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

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So close, and yet so far. If not for a wonky deflection from a long throw-in and an unfortunate (but correct) offside call, Orlando very well could have snuck out of Minnesota with three points in the bag.

Instead a point will have to do, and while I certainly would have taken a draw before the game if it had been offered to me (Minnesota has only lost once at home all year), the fact that Toronto, Montreal and New England all could only manage draws definitely made it feel like a missed opportunity. Anyway, on to my grades.

Starters

GK, Brian Rowe, 7.5 (MotM) — When it came to shot stopping, Rowe had about the best night he could have had. He saved five of the six shots he faced, and probably had no right to make two of them, parrying a close-range Darwin Quintero shot out of the danger area and getting a strong right glove to another close shot in the second half from Robin Lod. He was absolutely helpless on the goal, and while his distribution wasn’t the best on the night, without the two excellent saves he made Orlando wouldn’t have even sniffed the point it eventually brought home from Minnesota.

D, Kamal Miller, 6 — It was a solid if unspectacular night from Miller at left back. He grew into the game as the first half went on, even after getting nutmegged by Ethan Finlay. He played a particularly smart pass in the 34th minute to release Benji Michel down the wing, but lost his man at the back post just before halftime and was lucky that the Lions didn’t concede because of it. He’s done well deputizing out wide, but the team has missed the width that Joao Moutinho is usually capable of providing.

D, Robin Jansson, 7 — Jansson was his usual composed and steady self in the center of defense. In the opening minutes of the match he did exceptionally well to pull back and hold the defensive line, catching his man offside in the process. He also made a number of clearances on balls played into the box and was very unlucky to have the goal come as a result of a deflection off his body.

D, Lamine Sané, 7 — Sané too provided exactly what we’ve come to expect from him this year — a solid and steady presence at the center back position. He passed the ball particularly well with an 88% connection rate on his passes, won two aerial duels, and, like his partner Jansson, he cleared the ball on a number of occasions. He even had a successful dribble to top off his well-rounded night.

D, Kyle Smith, 5.5 — Perhaps I’m nitpicking but for me Smith didn’t have the best night. The thing is, he played pretty well defensively, making a pair of tackles and blocking several would-be balls into the box. The problem for me came on the offensive side of the ball. He generally did a good job of getting forward but there were a couple occasions where his final ball into the box was lacking and sloppy passes led to the dissolution of at least two Orlando City attacks/spells of possession in the offensive half. I thought he improved after halftime and maybe his grade being low is simply because of how dangerous Ruan typically is on the right side of defense.

MF, Will Johnson, 6.5 — It was a fairly quiet night for Johnson. He made several good tackles on the edge of the box and passed at a great 89% rate, while doing a good job of clogging things up in the middle of the field. He began to tire in the second half though, which is rather understandable considering he spent his time on the field running as hard as he always does. His influence waned with his legs though, and James O’Connor was probably smart not to keep him on the field for the full 90.

MF, Nani, 6.5 — To be honest, this is a grade that I struggled with. For a lot of the first half Nani was marked quite tightly and it showed. He only had a 73% passing rate and was dispossessed on three occasions, and while he won a duel in the air he didn’t look as sharp as many of us are accustomed to seeing. With that being said he was much better in the second half after moving to his more comfortable wing position. He was also clever to get his body in front of Ike Opara to win the penalty kick and was equally calm when it came to slotting it away in the bottom corner. Hopefully the introduction of Mauricio Pereyra will mean the burden of creative duties is lessened.

MF, Sebas Mendez, 7 — Mendez was his typical self in defensive midfield. He did an excellent job of breaking up Minnesota attacks, recording four tackles in the process. He also had a passing accuracy of 93% and even managed to win an aerial duel — no mean feat when you’re listed at 5-foot-7. In general it was a good night for him, despite some loose passes in his own end, and, while he didn’t necessarily do anything spectacular, when you play the position he does, the less your name is called the better.

F, Benji Michel, 7 —I quite like what I’ve seen out of Michel for most of his time on the field this year and tonight was no different. He was lively and eager to run at defenders every chance he got, with three successful dribbles to show for it. On one of those dribbles he probably should have passed the ball wide to Robinho rather than having a shot at goal, but that sort of decision making should come as he matures. It was by no means a perfect game but he looked the most dangerous of the starting front three.

F, Dom Dwyer, 6 — It wasn’t the best night for Dom. While he won four aerial duels, much of what he was asked to do involved going up against center backs with a height advantage to try and win balls lofted out from the back. Still, he found himself in good positions on several occasions but was unable to get off a shot on the night. His passing accuracy of 60% also left quite a bit to be desired, and while he fought hard, it wasn’t a surprise to see his name come up on the substitutes board when it did.

