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Orlando City

Intelligence Report: Orlando City at Columbus Crew

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Fresh off of bowing out of the U.S. Open Cup, Head Coach James O’Connor takes his Orlando City side up to central Ohio for the team’s first shot at the Columbus Crew in 2018. While O’Connor is looking to build on the momentum after the Lions’ first MLS victory since May 6, Gregg Berhalter is looking to right the ship for the Crew. Columbus has just one victory in its last eight tries and has slowly slipped down the Eastern Conference table.

It could be an emotional match for multiple reasons. Former Crew winger Justin Meram could potentially make his return to Mapfre Stadium, though the Iraqi international has mysteriously been absent from O’Connor’s last two team sheets and didn’t travel to Philadelphia with the team. And with Anthony Precourt still threatening to pick up shop and move to Austin in 2019, it could also be Orlando’s final trip to Columbus for the foreseeable future.

Pat Murphy, editor of SB Nation’s Massive Report, has stopped by to give us an update on what’s new with the Crew. I also answered his questions, which you can find over at their place.

What’s the latest with #SaveTheCrew? At this point in the game, is there anything fans of other teams can do to help keep the Crew in Columbus?

Pat Murphy: It’s kind of quiet right now. There were city council meetings in June in Austin and that resulted in Precourt Sports Ventures (Crew’s “owners”) getting approved to negotiate for a stadium site down there while also opening up the doors for other investors to put in their bids. Basically we’re in a holding pattern until August when the city council meets again down south.

In Columbus, from what we hear there are potential local owners waiting to pull the trigger on purchasing the team, but they have to get the green light from the league. The question right now is will that happen? As for anything fans of other teams can do is keep spreading the word. The biggest message Save The Crew has tried to get out is that if it happened to us (a team that once was selling out stadiums), it can happen to anyone. No one wants to see fans lose their team, so let’s spread the word together.

The Crew have been streaky this year and after a nine-match unbeaten run have lost four of their last five. How can Columbus get back on track?

PM: Score goals. That’s been a very big problem of late. Crew SC has one win its last five games. In that game, they scored. In the other four, they were shut out. It’s been weird because offense has never been a problem under Gregg Berhalter, typically we’re talking about defensive issues. But this year, the defense has been good and, at times, the offense has struggled. That tends to happen I guess when you lose your top two goal scorers from the year prior, but Columbus has shown the ability to score goals this year, it’s just not happening right now.

Gyasi Zardes has had a revitalization under Gregg Berhalter and is on track for his best goal-scoring season ever. What has been the key to the former LA Galaxy man’s success with his new club?

PM: Playing in Berhalter’s system. While I said above that there’s been a problem for the team of scoring goals of late, Zardes hasn’t been the issue. It’s more everyone else who isn’t scoring. If you look back at how forwards have done under Berhalter, they’ve all been successful. Kei and Ola Kamara, for example. The system the Crew plays is catered towards getting the ball in good spots for the forward. That has helped Zardes find his form.

It also helps that Gyasi is healthy and playing his true position. The way he tells it, his last couple of years in LA were a nightmare in terms of injuries. Any time we ask him about his season, he leads with something about being healthy. You can tell that he’s just happy to not be battling any injuries and that he can be on the field. The Galaxy also played him out wide a lot of the time, or sometimes as an outside back. When he was a target forward — as he is with the Crew — he scored 16 goals. 

What injuries/suspensions will keep players out this weekend and what is your projected lineup and predicted final score?

PM: Nothing on the injury/suspension front for Crew SC. As for a lineup, I’d assume:

Zack Steffen

Harrison Afful-Jonathan Mensah-Josh Williams-Milton Valenzuela

Niko Hansen-Artur-Wil Trapp-Pedro Santos

Federico Higuain

Gyasi Zardes

I’m going to say 2-1 Crew. I think this will be a tight game, with Orlando willing to concede possession on the road and looking to hold on for a draw. Crew SC will get its chances and finish a couple.


Thanks again to Pat for taking the time to answer our questions on the Crew.

Orlando City

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

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s home loss to LAFC?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Despite dominating most of the game and nearly all of the second half, Orlando City fell 3-1 to LAFC Saturday night. The Lions continue their troubles at home, with the last win in front of their home fans coming on March 23. It’s more frustration for a team and fanbase that has had plenty this season.

Let’s take a look at how the players performed individually in the loss.

Starters

GK, Mason Stajduhar, 5.5 — With regular starting goalkeeper Pedro Gallese on international duty with Peru, Stajduhar got the nod for the second time this season. Conceding three goals is a bad night for any goalkeeper, though he wasn’t the only one at fault for any of them. The first was a penalty and the other two were breakaway counterattacks. The goalkeeper made four saves on the night but wasn’t challenged much. He completed all of his 14 passes, which included six long balls, and had to clear the ball once.

