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

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Well, it wasn’t a loss. Orlando City fought hard against a hot Philadelphia Union side and even when an unfortunate deflection gave the visitors a late lead, the Lions didn’t quit. Scott Sutter’s strike leveled things in stoppage time and gave the Cardiac Cats a point.

The Lions looked much better in the first half, and James O’Connor wasn’t happy with the team’s second-half energy for the second straight week, but Orlando City will take the point and keep trying to move forward.

Now let’s get to those performances.

Starters

GK, Joe Bendik, 5.5 — Joe was a bit shaky early on his passing. He couldn’t do much about Burke’s goal in the 32nd minute. He wasn’t tested too often in the first half, as Philadelphia got only three on frame in the opening period, of which Joe stopped two but neither were difficult. In the second half, Bendik continued to have issues trying to play out of the back and he and his defenders seemed at odds over it at times. The deflection off of Shane O’Neill wrong-footed him a bit on the late goal that briefly put Philly ahead.

D, Jonathan Spector, 7 — Specs got a run-out at fullback and although he added some much-needed stability to the back line on that side, his lack of pace created a bit of a gulf in the attack at times. Yoshimar Yotún simply had nowhere to go to on the left most of the time in the attack and had to look to cut balls back inside toward traffic. Spector led the team in tackles (4), with two interceptions, and one clearance. He also created a scoring chance, fired in two crosses, and passed at 89% — not bad for a fullback.

D, Carlos Ascues, 6.5 — The Peruvian got his first start on the back line and had a mixed night. He had a pair of defensive-half turnovers while trying to dribble the ball forward, putting his teammates under pressure and forcing Bendik to punch away a shot from Haris Medunjanin on one occasion. Ascues had a tackle, two interceptions, four clearances and a pair of blocked shots and passed at a 95% clip. He also made a few crucial 1-v-1 plays that prevented Philadelphia scoring chances.

D, Shane O’Neill, 6 — O’Neill appeared to lose his footing as the cross came in from Borek Dockal on Burke’s goal and was on his way to the ground, helpless to do much about it. It’s debatable on whether he was out-muscled or simply slipped, but either way he was culpable. He was an unfortunate victim on the second goal, trying to block Fafa Picault’s shot but only succeeding in deflecting it to a spot where Joe couldn’t get it. He had a good passing rate (94%), with three tackles, an interception, and a team-high five clearances.

D, Scott Sutter, 7.5 (MotM) — Sutter looked to get into the attack often in the first half, and nearly earned himself a penalty early in the match. He had a pinpoint cross-field switch to Yotún midway through the first half that was like porn for passing enthusiasts. Sutter’s late game-tying goal was vital, of course, and he finished with two shots (one on goal) and a passing rate even better than Spector’s (95% — he was accurate on all six of his long-ball attempts). He also produced two tackles and two clearances and mostly kept his side of the pitch quiet when the Union were attacking.

MF, Oriol Rosell, 5.5 — Uri played a quietly solid game in the defensive midfield, finishing with two tackles, three interceptions, and three clearances. His 90% passing rate was pretty good but at times he tried to force some passes into difficult spots. Overall, I thought Rosell was mostly solid but we’ve seen better from him in a few recent games.

MF, Will Johnson, 5.5 — Will combined well early on the right with Sutter. He drew the free kick that led to Orlando’s opening goal. Tracked back well in the 61st minute to break up a Union attack. His 83% passing rate was a bit average, his one shot was off target, and he didn’t create any scoring chances. He produced an interception and a clearance defensively, and gave his usual blue collar work rate, but even that waned in the second half before he was subbed off.

MF, Yoshimar Yotún, 7.5 — The Peruvian provided excellent free kick service on Dom Dwyer’s header goal. He created four chances in the first half alone, as his passing was deadly accurate, even when he was trying something audacious. After halftime, he created three more scoring chances and practically had to hold down the left-sided attack by himself most of the night. His 88% pass percentage was decent and five of his 11 crosses were accurate. His one shot was off target. Defensively he made two tackles. He’d surely have been Man of the Match if not for tiring noticeably over the last half hour and he just had nothing left in the tank to give. This was evident in trying and failing to tackle Picault prior to the second Philadelphia goal. Still, it was a good night overall for the Peruvian and if he hadn’t had the last three weeks off — one via bye week and two via suspension — he may have had more left in his tank in the second half.