F, Robinho, 6.5 — Perhaps y’all will disagree but I thought Robinho played rather well for the half that he was on the field. He completed two dribbles, made two tackles, passed at an 84% clip, and did exceptionally well to intercept a ball in the 37th minute, run at the defense and play a dangerous ball into the area. However, the Lions were in need of a formation change after halftime and him coming off for Mauricio Pereyra meant that Nani was able to play out wide where he’s more comfortable. It hurt my heart to see him being consoled on the sideline and he clearly still wanted to be out on the field trying to bring home three points.

Substitutes

MF, Mauricio Pereyra (46’), 6.5 — Pereyra came on for his Orlando City debut after halftime, replacing Robinho and slotting into the midfield. While he didn’t do anything especially spectacular, he did vital work pressing the ball and marking well through the center of the field. In addition he made a great tackle on the edge of the Loons’ box to keep the ball with Orlando, and completed a nifty little dribble out wide in the 88th minute to keep possession near midfield. He worked a nice give-and-go with Tesho Akindele deep in stoppage time that initially won a penalty until video review showed the Canadian was just offside.

F, Tesho Akindele (63’), 6.5 — Tesho had a much easier time of it when it came to hold-up play simply because he’s a bigger guy than Dwyer is, and he provided a better outlet that was sorely needed as the game wore on. He also showed absolutely fantastic awareness to play a first-time ball for Nani at midfield that sent him in behind the Minnesota defense and eventually resulted in him winning the penalty. He was disgustingly unlucky to be offside in the 94th minute, which negated a handball in the Loons’ box. He had a positive impact on the game overall though, and looks more and more like an extremely astute purchase.

MF, Carlos Ascues (78’), 6 — Ascues came on for Will Johnson to provide fresh legs in the middle of the field and help shut up shop for the remainder of the game. For the most part he did just that, clearing the ball several times and hassling Minnesota as the Loons tried to start attacks through the middle of the field. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to get up high enough to prevent Ike Opara from flicking on the long throw on which Orlando conceded. Still, it was a solid cameo from the Peruvian.


That’s how I saw things from the match. Please let us know your vote for the Man of the Match in the poll below.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Nani3
Brian Rowe90
Lamine Sane2
Robin Jansson6
Sebas Mendez1
Someone else1

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/23/24

Ivan Angulo makes Team of the Matchday bench, Americans in action, Sergino Dest to miss Copa America, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It was an excellent weekend for Orlando’s soccer teams, as the three sides took seven of the nine points on offer. There’s no rest for the wicked this week as the Orlando Pride travel to play the Washington Spirit on Friday, Orlando City hosts Toronto FC on Saturday, and Orlando City B finishes things up at home against Toronto FC II on Sunday. Let’s take a look at today’s links.

Ivan Angulo Earns Recognition

Ivan Angulo has been named to the bench of the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. The Colombian got the start on Saturday up in Montreal, and had a good game, going the distance and completing 82% of his passes and putting one of his two shots on target. That shot was an important one, as it gave the Lions a late equalizer and helped them salvage a valuable point on the road. Sean Rollins gave him a grade of 6 in his player grades from the match, a rating that likely would have been higher had Martin Ojeda’s pass been accurate enough to allow Angulo to grab a possible winner just a few minutes after he equalized. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Americans in Midweek Action

There are a number of Americans taking part in big games this week, and the good people over at Stars and Stripes FC have you covered with the whole rundown. First up, Weston McKennie, Tim Weah, and Juventus will try to advance to the Coppa Italia final this afternoon, as they enter the second leg of the semifinal against Lazio with a 2-0 lead on aggregate. Tomorrow sees Monaco and Folarin Balogun meet Lille in Ligue 1 action, while Chris Richards and Crystal Palace host Newcastle United in the Premier League. Things wrap up on Friday in Serie B when Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessman, and third-place Venezia face Cremonese as they try to overtake Como and finish in one of Serie B’s two guaranteed promotion places.

Sergino Dest Sidelined Long Term

Following up on a story from yesterday’s Lion Links, The Athletic is reporting that the knee injury suffered by Sergino Dest will keep him out of Copa America, and sideline him for the rest of the year. That would be a big blow for the United States Men’s National Team, as Dest has been the nailed-on starter at right back since winning a place in the team during the qualifying cycle for the 2022 World Cup. The Yanks aren’t without options at the position, as Joe Scally could step in for Dest, or Gregg Berhalter could try deploying Weah there, but neither of the two possesses Dest’s level of offensive threat.

Inter Milan Wins Serie A

Inter Milan dispatched rival AC Milan 2-1 guaranteed that Inter will win its 20th Serie A title in club history. Fikayo Tomori’s goal in the 80th minute was the closest Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah’s club could get to leveling the score, and Inter is now a whopping 17 points clear of AC Milan with five games left to play. Inter has been imperious on its way to a 20th Scudetto, scoring the most goals in the league while also conceding the fewest and losing only once this season.

