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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. New England Revolution: Final Score 3-3 as Lions’ Rally Twice

Orlando’s playoff chances have one foot in the grave after earning only one point in a crucial home match.



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Orlando City’s playoff chances are either dead or the vital signs are so faint as to be undetectable after a 3-3 draw against the sixth-place New England Revolution. The Lions (7-14-2, 23 points) rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficit against the Revs (7-7-8, 29 points), as Orlando City remains unbeaten at home against New England (2-0-3).

Dom Dwyer and a Matt Turner own goal got the Lions back into the game after sloppy play allowed Juan Agudelo and Cristian Penilla to stake the Revs to an early lead, but a back line that leaked all night did so one too many times, allowing second-half sub Teal Bunbury to put the Revs back on top. Scott Sutter got the last word with a header goal off a set piece in the third minute of stoppage time to pull Orlando level.

“Obviously delighted to get a point, especially so late in the game,” Head Coach James O’Connor said after the match. “Massive, massive thank you to the supporters tonight because I think they really helped us to come back in the game and get that point.”

O’Connor made only one change from the lineup that lost at the Galaxy last weekend, subbing out Chris Schuler in central defense for Shane O’Neill, who returned from his red card suspension.

Although Orlando City looked sharp from the opening whistle, it was New England that scored early off a routine play. Just a regular throw-in was flicked softly toward goal by Agudelo and somehow Earl Edwards Jr. completely whiffed on keeping it out. It was by far the softest goal Edwards has allowed in his MLS career and one that he’ll definitely want back.

After the goal, the Lions became too deliberate and even though they held some possession, they weren’t very threatening. New England, meanwhile, was content to allow possession and press for opportunities. Edwards was forced to come off his line and make a big save on Diego Fagundez in the 16th after the latter split the defense with a good run and Penilla found him with the pass.

New England doubled the lead in the 19th minute when Sutter opted to play a square ball to a well-covered O’Neill instead of trying to turn or passing back to Edwards. O’Neill had virtually no chance, as Caicedo arrived at the same time as the ball. He poked it away and it allowed Penilla to break in and scored uncontested on Edwards to make it 2-0.

Fagundez had a chance to make it 3-0 in the 23rd minute, dancing past the Orlando back line and firing a shot that Edwards saved.

City tried to regroup thereafter and got a few opportunities. In the 25th minute, a Yoshimar Yotún free kick found O’Neill, but his header went just wide of the net. Two minutes later, Dwyer got in behind the defense but tried to go near post and Turner made the save. PC got into the area in the 29th minute but his shot was blocked by the defense.

Those missed opportunities looked like they’d immediately bite the Lions as the Revs shredded the back line again in the 30th minute and Scott Caldwell got around Edwards but saw Amro Tarek save his effort off the line at the last second.

Six minutes later, Edwards had a second major mistake in the game, passing the ball directly to Fagundez, but Cristian Higuita tracked back and somehow dispossessed the Revolution attacker without conceding a penalty.

Sacha Kljestan went down on an ugly challenge from behind by Brandon Bye in the 37th minute. Bye was booked for the infraction but Kljestan had to sub out minutes later for Josué Colmán.

Just before the break the Lions pulled a goal back. Yotún sent Tony Rocha up the left flank and Rocha’s cross picked out Dwyer in front of goal. Dom played it first time and sent it over Turner to make it 2-1 in the 45th minute for his 10th goal of the season.

“It was huge,” O’Connor said of the timely goal. “Really well played ball for him from Tony but I think Dom’s finish is excellent and that gave us a lot of hope.”

“It gave us a little bit of confidence knowing we only needed one goal and we were right back in it,” Rocha said.

Shots were even at the end of the first half at 6-6 (5-2 on target for New England). The Lions held 72% possession and held a passing percentage advantage (86%-69%).

“We really felt at halftime that we could go on and win the game,” said O’Connor.

Orlando City came out aggressively after the break and earned the first decent look at goal. Higuita found Rocha in the box and the midfielder turned and fired just wide, hitting the outside netting in the 51st minute. Six minutes later, Dwyer forced a diving save from Turner on a shot through traffic. A minute later, Colmán fired a shot into the the box that Turner spilled but it fell just a bit wide for Dwyer to get onto it and slam home.

