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Orlando City

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



Orlando City once again fell short in a 2-1 loss — this time to the Chicago Fire at Orlando City Stadium. A late goal in the 82nd minute from Alan Gordon lifted Chicago Fire to victory. The Lions played well in the loss, but how did each player rate in the loss individually?


GK, Joe Bendik, 7 — Despite conceding two goals to Aleksander Katai in the 13th minute and Alan Gordon in the 80th minute, Bendik had a solid outing. Both goals came from shots that even the world’s best goal keepers would struggle with, so you can’t put Bendik at fault for them. Bendik faced four shots on goal and the two saves he had were solid and kept Orlando City in the game. Solid outing by Bendik despite the loss.

D, RJ Allen, 7 — Allen was a solid option at right back, a position that has been played by Will Johnson as of late. Allen had four total tackles, which led all Orlando City defenders and also picked up a blocked shot as well. Allen’s passing was also superb, passing 68 times with a 91.2% success rate, especially on a near goal on a solid cross to Sacha Kljestan in the 25th minute. Allen came up and helped with the attack as well, making key passes leading to scoring chances. Solid outing from Allen.

D, Tony Rocha, 6 — Rocha filled in for Lamine Sané at center back and did not do anything drastically right or wrong. Rocha intercepted three passes and also made some key passes in the final third to get Orlando City scoring chances. He was also physical on the defensive end, something that obviously doesn’t show up on the score sheet. Rocha gave little chance for any Fire player to score which was something that kept the Lions in reach throughout the full 90 minutes. He perhaps could have stepped up to close down Gordon on the last goal.

D, Chris Schuler, 5.5 — Schuler’s defensive play was good but not great as he was beaten on the attack at times but made up for it with successful tackles. He was the only defensive player to take a shot, albeit it was contested in stoppage time and blocked out for a corner. Schuler has been the third or fourth option at center back all season and he did not do much to move up the ladder when Jonathan Spector, Amro Tarek and Lamine Sané are available. Good game from Chris Schuler, and a gutty one, as he played the entire second half with a broken arm.

D, Mohamed El-Munir, 7 — El-Munir played a solid match throughout. His yellow card on Diego Campos led to the Katai goal in the 13th minute, but he made up for it on both ends of the pitch. He had three shots with two on target, forcing Patrick McLain to make tough saves on both, especially on his shot in the 49th minute which made McLain lay out for a tough diving save. El-Munir picked up two tackles, two clearances, three interceptions and a few fouls, one leading to a yellow card. Despite his early mistake leading to a set-piece banger, El-Munir showcased his talents at left back once again.

MF, Cristian Higuita, 8.5 (MotM) — Higuita was amazing in this match. His goal was the lone score for the Lions in the 28th minute, but he contributed in all facets of the game for Orlando City. Along with his stellar offensive performance, Higuita picked up two tackles and two interceptions in the midfield and continuously pressured the Chicago Fire into bad decisions and failed attacking chances. Higuita was subbed off and did not complete the full 90 minutes, but even after he was subbed off it was clear that he was the most complete player on the pitch for Orlando City. His presence in both final thirds was effective, as he seemed to be involved in every play that either club was a part of, making him my Man of the Match by a long shot.

MF, Uri Rosell, 6 — Rosell complemented Higuita well at the left center defensive midfielder position as he also helped the Lions on both sides of the ball, just not as well or as much as Higuita. The Spaniard took three shots with one hitting the target with a beautiful header that was robbed in the 45th minute and did not find the back of the net, and he, like many other players, helped fuel an attack that generated 20 shots. Rosell also picked up a yellow card in the 64th minute on a tactical foul to thwart a counter. Rosell and Higuita work well together in the midfield, bouncing off of each other and creating chances as well as stopping them on both ends. Solid game from Rosell.

MF, Chris Mueller, 6.5 — Mueller was a force on the offensive side of the pitch, assisting on the lone Orlando goal on a wonderful pass to Higuita. He did not take many shots, but the defense from Chicago Fire seemed to focus in on him which gave other Lions a chance to take quality shots. Mueller only had 34 touches throughout his time on the pitch, the lowest amount from any starter besides Joe Bendik. Despite not getting many touches, Mueller let the defense know he was there, especially when he assisted Higuita’s goal. He should have done better on his left-footed effort on an Orlando counter to keep it on goal, but his creation of a goal and allowing teammates to create other chances made Mueller a silent but good player on the pitch.

MF, Sacha Kljestan, 7.5 — Kljestan has arguably the best opportunity to score besides the Higuita goal on a chip shot that just sailed over the crossbar. He also had a solid header that missed just wide on a cross from Allen as well. Per usual, Kljestan was an artist on the pitch, painting his own pictures of what he wanted to happen and allowing his attackers to create chances along with his own. He generated six key passes. Kljestan was a big reason why Orlando City was able to have a 90% pass success rate which helped lead to the large amount of shots. His altercation with Mo Adams cut short an Orlando attack late in the game, but he was again a catalyst in the attacking midfield and had a solid outing.