Free Kicks

  • The Orlando Pride and Orlando City hosted a clean-up effort in honor of Earth Day on Monday.

That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with CF Montreal?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City / Mark Thor

Orlando City scored in second-half injury time for the second consecutive weekend to claim points. However, this time it was an equalizer as the Lions drew CF Montreal 2-2 north of the border. The Lions ended their two-game road trip with four points and extended their points streak to four games after dropping three straight. It’s an improvement as they look to climb up the Eastern Conference standings.

Here’s how I saw the individual performances in the draw.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 5.5 — Gallese conceded a pair of goals in this game, though neither were necessarily his fault. The first was a breakaway after Robin Jansson kept Mason Toye onside and the second was blocked wide, but Kyle Smith was caught flat-footed. However, he did concede twice while saving three of Montreal’s five shots on target. Additionally, the Lions’ goalkeeper completed 55.6% of his 27 passes, including eight of his 20 long balls.

D, Kyle Smith, 5.5 — Smith had a solid game other than one specific play. The left back had a team-high 86 touches and completed 78.3% of his 60 passes, including five of his 12 long balls. Defensively, he recorded two tackles, two clearances, an interception, and a blocked shot. Unfortunately, his most impactful play was getting caught watching on a Gallese block while Ariel Lassiter beat him to the rebound to give the hosts a late lead. That play lowers his grade for this otherwise quality performance.

D, Robin Jansson, 5.5 — Similar to Smith, Jansson had a solid game apart from one play. He had 72 touches and completed 79.7% of his 59 passes, including a key pass and three of his 14 long balls. He added a tackle, an interception, a blocked shot, and a team-high seven clearances to his stat sheet. But his failure to step up in the 16th minute enabled Toye to get behind the back line and score the opening goal, lowering his grade.

D, David Brekalo, 6 — Brekalo has proven himself to be the first-choice partner for Jansson and he was arguably the better center back in Montreal. The Slovenian international had 53 touches and completed 85.1% of his 47 passes, including two of his five long balls. The defender recorded two tackles, an interception, and three clearances defensively in a strong performance.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Thorhallsson was in his usual right back position for this game, playing 90 minutes and recording 44 touches. He completed 82.8% of his 29 passes, but only one of his four long balls and neither of his two crosses. He cleared the ball twice and didn’t really get into the attack, but was solid in his defensive duties.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 6.5 (MotM) — This was possibly Cartagena’s best performance of the season. His 85 touches were second-most on the team and he completed 76.5% of his team-high 68 passes, including a key pass and two of his six long balls. It was his shielding of Nathan Saliba and strong pass forward for Duncan McGuire that started the last goal, though he didn’t get an assist. The defensive midfielder was also active defensively with five tackles and three interceptions, and he won a pair of aerial duels. His overall performance earns him my Man of the Match.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6.5 — Araujo had a similar performance to Cartagena, but fewer touches and more accurate passing. He recorded 55 touches and completed 93.9% of his 49 passes, including a key pass. He was less active than his partner defensively, recording three tackles, and was booked in the 63rd minute.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — Angulo had one of his better performances in this one, recording 48 touches and completing 82.1% of his 39 passes. His biggest impact on the game came two minutes into second-half stoppage time, when he connected with an excellent Martin Ojeda cross to even the game at 2-2. He nearly scored a winner five minutes later, but the pass from Ojeda was just a bit too far for him. His goal was one of his two shots and the only one on target.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6 — Lodeiro’s 45 touches were the fewest of the Orlando City midfield, but he did the most with them. The playmaker completed 91.4% of his 35 passes, including a key pass, but couldn’t connect on his long ball or either of his two crosses. He was also caught offside and dispossessed twice before being replaced by Ojeda in the 77th minute.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6 — Torres’ 65 touches were the most in the Lions’ midfield and the fourth most on the team. He completed 83.7% of his 49 passes, but didn’t connect on his two crosses or four long balls. The attacker took three shots and put one on target. In the 22nd minute, the midfielder stepped up and buried his second penalty of the season and ninth as a Lion, continuing her perfect record from the spot.

F, Luis Muriel, 6 — While Oscar Pareja had previously been starting Muriel behind McGuire, the forward got the start alone up top for the second consecutive game. He had 34 touches and completed 68.4% of his 19 passes, including his lone long ball but neither of his two crosses. His biggest impact on the game came in the 20th minute, when he tipped the ball past Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois, drawing the penalty that resulted in the first equalizer. He also had a shot of his own, but it was off target.

