheet on the evening. This was a match that saw Kjlestan take control of several attacking sequences that were seemingly going off the rails. While this was a strength of Kljestan’s performance, there was a clear weakness: being too fancy. On several occasions Kljestan took the route of a flick, back heel, or unnecessarily difficult pass when other options were available. Despite this, he was still solid in the attack and his performance, while not even close to his best, got the job done.

MF, Stéfano Pinho, 5.5 — Pinho had a fairly ugly whiff early in the first half that was a clear opportunity to increase the Lions’ lead. There were multiple times that Pinho would have benefited from being a bit more patient than he was, including an early first-half cross into the penalty area with no Lions making a run into the box. He was active on the defensive side of things though, and he provided much-needed support for left back El-Munir, so that certainly lifts his grade on the night.

F, Dom Dwyer, 6.5 — It’s not often that I find myself saying “Dwyer should have have been greedy there,” but I did say that to myself at least twice on the evening. He still found his way to the net though and his performance on the night was nothing to scoff at. His passing on the night was not quite up to par with what supporters have become accustomed to, but his movement in the attack was efficient and his pace was once again on full display. His goal in the 69th minute is a prime example of how dangerous he can be, even on a somewhat off night. Oh, the young man netted the 100th goal of his pro career, too.

Substitutes

MF, Justin Meram (60’), 6.5 — Meram entered the match at the hour mark and made an instant impact as he slotted a through ball to a sprinting Dwyer for the striker’s 100th career goal. One has to wonder if/when Meram will break back into the starting 11, and this performance may do just that for him in conjunction with Pinho’s lackluster showing. I’m sure he wishes he could have that penalty attempt back, but hey, it happens.

MF, Josué Colmán (78’), N/A— Colmán was brought on in the 78th minute for the star man on the night (Mueller) and didn’t really get to put his footprint on the match. While it was exciting again to see him on the pitch, I can only hope to see Colmán start a match to see what his performances can truly bring to the squad.

MF, Uri Rosell (85’), N/A — Uri was subbed on for an ailing Higuita near the finale of the match. He didn’t see the pitch long enough to make an impact on this one, but it was great to finally see his long-awaited Orlando City debut.


There you have it, Mane Landers. The Lions claimed another impressive win to add to their growing collection (despite the late scare), and Mueller continues to show why the Lions decided to call his name in January. What’d you think of the players’ performances? Let us know in the comment section below!

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Chris Mueller202
Yoshimar Yotún29
Lamine Sané16
Dom Dwyer6
Other5

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/28/24

Yutaro Tsukada earns recognition, Americans in midweek action, European coaching updates, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you all had a restful holiday weekend, and if you didn’t, then I hope you’re well on the way to recovery. We’ve got an exciting schedule this week, with two Orlando City games before an Orlando City B game on Sunday. It’s also OCB forward Yeiler Valencia’s birthday today, so let’s wish him well and jump into today’s links!

Yutaro Tsukada Earns MLS NEXT Pro Honors

OCB winger Yutaro Tsukada was named MLS NEXT Pro Player of Matchweek 11 for his performance in the team’s 5-0 home win against Huntsville City FC. The 22-year-old provided the assist on OCB’s first goal after using some nice skill on the ball to shake his defender. Tsukada then scored a goal of his own off of a free kick in the second half. The rookie has been electric for the Young Lions this season, recording four goals and four assists so far. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling when OCB faces Inter Miami II this Sunday.

Major League Soccer Stock Watch

Every week gives us a better idea of each MLS team’s capabilities, so let’s check in on how things are looking following the latest matchday. LAFC is on a great trajectory, as it’s won three consecutive league games and five straight in all competitions. Elsewhere in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake scored three goals in the final 30 minutes of play to stretch its unbeaten streak to 11 games, and Cristian Arango didn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting. At the other end of things, the New England Revolution have lost three straight games, and six of their last seven. Likewise, the shine looks to have worn off from St. Louis City’s expansion season, as the team has also lost three straight games and simply doesn’t look the same as last year.

