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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. New England Revolution: Final Score 4-1 as Lions Blasted Again in Massachusetts

Five years into MLS, the Lions remain winless at Gillette Stadium.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Facing an important match in the playoff race, Orlando City didn’t show much fight in a 4-1 loss at Gillette Stadium in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Revs are now unbeaten in 11 games (7-0-4), as New England (9-8-6, 33 points) handed Orlando City (7-11-5, 26 points) its worst loss of the season.

The Lions still haven’t won at Gillette Stadium (0-4-1) since joining Major League Soccer and Orlando has now lost two straight games after a modest unbeaten streak.

City conceded within the first two and a half minutes in both halves — by Gustavo Bou in the first half and Cristian Penilla in the second — to squarely push New England into the driver’s seat. Carles Gil added a penalty kick goal and Diego Fagundez tacked on a rocket from distance when no one closed him down later in the game. Tesho Akindele pulled one back but it was far too little and far too late to be of any use.

Per Orlando City communications, Chris Mueller stayed in Orlando due to an illness and Will Johnson did not travel as a precaution after a heavy workload and is expected back next week. Sacha Kljestan and Dillon Powers were inserted in their spots in the lineup while Dom Dwyer returned to the 18 after serving his red card suspension. With Mueller unavailable, it was a bit surprising Dwyer sat the bench and it was clearly not the right move in the end, as Orlando bogged down repeatedly in the final third with most of the players looking for the next pass instead of making runs or finding pockets of space.

New England needed only three minutes to get on the board before Orlando even possessed the ball. Bou passed off then took a return ball from Edgar Castillo as no one tracked him into City’s penalty area and he beat Brian Rowe just 2:37 after kickoff.

The Lions finally got possession of the ball in the fifth minute and were the better team for much of the remainder of the half, but were wasteful in front of net and susceptible on the counter at times.

Orlando’s first good opportunity came in the 10th minute when Uri Rosell sent Nani down the left with a great ball. The captain slid a ball across for Akindele, who made an absolute mess of what should have been the tying goal. Two minutes later, it was Ruan giving Akindele a sitter but again the Canadian couldn’t get his footing right and the chance was completely wasted.

New England came right back the other way and nearly made Orlando pay for those missed chances, as Bou got another good opportunity to score but this time he missed the net with only Rowe to beat.

Powers smashed a shot from outside the area in the 24th that took a touch and sailed a bit high.

The teams then started trading chances. Four minutes later, Nani cut inside from the left and sent a curler headed for the inside of the back post but Matt Turner made the save.

Moments later, Bou attempted a shot from above the area at the other end but Powers blocked it. Kljestan got onto a Nani pass at the top of the area in the 38th minute but didn’t get a lot on the shot and Turner was able to save it.

Bou fired another effort over the net in the 45th minute and then Kljestan wasted an opportunity in stoppage time as he got the ball caught up in his feet trying to find either a shot or a pass in the penalty area. The Revs took their 1-0 advantage into the break.

New England led across the board statistically after the opening 45 minutes, out-shooting the Lions 9-5, although Orlando got more on target (3-1), leading in possession (51%-49%), and passing more accurately (82%-81%). But just like the second half against New York on Sunday, the Lions were not sharp in front of goal, particularly Akindele.

Things got worse for Orlando at halftime as Moutinho couldn’t continue and rookie center back Kamal Miller came on at left back, with Kyle Smith still available on the bench.

New England found Miller’s side quickly and put the game away early in the second half. Brandon Bye beat Sebas Mendez to the end line and crossed through the area for Penilla to sweep home in the 47th minute as Ruan was caught napping.

Rowe prevented a quick third goal by denying Teal Bunbury in the 52nd minute as he was left alone in the area.

Three minutes later, Ruan fired wide of goal from the right.

Things got worse in the 57th minute when Bou smashed a shot from a yard away from Mendez that hit the inside of his elbow. After video review a penalty was awarded and Gil converted to make it 3-0.

Rosell was caught by a Bye horror tackle in the 67th minute but instead of being down a man, New England got away with just a yellow. The play was reviewed and judged not to be a clear and obvious error, but Rosell’s leg would disagree. He went off two minutes later for Dwyer.

The striker made a difference in the attack almost immediately. He fired a shot that was deflected wide in the 72nd minute and provided a missing spark to the Orlando offense in the final third. Unfortunately the score got worse anyway.

Mendez opted not to close down Fagundez at the top of the area and the Revs’ second-leading all-time scorer blasted a laser that will be an MLS Goal of the Week contender, making it 4-0 in the 75th minute.

Akindele finally got the goal that had been eluding him all night in the 77th minute, smashing a cross from Dwyer into the roof of the net to make it 4-1 and at least avoid the shutout. Nani picked up the hockey assist on the play with his great vision to find a lane to get the ball to Dwyer.

Dwyer nearly pulled back a second in the 80th off a cross from Ruan but Antonio Delamea made a vital challenge at the last second to keep Dwyer from getting a clean shot off.

That was about the last good opportunity of the match. Gil missed a shot wide for New England and Orlando had several shots blocked at the other end, with Robinho firing a weak shot in on goal as well.

Shots finished nearly even, with New England holding a 20-17 advantage, but the Lions got more on target (8-6). Orlando ended up with 58% of the possession and the better passing accuracy (85%-81%).

In the end, Orlando simply wasn’t good enough at either end. Akindele had good enough chances to give the Lions a first-half lead and the defensive lapses early in both halves were crucial mistakes. In between, Orlando held its own on the road against one of the league’s hottest teams, but that will be of little comfort after absorbing the team’s worst loss of the year.

Additionally, O’Connor will have to wonder if he should have started Dwyer or brought him on earlier, and it made little sense to bring Robinho on in the 87th minute with too little time for him to make any impact in a game that was already out of hand.

The Lions will be off for the All-Star break except for Nani, who will participate in both the match and the skills challenge. Mueller will presumably be OK to participate in the skills challenge as well. Orlando will try to halt its two-game losing streak next Saturday night at home against FC Dallas but maybe it’s time to put all the emphasis on the U.S. Open Cup after falling seven points adrift of New England.

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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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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