MF, Sacha Kljestan, 5 — I’ll give Sacha credit for trying to come back after only a few training sessions but the rust was evident on this night. He created no chances, attempted one shot, which was off target, and only completed 77% of his pass attempts. He contributed one clearance on defense.

MF, Cristian Higuita, 6.5 — Cristian was a surprise return from an adductor injury and was all over the pitch in the first half. His 24th-minute effort from a tight angle could have made it 2-0, but he hit the far post. He had a terrible giveaway in the 52nd minute and then had to foul to concede a free kick. His passing and play in the second half wasn’t nearly as crisp and he was subbed off for Josué Colmán in the 57th minute.

F, Dom Dwyer, 7 — He scored his 12th goal of the season in the ninth minute, shaking free of his marker and placing his header where Andre Blake couldn’t get to it. He generally created mayhem throughout the first half with his runs in behind the defense. Dom could have gotten a second goal late in the first half but missed the target with his header. He led the team in shots (3) but only the goal was on frame. His 65% passing rate isn’t great but he raised it from 50% at halftime and was one of the few players who was active throughout the entire 90 minutes. He also helped out on defense with an interception and a clearance.

Substitutes

MF, Josué Colmán (57’), 6.5 — The Paraguayan disappeared at times but he also had several moments of individual brilliance. He assisted on the game-tying goal, created two scoring chances, passed at an 88% clip, and attempted a shot. He didn’t repeatedly dribble into dead ends in this match as he’s done often in the past (though he did so a couple of times). He even came up with a tackle.

F/MF, Stefano Pinho (76’), 4.5 — The Brazilian didn’t do a lot in his 14 minutes. He did manage a weak header on goal that forced a Blake save and probably could have drawn a penalty since he was undercut by Jack Elliott on the play. He generally hustled and tried hard, bringing some much-needed energy onto the pitch where it was severely lacking. He also blocked a shot. However, he only got six touches on the ball and attempted one pass, which he completed.

MF, Chris Mueller (76’), 5 — As usual, the rookie worked his tail off and provided energy. His passing was OK, at 80%, (4/5) but he only got in eight touches. He didn’t attempt a shot but he did make a tackle defensively. It’s fair to say that he brought some energy into the attack, and he gave the Philadelphia back line something extra to worry about, but he didn’t accomplish a great deal in his 14 minutes.


That’s how I saw the match. What did you see? Please give us your vote for Man of the Match below and provide your arguments in the comments section.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Dom Dwyer10
Yoshimar Yotún21
Scott Sutter44
Josué Colmán3
Jonathan Spector4
Other (comment below)1

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/16/24

Nico Lodeiro earns recognition, Marta up for Goal of the Week, MLS stock watch, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you had a good weekend and got your taxes filed correctly and on time. It was a good weekend for Orlando soccer, as the Orlando Pride, Orlando City B, and Orlando City went undefeated and picked up seven of the nine points on offer. As always, we have a lot to talk through today. Before we get into today’s links, let’s all wish Luis Muriel a happy birthday!

Nico Lodeiro Makes Team of the Matchday Bench

Midfielder Nico Lodeiro has earned recognition for his part in Orlando City’s 3-2 win over D.C. United, making the bench of the latest edition MLS Team of the Matchday. The Uruguayan entered the fray in the 72nd minute and helped OCSC come back and take all three points. He took the corner kick that David Brekalo equalized from, (even though he was not initially credited with the assist) and provided an outstanding through ball for Duncan McGuire’s game-winner. Sean Rollins graded him a 6.5/10 and named him Man of the Match in his player grades as well. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Marta’s Goal Nominated

Marta’s game-winning strike during Friday’s contest against Utah Royals FC has been nominated for NWSL Goal of the Week. On the road and in the game as a substitute, it didn’t take long for the Brazilian to make her mark on the match. She was barely on the field for five minutes when she met a ball that was rolling across the box with a first-time strike that she powered in off the back post. It proved to be the game’s only goal and was enough to give the Pride their first win of the season. Make sure you vote for her to win this week’s honor!