Americans in Midweek Action

With most of the European club seasons having concluded, there aren’t as many United States Men’s National Team players in action during the working week, but there are still some important games to make note of. Chief among those is Venezia’s game against Cremonese on Thursday. Tanner Tessmann, Gianluca Busio and Venezia will take on Cremonese over two legs, with the winner gaining promotion to Serie A. Left back Jonathan Gomez may take the field tomorrow morning in Real Sociedad’s friendly against Tokyo Verde as well.

In a pair of friendlies on Friday, Mexico plays Bolivia and Uruguay takes on Costa Rica. With the USMNT set to face both Bolivia and Uruguay in group play of this summer’s Copa America, the two matches present a good chance to better gauge the Yanks’ opponents.

European Coaching Updates

Several notable European club teams have coaching vacancies to fill this summer, and there are some updates on a few of those positions. Chelsea has reportedly made an approach for Leicester City’s Enzo Maresca, and has requested permission to talk to the manager who guided the Foxes back to the Premier League in his first year with the club. Meanwhile, despite interest from Manchester United, Kieran McKenna is reportedly set to stay at Ipswich Town, and has had talks about extending his contract. Finally, Aston Villa has extended Unai Emery’s contract, with his new deal keeping him at the club until 2029.

Transfer Rumor Roundup

Transfer season is kicking into gear, and we have several rumors to sift through this morning. Up first, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich are reportedly all in hot pursuit of Stade Rennais winger Desire Doue. Casemiro reportedly has a deal lined up with a team in the Saudi Pro League, and may have played his last game for Manchester United. Newly promoted Southampton is reportedly interested in signing Adam Lallana as a free agent. Finally, Paris Saint-Germain is said to have entered the race to sign Bruno Guimaraes, and will face stiff competition from Manchester City and Arsenal.

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

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Orlando City

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

How did your favorite Lions perform in a 2-0 loss at home against Columbus?

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Rafael Santos Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

The Lions returned home riding a three-game unbeaten streak but a bizarre video review call moments before halftime set the tone for a physical match against the Columbus Crew. Ultimately, Orlando fell to the Crew 2-0. Here’s how I saw each individual Lion’s performance in Orlando’s fourth loss at home on the season.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 6 — The Peruvian No. 1 saw a relatively quiet first half come to a close in a fury as he was forced into action to face a penalty kick before halftime. Gallese guessed correctly, but Diego Rossi’s placement was just above Gallese’s outstretched trailing hand. The Crew put three of their eight shot attempts on target and Gallese was credited with one save on the night. He completed 94.1% of his 17 passing attempts, including two accurate long balls out of three attempts.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 7 (MotM) — Schlegel continued to fill in for injured starter Robin Jansson and has now strung a few solid performances together on the back line. Defensively, he put out multiple fires for Orlando City. He tied Wilder Cartagena for the team lead with five clearances. Schlegel also added three tackles and one blocked shot. He committed one foul while he suffered three throughout the match. He completed 93.1% of his 58 passing attempts, including two key passes. He also completed one of his three long-ball attempts on the night. For his total effort throughout the game he is our Man of the Match.

D, Wilder Cartagena, 6.5 — The Peruvian international continued to function as a center back in the squad’s 3-5-2 lineup. Defensively, he tied for the team lead with five clearances and added three tackles and a blocked shot. He won two aerial duels and was whistled for two fouls on the night. He completed 91.7% of his 48 passes, including two successful long balls out of four attempts. Offensively, Cartagena put one of his two shot attempts on target and completed one successful dribble.

D, David Brekalo, 6 — Brekalo continued to perform well in the back as he has become more comfortable in his role, leading the team with four total tackles and chipping in one clearance. He completed 91.3% of his 46 passes and was successful on both long balls that he sent up the field. He committed one foul in the match. Offensively, he did not contribute any statistics.

