Connect with us

Orlando City

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

Published

on

After a strong performance in the MLS is Back group stage, Orlando City dominated the Montreal Impact in a 1-0 win in the round of 16. Despite the narrow scoreline, Montreal had few good chances on goal while the Lions created several chances throughout the night. The win sees them advance to the quarterfinals on Friday night.

While the shots on goal were pretty close at 10-7, Orlando City dominated with 57% possession. This was especially impactful in the attacking end, where Chris Mueller, Nani, and Sebas Mendez helped create several opportunities throughout the night.

Let’s look at how Orlando City’s players did individually in this important win.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 7 — It was a pretty easy game for Pedro Gallese as he didn’t have much trouble throughout the night. Only one of Montreal’s seven shots was on target, resulting in the need for only one save for Gallese. He did have to come out to punch a ball late in the game, which he missed, but it was cleared away. The fact that he got his second clean sheet of the season is worthy of a high grade but there will be games where he’ll be called upon much more to help the team.

D, Joao Moutinho, 6 — The pressure on the right side of the field by Montreal meant that Moutinho was called upon more frequently than he probably would’ve been otherwise. With Ruan needing to stay further back than he usually does, Moutinho ended up in the attack throughout much of the game. While there were a couple of passes that didn’t reach the intended target, Moutinho was responsible for a key pass and took an off-target shot. Defensively, it was a solid performance by the back four, Moutinho included. Even when Montreal looked to be building up an attack, the back four were able to clear.

D, Antonio Carlos, 7 — Antonio Carlos made the biggest impact of any defensive player in this game for Orlando City. He was very solid throughout the game, making four interceptions and seven clearances at center back. This was one of the primary reasons why Gallese’s night was so easy. He didn’t go forward very often, leaving that to Robin Jansson, but stayed back and kept the Impact from getting any dangerous shots on goal.

D, Robin Jansson, 6.5 — Similar to Carlos, Robin Jansson had a strong defensive game, keeping the Impact from threatening the Lions’ goal. He went forward more than Carlos in this game, helping build the attack from the back and allowing Mendez to push further forward into the attack. However, it was his defensive play that was largely on display in this game. While communication has been a problem for Orlando City in the past and the two starting center backs had a language barrier to cross to start the season, they worked well together this night in keeping the Impact from creating any dangerous chances on goal.

D, Ruan, 6.5 — Typically, Ruan’s offense is quite noticeable but that wasn’t the case in this game, though he and Mueller did enough down the right to force Montreal to change shape at the break. The Impact continually tried to attack the Lions down the left, forcing Ruan into greater defensive responsibilities, particularly in the second half. The right back came up with a strong performance in this game, keeping some of the Impact’s most dangerous attackers at bay. He was credited with two tackles, two interceptions, and a blocked shot but it was the ineffectiveness of Montreal on his side that really stood out.

MF, Sebas Mendez, 6.5 — This was probably Mendez’s best performance of the year so far. While his defensive midfield partner, Uri Rosell, stayed further back, Mendez was able to push forward into the attack at multiple points throughout the game. He created multiple opportunities for the Lions, especially in the second half, and his quick passing and long run helped to create the game’s lone goal. In his 82 minutes, he ended up with four shots of his own, and forced Rod Fanni into an errant back pass for an easy tap-in by Tesho Akindele.

MF, Oriol Rosell, 6 — When you have a defensive midfielder push forward as Mendez did, the other one needs to play a defensive role. That was what Uri Rosell did in this game. He completed 81 passes on the night, second on the team only to Moutinho. His pass accuracy rating of 97.5% was the highest of any starter. That’s even more impressive since he played 10 long balls forward, with nine reaching their intended target. It was yet another strong performance by the Spanish midfielder.

MF, Chris Mueller, 6 — Chris Mueller has earned his spot in the Lions’ starting lineup during the MLS is Back Tournament and he showed why he starts again last night. In the first half, Mueller was very problematic for the Impact as he created chance after chance for the Lions. The one glaring play in the game was when he had a golden opportunity for the opening goal. The ball rolled right in front of him with an empty net but the young midfielder was unable to put it away. That could’ve been a deciding moment had the Lions not finally converted in the second half. Despite the miss, it was a quality performance for the midfielder.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 5.5 — This wasn’t one of Mauricio Pereyra’s best performances since he joined Orlando City last season. That’s partly because he’s such a quality player that he has higher expectations than others. He only completed 84.2% of his 57 passes in 74 minutes of play. Similar to Mueller, the most noticeable moment for Pereyra could’ve been a mistake early in the game. He found himself with some space in the box but hit the ball off target. As a quality attacking player, that’s one he has to get on goal and could’ve been costly in the end.