New England continued to try countering whenever possible, with Fagundez fizzing a shot just over the bar in the 61st.

Orlando nearly sprung Dwyer in behind in the 66th minute but the flag went up on a very close play and the whistle blew. You’d expect the assistant referee to keep the flag down on close plays these days and let video review sort out any problems, but in this case the flag went up right away despite replay showing the play was extremely close.

Penilla fired a shot through traffic off a corner kick in the 69th minute that took a deflection, but Edwards was able to track it through the forest of players and make a diving save.

The Lions finally leveled the game in the 71st minute. Yotún delivered a free kick into the box that Tarek headed off the left post. The ball skipped back across the front of goal and Turner knocked it into the net with his hand. The goal was given to Tarek with an assist to Yotún but it’s hard to imagine it won’t be changed to an own goal. If it sticks, it’ll be Tarek’s first MLS goal.

With the game tied, Brad Friedel sent Bunbury into the game for Caldwell in the 74th minute and the move paid dividends almost immediately. Bunbury got on the ball on the right side and roasted Tarek, getting in behind and slotting in the Revs’ third goal of the night in the 76th minute.

“It has to stop,” O’Connor said about the defensive issues of his team, which has given up seven goals in two matches. “You can’t score three goals again and we get a tie this week. You have to stop. You can’t give goals away like that. We’re 2-0 down in the blink of an eye. When you’re giving up the goals that we are giving up — it’s not like teams are having to work for the goals. I’m waiting for a game where a team is so generous and gives us the type of goals that we’re giving teams, and I look forward to when that happens.”

Two minutes later, Penilla rang one off the crossbar as he nearly put the game to bed. The Lions looked a bit shook after the third New England goal and it nearly cost them a fourth. It turned out to be a costly miss for Penilla.

The Revs kept looking more likely to score a fourth than Orlando to score a third, earning another quick corner kick after Penilla’s miss. Agudelo shot wide in the 83rd minute as New England tried to put the game away.

But the Lions stuck around and regained their composure. Yotún found Stefano Pinho in the 89th minute, but the Brazilian headed it well over the bar. Four minutes of stoppage time loomed for Orlando to take something from the game.

The Lions left it late, but the goal finally came in the 93rd minute. Pinho earned a set piece out to the right, and Yotún once again provided superb delivery, finding Sutter for the game-tying header. It honestly looked like a stoppable shot for Turner but he made a mess of it and it found the net to make it 3-3.

“It’s good that we got a point so late,” Sutter said. “Obviously we’re all disappointed because we wanted more from the game.”

On the restart after the goal, Dwyer was booked for a foul away from the ball — one of several fouls away from the ball on the night (making one wonder if Hilario Grajeda would have seen fouls actually on the ball) — and a fracas broke out at midfield. In the wake of a lot of pushing and shoving, Grajeda went to video review and sent off Yotún, who appeared to shove Jalil Anibaba. The replay doesn’t show much, but Yotún will miss next week’s match at D.C. as a result of the decision.

One would hope Grajeda had a different angle than that on which to base such a decision.

After it was all sorted out, neither team got a look at goal and the game finished knotted up at three apiece.

The Lions finished with 65% of the possession but were out-shot 14-13 (7-6 on target). Orlando held an 84%-73% edge in passing accuracy.

“I think the movement was very good. Tonight I thought Yoshi’s delivery was excellent,” O’Connor said. “I think we can still play better than that. We need to be braver…You score six goals in two games and you pick up a point?”


  • Higuita made his 87th appearance for Orlando City to pass Cyle Larin for the most in the club’s MLS history.
  • O’Connor said after the match that Kljestan will be evaluated after getting his knee and ankle rolled up on the harsh challenge by Bye.
  • O’Connor also said Yotún was a question mark for the second half after getting fouled several times in the first half.
  • The Lions committed only 11 fouls but saw three yellow cards and a red, while New England committed 23 fouls and saw only one yellow.

The Lions visit D.C. United at Audi Field next Sunday at 8 p.m.

Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Kyle Smith

Let’s look back at The Accountant’s fifth MLS season.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Fullback Kyle Smith was originally signed on Dec. 21, 2018 when James O’Connor was Orlando City’s head coach. He proved to be a valuable Swiss Army knife-type player and earned a new contract on March 29, 2021 through the 2022 season with a 2023 club option. Orlando City picked up his 2023 option at the end of the 2022 season but then signed Smith to a new one-year contract for 2023 just weeks later with an option for 2024.

Let’s have a look back at The Accountant’s fifth MLS season.

Statistical Breakdown

Smith appeared in 25 matches during the 2023 regular season, starting 17 times and logging 1,501 minutes. It was his third-most appearances but his second-most minutes since making the jump from Louisville City to MLS ahead of the 2019 season. He scored one goal and assisted on three others, setting a new career high in the latter category. Smith attempted seven shots, putting two on target. He passed at a 78.7% clip, including nine key passes, five successful crosses, and 36 successful long passes. Defensively, Smith recorded 35 tackles, 16 interceptions, 40 clearances, and two blocked shots. He drew eight fouls while committing 20 and was booked five times on the year.

The 31-year-old appeared in all three of Orlando City’s three playoff matches — both off the bench — and logged 65 minutes. He did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting one shot, which he put on frame. He passed at an 82.5% rate in the postseason. He posted two tackles and a clearance defensively. He did not commit a foul or draw one and he wasn’t booked.

In the 2023 Concacaf Champions League, Smith came off the bench in the first leg at Tigres, playing minutes, passing at just a 25% rate (small sample size), did not attempt a shot, did not draw or concede a foul, and was not booked.

During Leagues Cup play, Smith appeared in all three of Orlando’s matches (all starts), logging 150 minutes. He did not contribute to a goal or attempt a shot in the tournament, committing four fouls and earning two yellow cards. Smith did not play in Orlando City’s lone U.S. Open Cup match.

Best Game

Smith’s best match of 2023 came in Orlando City’s 1-1 home draw against Atlanta United on May 27, and not only because that’s when he scored his lone goal of the season, although that doesn’t hurt. El Soldado started and went the full 90 minutes. He fired two shots on the night, putting one on target (and in the net), and passed at an exceptional 90.3% rate on 31 attempts, which was his third-best passing night of the season. He completed two successful long balls on two attempts, chipping in four clearances (second only to Antonio Carlos), a tackle, and an interception on the night. His big moment came in the 30th minute, when a well-worked attack up the left kicked out to him on the right side. Smith was perfectly positioned and made no mistake in putting the Lions ahead 1-0.

Although the match was spoiled by a late equalizer, Smith turned in one of his best performances since joining Orlando City and if not for his goal, the outcome might have been a lot more somber than a 1-1 draw.

2023 Final Grade

Smith received a composite score of 6 out of 10 for his 2023 performance from The Mane Land staff. This is an improvement over the 5.5 he earned last year but slightly below the 6.5 he earned for the 2021 season. Previously, Smith was given a 5.5 in 2020 and he got the same score after the 2019 season. The staff awarded Smith for his effort, versatility, and willingness to do whatever it takes to win. He is the quintessential team player. But beyond all of the above, he simply played well most of his minutes on the pitch. At his age, he’s going to struggle to contain the league’s speediest wing players, particularly when playing on his weaker left side, but his ability to adapt is unquestioned. The perfect example of that was when he was tucking inside from his fullback spot earlier in the season to add an additional player to the midfield and freeing Facundo Torres up to have more space in which to operate on the right side.

2024 Outlook

Smith’s return may ultimately rest with whether or not Oscar Pareja stays on with the Lions, although a decision might need to be made earlier than that, as the club must make a decision on his option. Pareja has valued Smith’s versatility and work ethic over the last few years, and with more competitions and matches than ever before, it’s always good to have a depth player who can plug and play in multiple positions. He played his second-most MLS minutes in 2023, so he’s still seeing the field plenty.