MLS Stock Watch

The fortunes of Major League Soccer teams are in constant flux, and it’s always nice to keep track of how your enemies are doing. Former Lion Sacha Kljestan weighed in on which clubs’ stock went up and which went down after the weekend’s games. We start on a good note, as a resilient performance from Orlando City saw the good guys pick up their second win of the season. The LA Galaxy hammered the Vancouver Whitecaps by a score of 3-1, and proved that their place atop the Western Conference standings is no fluke. On the other side of the coin, Toronto FC has given up 10 goals in its last three matches, and Jon Herdman needs to find a way to keep things from getting worse until the Reds’ group of injured players can return to the field.

Americans in Midweek Action

There are two big matches featuring American players this week, so get them marked down on your calendar and don’t miss any of the action. Thursday sees Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan travel to the Italian capital to try to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit to Roma in the Europa League quarterfinals. Musah started Sunday’s match against Sassuolo and Pulisic subbed on in the second half as Milan clawed its way back to a 3-3 draw. Friday then has Juventus and Weston McKennie traveling to Cagliari for a Serie A tilt. Juve is currently third in the league and needs to keep picking up results to secure a UEFA Champions League place for next season.

UEFA Champions League Preview

Speaking of the Champions League, the quarterfinals wrap up today and tomorrow and there are a number of storylines to keep an eye on. Luis Enrique is strong in his belief that Paris Saint-Germain can overcome a 3-2 loss in the first leg to advance past Barcelona. Xavi has promised that Barca will look to attack rather than sitting and protecting its lead. Elsewhere, Bayern Munich will be without the suspended Alphonso Davies and likely Kingsley Coman due to injury, and their replacements will be hard pressed to contain Ben White and Bukayo Saka. Finally, Edin Terzic’s substitutions gave Borussia Dortmund a spark in the team’s 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid in the first leg, which means the coach may have a selection headache on his hands as he tries to lead his side to a comeback.

Free Kicks


That’ll do it for me this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

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

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 3-2 win over D.C. United?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City came back from two deficits against D.C. United to claim a huge 3-2 win this weekend — the team’s second victory of the season. It looked like it would be a long night for the Lions in the first 20 minutes, but they turned it around. Down a goal late, David Brekalo and Duncan McGuire converted to earn Orlando City three points.

Here’s how I saw the individual performances by the Lions.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 6 — Gallese took his usual position in goal and had a strong night. He allowed himself to get pushed out of the play on the opening goal by Christian Benteke, though it arguably should’ve been a foul on D.C. He ended the game with four saves from six on-target shots, including two huge saves in second-half stoppage time. In addition to his shot stopping, Gallese completed 51.9% of his 27 passes, including seven of his 20 long balls. He was also credited with three clearances on the night.

D, Kyle Smith, 5.5 — Smith got the start at left back in this game over Rafael Santos, recording 53 touches. He had three tackles, three clearances, and a blocked shot. Going forward, he only completed 76.5% of his 34 passes, but connected with his lone cross and five of his nine long balls. He also won two aerial balls and was booked just before coming off for handling a ball that he should’ve cleared, giving D.C. a free kick in a dangerous position. The defender was replaced by Santos in the 73rd minute.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — Jansson was a strong point for Orlando City once again in this game. He recorded one tackle, two interceptions, a blocked shot, and three clearances. Going forward, the center back completed 80.4% of his 46 passes, including four of his seven long balls. Arguably his biggest play of the game was drawing a foul late at the top of the box when D.C. was pushing for an equalizer.

