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Orlando City

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



Orlando City’s win streak was snapped at six after a frustrating and emotional match against Atlanta. They out-possessed (55%-45%), passed (433-364), and shot (11-8) Atlanta United but the Lions could not overcome an early deficit. This loss ends the Lions’ win streak at six.

Here’s how the Lions did individually:


GK, Joe Bendik, 6— There was nothing Bendik really could have done on either goal, and he did not have much of an effect on the game otherwise. The first goal was a penalty kick and the second was a combination of being partially shielded by Lamine Sané and Ezequiel Barco being wide open inside the 18. He did pick up a bad yellow card in the 32nd minute for yelling at referee Alan Kelly about what he thought was a foul but otherwise he made one save off a Héctor Villalba shot in the 77th minute.

D, Mohamed El-Munir, 7 (MOTM)— In the 32nd minute, El-Munir hustled back and recovered nicely to make a sliding challenge that slowed down the Atlanta attack and prevented a goal. About five minutes into the second half he was too fancy and lost the ball but Orlando’s goal started from his hard work and hustle. His tackle in the 56th minute stopped the visitors in their tracks and transitioned the Orlando play into the attacking end, ending with a goal. He also had one shot on target, created two chances, and was on the ball the second most on the field, behind only Yoshi. On the defensive end he made a total of two tackles.

D, Amro Tarek, 6.5 — Tarek made multiple stops in the middle of the first half. In the 25th minute, his sliding tackle pickpocketed Josef Marinez. Seven minutes later, Tarek got back defensively and was in the perfect position after Bendik was beat to block what would have been a goal. In the 55th minute his sliding tackle stopped the Atlanta attack and then he got up and dribbled down the field but no one on Orlando was there to help him and he eventually lost room to move forward. Overall, a solid night from the center back.

D, Lamine Sané, 6.5 — Similar to Tarek, an overall solid game from the center back. The first goal he could not do much about as it was a penalty, but on the second goal he was covering space instead of a man. This led to Ezequiel Barco wide open on the top of the box. Sané might have also shielded Bendik from seeing the shot. He did have many positives, though. On the very last play of the first half Atlanta had a two-on-one. Sané was the lone defender and stopped the entire attack by himself. While he did not get a shot off, he was a force on the attacking end when he got forward, even playing up top in the dying minutes, and the Atlanta defense struggled to defend the 6-foot-4 defender.

D, Will Johnson, 6 — Johnson was the best passer on the team, connecting on 91% of his 43 passes. He got beat on speed a couple of times throughout the game but he played solid and did not get beat often. He finished with two tackles, but conceded four fouls. The highlight of his night was his long distance shot in the 57th minute that was too powerful for Kann to hold onto. Kann pushed away the ball and it led to Orlando’s lone goal on the night.

MF, Yoshimar Yotún, 5 — An overall poor night by Yoshi. Statistically, he finished with the most touches on the ball and most passes among anyone on the field, but he did not provide a great deal going forward. He turned the ball over often and finished with a 84% passing accuracy. On Atlanta’s second goal, Yotún was caught ball watching on the top of the box. If he had kept running, he would have been in the way of Greg Garza’s assist and Orlando would have only been down one at half. He made a bad pass in 77th minute that led to an Atlanta counter attack that it should have scored on.

MF, Cristian Higuita, 4.5 — Atlanta’s first goal came off a penalty kick. Higuita was called for the foul but it was an extremely soft call and there was not much else that he could have done on the play. In the 28th minute he was too slow in transition and ended up with a poor pass that stopped the attack. Towards the end first half he could have put the Lions on the board but his header went directly at Kann. He picked up a yellow card in the 43rd minute and only lasted through the first half. He did have an impressive 90% passing accuracy and helped out moving the ball forward.

MF, Justin Meram, 6.5 — The best part of his night was clearly getting his first goal of the season. Johnson took a shot from distance and Meram was in the right place at the right time, and all he had to do was pass the ball into the back of the net. He ended the game as the only Lion to have multiple shots on goal, with the other coming in the 52nd minute when he cut inside and nearly caught Kann on the near post. He played 74 minutes, and finished with a 77% passing accuracy. He was hustling more than most players and earns some hustle stats, as well.

MF, Sacha Kljestan, 4.5 — Disappointing night for Kljestan. Most of the attack tried to go through him but he was not sharp and often passed the ball into pressure. As Jason Kreis pointed out after the game, Orlando City was too quick on the attacking end. Kljestan was a big culprit of this and often tried too play way too quickly. He created the most chances among Orlando City players (3), but that number should have been higher. In the 41st minute he made a poor pass that went out for a throw and killed the Orlando attack. Emotions were definitely getting to him as in the second half he and El-Munir got into an argument near the Orlando City bench that had to be broken up by Stefano Pinho. While many players on Orlando City did not do particularly well, Kljestan could have turned the game around but did not have a big enough effect.

MF, Chris Mueller, 4.5 — A very quiet night from the rookie. The best part of his night was a perfect cross that he put on a platter for Higuita, but the Colombian could not find the back of the net off of it. Other than that he did not do much. He only had 23 touches and connected on just nine passes.

F, Dom Dwyer, 5.5 — A poor rating for Dom but, in his defense, he did not have many opportunities on the ball. He only had 30 touches on the ball and his first shot did not come until the 46th minute. He finished the game with three total shots, of which just one was on target in the 92nd minute. He worked hard being the first line of defense but going forward he did not create enough.


MF, Oriol Rosell (45’), 6 — The second half was much better by the Lions and a part of it has to be because of Rosell coming in. Much of the play in the second half went through him but the team could not get much going on the offensive end. By watching him, it is clear that he needs more playing time to gain chemistry and confidence. A solid outing for Uri, but nothing spectacular.

MF, Josué Colmán (66’), 5.5 — Much of the same story for Colmán as Uri — he needs more game time. Immediately, when he came in, he brought a spark to the team but his flashy footwork was easily defended by Atlanta. He looks impressive on the ball but does not get very far and this led to his 80% passing accuracy — one of the lowest on the team. Some more playing time will build confidence and help the 19-year-old learn when to take players on and when to pass it.

MF, Stefáno Pinho (74’), 5 — Pinho was, well, quiet. He played 16 minutes and touched the ball just nine times. He did not provide much of a spark that he should have when he was brought in and was overall disappointing. He did have an opportunity right when he came on but the Atlanta defense just had to step in front of him near the top of the 18-yard box and Pinho lost control. There was not much that he could have done as Orlando City struggled to transition into the attack.

Vote for your Man of the Match or comment your thoughts on these game grades.

Polling Closed

Joe Bendik1
Mohamed El-Munir38
Lamine Sané5
Justin Meram31
Oriol Rosell25
Amro Tarek136

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.



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.



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?



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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