If I had to guess, and this section is for exactly that, I’d say the club will either exercise his option or sign him to a new one-year deal with an option year for 2025. However, what complicates matters is that Smith is over age 24 and has played five MLS seasons, which means he’s eligible for free agency. If he’s back in 2024, I would expect him to again be a key backup at both fullback positions, getting some spot starts in U.S. Open Cup or when fixture congestion is heavy.

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Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Abdi Salim

We continue our Orlando City player retrospectives with a look at one of the Lions’ 2023 draft picks.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City used its third pick of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft to select Abdi Salim with the 17th overall pick. Salim played his college soccer at Syracuse and the Lions picked up the center back to help with depth at a position that didn’t really have a ton of established bodies behind Antonio Carlos, Robin Jansson, and Rodrigo Schlegel. He was then signed to a one-year deal in February that contained three option years for the 2024, 2025, and 2026 seasons.

Let’s have a look at Salim’s first season as a professional.

Statistical Breakdown

Salim made his Major League Soccer debut at home against FC Cincinnati on March 4. It was Salim’s only start of the year and he went the full 90 minutes as the Lions drew 0-0 against the eventual Supporters’ Shield winners. He made two other appearances in away games against D.C. United and Charlotte FC, both of which ended as 1-1 draws as he finished with 148 MLS minutes on the year.

Defensively he recorded four tackles, four interceptions, three clearances, a block, and won two aerial duels. He did not record any offensive statistics, but was solid with his distribution as he averaged 87.3% passing accuracy and completed one cross and one long ball each.

Given that it was only his first season as a professional, he spent the bulk of his time in MLS NEXT Pro with Orlando City B. With the Young Lions he played in 16 matches, starting 14 of them and racking up 1,162 minutes. He finished with 11 interceptions and a tackle while committing seven fouls and drawing 11 and picking up one yellow card. Salim took nine shots, put two of them on target, and scored a goal on each one he got on frame. He passed very well, finishing with a 90.2% success rate, two key passes, and 18 long balls.

Best Game

The honor of his best game goes to his first ever professional appearance, when he started and played the whole game in the aforementioned 0-0 draw against FC Cincinnati. Salim finished with three tackles, three clearances, and an interception while passing with 87% accuracy, completing a long ball on his only attempt, and helping the Lions keep a clean sheet at home. He was a bit shaky at first, as he was deployed as the third center back in a three-man back line, but he settled down in the second half and finished with a grade of 5.5 out of 10 from Nic Josey.

2023 Final Grade

Given that Salim didn’t crack 200 minutes and we require a minimum of 450 to award a grade for the season, he receives an incomplete for the 2023 season. He did some good things when down with Orlando City B, and filled in well enough with the senior side when called upon, but we simply need to see more of him in order to figure out what he’s really able to do.

2024 Outlook

It’s likely that Salim will spend more time with Orlando City B next season, but with no one seemingly laying claim to the fourth center back position, he should have a chance to show what he’s capable of during preseason. He seemed to be in competition with Thomas Williams for the back up spot not occupied by Rodrigo Schlegel, but he may have moved past him in the pecking order as he made more appearances than the Homegrown signing, both with OCSC and OCB. Regardless, as an inexpensive young player with potential, there’s no reason to think he won’t be here next year.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 12/1/23

Rodrigo Schlegel fined, MLS roster updates, USWNT faces China tomorrow, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to December, Mane Landers! It always feels like a good sign when a month starts on a Friday. I don’t have many plans this weekend beyond helping a friend move and trying to make pad Thai for the first time. It should be a nice next few days to reset after a hectic week. But for now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.

MLS Issues Disciplinary Rulings After Playoff Games

Orlando City center back Rodrigo Schlegel was fined an undisclosed amount by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for not leaving the field in a timely manner after receiving a second yellow card in the team’s playoff match with the Columbus Crew. Schlegel did not crowd the referee or plead his case disruptively, but he did linger a bit before exiting the match. It was one of many fines handed out by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for violations during the playoffs, and Crew forward Cucho Hernandez was fined for embellishment for going to ground clutching his face after Schlegel shielded the ball from him.