MF, Nani, 6.5 — While it wasn’t the dominant performance that Orlando City fans have seen in the past, Nani put in a good shift for the Lions. This was especially so in the first half. Along with Mueller, Nani created havoc for the Montreal defense, creating several chances for teammates and nearly helping the Lions get on the board. The two closest chances in the first half were both set up by Nani. The first was the shot off target by Pereyra — after a slick back heel pass from Nani — and the second was a good cross on Mueller’s mistake in front of goal. The Portuguese midfielder could’ve had a pair of assists on the night.

F, Tesho Akindele, 7 (MotM) — This was a very good performance by Tesho as the Canadian scored the lone goal and nearly had an assist. Just before halftime, a one-two between Akindele and Mendez saw the latter tap home the go-ahead goal. However, Akindele was judged to be offside. Replays of the controversial ruling appeared to show the striker slightly onside but the flag went up during the play. In the 60th minute, Akindele got the lone goal in this 1-0 win. It may have been a tap-in after a good run by Mendez, but similar chances were squandered earlier in the game. If not for the finish, the Lions could’ve been heading out of the tournament.

Substitutes

MF, Andres Perea (75’), 5 — Andres Perea was the first player brought on by Orlando City as he took part in the final 15 minutes. Replacing Pereyra, Perea didn’t play that poorly, completing 84.6% of his 13 passes. Coming on as a midfielder with a one-goal lead, Perea’s role was to help keep possession and secure the victory. While the Impact didn’t score in the late stages of the game, Perea could’ve done better with his possession.

F, Daryl Dike (75’), 4 — Coming on for the final 15 minutes of the game, it was a difficult performance for rookie Daryl Dike on his debut. The young striker found himself with the ball in the box on multiple occasions but was unable to do anything with it. In some cases, Dike lost the ball before being able to reach a teammate. On other occasions, he committed a foul during an attack, effectively ending the chance. He only had one off-target shot but committed three fouls and picked up a yellow card for shooting the ball after the whistle.

MF, Joey DeZart (83’), N/A — Joey DeZart came on for Mendez with just seven minutes left and didn’t have time to make much of an impact. He only had nine touches and one interception, but did help secure the win.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel (83’), N/A — Rodrigo Schlegel came on for Mueller as a defensive change to help see out the game. He only had six touches in seven minutes as the Lions simply looked to hold onto the ball. He did record one tackle and one clearance in those seven minutes and drew a foul on a frustrated Romell Quioto.

D, Kyle Smith (87’), N/A — Kyle Smith was the final change for the Lions, coming on for Ruan in the dying minutes. He had a bigger impact in fewer minutes than DeZart and Schlegel, with 13 touches, two clearances, and a tackle credited to his name. The most important thing was, like DeZart and Schlegel, he helped to see out the 1-0 win.


Overall, there’s not much to be displeased with in this game. The Lions came into this tournament with questions of if they would be able to get out of their group. The 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact puts them in the quarterfinals Friday night against the winner of Seattle and LAFC.

While many thought the Lions would be home by now, Orlando City fans have the luxury of enjoying the remaining round of 16 games and waiting to see who their team will play. This is how I saw the game. How do you feel about the individual performances? Tell us by commenting and voting on the Man of the Match below.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Antonio Carlos9
Robin Jansson3
Sebas Mendez38
Tesho Akindele15
Ruan 6
Nani4
Other4

Orlando City

Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. LAFC

Get some insider information on LAFC courtesy of someone who knows the team best.

Published

on

Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

We find ourselves at the end of another week, which means that another Orlando City match is almost upon us. Following a two-week break, the Lions will return to action with a home contest against LAFC.

A date with LAFC means I got some insider info on the opposition from Trebor Tracy, the managing editor of Angels on Parade. They’re another former SBNation blog that has gone independent, and they continue to do excellent work covering LAFC, Angel City FC, and Orange County SC, so make sure you check them out!

