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2018 Orlando City Season in Review: Donny Toia



Donny Toia entered his second season with Orlando City in a battle for the starting left back position — a spot he nailed down to the tune of 30 appearances and 29 starts in 2017. Acquired from Atlanta United in December of 2016 for a first-round SuperDraft pick, Toia provided the defensive stability the Lions lacked at left back for their first two years in MLS but the veteran wasn’t able to get forward much to help with the attack. As a result, Orlando went out and signed Mohamed El-Munir this past off-season.

Last year, due mainly to providing consistent coverage on the left side, we gave Toia a season rating of 6 for his first season in purple. His 2018 season was a lot quieter.

Statistical Breakdown

Toia appeared in only four MLS matches in 2018, including three starts, totaling just 238 minutes — one season removed from playing more than 2,500 minutes. Much of the year he didn’t even dress for the 18. He provided no goals but did have an assist, attempting one shot that was off target. He was an 80% passer with one chance created and defensively he averaged 1.5 tackles, 0.8 interceptions, and 1.8 clearances without a blocked shot. Toia stayed out of the referees’ books in 2018, drawing neither a yellow nor a red card.

He also appeared in one U.S. Open Cup match on July 18 at the Philadelphia Union. He played the full 90 minutes at right back — instead of his usual left back spot — in the match, attempting one shot and committing a foul in the 1-0 road loss. Toia completed 84% of his passes in the match and finished with one tackle, one interception, four recoveries, and three clearances.

Best Game

It’s tempting to pick the only game the Lions won with Toia in the lineup in this section, but he only played 13 minutes off the bench in the July 14 win over Toronto FC. Orlando City lost the other three MLS games and the U.S. Open Cup game in which Toia started and only one of them was close. The 1-0 loss to Philadelphia in USOC play was the only one-goal game in the bunch, with lopsided shutout losses at home to Montreal (2-0) and on the road to New York City FC (3-0). I’m going to pick the remaining game — a 4-1 loss at Los Angeles FC.

Toia assisted on the lone Orlando City goal in the match — well, the only Orlando City goal in the match that ended up counting, anyhow — rating a score of 6 from the bearded guy in our player grades for the match. He attempted one shot in the match, passed at a 74% rate, notching one key pass and an assist on a long through ball for Sacha Kljestan’s cool finish to make it 2-1 at the time.

Sure, it helped that Walker Zimmerman slipped on the play, but that takes nothing away from Toia’s lovely, perfectly weighted ball for Kljestan to run onto. With 58 touches on the night, he was the more active fullback for Orlando in the match. The Lions’ back line struggled quite a bit in that game but Toia led all Orlando defenders in tackles (2) and interceptions (3, tied with Amro Tarek), and he was just behind Tarek with three clearances to the center back’s four. You may recall that the game was still 0-0 when Jonathan Spector left with an injury in the 25th minute and was replaced by Chris Schuler. The back line took a while to settle in after the substitution but, by the time it did, it was 2-0. LAFC tacked on two late goals after Dom Dwyer’s apparent tying strike was disallowed. You can’t say anyone on the team played particularly great soccer that night, but Toia was the most solid piece along the back line and in a limited number of appearances, and a lack of opportunities to find any rhythm this season, his assist pushes this performance to the top of his 2018 list for me.

2018 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff give Toia an incomplete grade for the 2018 season. With fewer than 250 minutes under his belt, he simply didn’t see enough of the field to warrant a rating for the season. Toia gives reliably quiet, steady performances and it was clear in 2018 that Jason Kreis and James O’Connor were looking for more from the left back position. They opted to live with El-Munir’s periodic defensive lapses and turnovers to get more creativity going forward, more pace, and more crosses from the left side. We perhaps should have seen more of Toia on the right side while Scott Sutter was out with injury, but it just never materialized and the journeyman found himself on the outside of position battles, looking in.

2019 Outlook

Toia is under contract through next season according to Transfermarkt. Assuming that’s true, the Lions would do well to try to find the Arizona native a new home for 2019. At $125,000 per year, Toia isn’t that expensive and provides quality depth. He was a bargain playing 30 games in 2017, but he’s too expensive for only four appearances a year. He’s still in the prime of his career at age 26. If the plan is to play a defensive-oriented four-man back line, Toia is a solid guy to have on your roster. However, if O’Connor wants more dynamic players on the outside, either at fullback or wingback (and likely a combination of the two for flexibility in shape), he’s a bit of a square peg for a round hole. The Lions may opt to try to find a transfer for Toia this off-season but at his salary it wouldn’t be the end of the world to have him providing depth at outside back.

