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2019 Orlando City Season in Review: Kyle Smith

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Orlando City brought in defender Kyle Smith and goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh on Dec. 19 of 2018. The duo starred for James O’Connor at Louisville City FC in the USL and the Orlando gaffer added a couple of inexpensive familiar faces to add depth to his squad. With the additions of Joao Moutinho, Ruan, and Danilo Acosta, it seemed unlikely Smith would be in contention for a starting role, and the Lions needed some inexpensive depth at the position.

Smith became the preferred backup at both fullback positions, distancing himself from Acosta in the rotation and his versatility allowed him to fill in at center back and in the midfield on occasion. Let’s take a look at his first MLS season.

Statistical Breakdown

Smith appeared in 23 of Orlando City’s 34 games in 2019, starting 15 times and tallying 1,384 minutes. Of his starts, nine came at right back, four at left back, and one each at center back and midfielder. He provided no goals or assists in his first year in MLS, attempting six shots and getting two on target.

The Cincinnati native committed 20 fouls on the season — tied for sixth most on the Lions — and drew only four on the opposition. Only four Lions drew fewer fouls on their opponents and none of them played more than 11 games. He was ninth on the team in passing accuracy (81%), which was tops among Orlando City fullbacks in 2019. Yet those passes didn’t present much danger to the opposition, as Robin Jansson was the only outfield player on the team to average fewer than Smith’s 0.1 key passes per game.

Defensively, Smith was seventh on the team in average tackles per game (1.8) — ahead of all the team’s fullbacks except Moutinho (2.3) — and he was seventh in clearances per game (2.2), but he averaged only 0.6 interceptions and 0.8 blocks per match.

He also appeared in one U.S. Open Cup match, going the full 120 minutes against New England.

Best Game

Smith started coming on strong in the middle part of the season, at least defensively. He was never really much of a factor offensively. But his best match came in a 1-1 road draw at Toronto FC on Aug. 10. Smith was named our Man of the Match for a solid defensive effort against the Reds on the road and our readers agreed, handing him 54 of the 92 total votes, giving him 59% of the vote — a good distance ahead of second-place vote getter Benji Michel (15%). Here’s how our Jenn Glasheen summed up his night:

He made a nice play in the 58th minute to head a cross from Richie Laryea away from Jozy Altidore. The defense that is normally a Sané and Jansson showcase didn’t stand a chance with Smith on the field tonight. Smith finished with three tackles, a team-high eight clearances, and a blocked shot.

2019 Final Grade

Smith finished with a composite grade of 5.5 from The Mane Land’s staff. Defensively, Smith was a pretty solid backup fullback and the fact that he played so many games was a warning sign for the season. Offensively he offered little to nothing. Smith started the season slowly, taking a while to adjust to MLS, which is completely understandable. As the season went on, he looked more and more at home in his own end but the offensive end was foreign territory. The caveat from this grade is that it applies to his fullback play. He didn’t do much of anything as a midfielder and his time at center back was mixed — pretty good at Portland in a relief stint and not so great in the season finale against Chicago.

2020 Outlook

With O’Connor gone, the assumption might be that Smith is not likely to be back next year. However, his guaranteed salary of $70,250 makes him a bargain backup. Without knowing if he signed more than a one-year deal, it’s difficult to say whether Smith is likely to return in 2020 or not. But if he is, at least he isn’t expensive and has shown he can defend at the fullback position at the MLS level. He might not be the guy you want starting for a dynamic team, but he can provide solid depth. My guess would be Orlando City would decline an option if that’s where his contract is, but, again, the prospect of a serviceable $70k backup who can fill in elsewhere is worth consideration.


Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/11/24

Julie Doyle up for Goal of the Week, scouting Brazil ahead of USMNT match, Valencia fans convicted of racial abuse, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. After a brief break, Orlando City will be back in action when it takes on LAFC at home on Saturday. The Orlando Pride will visit a struggling North Carolina Courage side on the same day, while Orlando City B will have an oddly placed Thursday match against Chattanooga FC. With such a busy week ahead of us, it’s little surprise that we have a lot to talk over this morning. Let’s get into it.

Julie Doyle Up for Goal of the Week

Pride forward Julie Doyle has been nominated for NWSL Goal of the Week for her strike against the San Diego Wave during Friday’s 1-1 draw. Doyle opened the scoring in the 36th minute with an extremely well taken goal that came from a Barbra Banda assist. The Zambian forward made a run down the right wing and crossed for Doyle, but the ball was a little behind her and the chance looked to have gone. It hadn’t though, because Doyle contorted her body, hung out a foot, and let the momentum from the ball carry it into the back of San Diego’s net. Make sure you go vote for her to win!