Catch me up on some of LAFC’s off-season transfer business. Who are some names that were brought in, and who went out the door?

Trebor Tracy:  LAFC came into this season as close to a rebuild project as you can be for a team many expect to compete for championships and trophies each year. In the off-season the team saw 15 departures from the 2023 squad, and that’s not counting loans out. Among the bigger names leaving Los Angeles were both goalkeepers that helped lift LAFC to the 2022 MLS Cup, midfielder Kellyn Acosta, defenders Denil Maldonado and Diego Palacios, and of course, the departure of inaugural signing Carlos Vela. This was a team expected to look completely different this season and it has. As for the arrivals, the team spent the off-season loading up on the likes of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, forwards Kei Kamara and Cristian Olivera, and defender Omar Campos. The rough start to the year for Los Angeles had a lot to do with the newness of the team and having to build that familiarity within the XI. 

Of the incoming transfers, who has made the biggest impression? Is there anyone who you’d like to see performing better than they have been so far?

TT: Its been hard for LAFC to replace a lot of the departures — not just in terms of production, but leadership and experience in several cases. While not technically an off-season arrival, Cristian Olivera, who arrived in summer window of 2023, really came into his own this season. With an entire off-season under his belt, he has by far been the best of the new arrivals for LAFC. He is producing goals, creating opportunities for others, and has that confidence this team thrives off of. On the other side of the coin, Hugo Lloris has been the biggest disappointment. In fairness to him, he has drastically improved during the team’s recent run, but the start of his MLS career had him easily one of the worst keepers in the league. 

LAFC is on a five-game unbeaten run in league play, what’s been working so well for the team during this stretch?

TT: Speaking of that run, the play of Lloris is why they have done so well recently. Well, that and Denis Bouanga appears to have found his soccer boots again. The 180 those two have done has been the catalyst for the team’s great run of form lately. 

Will any players be unavailable for selection due to injury, suspension, call-ups, etc.? What is your projected starting XI and score prediction?

TT: Availability reports come out night before the match, and we have the team presser this afternoon. with a few players set to return, I am unsure at the moment as to who exactly will be  ready to go.


Thank you to Trebor for helping get us caught up on LAFC. Vamos Orlando!

Continue Reading

Orlando City

Orlando City Needs to Start Using the Scoreboard Again

A deep statistical dive into Orlando City’s offensive struggles. We’re warning you…there will be math (but we do it for you).

Published

on

Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

One of the more memorable scenes in my favorite movie of all time, Bull Durham, is when the manager walks into the showers after another loss, yells at the team about their recent performance, and ends with “this (baseball) is a simple game: you throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball. You got it!?” Soccer is, of course, a little different but the concept remains the same. You pass the ball, you shoot the ball, you score the ball. Unless you are Orlando City, recently.

Anyone can look at the recent results for Orlando City and see that goals have been, shall we say, less than plentiful. But why is that happening? Well, one idea may be that another team in Orlando is using up all the goals, with the Orlando Pride having scored 19 (excluding opposition own goals) to Orlando City’s 15, with the Pride having played four fewer games to boot, but goals are not a zero-sum equation (I know you asked your math teacher for years when you would ever need to use equations in the real world; you’re welcome!), so let’s dive into what has been going on for Orlando City and take a look at what may be causing an average of 0.94 goals/game (again, excluding opposition own goals) in the 2024 MLS season after an average of 1.6 goals/game in 2023.

Wayne Gretzky famously said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” but I do not think a lack of shots taken is the main culprit for this Orlando City team this season. Yes, in the last match against the Red Bulls the Lions only managed five shots (all stats in this article are courtesy of fbref.com,  in collaboration with Opta, which codes thousands of matches every weekend across hundreds of competitions all over the world), but for the 2024 season, Orlando City is averaging 11.8 shots/game, 1.1 shots/game fewer than the league average of 12.9 but actually 0.1 higher than Orlando City’s 11.7 shots/game from 2023. Orlando City’s 11.8 shots/game ranks 23rd in all of MLS — not great, but the team with the most shots/game, St. Louis FC at 16.8, has only earned one more point than Orlando City after playing the same number of games, and the correlation (I told you there would be math) between shots/game and goals is relatively weak (r = 0.25, a strong positive correlation would be an r between 0.7 and the maximum r value of 1.0), so a higher value of shots/game does not necessarily lead to more goals.