Previous Orlando City Season in Review Posts (Date Posted)

Orlando City

Orlando City at Inter Miami: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to defeat Inter Miami in Fort Lauderdale this Saturday?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

This Saturday Orlando City travels to Fort Lauderdale to take on in-state rival Inter Miami. Despite having to pay for a part of Lionel Messi’s salary, the Lions will not get to have him play any time for Orlando City, which is kind of messed up, isn’t it? Regardless, the Lions will look to maintain their undefeated start to the year with a win down South.

What does Orlando City need to do to bring home all three points from Chase Stadium?

Get a Midfielder on Messi

It isn’t easy to stop Messi, but that is what defensive midfielders Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena must do in this match. They are arguably the best defensive midfield pairing in MLS and will need to prove it against one of the best to ever play the game. When Orlando City played Messi and Miami in the U.S. Open Cup last year, they were able to frustrate him and he should have been sent off just before halftime for a second yellow-worthy foul he committed to stop Araujo from getting to a loose ball first to start the counter. He is very entitled and doesn’t like being challenged by the likes of those two. Doing so smartly will be the key because of our next key below.

Don’t Give the Refs Anything

MLS and the referees will never admit that they made calls that benefit Miami and Messi in particular, but that’s because they want us to not believe our lying eyes. It’s unfair and wrong, but also a fact of life. As such, the Lions need to make sure that they don’t do anything even remotely close to the type of foul that will allow the refs to swing things the Herons’ way. Of course, that might not stop them from doing so, but playing clean and smart is the best chance to limit the impact the officiating has on the match. Balancing that will being aggressive enough to stop them will be tricky to say the least.

Score, Score, Score

You can be sure we will see a first-choice lineup from Oscar Pareja this Saturday. That means that the Lions need to press for goals early and often. Score enough goals and the referees can’t hurt you. Whether it’s Duncan McGuire, Facundo Torres, Luis Muriel, Ivan Angulo, Nico Lodeiro, or even Kyle Smith, the team needs to put the ball in the back of the net. Getting the early lead — especially if it’s two goals — will mean a lot to the flow of the game. Once again, I don’t particularly care where those goals come from, just that they happen.

That is what I will be looking for this Saturday. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/29/24

Lions reportedly won’t play in U.S. Open Cup, Cavalry FC reflects on its defeat, gauging the USWNT’s panic meter, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Leap Day, Mane Landers! It’s the rarest day of the year, as we all lean into our procrastination a bit and collectively tell March that we’ll get to it tomorrow. It’s been a pretty busy week for me, but knowing the MLS season is in full swing has helped fuel me a bit. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Orlando City Reportedly Won’t Play in 2024 U.S. Open Cup

The latest reports involving Major League Soccer’s participation in this year’s U.S. Open Cup indicate that Orlando City, along with a majority of MLS teams, won’t be playing their first teams in the tournament. According to ESPN‘s Jeff Carlisle, the Houston Dynamo and the seven best teams from last season that aren’t taking part in the Concacaf Champions Cup will have their first teams take part. The format will reportedly be announced soon and we’ll see if Orlando City B and other MLS NEXT Pro teams will be in the tournament.

It will be pretty disappointing if Orlando’s first team doesn’t end up playing. Even though the Lions suffered an early exit last year, they won in 2022 and Head Coach Oscar Pareja has a penchant for excelling in the U.S. Open Cup.

Cavalry FC Reflects on Loss to Orlando City

Although Cavalry FC lost in both legs against Orlando City in its first Concacaf Champions Cup campaign, the Canadian club can hold its head high. Cavalry Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. spoke on the team’s tactics in the second leg in Orlando to overcome the hefty aggregate deficit.

“Strategically, we wanted to frustrate them in the first half with an extra defender, and often at times we were in a back five,” Wheeldon said. “And second half, we wanted to unleash with more attackers and have a go, because it was 0-0. We thought … one, we wanted to make history with our first goal, and two, we wanted to get a result here.”

That first goal did come with Myer Bevan making some history for his team to take back to Canada. All in all, Cavalry did pretty well as the underdog and it’s unfortunate it didn’t get a true home game in Calgary. Cavalry’s defense is the real deal and I doubt this is the last time it makes an appearance in the Champions Cup.

Assessing the Fallout From the USWNT’s Defeat

The United States Women’s National Team suffered a shocking defeat to Mexico earlier this week that’s brought on varying levels of panic. The clock is ticking before the Olympics and the USWNT struggled to bounce back after trailing in the first half and had difficulties on both sides of the ball. While the issues at center back will likely be solved once Naomi Girma and Tierna Davidson play, the midfield has plenty of question marks and a weird balance of youth and experience. It’s an awkward stage for the USWNT, as Emma Hayes doesn’t arrive until May and won’t have much time to get the team ready for Paris. Of course, the USWNT could still win this tournament and the return of Mallory Swanson may heal most wounds this summer, leaving this loss as just a minor blemish when the year is up. Only time will tell and the USWNT has plenty of opportunity to right the ship.

