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Orlando City

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



It was a short week for the club, and the starting XI certainly showed as such. It would be easier to list the players and positions that didn’t change from the Atlanta match versus which ones did. The player rotation from Head Coach James O’Connor was so deep that every position, even the goalkeeper spot, saw a different player from the previous lineup. Some players even got to see their first minutes in MLS. So how did the Lions do in the trip out west to Seattle?


GK, Greg Ranjitsingh, 7 (MotM) — In his first start in MLS, Ranjitsingh turned in a good effort. His positioning on the first goal could be critiqued as being a little too deep towards goal, but the fact of the matter is, he was more than likely protecting the near post and leveraging the back line to take care of the rest. He was quick to come out, and made good choices throughout the evening. He certainly looked much more comfortable in the second half, and ended the match with one save and one tackle. He gets my vote for Man of the Match as he helped keep this team in the fight with how quickly, and correctly, he came off his line and stopped chances before they became dangerous.

D, Danilo Acosta, 5 — Acosta started in place of Joao Moutinho, and played well. He saw plenty of touches, and certainly was involved in the offense and the defense. He ended the night with one shot and a 93% passing success rate. One tackle accounted for all of his defensive statistics and he lost track of Handwalla Bwana on the second goal but it was otherwise a fairly solid outing.

D, Shane O’Neill, 6.5 — Although he had a somewhat quiet first half, aside from being late to close down Raul Ruidiaz on the first goal, O’Neill was a force in the second half, anchoring a brand new defensive line against a very potent Seattle attack. Were there some mistakes? Yes, but for the most part, I thought it was a very solid outing. He had three aerials and two tackles won, plus that double stop in the box late to keep the Lions in the match.

D, Lamine Sané, 6 — The short answer would be to just read O’Neill’s review above. The slightly longer answer would be a good outing. Sané led the match with a 95% passing success rate, as well as winning two aerials and two tackles, three interceptions, and two clearances. He communicated well with O’Neill for the most part and even had a shot on the offensive side. In fact, watching him move up and call for the ball as an extra attacker in the waning moments of the match should be a motivational moment for all.

D, Kyle Smith, 6 — There were some hiccups but overall it was a pretty good outing for Smith, considering that Seattle pushed Orlando’s right side more than the left. He ended the night with one aerial won and a passing rate of only 84%, but the three tackles and four clearances were key. He did struggle with Brad Smith and Harry Shipp’s quick 1-2 passing at times though, including on the opening goal.

MF, Uri Rosell, 7 — Rosell was almost on another level today, and was a top contender for some for the MotM honors. He was all over the midfield, running box to box, and showing the textbook example of a “professional foul” that led to a yellow card for him after a Moutinho turnover put the Lions in a bad spot. Without that foul, Seattle was on a counter attack and had numbers forward. He tied with Chris Mueller for most shots (2) and ended the night with a 91% passing rate, two aerials, two tackles, and was 7/7 on long ball passes.

MF, Sacha Kljestan, 6 — It was an up and down night for Kljestan, but it certainly was more up than down. The one really bad spot was the 81% passing percentage. This could be somewhat be explained by the new players around him, the fact that Seattle flooded the midfield, and perhaps some rust. Sacha looked a little slow at times, but don’t let that get in the way of the fact that he completed all of his long ball passes (5/5), won five aerials, and had four tackles, a key pass, and a shot.

MF, Dillon Powers, 6.5 — Every player wants to make a positive impact, especially after making a mistake. Powers showed just how important it is to shake off a mistake that led to the second Seattle goal, and pushed that must harder to make up for it. He did by logging an assist on the Lions’ goal. He also logged one shot, two tackles, an interception, a clearance, and an 86% passing rating, including being 5/7 on long balls.

F, Josué Colmán, 6 — I was really excited to see Colmán start, and I still am. Although the grade is about average, Colmán showed moments of pure brilliance. Unfortunately, there were times where he held onto the ball two touches too many and either lost it or had passes deflected. His 82% passer rating reflects this, although he did have three key passes. He completed just 40% of his dribble attempts, had one shot, and two tackles. With more minutes, I think there is potential there for Colmán to truly break out and help be that creative force in the midfield.

F, Santiago Patino, 5.5 — The first half was a bit quiet for Patino, but the effort was certainly there. The hold-up play was a bit lacking, but it was tough for all of the forwards. He had one shot attempt and two tackles, showing his commitment to drop back and defend when needed.

F, Benji Michel, 5.5 — It was a decent night for Michel, who provided the hustle we knew he would bring. Although the end result wasn’t there, he was a bit of a terror for the Seattle back line at times. He had a solid 90 minutes no matter how you look at it, and showed some sparks at times. Also, he did well when asked to drop back into defense.