WB, Facundo Torres, 5.5 — Torres again slotted in at wingback, which limits the number of looks he gets at goal, but it’s nice to see a Designated Player willing to change positions for the good of the team. The Uruguayan logged one tackle, one clearance, and one interception on defense. He committed one foul and earned a foul as well. He completed 91.5% of his 47 passes, which included two key passes. He completed three of his eight crossing attempts on the night and was successful on one of two long balls. Offensively, he logged one shot, which was off target, and completed one successful dribble.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6.5 — Lodeiro played solidly throughout the match and was asked to do a little bit of everything during the game. Defensively, he contributed three tackles and one interception. He led the team with 77 total touches and completed 84.8% of his team-high 59 passing attempts, including one key pass. He successfully completed one of his five crosses and both of his long-ball attempts. Offensively, he put one of his two shot attempts on target. He was whistled for being offside once. Lodeiro saw his night come to an end in the 66th minute when he was replaced by Martin Ojeda.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6 — Returning from suspension for yellow card accumulation, Araujo functioned as the only true defensive midfielder. Araujo’s effort on the night will ultimately be remembered for the jersey tug and subsequent yellow card recieved for the “foul” on Aidan Morris, which resulted in a penalty kick attempt for the Crew (instead of Orlando City) after a confusing and frustrating video review. Araujo finished the night quietly from a statistical standpoint with one interception as his only defensive stat. He committed four fouls total, including the aforementioned “foul.” He completed 96.3% of his 27 passes, including two successful long balls on two attempts. Offensively, Araujo was credited with one successful dribble. He was subbed out of the match in the 58th minute as Orlando chased the game.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6.5 — Angulo slotted into the midfield for the second straight game. Defensively, he contributed one tackle. He completed 86.5% of his 52 passes, including a team-high three key passes. He also completed his lone through ball attempt. Offensively, he did not log a shot attempt, but he did complete two dribbles and was fouled once. Angulo was able to use his speed to get into dangerous positions throughout the match but continued to lack precision when it came to the final pass or dribble.

WB, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Thorhallsson joined Torres as the wingback on the opposite side in the 3-5-2 system and seemed to be an afterthought throughout much of the match as the team played down the left side of the field for the majority of the game. Defensively, he contributed three total tackles and one clearance while also winning one aerial on the night and did well to deny the speedy Yaw Yeboah multiple chances to get inside him on give-and-go plays. He completed 83.3% of his 24 total passing attempts. He was unsuccessful on both crossing attempts but completed one of his two long balls. Offensively, as a byproduct of much of the action happening opposite his side of the field, he failed to record an offensive statistic. He was subbed out of the match in the 58th minute.

F, Luis Muriel, 6.5 — Muriel put in a good effort on a night when the scoreboard unfortunately would not reflect it. His effort to get in on goal — and subsequently be taken down from behind — earned what everyone thought at the time to be a penalty attempt for the Lions, although it was taken away by the referee after the review. Defensively, Muriel was credited with one interception. He completed 88% of his 25 passes and was successful on his lone crossing attempt. He won one aerial and offensively put one of his three shot attempts on target while completing three successful dribbles and suffering one foul.

F, Jack Lynn, 5.5 — With the injury to Duncan McGuire, the hero of the Lions’ last match, Lynn made Orlando’s starting lineup. Defensively, Lynn contributed one clearance. He completed 81.8% of his 11 passes. Lynn was unsuccessful on his lone crossing attempt. Offensively, Lynn failed to record a shot attempt but was credited with one successful dribble while being whistled for offside twice. He was subbed off in the 58th minute for Ramiro Enrique.

Substitutes

MF, Felipe, (59′), 5.5 — Brought on for Araujo just before the hour mark, Felipe looked to help control the midfield. Defensively he logged one tackle and one clearance while committing one foul, which landed him a yellow card. He completed 89.5% of his 19 passes, including one key pass and two successful long balls on two attempts. Offensively he did not record a shot attempt.

