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Orlando City

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

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Hoo boy. As far as games go, the one I just watched Orlando City SC play was…rough, to say the least. The Lions dropped their eighth straight game and did so by an ugly scoreline. It was not a good performance overall by the team, and the players rated individually as follows:

Starters

GK Joe Bendik, 5 — It was a rough night for every player on the field and sadly Bendik was no exception. Out of six Atlanta shots on target Joe managed two saves and while his defenders didn’t do him any favors on the first goal, and Barco was helped by a lucky bounce on the third, he’ll surely want the second and fourth goals back. On the first he almost certainly should have been quicker off his line, and on the fourth he was beaten through his legs at his near post.

D, Jonathan Spector, 4.5 — Perhaps he wasn’t helped by two small deflections on the first Atlanta goal, but the captain allowed Josef Martinez in behind him for the easiest goal of the Atlanta striker’s life. He was then caught out of position and subsequently failed to slow down or foul Miguel Almiron on the fourth Atlanta goal. Not his best game.

D, Lamine Sané, 5 — He had some good moments when bringing the ball out of defense, but the defender, although perhaps thrown off by a deflection off Amro Tarek, failed to clear the cross that eventually found Martinez. He was also slow coming out to challenge Miguel Almiron, which allowed the striker to get off the shot that eventually led to the third goal.

D, Amro Tarek, 6 — Tarek had a reasonably good game considering the eventual scoreline. He does lose points for failing to clear the cross on the first goal, and probably should have closed down Almiron faster for his second goal. Like Sané though, he did good work in the attack, often popping up alongside Mohamed El-Munir on the left flank, as well as narrowly heading wide and being denied on the goal line by Mikey Ambrose.

WB, Mohamed El-Munir, 6 — He was caught very much out of position on the pass that led to Almiron’s first goal, and then didn’t take the best line to track back and try to stop the goal. Aside from that though, he generally defended well and found himself up the field on numerous occasions, and had some joy in 1-v-1 situations, with five successful dribbles. Other than that though, he wan’t able to make his presence felt further.

MF, Will Johnson, 4.5 — Johnson was his usual hard-working self but failed to capitalize on Orlando’s best chance of the game, spooning a shot wide of the open net after Oriol Rosell forced a save from Brad Guzan. He made some good tackles, but an early yellow card saw him subbed off for Richie Laryea with Bobby Murphy trying to change the game.

MF, Oriol Rosell, 6 — Rosell looked fairly composed in midfield, passing the ball well, making a few good tackles, and winning all three of his aerial duels. However, he and Johnson found themselves unable to contain the dynamic trio of Ezequiel Barco, Hector Villalba, and Almiron. His shot from range forced Guzan to give up the rebound that Johnson was unable to put away, but too often Atlanta’s players had too much time on the ball in midfield.

WB, Scott Sutter, 5 He might have done more to try to stop Martinez during the break for Atlanta’s second goal but it was a difficult scenario to get right. Sutter’s rating is rather a result of failing to make much an impact in the final third. As accurate as Sutter’s crossing normally is, it was a skill that was not on display often enough during the game. Especially considering he was deployed on the wing, his lack of contribution to the offensive effort was disappointing.

MF/F Sacha Kljestan, 5 — Deployed in the hole behind Chris Mueller and Dom Dwyer, Kljestan found it difficult to make his influence felt on the game. It was always going to be a difficult task given the opposition was of Atlanta’s caliber, but Kljestan’s passing lacked crispness and at times his legs seemed heavy. Granted, he and other members of the squad have played a lot of minutes recently, but it has to be better from a player who was one of the league’s best last year.

F, Chris Mueller, 6 (MotM) — Mueller was the best source of Orlando energy on the field. As fans have become accustomed to seeing, he ran all night long. While his passing wasn’t as sharp as it could have been, he made up for it by completing several dribbles, winning the corner and the resulting header that led to Tarek’s goal line chance. His stats don’t necessarily jump off the page but he certainly gave his all and gets the MotM nod for just how damn hard he worked.

F, Dom Dwyer, 4.5 — It’s never good when your best striker doesn’t take a single shot all night, and that was exactly the case with Dom. While it wasn’t all his fault, as the service wasn’t exactly pouring in from all directions, it’s still an ugly stat, and his passing wasn’t accurate enough to make up for it. He did what he could, but it was a night to forget for him.

Substitutes

MF, Richie Laryea, (63’), 4 — Brought on for Will Johnson with Orlando down three goals, Richie passed well enough and managed a shot, but didn’t do the best job of containing Mikey Ambrose before the ex-Orlando player fed Almiron to score his third goal. Ultimately he was unable to provide the necessary spark off the bench.