D, David Brekalo, 6 — Brekalo had 60 touches and completed 76.6% of his 47 passes, including three of his 13 long balls. Defensively, he recorded one tackle, one interception, and two clearances. He made his first significant offensive impact as a Lion by getting his head to a Nico Lodeiro corner kick in the 82nd minute to even the game at 2-2.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Thorhallsson only had 58 touches in the game, but the right back made the most of them. He completed 76.7% of his 30 passes and three of his six long balls, but failed to connect on his lone cross. Defensively, he recorded two tackles and three clearances. However, his biggest impact came in the 28th minute, when he got his head onto Ivan Angulo’s cross to even the game at 1-1.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 5 — Araujo’s 70 touches were the most on the team for this game. He only completed 78.2% of his 55 passes, but connected on two of his four long balls. Defensively, he won two tackles and blocked one shot while committing a team-high four fouls. He was also late getting over to cover Gabriel Pirani on the second goal for D.C. Overall, it wasn’t one of Araujo’s best games.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 5.5 — Cartagena started in the defensive midfield alongside Araujo. He recorded 41 touches and completed 81.3% of his 32 passes, including a key pass, his one cross, and one of his three long balls. Defensively, he recorded two clearances. As is common with the midfielder, he was booked in the first half for standing over Jared Stroud after a foul by Angulo. He was taken off during a triple substitution in the 72nd minute, replaced by Lodeiro.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — Angulo was the least involved of the midfielders, only recording 35 touches. However, he completed 76.2% of his 21 passes, including a wonderful cross to Thorhallsson on the Lions’ first goal of the night. His lone shot was off target, but he helped defensively with a tackle and team-high three interceptions.

MF, Facundo Torres, 5.5 — Torres recorded 50 touches in this game and completed 90.9% of his 33 passes with no key passes. He was accurate on only one of his three crosses, which was an issue. His lone shot was off target but not by much, as he sent his effort just wide of the right post from outside the area. He came off in stoppage time after the Lions took the lead for center back Rodrigo Schlegel.

MF, Martin Ojeda, 5.5 — Ojeda started in the attacking midfield for this game, recording 46 touches. He completed 71.4% of his 21 passes, including two key passes, one accurate cross on his four attempts, and two of his four long balls. He also had four unstable touches and an off-target shot. Defensively, the attacking midfielder had a team-high four tackles, helping his team retain possession before being replaced by Duncan McGuire in the 72nd minute.

F, Luis Muriel, 5 — Muriel got the start alone up top, but had a difficult night. He got involved in the game with 36 touches and completed 64.7% of his 17 passes, including two key passes. He took two shots, with one on target, and completed two dribbles, but had five unstable touches. He could’ve had a much better performance, but attempted to dribble through the opposition in the box rather than finding a teammate, losing possession. The forward’s night ended in the 87th minute when he was replaced by Felipe.

Substitutes

D, Rafael Santos (73’), 5.5 — Santos came on in the 73rd minute for Smith at left back. He had 14 touches and completed seven of his 10 touches (70%), but failed to connect on his one long ball and three crosses. He also didn’t record any defensive stats in his 17 minutes of action.

MF, Nico Lodeiro (72’), 6.5 (MotM) — Lodeiro came on in the 72nd minute for Cartagena, looking to make a difference. The midfielder touched the ball 18 times and completed 75% of his 12 passes, including two key passes, two of his three crosses, and one of his three long balls. Both of his shots were on target and his through ball for McGuire in second-half stoppage time gave him the assist on the game-winning goal. Although the stats sheet credited Torres with the assist on Brekalo’s goal, it was the veteran who took the set piece, which should result in a two-assist night once the league has had a chance to review the tape (see below…even Evan Weston calls him ‘Torres’ on his call). Lodeiro was a game-changer when he came on so, despite his lack of minutes, he earns my Man of the Match.

F, Duncan McGuire (72’), 6 — McGuire came on with Lodeiro as the Lions were chasing the game. He had 14 touches and completed 44.4% of his nine passes. However, the striker was brought on to score and did so in stoppage time, timing his run perfectly and finishing well on the breakaway. He also recorded a tackle and clearance but gets a high grade from me for doing exactly what he was brought on to do in scoring the winning goal.