D, Rafael Santos, 5.5 — Santos had 101 touches in this game, second on the team. The left back completed 94.8% of his 77 passes, but only two of his 13 crosses. One of his passes was a key pass, but his poor crossing haunted the Lions in this game. Defensively, Santos recorded one tackle and one clearance.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — Jansson was terrific for the first 85 minutes of this game, recording 88 touches. He completed 89.9% of his 79 passes, including four of his six long balls. Defensively, he added four tackles and a clearance. Unfortunately, he got caught up field in no-man’s land on LAFC’s second goal and got beat by Nathan Ordaz, resulting in a counterattack on the third. He was my Man of the Match until the final few minutes.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6 — Schlegel was on the ball less than Jansson, recording 60 touches. He completed 96.4% of his 56 passes and two of his three long balls. Defensively, he only had a tackle. Overall, it was a solid night by the center back. While he didn’t have a part in the first two goals, he was unable to clear the ball on a tackle in the box on the third, allowing LAFC to take a 3-1 advantage.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 5.5 — Thorhallsson started in his usual right back position, recording 66 touches. He completed 89.4% of his 47 passes, including a key pass, one of his five crosses, and none of his three long balls. He was among the most active players defensively with four tackles and interceptions. Additionally, he recorded one shot and had one successful dribble. Like other players in the team, his crossing struggles impacted the final result.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 5.5 — The Lions’ attack mainly went through the opposite side of Angulo, so the midfielder only had 47 touches, second-fewest of the 11 starters. He completed 87.6% of his 30 passes, including one of his four crosses and two key passes, but was plagued by some heavy touches in the final third. The attacker also helped out defensively with two successful tackles before being replaced by Martin Ojeda in the 61st minute.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 5 — Araujo was the only natural defensive midfielder in the starting lineup for Orlando City. He recorded 84 touches and completed 95.5% of his 67 passes. However, he only completed one of his two long balls, neither of his crosses, and didn’t record any key passes. He took two long distance shots but both were off target. Defensively, he recorded three tackles and one interception. It was a tough night for Araujo as he had a part in all three LAFC goals. He conceded the penalty, failed to keep up with Mateusz Bogusz on the second, and allowed Denis Bouanga to dribble around him on the third, although it’s perhaps harsh to fault a player for not being as fast as another or handle a player like Bouanga in space.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6 (MotM) — Lodeiro was unquestionably the most active player in this game, recording a team-high 132 touches. He completed 93% of his team-high 114 passes, but none of the seven crosses. The midfielder took three off-target shots and contributed defensively with two tackles and a clearance. He would’ve had a higher grade if he had completed some of his crosses, but his inability to do so hurt his team. Despite those missed crosses, Lodeiro gets my Man of the Match.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6 — Torres was often involved in the Lions’ buildup play, recording 89 touches. He completed 89.7% of his 68 passes, including a team-high five key passes. Two of his eight crosses failed to find teammates and his one long ball was incomplete. He took three shots, tied for second on the team, but none hit the target. Like some other players in this game, his grade would’ve been higher but he completely missed the target with his penalty in the 33rd minute. It was the first missed penalty of his professional career, but it had a major impact after LAFC converted one of its own 11 minutes later.

F, Luis Muriel, 5.5 — As usual, Muriel played a deeper role than Duncan McGuire, recording 69 touches. He completed 88.7% of his 53 passes, including three key passes. He failed to connect on his one cross and one of his two long balls. Additionally all five of his shots were off target. Muriel’s biggest problem in this game was attempting to dribble through multiple players, which resulted in him losing possession in dangerous positions. However, his perfectly weighted ball for Ojeda set up the game-tying goal in the 69th minute. While his assist was beautiful, it wasn’t enough to overcome his constant turnovers in the LAFC third of the field.

F, Duncan McGuire, 5 — McGuire played the target position in this game, recording 28 touches. He completed 81.8% of his 22 passes, but failed to connect on his lone long ball. Strikers are judged by goals and McGuire didn’t participate in any in this game, failing to hit the target on his only two shots. It was a forgettable performance that came to an end in the 78th minute when he was replaced by Jack Lynn.

Substitutes

MF, Martin Ojeda (61’), 6 — Ojeda came on in the 61st minute for Angulo and made an immediate impact. He provided a burst of energy for the team and the Lions quickly began creating dangerous chances. The attacking midfielder had 31 touches and completed 85% of his 20 passes. While he didn’t complete any of his four crosses, he scored the equalizing goal in the 69th minute. In addition to his goal, he had a late chance that hit the side netting. While I gave Lodeiro my Man of the Match, there’s an argument for Ojeda because of the impact he made.