MF, Justin Meram, 7 — Meram did not take long to get into the game as he took the first shot three minutes in. His finesse curl shot in the 51st minute made McLain make arguably the toughest save of the night as he nearly tucked the shot into the top right corner. He almost found the score sheet again in the 73rd minute and again in the 83rd minute on a missed header in which he flew into McLain to try and score. Meram took five total shots and maybe only the first one was a bad take. He also seemed to be more comfortable throughout the game than he has in recent weeks which seemed to affect the Lions in a positive way. Despite the loss it seemed that Meram was on his game, it was just unlucky that he couldn’t find the score sheet.

F, Josue Colmán, 6.5 — Colmán got his first start at striker and did not disappoint. He nearly picked up an assist on a beautiful pass to Kljestan and nearly scored in the first 10 minutes but flew one high over the bar. Colmán proved that he can be an offensive force in this game as he had a perfect balance of creating his own scoring chances and scoring chances for others as well. He got the “hockey assist” on Higuita’s goal, feeding Mueller, who in turn sent the ball to Cristian. Colmán forced himself into solid scoring situations and shed light on what may be coming from the young Paraguayan.


F, Stéfano Pinho (75’), 5 — Pinho came on for Mueller but did not affect the game much as he was relatively quiet. He only had three touches on the ball in his 15 minutes on the pitch and gave Orlando City nothing even though it wanted a spark.

MF, Victor “PC” Giro (82’), N/A — PC was not on the pitch long enough to truly grade him bad or good, but he did nothing drastic to change the match outcome.

MF, Richie Laryea (83’), N/A — Laryea, much like PC, did not have enough time on the pitch to impact the match.

Polling Closed

Josué Colmán3
Cristian Higuita70
Uri Rosell0
Sacha Kljestan4

Please comment your thoughts below as well.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Cavalry FC, Concacaf Champions Cup: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions play their first competitive match of 2024 north of the border in the Concacaf Champions Cup.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to your match thread for a Wednesday night Concacaf Champions Cup matchup between Orlando City and Cavalry FC of the Canadian Premier League at Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia at 10 p.m. (FOX Sports 2, TUDN). It’s the first meeting ever between the teams and Orlando City’s first ever match against a CPL team.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.


There isn’t any. These teams have never met, nor has Orlando City faced anyone in the Canadian Premier League before.

The Lions will be experiencing their fourth international cup competition and their second foray into Concacaf Champions League/Cup, having drawn twice against Tigres UANL last season. Orlando bowed out of last year’s competition due to the away goals tiebreaker. Orlando City has also competed twice in Leagues Cup.


Both teams will be playing their first competitive match of the 2024 season. Orlando City is coming off a 4-0-1 preseason, drawing 1-1 against Flamengo before reeling off four straight wins against Rhode Island FC, the New England Revolution, the Houston Dynamo, and the Colorado Rapids. City reached the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 2023 and is looking to build on its most successful season to date in MLS.

Cavalry FC is coming off a season in which it finished top of the table in the regular season, but fell 2-1 after extra time in the CPL championship match against Forge FC. As far as CPL teams go, the Lions will be facing one of the league’s best, as you’d expect in a competition called “Champions Cup.”

“We’re very proud and very happy to bring Orlando City to this beautiful city and this excellent competition,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “(We’re) Feeling proud of playing in Champions Cup in Concacaf and obviously aiming for the best prize, and here we are starting the season with obviously a very competitive game.”

Pareja is suspended for tonight due to his red card in the second leg against Tigres in 2023.

Projected Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Michael Halliday.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Nico Lodeiro, Facundo Torres.

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

Cavalry FC (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Marco Carducci.

Defenders: Bradley Kamdem, Daan Klomp, Eryk Kobza, Fraser Aird.

Defensive Midfielders: Charlie Trafford, Jesse Daley.

Attacking Midfielders: William Akio, Sergio Camargo, Ali Musse.

Forward: Myer Bevan.


REF: Juan Gabriel Calderon (Costa Rica).
AR1: William Arrieta (Costa Rica).
AR2: Henri Pupiro (Nicaragua).
4TH: Keylor Herrera (Costa Rica).
VAR: Oscar Mejia (Mexico).
VAR1: Erick Miranda (Mexico).

How to Watch

Match Time: 10 p.m.

Venue: Starlight Stadium — Langford, British Columbia.

TV: FOX Sports 2, TUDN.

Streaming: The match can be streamed on FOX Sports GO, the FOX Sports app, and the TUDN app.

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).

Enjoy the match. Go City!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/21/24

Orlando City takes on Cavalry FC tonight, Lions sign Jeorgio Kocevski, USWNT wins in Concacaf W Gold Cup, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you in Florida as we get to watch the Lions in action tonight in the Concacaf Champions Cup. There’s not much new with me this week other than staying busy covering high school basketball and hockey. Let’s also wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Takes on Cavalry FC Tonight

Orlando City will be in action tonight in the first round of the Concacaf Champions Cup, as it takes on Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium at 10 p.m. This matchup will be the Lions’ first competitive match of 2024, with their MLS season opener against CF Montreal set for Saturday. The Lions were knocked out by Tigres due to away goals in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. Cavalry FC will make its debut in this competition tonight and qualified by winning the 2023 Canadian Premier League Shield. The second leg between these two sides will be on Feb. 27 at Inter&Co Stadium.