MF, Stefano Pinho, (68’) 4.5 — Pinho replaced Lamine Sané as Orlando looked to throw the proverbial kitchen sink at their opponents. Spoiler alert, it didn’t work, with Pinho only able to fire wide during stoppage time after Mueller did well to find him. The Brazilian worked hard enough, but wasn’t able to produce an end product.

D, RJ Allen, (68’) 4.5 – Allen replaced Scott Sutter, who is still working his way back to full fitness following a spell on the sidelines with injury. Allen didn’t make any horrific errors, but also didn’t do anything of particular note. A quiet night for him on a difficult night for the team.

Rough grades for a rough performance. Vote in the poll and let us know who you think was the best on a bad night.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Amro Tarek52
Chris Mueller36
Oriol Rosell5
Mohamed El-Munir3
Other (Let us know who in the comments)14

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.

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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?

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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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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/11/24

Learning more about Morgan Gautrat, OCB plays tonight, Champions League action, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I’m having a fairly stressful but great week after adopting my first cat and getting him all set up here. It may take a few weeks to turn him into a loyal Orlando soccer fan, but I have high hopes. Regardless, I’m looking forward to the gauntlet of games with Orlando City B playing today, the Orlando Pride tomorrow, and Orlando City on Saturday. Let’s get to the links!

Getting to Know Morgan Gautrat

Orlando Pride midfielder Morgan Gautrat was the latest player to field questions as part of the video series for fans to learn more about the players who wear purple. She weighed in on how she changed her game once she transitioned to the United States Women’s National Team at age 19, going from a playmaking attacker to a player who slots in deeper in the midfield. Gautrat brings leadership, experience, and a strong skillset to a young Pride team that’s built a strong culture around it. She also spoke on how Florida is her soccer home, what her spirit animal is, and the team’s aspirations this season.

Orlando City B Takes On Philadelphia Union II

The Young Lions are on the road today at 4 p.m. for an MLS NEXT Pro match against Philadelphia Union II. OCB last played in Chester, PA in last year’s season opener, winning 3-1 in an impressive victory. The team will hope for a similar result tonight to get back on track after a loss to Inter Miami II earlier this month. Philadelphia has yet to lose in regulation this season and has won both of its home matches. It should be a tough match for the Young Lions, but a great chance to climb back up the Eastern Conference standings for them.

Assessing USWNT After SheBelieves Cup Win

The United States Women’s National Team is moving towards the Olympics with plenty of momentum after winning the SheBelieves Cup and Concacaf W Gold Cup. There were plenty of parallels between the SheBelieves Cup final and the Gold Cup semifinal against Canada, one was just a bit more waterlogged. Canada used a late penalty to send the game to penalty kicks, Sophia Smith scored, and Alyssa Naeher stood on her head in the penalty shootout. The key differences were that Mallory Swanson has given the attack some needed dynamism after returning, and the defense struggles without Naomi Girma to anchor it. It was also Twila Kilgore’s final game as the USWNT’s interim head coach, and now attention will turn towards how Emma Hayes can elevate the team once she takes over.

Champions League Quarterfinals Roll On

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona both won in their first legs of the Champions League quarterfinals, although neither match was a blowout. Atletico Madrid hosted Borussia Dortmund and scored twice in the first half. Dortmund brought one back in the second half, but Atletico Madrid held on to secure a 2-1 win. The road team completed the comeback in the other match though, with Barcelona winning a 3-2 thriller against Paris Saint-Germain that included four goals in the second half. All in all, this was a great round of quarterfinal first legs filled with plenty of goals, and the second legs next week should be pretty entertaining.

Free Kicks

  • Andrew Wiebe was the latest analyst to dive into Orlando’s attacking woes this season. I personally think things will naturally improve once the team gets some rest under its belt and Luis Muriel settles in. I agree with Wiebe though that Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo must return to form.
  • The Champions League shouldn’t overshadow a strong slate of Europa League quarterfinals today. My favorite matchup of the four would have to be the Italian showdown between AC Milan and Roma.
  • English forward Rachel Daly announced that she is retiring from international soccer. The 32-year-old scored 22 goals last season with Aston Villa and has scored 16 goals in 84 appearances with England.
  • Midfielder Dillon Serna is hanging up his cleats at age 30 after a career that included time with the Colorado Rapids and Colorado Springs Switchbacks.
  • Manchester City’s Rodri is feeling the wear and tear of his team’s pursuit for silverware. Rest may be hard to come by for him during a congested schedule, and he hasn’t lost in the past 66 games he’s played in.
  • Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy shared the struggle he had after retiring, providing details on his drug addiction and the despair felt after he quit playing.

That’s all I have for you today on this fine Thursday. Treat yourself to something you deserve, check in with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, and have a great day!

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