F, Jack Lynn (78’), N/A — Lynn came on with 12 minutes to go for McGuire, who clearly had no more energy. The Lions were looking for a game-winning goal, but Lynn was unable to help. He only touched the ball three times and completed two of three passes without taking any shots. It was easy to forget he was on the field as the minutes wound down.


That’s how I saw the individual performances in Orlando City’s disappointing loss to LAFC. Let us know how you saw the game and don’t forget to vote on your Man of the Match below.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/17/24

Lions fall to LAFC, Pride draw on the road, Euro 2024 roundup, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Hello, Mane Landers! I hope all is well with you down in Florida and had a great Father’s Day for all you dads out there. I was busy at Under Armour all weekend, but I try to catch some action from the Euros when possible. As for our teams, the Lions lost at home while the Pride drew on the road. Before we get started, let’s wish Orlando Pride midfielder Summer Yates a happy 24th birthday. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Lions Fall at Home to LAFC

Orlando City lost 3-1 to LAFC on Saturday at Inter&Co Stadium, extending its winless streak to four matches. The Lions also remain winless against LAFC. Facundo Torres missed a penalty kick that would have put Orlando ahead before LAFC grabbed a goal late in the first half, converting a penalty of its own. Martin Ojeda scored an equalizer for the Lions in the second half, but LAFC countered with two more goals to put the match away. LAFC has won six straight league matches and is second in the Western Conference with 33 points. Meanwhile, Orlando dropped to 14th in the Eastern Conference with 17 points. It will be a quick turnaround for the Lions with a midweek matchup on the road Wednesday at Charlotte FC.

Pride, Courage Split Points in Scoreless Draw

The Orlando Pride played the Courage to a scoreless draw on the road Saturday in North Carolina at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Pride had chances throughout the match but could not score a goal for the first time this season. Still, Orlando remains unbeaten this season and is the first team this year to take any points away on the road against the Courage. After all the action across the NWSL over the weekend, Orlando and the Kansas City Current are still tied at the top with 29 points, but Kansas City is in first on goal differential. The Pride will return home Friday at Inter&Co Stadium to take on the Utah Royals.

Euro 2024 Roundup

The 2024 European Championship kicked off in Germany over the weekend with seven matches. We haven’t had any upsets yet, as Germany cruised past Scotland 5-1 in the opener on Friday. On Saturday, Switzerland beat Hungary 3-1, Spain shut out Croatia 3-0, and Italy bounced back after being down 1-0 to beat Albania 2-1. On Sunday, Slovenia and Denmark battled to a 1-1 draw. Orlando City defender David Brekalo came off the bench for a cameo appearance during stoppage time. The Netherlands overcame a 1-0 deficit to defeat Poland 2-1, and England defeated Serbia 1-0, with Jude Bellingham scoring the lone goal. In today’s matches, Romania takes on Ukraine, Belgium faces Slovakia, and Austria takes on France.

MLS Weekend Recap

It was another busy weekend of MLS action. The lone Friday matchup saw the Columbus Crew beat New York City FC 3-2. On Saturday, the New England Revolution defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-2. It was the Revs’ third straight win. Charlotte FC shut out D.C. United 1-0, Inter Miami escaped Subaru Park with a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union, and the Chicago Fire stunned Toronto FC with a 4-1 win on the road. Peter Luccin got his first win as interim head coach as FC Dallas defeated St. Louis City 2-0 and snapped a five-match winless streak. Atlanta United and the Houston Dynamo battled to a 2-2 draw, CF Montreal and Real Salt Lake ended in a scoreless draw, and the New York Red Bulls and Nashville SC also played to a scoreless draw. In the later matches, the Colorado Rapids and the Seattle Sounders defeated Austin FC and Minnesota United FC, respectively, by identical 2-0 scorelines. Finally, the LA Galaxy handed Sporting Kansas City a 4-2 defeat, while FC Cincinnati needed a a Yuya Kubo hat trick to defeat the San Jose Earthquakes 4-2 on the road.

Free Kicks

  • Major League Soccer has placed Sporting Kansas City midfielder Felipe Hernandez on administrative leave as the league investigates allegations that he violated the league’s gambling policy.

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. LAFC: Five Takeaways

Here’s what we learned from a wastefull loss to LAFC.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

After two weeks off, Orlando City returned to action and unfortunately is still struggling to finish chances, falling 3-1 at home to Western Conference powerhouse LAFC. A rollercoaster game, which saw the Lions control a good majority of the action, was ultimately wasted in yet another disappointing home loss. What follows are my five takeaways from a match which truly feels like a microcosm of the entire Orlando City season thus far.