Substitutes

F, Duncan McGuire (63’), 6 — McGuire came on in the 63rd minute for Muriel. He had 16 touches in 27 minutes, completing eight of his 10 passes (80%) with a key pass. His lone shot came in the 90th minute, when Jansson headed the ball over to him and he probably should’ve equalized, but his volley was just wide. The striker also won three aerial duels.

MF, Martin Ojeda (77’), 6.5 — Ojeda came on in the 77th minute for Lodeiro and, similar to Lodeiro last week, made a big difference. He had 15 touches and completed four of his six passes (66.7%), including a key pass. Two minutes into second-half injury time, his excellent cross found Angulo, who touched it in for the equalizer. Five minutes later, he had another great cross that nearly found Angulo for the winner, but was just out of his reach.

D, Rafael Santos (85’), 6 — Santos came on in the 85th minute for Torres as the Lions looked to see out a point. He had nine touches and completed two of his three passes (66.7%), but didn’t connect on his cross or long ball. Coming on to assure the defense, Santos did his job as he recorded a tackle, an interception, and two clearances.


This is how I saw Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with CF Montreal. Let us know how you saw the game and don’t forget to vote for your Man of the Match.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/22/24

Orlando City draws CF Montreal, Pride and OCB win, FA Cup drama, 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 drew, while the Pride and OCB both won over the weekend. I had friends in town, so I went to Wrigley Field to check out a Cubs game and show them around Chicago. Let’s wish former Orlando City midfielder Kaka and Pride defender Brianna Martinez a happy birthday! There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Draw at CF Montreal

Orlando City again had to overcome a 2-1 deficit on the road when it faced CF Montreal Saturday night. The Lions needed a late stoppage-time goal from Ivan Angulo to walk out of Stade Saputo with a 2-2 draw. Orlando has now picked up points in each of the last four matches. Orlando City will face CF Montreal again on July 26 in the MLS Leagues Cup during the competition’s group stage. The Lions’ next match will be Saturday at Inter&Co Stadium as it takes on Toronto FC.

Orlando Pride Defeat San Diego Wave

The Orlando Pride shut out the San Diego Wave 1-0 on Friday at Inter&Co Stadium and got their second consecutive win with that same scoreline. Summer Yates scored the lone goal in the first half to seal the win for Orlando. Zambian international striker Barbra Banda made her debut for the Pride, coming off the bench in the second half. The Pride remain undefeated through five league matches and are fifth in the NWSL table with nine points. The team will be on the road to face the Washington Spirit Friday.

OCB Wins on the Road at Crown Legacy FC

Orlando City B got a 2-0 win against Crown Legacy FC at the Sportsplex at Matthews on Friday. Alex Freeman and Shak Mohammed scored for the Young Lions, and Javier Otero made six saves. OCB completed its two-match road trip, securing four out of a possible six points, and has kept its unbeaten streak on the road alive at four matches. OCB is in fifth in the MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference with nine points, while Crown Legacy is winless in five matches. OCB will be back in action this Sunday as it hosts Toronto FC II at Osceola County Stadium.

Manchester United and Manchester City Advance to FA Cup Final

Manchester United won 4-2 on penalties after a 3-3 draw against Coventry City in the FA Cup semifinals to advance to the final. It was a thrilling match at Wembley as United had a 3-0 lead before Coventry City rallied to get back into the match. USMNT forward Haji Wright scored the equalizer to tie the match 3-3 late into stoppage time. Coventry City thought it scored the game-winning goal late into extra time from Victor Torp, but it was ruled offside after video review. Casemiro missed his penalty for United, while Wright and Torp gave Coventry City a 2-1 advantage. United converted four straight penalties while Coventry City missed two to seal the win for the Red Devils. Manchester City edged past Chelsea 1-0 in their semifinal matchup, with Bernardo Silva scoring the lone goal in the second half. The FA Cup final will be played at the end of May and will feature a Manchester Derby for the second consecutive time.

Free Kicks

  • In case you missed it, check out this video on Orlando City’s social media page on Ivan Angulo’s equalizer to tie the match in stoppage time against CF Montreal on Saturday.

According to OptaJack, the Pride have secured the most points at home during the regular season since last May, with 26.

  • USMNT defender Sergino Dest suffered a knee injury during training with PSV Eindhoven over the weekend. Dest will miss the remainder of the Eredivisie season and could miss the 2024 Copa America this summer.
  • Real Madrid came back from being 2-1 down to defeat Barcelona 3-2 and stay ahead of its rivals by 11 points with six league matches left.
  • Bayer Leverkusen extended its unbeaten run to 45 matches after scoring a late goal from Josip Stanisic in stoppage time to get a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund.
  • Serie A side Udinese is reportedly set to hire former Juventus and Real Madrid player Fabio Cannavaro as its next head coach.

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

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