WB, Rafael Santos, (59′), 6 — Santos came on for Thorhallsson but went over to fill the left wingback role, sending Torres forward and Angulo to right wingback. He recorded one interception on the defensive end. Santos completed 84.2% of his 19 passes, which included one successful long ball on his one attempt. He was fouled once and was whistled for offside once.

F, Ramiro Enrique, (60′), 6 — Making his return from an extended absence due to injury, Enrique came on for the final half hour in the hopes of providing an offensive spark. He got into good areas but struggled to finish on some of Orlando’s best scoring chances of the night. Enrique completed 66.7% of his six passes and was unsuccessful on his lone cross. In a little over 30 minutes of game time, Enrique managed to tie Muriel for the most shot attempts, with three, and put two of them on target, albeit right at the goalkeeper. Despite the poor overall outcome of the match, it was good to see Enrique return to the pitch.

MF, Martin Ojeda, (67′), 5.5 — Designated Player Ojeda came off the bench to replace Lodeiro as Orlando faced a two-goal deficit. Defensively, Ojeda logged one interception. He completed all eight of his pass attempts, with two key passes, and three of his five crosses. Ojeda attempted one shot, which was off target.


How did you see the individual performances in this game? Make your voice heard down in the comments, and be sure to vote in our Man of the Match poll. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/27/24

Orlando City loses to the Crew, Pride and OCB win, Southampton seals return to Premier League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Happy Memorial Day, Mane Landers! I hope you all had a good holiday weekend. I worked at Under Armour all weekend while wrapping up my high school sports coverage for the spring season. It was a mixed weekend for our teams. Orlando City lost, but both the Pride and OCB won their matches. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Lions Lose at Home to Columbus Crew

Orlando City lost 2-0 to the Columbus Crew on Saturday at Inter&Co Stadium and saw its three-match unbeaten streak end. The match’s first goal was controversial as the referee, Jair Marrufo, initially awarded the Lions a penalty late in the first half but went to the monitor and reviewed a play at the other end of the pitch. He instead awarded Columbus a penalty kick. Diego Rossi scored from the spot to put the Crew ahead 1-0 before halftime. Columbus extended its winning streak to three matches. Orlando has struggled at home, going just 1-3-4 so far this season. The Lions have not scored a goal at home since April 27. Despite the loss, the Lions still remain in 10th in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Next up for Orlando is a pair of road matches this week, starting Wednesday at the Chicago Fire, followed by a Saturday night matchup against the New York Red Bulls. 

Pride Win at Home Over Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride won their record-setting eighth straight match with a 2-1 victory at Inter&Co Stadium against the Portland Thorns Friday. Barbra Banda scored two goals in the first half to give the Pride a 2-0 lead going into halftime. Portland pulled one back, but the Pride held on for the victory and claimed three points. Orlando remains undefeated in league play after 11 matches, and the Pride stay atop the NWSL table with 27 points. The Pride are off this week but will return to action on the road next Friday, June 7, against the San Diego Wave.

OCB Win at Home against Huntsville City FC

On Sunday, Orlando City B bounced back with a season-high five goals in a 5-0 win over Hunstville City FC at Osceola County Stadium. Jhon Solis, Yutaro Tsukada, and Shak Mohammed put OCB ahead 3-0, while Yeiler Valencia scored his first two OCB goals to seal the win for the Young Lions. OCB is now in sixth in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Meanwhile, Huntsville City FC remains winless through 10 matches and stays at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. OCB’s next match will be on the road Sunday at Inter Miami CF II. 

Southampton Clinches Promotion to Premier League

Southampton booked its return to the Premier League with a 1-0 over Leeds United in the EFL Championship playoff final at Wembley Sunday. Adam Armstrong scored the lone goal in this match as the Saints returned to the top flight after being relegated the previous season. Southampton joins Leicester City and Ipswich Town, securing promotion to the Premier League. Despite finishing third in the table, Leeds’ playoff woes continue as this is the sixth time it missed out on securing promotion and finished its season with only one win out of its last six matches. 

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

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