What does tend to lead to more goals is more shots on target. I know, I know, you never would have thought of that. And as we look into shots on target for Orlando City in 2024, lo and behold, this is where we start to really see where the problems have arisen this season. Orlando City ranks 26th in MLS this year with 29% shots on target, so when you combine a rank of 23rd in shots/game with a rank of no. 26 in shots on target, you get a team that has scored a low amount of Goals as compared to the rest of the league. Orlando City’s 29% shots on target rate in 2024 is an 18% decrease from its 2023 shots on target percentage of 36% (7% raw decrease (36%-29% = 7%) but an 18% percent decrease (29%/36% – 100% = -18%), and the Lions’ 29% shots on target percentage is 1.28 standard deviations below the MLS average.

This is probably the time for me to tell you I was that high school math teacher who students asked about using math in the real world, and I did teach AP statistics, where we frequently talked about standard deviations and 1.28 standard deviations below the average is, in this case, to use a technical term, u-g-l-y and they ain’t got no alibi.

Is it as ugly as Bubba Sparxxx rapped about back in 2000? Was that just a question to make a pop culture reference about a song I enjoyed when I was in high school? Yes and yes. The first time I ever heard former Orlando City coach Adrian Heath interviewed he said, “Goals change games,” which of course is obvious and means that those who are taking the most shots need to be game changers. Looking at the table below, we can see who has been taking the shots and the differences between 2024 and 2023:

At first glance there is some good news. Orlando City’s leading shot takers this year are generally shooting on target around the league average, but it is on the clinical side, the goals per shot on target and goals per shot attempt where we can see that Orlando City is struggling.

We do see that Duncan McGuire continues to be clinical when he gets his shots on target, but the big drop for him is that last year he put nearly three out of every four shots on target and this year he is down to something much closer to the league average of around one out of every three. Among players with at least 17 shots last year (I chose this number because it would be 0.5 shots/game across 34 games and because it is my father’s favorite number), Duncan ranked first out of 244 MLS players in shots on target percentage and in goals per shots on target, and though his numbers this year are still above average, he is down to 43rd and 13th out of the 108 players who have taken more than 17 shots, respectively (keeping the same shot volume threshold for consistency). Four other major takeaways from me on this chart:

  • Facundo Torres was second on the list for most shots taken in 2023 and was an excellent finisher (this does include penalties, but they are shots and you have to make them), but in 2024 he is tied for fifth in shots with Dagur Dan Thórhallsson at only 15 shots taken.
  • Martin Ojeda remains a high volume shooter, but he is looking much more like Jordan Poole than Steph Curry this year with a lot of shots on target but not a lot of makes. And by not a lot I mean, sadly, zero.
  • Orlando City as a whole is taking shots from slightly closer to the goal but the team’s most frequent shooters are shooting from farther away than last year, and you do not need me as a math major to tell you that goalkeepers would prefer long shots over close shots.
  • Ercan Kara was a somewhat maligned striker for Orlando City, but he was pretty lethal when he got a shot off, putting more than two out of every five shots on frame and scoring at twice the MLS average on goals/shot. His 2023 shot volume is low on this chart because he left halfway through the season, but in his two years in MLS he scored at 21% and 22% on goals/shot, which put him in the upper echelon of shooters in the league.

Going back to McGuire and where he ranked in all of MLS, here is a heat map, but with the corresponding percentile ranks of Orlando City’s players among players who took at least 17 (hi Dad) shots (red to green scale — 0% (dark red, very low performance) to 100% (dark green, very good performance).

The comparisons between 2024 and 2023 are the most stark again in the columns involving goals, as in 2023 Orlando City’s most frequent shooters were scoring in the upper echelons of all MLS players, and this year there is much more red/orange than green for those with at least 17 shots. The other biggest differences of course surround who is taking the shots. Luis Muriel has arrived and has taken the most shots in 2024, but looking at his career shooting stats there is not a lot of evidence that being a lethal finisher is something in his skillset. Barbra Banda he is not, but then again nobody is Barbra Banda (except Barbra Banda), and expecting Muriel to change his playing style to be more of a finisher rather than initiator while adapting to a new league and teammates is lot to ask for someone who joined after the season began.