Brazil Scouting Report

The United States Men’s National Team will play its final friendly before Copa America tomorrow at Camping World Stadium, right here in Orlando. The idea of any USMNT game is slightly nauseating after the Yanks were throttled 5-1 by Colombia on Saturday, but the fact that they’ll square off against a loaded Brazil side means things aren’t going to be any easier. While Brazil has struggled early on in World Cup qualifying, it will likely run out a front three of Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr., and Raphina that’s capable of causing plenty of damage. Brazil prefers to control the ball and build from the back with short passing movements, but has no qualms about ceding possession and breaking on the counter, something that caused no shortage of issues for the U.S. against Colombia.

Valencia Fans Convicted of Racial Abuse

A trio of Valencia fans will serve eight months in prison after being convicted of racially abusing Vinicius Jr. Additionally, they are barred from entering soccer stadiums for two years and will pay for court proceedings. The convictions are the first for racism in professional soccer in Spain, and a case was opened after the fans made monkey noises and gestures during a game in May of 2023. The Brazilian forward in particular has faced racial abuse during his time playing in Spain, but he’s far from the only player, as the trial for a fan accused of abusing Inaki Williams during a match in 2020 has still yet to even begin.

The Soccer Tournament Concludes

The Soccer Tournament wrapped up last night with a pair of engrossing championship matches. In the women’s bracket, US Women defeated the North Carolina Courage by a score of 6-3, with Talia Dellapuerta scoring the winning goal. US Women featured United States Women’s National Team greats Heather O’Reilly and Ali Kreiger, and the team won the first women’s edition of the tournament and the $1 million prize that comes with it.

On the men’s side, former Orlando City player Nani and his team Nani FC fell to La Bombonera, which scored mere minutes into the match and never looked back on its way to a convincing 4-0 win. La Bombonera becomes the second team to win it all following Newtown Pride FC’s victory in last year’s inaugural tournament.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/10/24

Facundo Torres and Cesar Araujo won’t play for Uruguay in Copa America, Pride and OCB draw, USMNT drilled by Colombia, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Alex Corrie

Hello, Mane Landers! I hope all is well down in Florida. I was busy at Under Armour all weekend and managing the broadcast operations for the NISA league’s matches last night. The Lions were off this weekend, but we had the Orlando Pride and OCB in action. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Torres and Araujo Not On Uruguay Squad for Copa America

Uruguay National Team manager Marcelo Bielsa confirmed his roster for the 2024 Copa America over the weekend, and Orlando City’s Facundo Torres and Cesar Araujo didn’t make the final roster.

Torres and Araujo played briefly in the second half in Uruguay’s 4-0 win over Mexico in a friendly match last week. Uruguay will now prepare for its upcoming group stage matches in the Copa America against Panama, Bolivia, and the United States. Torres and Araujo will be back with Orlando City this week to get ready for their upcoming matchup against LAFC on Saturday.

Orlando Pride, San Diego Wave Play to 1-1 Draw

The Orlando Pride drew 1-1 Friday against the San Diego Wave at Snapdragon Stadium and saw their NWSL record win streak end at eight matches. Julie Doyle scored the opener for the Pride, but the Wave were able to grab an equalizer in the second half as both sides got a point. The Pride remains unbeaten this season in the NWSL. After this weekend’s results across the league, Orlando and the Kansas City Current are tied with 28 points, but Kansas City is in first on goal differential. The Pride will be on the road again this weekend to take on the North Carolina Courage Saturday.

OCB Draws at Home vs. Carolina Core FC, Snags Shootout Point

On Friday, Orlando City B drew 2-2 against Carolina Core FC at Osceola County Stadium. The Young Lions were off to a poor start early in the match, trailing 2-0 in the first half. In the second half, OCB got things back on track with goals from Alex Freeman and Imanol Almaguer to tie the match. It went to penalties after finishing tied. OCB won the extra point with a 6-5 shootout win over Carolina. That result puts the Young Lions back in the playoff hunt in seventh in the Eastern Conference with 18 points. OCB will be back in action Thursday at home against Chattanooga FC.