The Vancouver Whitecaps players and staff received fines and suspensions for their actions during and after their playoff match with LAFC on Nov. 5. Head Coach Vanni Sartini was fined $20,000 and suspended for an additional five games for entering the field of play in a confrontational manner and his comments about the refereeing following his team’s elimination. Vancouver defender Mathias Laborda was also handed a one-match suspension for his actions during the match.

MLS Teams Update Rosters as Deadline Looms

The deadline for MLS teams to decline contract options is today and clubs around the league are getting their affairs in order. The Portland Timbers confirmed that Sebastian Blanco won’t be with the team next year, as he was out of contract after seven seasons with the club. Designated Player Jaroslaw Niezgoda and fellow forward Franck Boli had their options declined by Portland as well. FC Dallas triggered the options on the contracts of midfielder duo Asier Illarramendi and Liam Frasier, while declining the options for midfielder Facundo Quignon and defender Jose Martinez. The New York Red Bulls kept a key part of their defense by signing Dylan Nealis to a contract through the 2024 season. Nashville SC declined seven options, and veterans Dax McCarty and Fafa Picault are out of contract. Both players could be worth keeping an eye on as an Orlando supporter, depending on if Wilder Cartagena and Ivan Angulo will return. According to The Athletic‘s Tom Bogert, McCarty is not likely to return to Nashville.

Racing Louisville Names Beverly Yanez as Head Coach

Beverly Yanez was announced as Racing Louisville’s next head coach after serving as an assistant coach during the 2023 season. The 35-year-old retired as a player in 2020 and was an assistant coach with NJ/NY Gotham FC for two years before joining Louisville prior to this season. Louisville has yet to reach the playoffs since joining the NWSL in 2021 and Yanez is now the club’s third head coach. She’s earned plenty of praise from Louisville’s players and it will be interesting to see how her first season as a head coach goes in 2024.

Alejandro Bedoya Receives Impact Award

Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya won the MLS Impact Award, along with a $100,000 contribution by Audi to The Philadelphia Equity Alliance. Bedoya has worked with the nonprofit to promote inclusive economic growth and reduce poverty. He was also named 2022 MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year for his efforts to make a difference in the Philadelphia community. The Crew’s Darlington Nagbe and Nashville’s Taylor Washington were the other finalists for this year’s award.

Analyzing China Ahead of USWNT Friendlies

The United States Women’s National Team will close out its 2023 schedule with a pair of friendlies against China this month. The two nations will clash tomorrow at 3 p.m. in Fort Lauderdale before playing again in Frisco on Tuesday at 8 p.m. Although China lost all three of its group stage games in this past summer’s World Cup, it recently won the bronze medal in the Asian Games. China fell short in Olympic qualifying though, and 2022 AFC Women’s Coach of the Year Shui Qingxia’s contract was terminated, with Wang Jun taking over in an interim capacity for these friendlies. The USWNT should be able to find success on set pieces and crosses, although China has been working on strength training this year to compensate for that weakness. Tang Jiali, Zhang Linyan, and Shen Menglu are a few of the players in China’s versatile attack that could spell trouble for the Americans.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando Pride defender Rafaelle started as Brazil’s captain and Marta and Adriana came off the bench in a 4-3 win over Japan in a friendly. In her international debut, 19-year-old forward Priscila gave Brazil the late winner. The two teams will play again on Sunday.
  • The Kansas City Current dedicated their press box to journalist and Kansas City native Grant Wahl.
  • The New England Revolution have promoted Curt Onalfo to sporting director after four years as the club’s technical director. Onalfo served as the interim sporting director after Bruce Arena’s resignation in September and now gets the job fulltime.
  • The MLS Players Association released a statement regarding Matt Miazga’s three-game suspension.
  • Pierre Emerick-Aubamayeng scored a bicycle kick and a late winner as part of his hat trick in Marseille’s 4-3 win over Ajax in the Europa League.
  • The 2023 Women’s College Cup semifinals kick off tonight, with Florida State facing Clemson and BYU playing Stanford. There are many talented players in action who are worth watching tonight before the NWSL Draft next month.
  • Lyon, which is last in Ligue 1 with just seven points from 12 games, has sacked Fabio Grosso after less than three months as head coach.

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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