FA Cup Quarterfinals Are Set

It was a pretty wild day in the FA Cup, with some of England’s top teams fighting their way into the quarterfinals. Chelsea needed a late winner from Conor Gallagher to beat Leeds United 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. Manchester United’s match against Nottingham Forest also had a dramatic finish, as United’s Casemiro scored the game’s only goal in the 89th minute. Wolverhampton ousted Brighton thanks to an early goal, and Liverpool got the job done against Southampton.

In the quarterfinals, Newcastle will travel to take on Manchester City, Wolverhampton will host the second division’s Conventry City, Chelsea will take on Leicester City, and Manchester United will face off against Liverpool. All four matches will take place on March 16.

Free Kicks

  • After getting married, Orlando Pride defender Emily Madril will have a new name on the back of her jersey this season.
  • Former Pride midfielder Becky Edwards is an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee and shared details about her time as both a player and coach with the U.S. U-20 team.
  • Enjoy this captured moment of Orlando midfielder Wilder Cartagena being awesome.
  • LAFC forward Mateusz Bogusz’s strike against the Seattle Sounders won the first MLS Goal of the Matchday of the season, claiming 35.4% of the vote.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a pretty great Leap Day and that the rest of the week goes smoothly.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/28/24

Orlando City moves on in Champions Cup, Orlando Pride unveil new kits, USMNT to play Brazil in Orlando, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope you all enjoyed watching Orlando City’s win Tuesday night in the Concacaf Champions Cup. I’ve been staying busy at Under Armour, while wrapping up covering high school basketball playoff action with the state championship this weekend. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Defeats Cavalry FC in Concacaf Champions Cup

The Lions took care of business on Tuesday, defeating Cavalry FC 3-1 at Inter&Co Stadium to advance 6-1 on aggregate and reach the round of 16 in the Concacaf Champions Cup. Forward Luis Muriel got his first start as a Lion, and there was plenty of rotation from the lineup Head Coach Oscar Pareja used against CF Montreal this past weekend. It was Orlando’s first home win in the continental tournament and the Lions will face Tigres in the next round in a rematch of their series in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. The first match will be in Orlando on Tuesday, with the second leg taking place in Mexico on March 12.

Orlando Pride Unveil New Phoenix and Citrus Kits

The Orlando Pride unveiled two new kits on Tuesday as part of the NWSL’s league-wide kit reset ahead of the upcoming season. The first kit is called the Phoenix kit, which features the Pride’s two recognizable colors, purple and blue. The Phoenix kit also features a two-toned purple gradient that goes from the top right to bottom left on the jersey.

The secondary Citrus Kit is an all new color scheme that pays tribute to Florida’s citrus industry. The Citrus Kit features a new orange and iced-out green color scheme with oranges and leaves, while the letters and numbers have the same green coloring. The socks have “Pride” handwritten on the back, while a stylized “OP” is on the lower end of the jersey.

Both kits will be unveiled during the kit party at the Orlando Regional History Center later today. Fans can purchase replicas of the two new jerseys at, in the Den at Inter&Co Stadium, and on

Philadelphia Union Advance Past Deportivo Saprissa

The Philadelphia Union survived a wild match against Deportivo Saprissa at Subaru Park, securing a 3-3 draw to advance to the next round on aggregate. There were four goals in the first 30 minutes of the match, and Mariano Torres gave Saprissa a needed third goal in the second half to send the game to extra time. Despite playing a man down after defender Jack Elliot was sent off, the Union’s Mikael Uhre scored in extra time and the defense held on to advance. There is more Concacaf Champions League action tonight, as FC Cincinnati takes on Cavalier SC, already up 2-0 on aggregate, while Nashville SC faces Moca FC with a 3-0 aggregate lead. The New England Revolution will host Independiente tomorrow.

USMNT to Play Brazil at Camping World Stadium

The United States Men’s National Team will play Brazil in the second edition of the Continental Clasico on June 12 at Camping World Stadium. Both teams will use this match to test themselves in preparation for the Copa America this summer. This will be the first meeting between these two sides since 2018, when the USMNT lost 2-0 to Brazil in a friendly at MetLife Stadium. In the first edition of the Continental Clasico last April, the USMNT played Mexico in a thrilling 1-1 draw. The USMNT has only beaten Brazil once in 19 matches, but its record in Orlando has been stellar, with a 7-2-0 record in recent years. The 2024 Copa America will kick off on June 20.

Free Kicks

  • The latest MLS power rankings have been released after opening week. Orlando City dropped three places to eighth after a scoreless draw against CF Montreal this past weekend.
  • The Orlando Pride’s Rafaelle started and scored a goal in Brazil’s win against Panama in the Concacaf W Gold Cup. Pride forward Adriana came off the bench for Brazil as well.
  • USMNT captain Tyler Adams is back at training with AFC Bournemouth. Adams has been sidelined since last September with a hamstring injury.

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

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