Colombia Dominates USMNT in Friendly Action

The U.S. Men’s National Team fell 5-1 to Colombia Saturday at FedEx Field and suffered its heaviest defeat under Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. It wasn’t good from the start as the USMNT conceded two goals in the first 19 minutes of the match in the first half. Tim Weah pulled one back for the U.S. before Colombia added three more goals towards the end of the second half to seal the win. Colombia is on a seven-match winning streak and is unbeaten in 22 matches. The last time the USMNT gave up this many goals was in the 2009 Gold Cup final in a 5-0 defeat to Mexico. The U.S. needs to improve fast with its Copa America opener less than two weeks from now. It will be a quick turnaround for the Americans as they take on Brazil Wednesday at Camping World Stadium in their final friendly match before Copa America starts.

Free Kicks

  • FC Dallas has announced the departure of Head Coach Nico Estevez. Assistant Coach Peter Luccin will lead the team on an interim basis while the club begins its search for a new head coach. FC Dallas is 13th in the Western Conference with 14 points.
  • The Chicago Red Stars broke an NWSL attendance record in their match over the weekend as 35,038 fans showed up at Wrigley Field, but the Red Stars lost 2-1 to Bay FC.
  • Wrexham co-owner Rob McElhenney is renewing his efforts to lure former Real Madrid star Gareth Bale out of retirement to join the club. He also stated that the club’s offer is still on the table.
  • In Jesse Marsch’s second match as Canada’s head coach, Canada held France to a scoreless draw in a friendly match on Sunday.

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

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Opinion

Thoughts from Orlando City’s Open Training Session

What did we learn from an early morning summer scrimmage?

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Sean Rollins, The Mane Land

Orlando City opened up the gates of its training facility today for season ticket members to take in a morning training session. The team took the field close to 8:30 a.m. and proceeded to run a first team vs. second team scrimmage for the better part of an hour. The first team was made up of mostly regular-season starters with the exception of those players currently representing their countries on international duty or those rehabbing injuries.

Efforts put in during practice and on the training pitch should always be taken with a small grain of salt, but what follows are my rapid reactions from a hot and sunny training morning.

4-4-2 Formation

The first-team Lions took the field in a 4-4-2 configuration with the likes of Rodrigo Schlegel, Nico Lodeiro, and Luis Muriel on the pitch in their usual positions. Prior to the last match, it appeared as if Orlando might move away from the 3-5-2, but it never changed back from the shape used for the better part of the last month. I do, however, expect that the team will utilize a four-man back line when Orlando City takes the pitch again on June 15 against LAFC with Duncan McGuire and Muriel up top.

The action during the scrimmage period was mostly one sided, but without playmakers like Facundo Torres on the pitch during training, it seemed as if most of the action was funneled through Ivan Angulo up the left side of the field. The back line played well together in the scrimmage but did allow the second-team players to complete several long balls from time to time.

Old Habits Die Hard

One of the things I was most interested to observe during the training session was how the team attacked the goal and how aggressive their shot taking would be. Unfortunately, it does appear that the old saying “you play how you practice” could be seen in full force as several culprits who have shown bad decision-making during matches used the same poor decision-making in practice. I wish that I could say the results were different but they were not. There are still a handful of players who are very touch happy and often missed out on opportunities to take shots by trying to over dribble or by being too cute with combination passes in the box.

For a team that mustered fewer shot attempts than I have digits on one hand during its last outing against the New York Red Bulls, I would love to see the boys in purple pull the trigger from anywhere and at any time. It seems as though some of the offensive issues that have plagued the attack during matches is coming from habits shown on the training ground.

Jack Lynn’s Impressive Scrimmage

With McGuire away with the U-23 USMNT squad and Ramiro Enrique not on the training pitch, Jack Lynn started alongside Muriel up top for the first team. Lynn was easily the most impressive player from the training session today, scoring in a variety of ways that show he has continued to put in effort behind the scenes to improve his quality. While he may be lacking some of the pure athleticism of McGuire or the savvy of Muriel, Lynn continued to press toward goal throughout the scrimmage and I stopped counting after his third goal.

My favorite effort of his during the session was his first shot on frame, which was a beautiful curling ball from outside the 18 into the upper 90. Lynn has shown glimpses of his ability when he has been called upon this year and may be in line for more playing time depending on how the summer transfer window shakes out. Based upon the effort of the training session today, he will be ready when his number is called.


All in all, even under the hot Florida summer sun, it was a really nice event that the club put on for season ticket members of all ages, and I hope to see Orlando City host more of these events in the future. The Lions are on a bye week and will look to get back to their winning ways on June 15 at home against LAFC. Vamos Orlando!

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