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signed 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a contract through the 2024 season, with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. Kocevski scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time in Orlando’s final preseason match against the Colorado Rapids this past weekend. The midfielder was selected 21st overall in the first round of the 2024 MLS SuperDraft by the Lions in December. He played four years for Syracuse, recording seven goals and 18 assists in 71 matches. Kocevski is the only player the club has signed from the Lions’ 2024 draft class and will likely get some minutes with Orlando City B this season.

St. Louis City and Philadelphia Union Win in Champions Cup

Orlando City isn’t the only MLS team kicking off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign this week. St. Louis City edged out the Houston Dynamo 2-1, with rookie Hosei Kijima scoring the winner in stoppage time. The Philadelphia Union were on the road in Costa Rica to face off against Deportivo Saprissa and won 3-2 thanks to a hat trick from Julian Carranza in the second half. As for other tournament matches this week, the New England Revolution face Independiente in Panama tonight, with Nashville playing Moca FC in the Dominican Republic and FC Cincinnati taking on Jamaica’s Cavalier SC tomorrow.

USWNT Beats the Dominican Republic in W Gold Cup

The United States Women’s National Team got its Concacaf W Gold Cup campaign off to a great start with a 5-0 win against the Dominican Republic in Group A. Olivia Moultrie scored her first USWNT goal to give her team an early lead, with Lynn Williams giving the U.S. another goal before halftime. Moultrie scored another in the second half to earn her brace, and Jenna Nighswonger converted a penalty for her first USWNT goal as well. Former Pride forward Alex Morgan replaced Mia Fishel on the roster due to injury and scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time. The USWNT’s next game will be against Argentina on Friday at 10:15 p.m.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

The UEFA Champions League had plenty of drama as the round of 16 continued. Inter Milan won 1-0 in its first leg against Atletico Madrid at home, with Mark Arnautovic scoring the only goal in the match. In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund played to a thrilling 1-1 draw. The second legs for both matchups will be played on March 13. There is more Champions League action today, as FC Porto hosts Arsenal while Napoli takes on Barcelona.

Free Kicks

  • The latest MLS power rankings are out just before the regular season begins. Orlando City begins the season in the fifth spot.
  • Orlando City and the Orlando Pride announced fan experience upgrades at Inter&Co Stadium featuring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in merchandise shops, stadium Wi-Fi upgrades, and a jersey history experience.
  • The MLS Players Association released a statement on the ongoing referee lockout.
  • Here is the list of MLS Season Pass commentator assignments for opening week.

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signs its first-round draft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a one-year deal with three option years.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City SC announced the signing of first-round 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski today. The deal is through the upcoming 2024 season with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. The Lions selected the Syracuse midfielder with the 21st overall pick in the draft in December.

“Jeorgio has had a really strong preseason camp with us, demonstrating everything we saw in him when we were scouting him and analyzing his game in college,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “He’s done well working his way into the group, even starting in our friendly against Flamengo and holding his own against some of the best in Brazil, and we’re excited to have him with us this season.”

The box-to-box midfielder made three appearances this preseason, starting against Brazilian club Flamengo and the following scrimmage against USL Championship side Rhode Island FC. He came on at halftime against the Colorado Rapids last weekend, scoring the winning goal in the 90th minute.

Prior to being selected by the Lions, the Liverpool, NY, native made 71 appearances with 65 starts and logged 5,599 minutes for Syracuse in four years. He scored seven goals and recorded 18 assists, putting 33 of his 93 shots on frame. Additionally, he was part of Syracuse’s 2022 NCAA national championship team, playing 90 minutes in the 2-2 draw, but missing in the team’s victorious shootout over Indiana.

Kocevski had a breakout junior year, being named to the United Soccer Coaches’ All-South Region third team, All-ACC third team, NCAA All-Tournament team, and ACC All-Tournament team. During his senior year, he wore the armband for the Orange and was named All-ACC first team and ACC Co-Midfielder of the Year.

What It Means for Orlando City

Kocevski was the most likely pick from this most recent draft to be signed by Orlando City. The departure of club captain Mauricio Pereyra left a spot in the midfield and Head Coach Oscar Pareja seemed to feel the rookie could fill it from early on. His start against Flamengo was in the place of regular starter Cesar Araujo, who was on international duty with the Uruguay U-23 national team. He played against Flamengo’s best lineup and did quite well in almost an hour on the field in his first minutes of play at the professional level.

While a spot was open for the signing of Kocevski, he likely won’t see much of the field for the first team this season. In addition to being behind starters Araujo and Wilder Cartagena, the defensive midfielder will be behind Felipe on the depth chart. In all likelihood, the rookie will slot in with Orlando City B in MLS NEXT Pro to get some minutes, but there is room for him to start regularly with that team.

Kocevski is currently the only player signed by the club from the Lions’ 2024 draft class. West Virginia midfielder Yutaro Tsukada, Pittsburgh midfielder Filip Mirkovic, and Charlotte midfielder Riyon Tori remained unsigned, with the latter opting to return to school for his senior season.

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