MF, Felipe (87’), N/A — Felipe came on for Muriel as the Lions looked to see out a point, but he only touched the ball three times. He completed both of his passes, but didn’t record any other stats in his minimal time on the field.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel (90+2’), N/A — Schlegel came on right after the game-winning goal for Torres as the Lions looked to see out the win. He had two touches and an incomplete pass, but no other statistics.


That’s how I saw the individual performances in Orlando City’s win over D.C. United. Let us know how you saw the game and vote for your Man of the Match below.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/15/24

Lions beat D.C. United, Pride pick up road win over Utah Royals, Barbra Banda arrives in Orlando, 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. Orlando City and the Pride both won over the weekend, and there has been plenty of action in European soccer. Over the past week, I’ve been busy covering high school sports like lacrosse and softball. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Top D.C. United

Orlando City overturned a late 2-1 deficit to win 3-2 against D.C. United at Audi Field over the weekend. David Brekalo scored the equalizer in the second half to tie the match at 2-2. Duncan McGuire came off the bench in the second half and scored in stoppage time, as the Lions beat D.C. United for the first time since Oct. 2, 2021. The Lions were 0-3-1 against D.C. United over the last two seasons prior to Saturday’s win. Orlando has now picked up points in each of the last three matches. Orlando City will be on the road again this weekend when it takes on CF Montreal on Saturday.

Orlando Pride Defeat Utah Royals; Help Arrives

The Orlando Pride got their first win of the 2024 NWSL last Friday with a 1-0 against the Utah Royals. Marta came off the bench in the second half and scored the lone goal to seal the win for Orlando. The Pride drew each of their first three matches to start the season against Racing Louisville, Angel City FC, and the Chicago Red Stars. Friday’s result means the Pride have six points through four league matches and are fifth in the NWSL table.

Despite needing four matches to pick up their first win of the year, the Pride are ahead of last year’s pace at the same point in the season, and remain undefeated (1-0-3) despite still waiting to play with this off-season’s marquee signing, Zambian international striker Barbra Banda. The new Pride forward arrived on Sunday to a warm welcome at Orlando International Airport.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Seb Hines can get Banda acclimated to the club and the league. Orlando could use Banda’s offensive firepower, as the club has struggled to score goals in the early part of the season. The Pride will be back in action against the San Diego Wave this Friday.

Bayer Leverkusen wins Bundesliga; Manchester City Leads EPL Title Race

Bayer Leverkusen cruised to a 5-0 win against Werder Bremen on Sunday to win its first ever Bundesliga title with five league matches left to spare. Xabi Alonso’s side won the league title by a 16-point margin, ending Bayern Munich’s 11-year run as title holders. Leverkusen is also unbeaten through 43 matches across all competitions. Meanwhile, in England, we have a new Premier League title race leader as Manchester City crushed Luton Town 5-1 on Saturday. On Sunday, Arsenal lost 2-0 to Aston Villa and Liverpool lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace. There are six match days remaining and this race could go down to the wire. Manchester City is at the top of the table with 73 points, while Arsenal and Liverpool remain two points behind in second and third, respectively, with 71 points.

Free Kicks

  • Houston Dash winger Maria Sanchez has reportedly requested a trade four months after signing a record-breaking deal in NWSL history in the off-season to remain with the club.
  • Manchester United edged Chelsea 2-1 to beat the Blues for the first time ever. Making the win even bigger was that it took place in the Women’s FA Cup semifinal. United will play Tottenham in the final at Wembley on May 12.
  • The EFL Championship is three weeks away from its finale, with a few clubs featureing Americans still in the mix for promotion. Josh Sargent’s Norwich City side holds the final playoff spot, while Haji Wright’s Conventry and Duane Holmes’ Preston North End in the hunt for a shot at promotion.
  • The AS Roma versus Udinese match was suspended after defender Evan Ndicka collapsed away from play and had to be stretchered off. The game was tied at 1-1 with about 20 minutes remaining when Ndicka went down. The club shared this update on social media.

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

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