F, Dom Dwyer (63’), 5.5 — It looked like the night when Dwyer was finally going to break out, but it never seemed to come. Defenders know how to handle him, and refs do not want to give him calls. He still shows no fear attacking balls in the box, but last night was another night that just wasn’t his. Dom also picked up another yellow card, which puts him dangerously close to a suspension.

F, Chris Mueller (69’), 7 — Cash Rules Everything Around Me. Is there anything that this kid can’t do? After being on the pitch for a massive six minutes, he took a pass from Powers, marched it across the top of the box, and fired a left footed shot that left Stefan Frei completely flat footed. Once again, Mueller hit the pitch as a sub and had a massive impact. It could have been slightly better, however, as he had only been on the field a few moments when he was set up nicely in front of goal but fired over the bar.

D, Joao Moutinho (85’), 6 — Coming in a bit late, Moutinho was still an impact player. As the Lions continued to push for the equalizer, they continued to try to stretch the field and utilize the wings, and Moutinho was key on the left. It was about a 13-minute shift due to eight minutes of stoppage, and he put forth a solid effort with 93% passing, a tackle, and an interception.

That is how i saw it in the late hours of Wednesday evening. How would you rate the Lions in this match, and who would you give the MotM nod to? Let us know in the poll below.

Polling Closed

Shane O’Neill4
Uri Rosell24
Greg Ranjitsingh11
Chris Mueller43
Sacha Kljestan1

Lion Links

Lion Links: 12/2/23

The Pride sign a new keeper, the MLS playoffs continue, the USWNT is in action, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Salutations on this satisfactory Saturday, Mane Landers. We’re heading for the home stretch of 2023, and what a year it has been. Make sure that you are catching all of our Season in Review articles for both the Orlando City and Orlando Pride players. Things tend to happen personnel-wise in December, so be prepared. Until then, let’s check out today’s links. But first, let’s wish a happy 26th birthday to Orlando City goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar.

Pride Sign a New Keeper

The Orlando Pride signed Finnish goalkeeper Sofia Manner from FC Honka of Finland’s top flight, the Kansallinen Liiga. With the addition of Manner, the Pride have four keepers on the roster heading into 2024. Manner is expected to compete for the starting job, though the same could be said of both Anna Moorhouse and Carly Nelson. It is unlikely all four netminders will be on the Pride once the season starts. Manner has international experience and was the best keeper in the Kansallinen Liiga.

MLS Conference Finals Tonight

I wouldn’t blame you if you decided not to watch the remainder of the MLS playoffs after last weekend’s disappointing result. However, if you are going see how it all sorts out, you might want to study up on the matches. We’re all too aware that the Columbus Crew will be facing FC Cincinnati to see which club wins the Eastern Conference. Over on the other side, LAFC will take on the Houston Dynamo to determine the Western Conference champion.

MLS Player Moves

As the playoffs come to a close, the signings and transfers around the league are ramping up, but who will stay and who will go? New York Red Bulls midfielder Dru Yearwood is heading to Nashville SC as reported by The Athletic (paywalled) since Dax McCarthy is out of contract there and won’t be returning.

The Philadelphia Union have signed midfielder Jesus Bueno to a new three-year contract through 2026 with an option for 2027. Meanwhile, Gustavo Bou won’t be returning to the New England Revolution. So, um…maybe he’d like to come south and score goals for Orlando City rather than against the Lions? Before anyone gets too crazy, it should be on a non-DP deal.

USWNT Hosts China

The USWNT is back in friendly action against China this afternoon in Ft. Lauderdale at 3 p.m. and then on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. in Frisco TX. Interim head coach Twila Kilgore will be in charge since newly-named Head Coach Emma Hayes doesn’t start until the 2023-2024 Women’s Super League season in England is over. Hayes is the current head coach of Chelsea FC Women’s. This is the first match between the two teams since 2018, and a lot has changed. The USWNT has been very solid on defense in 2023, allowing only two goals back in the SheBelieves Cup.

Free Kicks

  • If you haven’t heard of a “sin bin,” think of it like a penalty box in hockey. The idea has been getting a runout in lower league matches in English football by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) with some good results. It’s not yet confirmed, but MLS may institute the change in 2024. The idea is to reduce dissension by having a player sit for 10 minutes during a match. Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou has spoken out against the idea. What do you think of the concept?
  • Real Salt Lake has promoted Kurt Schmid to sporting director and interim chief soccer officer.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo will have to deal with a $1 billion class-action lawsuit for his role in promoting NFTs for Binance. Maybe that’s why he signed for Al-Nassr in the Saudi Pro League?
  • Speaking of the Saudi Pro League, it looks like Mohamed Salah may not be leaving EPL side Liverpool anytime soon. The prolific striker is looking for a new contract to stay at Anfield.
  • I’ll take things Pedro Gallese would not do for $400, Alex.

That will do it for today. Please go forth and enjoy your weekend!

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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.

Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)

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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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