The bigger need for Orlando City is to get McGuire back on the field and to get Torres going, Facundo’s shots/90 minutes is down more than 50% from last season (largely owing to playing a lot of wingback over the last several weeks), and for someone who was in the 94th percentile in goals/shot in 2023 to have decreased their shot volume by so much is the opposite of what you want. Plus, Facundo is my son’s favorite player and he misses seeing Torres’ selfie celebration.

I want to end with a positive, however, and that is wrapped around the concept of regression to the mean. In the case of Orlando City this would actually likely be a positive regression as opposed to a negative one. During the last four years, MLS has been remarkably stable in terms of goals/shot on target (35%, 32%, 33%, 33%) and goals/shot (12%, 11%, 11%, 11%). Just because the league has been stable does not mean that Orlando City automatically will improve, but with the talent of the players on the squad and their history, I think it is more likely than not that Orlando City’s low performance so far in 2024 will come back up towards league average — much like a Major League Baseball player’s batting average on balls in play often evens out over time based on their level of skill.

Orlando City has talented players, including many who led the team to the best record in the team’s history last season, and I believe it is likely that we will start seeing small increases in goals/shot on target and goals/shot as the season progresses. I certainly hope we do, because it is much more fun when Orlando City masters this simple game and scores the ball, scores the ball, and scores the ball.

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/14/24

Orlando City prepares to take on LAFC, Lions linked with Alan Saldivia, Orlando City B draws against Chattanooga FC, and more.

Published

on

Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! I’m working for most of this weekend but am still looking forward to the absurd amount of soccer ahead of us. Both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride have games Saturday, and the 2024 Euros should give us some exciting matches from teams we don’t watch all too often. Let’s dive right into today’s links!

Orlando City Prepares for LAFC

The international break is over and Orlando City is back in action Saturday night for a home game against LAFC. It’s been a difficult season for the Lions so far, and they have been shut out in three of their past five games. Points have been hard to come by at home for Orlando and a match against one of the best teams in the Western Conference won’t make that any easier. With David Brekalo at the Euros, Rodrigo Schlegel is expected to start and it would be his 100th MLS appearance. Ramiro Enrique would also make his 50th appearance across all competitions as a Lion should he take the field.

Lions Linked Reportedly Bow Out of Bid to Sign Defender Alan Saldivia

With the MLS summer transfer window looming, a rumor surfaced of Orlando City making an offer to sign Uruguayan center back Alan Saldivia from Colo-Colo in Chile. The Lions reportedly offered $1.5 million for the 22-year-old, but that doesn’t reach the $2.2 million Colo-Colo wants at minimum. The Lions reportedly would not go higher. While center back isn’t exactly a pressing need for the Lions at this time, Saldivia would have given the team a young and talented player who could anchor the defense for years to come.

Orlando City B Drops Points in Disappointing Draw

OCB hosted Chattanooga FC and had to settle for a 2-2 draw after giving up a lead not once, but twice. The Young Lions had Chattanooga on the ropes late in the match, taking the lead just before the end of normal time, only to get punched in the mouth in stoppage time and then lose the penalty shootout. It was the second straight 2-2 draw at home for the Young Lions and they’re still on the hunt for their first win this month. OCB’s next game will be on the road against New York City FC II on Wednesday.

Getting Ready for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs

The MLS NEXT Cup playoffs kick off Saturday as the best teams across four age groups compete in a knockout format. Orlando City’s U-15 squad was recognized as one of the title contenders in its age group and will take on Real Salt Lake in the round of 32 on Saturday . The team also did well in MLS NEXT Flex, and Jakob Garcia, who has scored 18 goals in 21 games, is the kind of attacker who can make all the difference in knockout matches. Orlando’s U-17 team is capable of making a run as well, although it faces a tough first match on Sunday against the Philadelphia Union, which won the 2024 Generation Adidas Cup. It should be a fun tournament, and hopefully Orlando’s teams can advance far enough to be included in the games streamed on MLS Season Pass.

Free Kicks

  • Carl Robinson is back in MLS after Atlanta United hired him as an assistant coach. The 47-year-old played for Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls to close out his playing career and also served as the head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
  • Chicago Fire Designated Player Xherdan Shaqiri reportedly wants to return to Europe. The 32-year-old has been with the Fire since 2022 but hasn’t lived up to his billing and his contract is set to expire after this season.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

Continue Reading

Trending