Wasteful Shot Attempts

After managing fewer than 10 total shot attempts over their last two matches combined, the Lions must have used the bye week to read The Mane Land and our stories imploring the Lions to shoot more throughout their matches. Shoot more they did, tallying 11 shot attempts in the first half alone. The major problem with those 11 shot attempts was that not a single one was on target. At this point it almost feels personal, as I am not sure how you create that many looks without at least putting one or two on frame in a half.

Our own Andrew DeSalvo recently broke down the math behind Orlando City’s recent scoring struggles, attributing them in large part to not getting shots on frame, and while the Lions improved their shot attempts total against LAFC, the accuracy to place even a small fraction of those attempts on target was sorely missing. Orlando finished with 19 shot attempts and 18 of them missed the mark. That includes the biggest miss of all…

Blown Penalty Kick

Orlando City looked threatening enough in the first half, even though it had failed to put a shot on target, and in the 31st minute Facundo Torres drew a penalty in the box after he was bundled over from behind by Eduard Atuesta. Up until this point in his career — not just his Orlando City career, but his entire career — Torres had been perfect from the spot. Five of his six previous penalty attempts had all been successful to the left toward the upper 90, with the sixth attempt slotted into the back of the net on the right. His first-half attempt again followed the general direction of the majority of his previous successes, but he unfortunately sent his rising shot just outside the top left corner.

It was a moment that truly summed up Torres’ (and Orlando City’s) struggles thus far on the season. If he’d been successful, Torres would have paid off Orlando’s early momentum and rewarded the team for dominating the game and the chances to that point. Instead, LAFC grew more comfortable in the game, held more possession the rest of the half, and converted its own penalty just before the break. Orlando entered the locker room as the better squad yet still faced a 1-0 deficit.

Hell, Cesar!

LAFC’s halftime lead didn’t have to happen, and despite the crowd not liking the call, Cesar Araujo committed a foul on Denis Bouanga in the box late in the first half. Orlando’s right-side defenders, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson and Rodrigo Schlegel, were caught out and Robin Jansson and Araujo rotated to cover for them. Between the two, they did well to force Bouanga wide to LAFC’s left side of goal, where the attacker had to either find a way in front through traffic or make a pass to a teammate to hurt Orlando. He may even have pulled the ball out wide to wait for support.

Araujo anticipated a cutback pass and went to ground, sliding to take away the lane. However, the midfielder caught Bouanga’s foot, bringing him down. Once Rubiel Vazquez determined there was contact, there was no way a video review would result in anything but a penalty. The replay showed contact, and that’s enough to eliminate any argument of a clear and obvious error. From a position to limit Bouanga’s threat, Araujo instead unwisely went to ground and ended up sending LAFC’s most lethal finisher to the penalty spot, where he beat the correct guess of Mason Stajduhar and gave the visitors the lead just before the break. It was a bad decision.

Ojeda’s Equalizer

Designated Player Martin Ojeda entered the match near the hour mark with Orlando City still down a goal. It didn’t take him long to affect the match in a positive way. In the 69th minute, Ojeda linked up with fellow DP Luis Muriel for a quick give and go, receiving a chip pass from Muriel right at the top of the six-yard box before slotting it past Hugo Lloris to tie the game at a goal apiece. Ojeda turned in one of his most confident performances of the season and appeared more comfortable in a substitute role which, by most metrics from a season ago, seemed to suit him well.

Speed Kills

After equalizing, Orlando City continued to hunt for the go-ahead goal and, for a brief moment in time, it looked as if it wasn’t a matter of if, but rather of when the Lions would take the lead. The hope of securing three points at home or even settling for a draw in a game evaporated late, as LAFC scored twice in six minutes to take a 3-1 lead. It’s hard put blame on any one aspect of the defense as there were multiple breakdowns that allowed LAFC to score quickly on the counterattack. But it was mainly the speed of Mateusz Bogusz and Bouanga, who simply outran everyone in purple to get in alone on Stajduhar’s goal. Orlando wasn’t badly outnumbered or outpositioned, but the pace of those two LAFC players was too much with that much space to defend.

While conceding goals on two quick counters was heartbreaking and ultimately sealed the match, it should be noted the Lions were more than wasteful with opportunities throughout the game, which could have resulted in a much different narrative.


That is how I saw things shake out in a disappointing loss yet again in front of the Orlando City faithful. What things; good or bad stood out to you in the 3-1 defeat? Let us know in the comments below and as always, vamos Orlando!

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